Organization Station: Managing Sewing Stashes

If you are a hobbyist or DIYer, you well understand the need to have a collection of materials waiting to be put to good use–and the need to get a handle on storage of said materials before your garage/attic/basement/guest bedroom/linen closet becomes the Monica closet, or perhaps a cemetery for best laid plans and good intentions. Here lies industrial shelving attempt #1,  behind all the tile samples underneath all the wood for the Ana White farmhouse table covered in two inches of dust and sand from the beach toys used three vacations ago..or was it four?   You get the picture.

People of the cloth, and I’m not talking clergy here, have a compulsive need for All of the Things! a fabric stash. These stashes vary in size based on a number of factors, but most crafters agree that you can never have too much fabric. Of course, when trying to store said fabric, those of us lesser mortals with limited storage must be more circumspect with our fabric purchases. I learned this lesson after being overly ambitious when I started quilting and couldn’t choose between fabrics, which resulted in buying All of the Things! enough fabric  for two and a half quilts when I had set out only to buy fabric for one. This resulted in a modest stash that I hauled with me from the city to the beach. It has been languishing in one of the guest bedrooms while I have been working on school things, and by languishing I mean that it has been piled on the bed and various shelves and shoved in random baskets. My quilt is not quite finished.  And by that I mean I have 1/4 of the quilt top sewn. It’s a king size quilt, so cut me some slack. 😉

Since last May, I have been struggling to find a place where all of my art and craft supplies could be kept and to find a prime place for working on my school stuff. The desk I use for schoolwork right now is also the desk I normally use for my sewing machine and supplies, but both cannot occupy the same space at the same time. #physics Enter the mail center.

IMG_4505    This mail center was a housewarming present to us from Chris’s paternal grandmother eight years ago when we bought our first house. It came from Pier 1, and it served us well in our first house and later in the townhome in the city. For some reason, it has not been functional here at the beach, most likely because it is not conveniently located to the entryway of our home. Rather than serving as a mail/paper processing station as usual, it is a clutter catcher, with piles of mail and other random things. In fact, the mail center had become the junk (drawer) center of late, which was unacceptable.

Inspiration hit when I realized that the cubbies in the mail center would be perfect for storing yards of fabric–and for controlling the quantities that could be stored, resulting in a more manageable stash. Better use of mail center? Check.  Better storage for fabric? Check.  Less compulsive spending and buyer’s remorse? Check. Check.IMG_4499

This solution would probably not work for people who sew regularly and need to store vast swaths of fabric, but for an on-again, off-again project crafter like me, this was an ideal match.

My sewing machine fits snugly in the bottom cabinet as if it were made for it. Very snugly. I think I can fit my pinky finger in the space between the sewing machine and the shelf bottom.IMG_4501All my fabric has a tidy, colorful home…note the quilt squares cut and ready to be sewn together…

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and there is even room for the jewelry box one of my great-grandmothers gave me, which I am currently using to store binding I have already cut for the quilts I have yet to make. #gettingthere

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My sewing supplies and scraps fit in the drawer or on the top shelf of the bottom cabinet in glass storage containers we got as a wedding gift almost nine years ago that used to be in our kitchen.  We don’t have room for them on our counters now, but this is turning out to be a great way to repurpose them.

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The mail center is not intended for a heavy machine to perch precariously on the end of the pull-down desktop, so I do not plan to sew here.  However, on the other side of this rather useless pass through area in the center of our house is a hand-me-down sofa table that I had been temporarily using for sewing anyway when I had the time. Nearby is our dining table, so I can just pull a chair up to the sofa table, set up the machine, and sew to my heart’s content while watching, er, listening to reruns of Fixer Upper. Watching might result in bleeding fingers. Not recommended.

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Best part? When I’m not sewing, it all closes up, and no one will ever know that this is a mail center fabric hoard sewing station.

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Except for all of you. Oops. 😉

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Tidbits: Pumpkin Pincushion

Happy fall, y’all!

Okay, so it’s not fall yet, but it’s almost September (close enough, right?).    As a former educator, back to school time conjures up plenty of sights, sounds, and smells (fresh crayons and stacks of Post-its, anyone?).  I am a sucker for school/office supplies.  Remember that line from You’ve Got Mail, when Tom Hanks’ character types, “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils” to Meg Ryan’s character?  Love. it.  Especially a bouquet of yellow Ticonderoga pencils!

Confession: I actually hate writing with #2 wooden pencils.  I just love looking at them.  Have you ever noticed that brand new sharpened pencils are like daisies?  They arrange themselves in their container (if you have enough to look like an actual flower arrangement). But I digress….

Anyway, once school is back in session, fall seems to be just around the corner.  I am totally one of those people who breaks out the fall decor on the inside of my house on Labor Day weekend.  The outside decor goes up on the first official day of autumn so at least the neighbors don’t think I’m too crazy.

For some reason (despite the ridiculously hot weather we are having), it feels like it should be fall (maybe because I am wishing for cooler weather).  Don’t get me wrong.  I love summer.  But there is something wonderful about autumn.  And pumpkins.  And crisp leaves.  And cool evenings.  And hot cider.  And baked apples.  And pumpkins.  And hooded sweatshirts.  And football games.  And sweaters.  And pumpkins.  Did I mention pumpkins?

Speaking of pumpkins, to satisfy my ridiculously early craving for fall this year, I made this pincushion:

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I followed the Fiskars tutorial (from http://www2.fiskars.com/Sewing-Quilting/Projects/For-the-Home/Organization/Sewn-Pumpkin-Pincushion#.UhjPE2RBKHc).  I first saw this project when I purchased some sewing supplies from Jo-Ann’s and immediately googled it when I got home to investigate further.

Okay, I mostly followed the tutorial, but made a key modification: Instead of sewing the leaf inside out, reversing it, and stitching closed, I actually sewed it by hand right-side out.  Yes, this meant that the rough edges are exposed, but this makes the leaf look a bit more realistic.  If you look closely at pumpkin leaves, they aren’t “perfect” along the edge either (no, my leaf is not shaped like an authentic pumpkin leaf–my fabric cutting skills aren’t that impeccable just yet).  Plus, it also allowed me to pull the thread taut in such a manner that it made my leaf curl, giving it more dimensionality and character, I think.  Like a leaf that is starting to shrivel up just a wee bit.

Check out the tutorial if you are an “autumnut” like I am–very cute, very fun, fairly simple.  My pumpkin is not quite as segmented as the tutorial’s, though, which was a bit disappointing.  The directions said to make sure you stuffed your pincushion with enough filler to make it plump, but I think I must have overstuffed (overachiever that I am)  because each time I pulled the embroidery thread around the sections tighter to make the sections plump out, my thread would break (and I wasn’t using cheap thread!).  I suppose I could undo my stitching and take some stuffing out to see if it improves things, but I’m reluctant to destroy it.  At any rate, it’s good enough for the first pincushion I’ve ever made and is cute enough to be a fall decoration.  Apparently, it is also tempting as a cat toy, as I saw one of our sneaky littles pawing at it a couple of days ago. That gives me an idea for another tidbit, though: cat toys…maybe filled with catnip instead of loose threads? Meow.

Quilting Part 2: Cut and Dry

At last!  All the fabric for the front of my king size quilt has been washed, dried, pressed, and cut.IMG_2154

Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly aspects of this part of quilting:

The Good: Prewashing all my fabric to avoid uneven shrinkage in my quilt (patting myself on the back for avoiding one rookie mistake).

The Bad: Prewashing all my fabric meant that I lost quite a bit of fabric to shrinkage and unraveling of the edges.

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The unraveled threads I put to use for stuffing a pumpkin pin cushion I am making using the Fiskars tutorial here: (http://www2.fiskars.com/Sewing-Quilting/Projects/For-the-Home/Organization/Sewn-Pumpkin-Pincushion#.Uhi6tWRBKHc), so no major loss there.

IMG_2117However, the shrinkage was saddening because I didn’t get quite as many fabric squares as I needed from some of my fabrics that shrunk more than others (see Quilting Part 1 for more info about that: https://kazoopartyoftwo.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/blocks-strips-and-squares-oh-my/).

The Ugly: Pressing and cutting.  I hate to iron (seriously–there are items of clothing that hang on the “to be ironed”rack for months until those clothes go out of season…or until Chris decides to do it, whichever comes first). “Pressing” (not ironing, as I have learned!) all of the fabric was rather tedious, as was cutting all of my squares…ALL 1296 OF THEM. That’s right–you heard me. ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED NINETY SIX SQUARES.  For just the front of the quilt. (CAN YOU HEAR ME SCREAMING INSIDE?!?!?!)

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Here’s how things happened in a nutshell:

Materials Needed:

  • Fabric (obviously)
  • Cutting Mat (at least 18 x 24 is my recommendation)
  • Rotary Cutter (with back-up replacement blades if you are making a ginormous quilt like I am…mine started to dull near the end of all my cutting)
  • Sewing/quilting rulers (6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ at least; also preferably a 6 1/2″ x 24″ (6″ x 24″ will work, too)
  • Cutting guide (if you don’t have the steadiest of hands…which you won’t after hours and days of cutting)

Step 1: Making the Left Edge Even.  After pressing my fabric and cutting off the unraveled parts, I folded the fabric to make the selvages meet (top and bottom), doubled it (not an expert quilter thing to do, but I didn’t have the 6 x 24 ruler you are supposed to have to do this step…so I improvised) and cut the left edge to be nice and even using my rotary cutter.  It was a rather painful discovery that this meant additional loss of fabric.   Although this may not be an expert quilter thing to do, I allowed the residual fabric to cascade down the side of my smallish desk to allow gravity and the edge of the desk to help keep my folded material in place.

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It was at this point when I realized that the cutting directions I was following were for right-handed people.  Everything I was doing felt very backwards to me, being a southpaw.  Nevertheless, I powered through and managed to survive…at least long enough to write this blog post ( If you don’t see posts for awhile from me, assume I have carpal tunnel at best and have crawled into my craft closet to die at worst).  Fortunately, the rotary cutter I purchased could be used by either left- or right-handed people, so I made the best of an awkward situation.

Step 2: Cutting Strips. Lots of Strips.  After evening up the left edge, I could cut strips and strips and more strips of fabric.  The beginning quilter book I was following advised against using the gridlines on my cutting mat as a guide for straight edges, but I checked mine against my rulers and confirmed that they were spaced at appropriate intervals and were indeed perpendicular and parallel.

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I used this nifty tool (shown below) to help me cut straight lines at the right intervals (3 1/2″ apart in my case) …if you are left-handed, you will understand my concern with needing help to cut straight lines, even with a rotary cutter instead of cheap elementary-school kiddie scissors.  As you can see, though, the tool is only 12 x 12, so you have to be careful to fold your fabric to fit the form.  Make sure you don’t fold your fabric too many times, though, or you will find that you actually don’t have some straight strips.  I simply folded my fabric once, then once more, so I was only cutting through four layers at a time.

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Step 3: Cutting Squares.  From there, I used my square ruler (shown in the pic) to cut my strips into squares.  IMG_2120

This took FOREVER…(not the five squares, but the 1296 it took to make the entire quilt front).IMG_2115

Step 4: Cutting the Binding.  While I was already in cutting mode, I decided to cut the strips for my quilt binding.  I realize that this is a later step for most quilters, but I am not most quilters.  Obviously.  IMG_2130

Since I’m making a 108″ x 108″ quilt, I needed 108″ x 4 sides = 432″ of fabric in length.  I also added 15″ extra inches in length to allow for error and working with the corners for a grand total of 447″ length. I decided to make my binding 2.5″ wide, so I cut my strips using the same strategy as before, except 2.5″ wide instead of 3.5″ wide.

IMG_2129I had great help in measuring my binding strips to ensure I had enough material cut (and yes, that is my yoga mat: short on space = craftercise room).   IMG_2124

Lessons learned:

(1) The pattern I created for the front alternates (hence why some of the stacks of fabric squares are turned on the diagonal in the picture above), which meant I could not leave my fabric in strips that I could sew together to save time and then cut apart into squares later. I could have left some in strips since the pattern does repeat, but I was also concerned about my novice-cutting not being so great, so I cut everything into squares.  In the future, I will probably try to create patterns that allow me to take such shortcuts.  If you need to learn patience, cutting 1296 precise fabric squares is a great way to do it.  Believe me, I know.

(2) Forget #1.  I see why many people can’t go the distance with quilting, especially quilting a king size quilt.  For the back of this quilt, I plan to use fabric strips to simplify matters and go faster.  Plus, I like the idea of chunky stripes almost as much as I do a nifty pattern of squares…and maybe better.

(3) Forget #2.  After looking at some inspiring quilts online (http://www.stitchedincolor.com/) , I still plan to do the strips for the back of the king quilt, but perhaps for another quilt, I will make a more intricate pattern to amp up my piecing skills and allow my creativity a bit more room for expression.

(4) Read beginning quilting books and checkout online tutorials, but don’t feel like you have to play by their rules.  For example, my beginning quilter book actually recommended that novices avoid use of geometrics in their first quilting enterprise.  I ignored their advice simply because I adore geometric prints and because geometry is kind of my life’s work (I conduct research investigating children’s thinking about geometry and space).  I. love. geometry.  (You have to love geometry to love quilting, I think…even if only on a subconscious level).  A word of caution, though, when working with geometric prints involving straight lines: As you can see from this picture, this fabric is going to look wonky if you don’t actually even the left edge and cut your strips to align with the vertical lines in the pattern.

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(5)  If you have any problems with your hands/wrists/forearms (tendonitis, carpal tunnel, arthritis, trigger finger, etc.) your hands will get tired and cramped from this much cutting.  Space out your cutting over several days or even weeks, if you can wait that long.  I suffer from trigger finger, exacerbated by an excessive number of hobbies involving my hands plus a job that requires lots of writing, and my left hand knotted up from so much cutting, even spread across multiple days.  Don’t wear your hands out just to get your cutting done in record time.

Now onward to the back side.  Yes, I could begin blocking the front, but I want to have all the wash, dry, press, and cut out of the way before the beautiful assemblage begins.  Call me crazy.  I’ve got some beautiful fabrics for the back, too; who knows, it might end up as the “front” of the quilt?  The best part of doing a two-sided quilt is that I can reverse it at will…and believe me, I will. 🙂

Until next time!

Quilting Part 1: Blocks, Strips, and Squares, Oh My!

After my latest sewing successes, I have begun my king size quilt.  Should I probably make a smaller quilt first to get conditioned for the quilting version of the Boston marathon (or maybe the Iron Man competition!)?  Yup.  But a king quilt could easily be divided into smaller quilts that can then be sewn together, so really, a king size quilt is simply quilter delayed gratification.  I’ve named our quilt “Twelve Bar Blues” because I’m using a repeating pattern of 12 quilt squares that are mostly in the blue family (and because I happen to be a music nerd-History of Jazz, anyone?).  Here’s a sneak peak!IMG_2132

Since I didn’t buy enough material on shopping trip #1 and the store didn’t have any of my original choices left For visual interest, some of the main squares in the pattern will be substituted with these other fabric squares, some at repeating intervals and others at random (okay, I wanted some “planned randomness” anyway but ended up with more randomness than what I initially had in mind).IMG_2133

Rather than save up this REALLLLLLLLLLLLLY LOOOOOONG project to post all at once, I’m going to post in several installments, beginning with today’s post on calculations and shopping.

Planning TIP #1: If you have never quilted before, proceed with caution when looking at quilter forums and expert quilter blogs for how to calculate material.  Supply list? Yes.  Advice on material purchases? Maybe, depending on your taste and style.  Calculations? Nope.

Here’s why:

Some of the quilting pages provide Calculator applets to help you calculate material you need by the size of quilt you intend to make and the size of squares you wish to use (if using quilt squares at all).  Trouble is, some of these don’t actually function correctly, and some of them calculate the number of blocks you need, not the number of squares.  This results in newbies, like me, returning home with one-fourth of the fabric I needed to make my quilt, feeling like there was something VERY wrong but trusting the experts that I could, in fact, defy the laws of nature.  I should have trusted my own mathematical prowess instead.

This brings us to Planning Tip #2: Do your own math.

Some of these “helpful” online tools don’t factor in the seam allowance you want to have for each square (i.e., if you want 3″ squares, you actually need to plan to buy material for 3.5″ squares to allow for a quarter-inch of fabric on each side to be stitched together to form quilt blocks).I wanted to make a king size quilt, and most king size bedding is typically 107″ x 108″.  I decided to make a nice square to make calculations easier, so I am making a 108″ x 108″ plus the binding, since I want it a little bigger to snuggle in.  After a sobfest over trusting the “experts”, having to confess to my husband that the $$ I spent on quilt fabric was only a fourth of what I actually had to spend, and listening to him respond, “If it’s that expensive, then why aren’t we getting that Pottery Barn thing then?”), I did my own calculations, first finding the area of the quilt and then dividing that by the area of my finished quilt squares (3″) to get the number of squares I would need. Then I created a pattern on graph paper to serve as a scale model of my quilt and added up how many of each kind of quilt square I would need for my pattern for the entire quilt.  From there, I calculated the area in a yard of fabric (typically 42″ x 36″) and subtracted that by the area of the size of INITIAL quilt squares (3.5″ x 3.5″) I would need to get a better estimate of how many quilt squares per yard I could likely get.  Then I used that to determine how many yards of each fabric I would need, in relation to the numbers needed for my pattern.  For example, the blue leaf quilt square is used once in the 12-bar pattern, so I needed 108 squares.  If I can get 110 squares from one yard (which was often the case with my fabric), I only need 1 yard of blue leaf fabric. The yellow dragonfly is used twice in the pattern, so I needed 216 squares, or 2 yards of fabric.

This brings us to Planning Tip #3: Shrinkage estimates are unreliable, so buy half a yard more of fabric than you think that you need.

Some of the quilting websites and books apparently don’t factor in fabric shrinking resulting from prewashing your fabric (which you should always do!), and let me just tell you, the 3% shrinkage estimates reported are not reliable (some report 3-5%, but some of my fabric definitely exceeded this estimate, too!).  These webpages will tell you how many of X size quilt squares you can get out of a fat quarter, half yard, or full yard.  Do not believe them. Think Pirates of the Caribbean when Elizabeth invokes the right to parley (pronounced par-lay) and finds out that the pirates’ code is more guidelines than actual rules.

Not only did ZERO of my fat quarters, half yards, and full yards provide the “right” number of squares they indicated (e.g., 30 3.5″ squares from a fat quarter), all of my fabrics yielded FEWER squares  than these “experts” indicated and never the exact same number per amount of fabric.  My personal estimates were usually more reliable than those of the “experts,” but some of the fabrics didn’t even meet my own, more conservative estimates.  This is yet another reason why you should (1) buy extra fabric the first time around, (2) prewash, and (3) buy fabrics of the same quality weight, as not all fabrics (even all 100% cotton quilting fabrics) shrink equally.

You expert quilters may be thinking, Well, she obviously doesn’t know how to cut her strips correctly.  Possible? Yes, but I followed “quilting expert” directions on how to do it, so these people may have a problem communicating what they ACTUALLY do (wave a magic quilter’s wand?).

Maybe some of the fabric cutting peeps I had at the craft store were woefully inadequate cutters of fabric.  Possible? Yes, given that most of them look to be 16, bored, and easily distracted by conversation (“You’re making a quilt? I could never quilt. Cutting all those squares would take, like, FOREVER, and I would TOTALLY give up.”), your chosen fabric (“OMG! Chevron is SO hot right now!”), etc.  I even found some little irregularities in the fabric (at home…after it was cut…and after it was washed when I was ironing and could no longer return it, le sigh) that they had overlooked when cutting my fabric. UGH!  A young man and an older lady who cut my fabric at different times at the craft store did a beautiful job of inspecting and cutting the fabric, so this is not the store’s problem but rather a problem with the typical teenage workforce in general.  In addition to the cutting challenges (straight line, anyone?), some of my fabrics were not actually the full 42″ in the first place, so some of them were a full strip short.  My new estimate for the number of 3.5″ squares in a yard is 110.

A final thought on shrinkage:  I had one fat quarter that was the equivalent of the proverbial wool sweater that shrinks so much in the wash that it now resembles doll clothing or a lovely pet sweater–no joke!  It looked like maybe 1/16 of a yard. Maybe.

This brings us to Planning Tip #4: Do NOT buy fat quarters for quilting. Especially for big quilts.

The beginner’s quilting book that I purchased suggested the use of fat quarters as a way to “get in to quilting by starting small.”  As a beginner with a modicum of experience now, I would reject this advice wholeheartedly.  Fat quarters may seem fun if you want to play with different fabrics and can’t seem to choose between so many different choices, but that’s where the fun stops.  Fat quarters, at least in my experience, may not be cut uniformly, or remotely on a straight edge, leaving you with little fabric to use.  In fact, every last one of my fabrics had to be squared using folding techniques. Fat quarters may seem like a good bargain, but given the amount of shrinkage and lack of uniform sizing, they just aren’t worth it for large projects.  My final thought on fat quarters? Fat on “savings.”  Skinny on value. (Fat chance?)

A concluding thought from phase 1: After reading some online reviews of fabric from the same, popular craft/fabric store I used, apparently other (and more experienced!) quilters have had similar problems with excessive shrinkage of various quilting fabrics from this store.  Consequently, it is likely that I will not be purchasing fabric for quilting from this store again until there is evidence of quality improvement from others’ reviews.

So now that I have learned these valuable lessons about calculating and shopping for fabric and have, most importantly, shared them with YOU, I will proceed to writing about phase #2: washing and cutting.  Stay tuned!

Janus Napkins

In my continuing sewing saga, (drumroll, please) I completed my first entirely homemade project:  Janus napkins.

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Okay, so they are really just double-sided napkins, but I felt like applying some mythology to jazz it up a bit.  The inspiration for this project actually came from a set of handmade stone napkin rings (shown) that Chris and I purchased from the gift shop at Snowbird Mountain Lodge, a serenely magical retreat Chris’s parents introduced to us (yay gift certificate!).  We celebrated our seven year anniversary there.  The napkin rings  were used by the lodge’s restaurant, so we thought they would be nice reminders of our stay there (we do realize that the seven year gift is supposed to be copper, wool, or brass, but stone works, right?).  Well, once we had napkin rings, they were soooo lonely sitting on our placemats empty.  Of course, I realized it is not good for napkin rings to be alone for long, so off I went to Joann for fabric.  I have always wanted a very dramatic dining room with elements of blue to match our Kate Spade Library Lane Aqua china, but Chris and I also tend to like a bit of whimsy.  I decided on three different coordinating front fabrics and a single, contrasting back fabric to unify them.

NOTE: There are several blogger tutorials out there on making double-sided napkins, so I’ll just add my few tidbits to that conversation and move on to the finished product!

Phase 1: Prep

I purchased fat quarters to use to make my napkins for the sake of manageability of fabric on my first sewing expedition, which limited my size to no larger than an 18″ dinner napkin.  I chose to make a 17″ square napkin, since 16″ felt too small and 18″ seemed too big (17″ was juuuuust right.  Goldilocks, anyone?).  After neatening up the edges, I used a marking pencil to mark the lines I was supposed to sew on the “ugly” side of the fabric, leaving about a quarter inch surround. Then I pinned the pretty sides of one backing fabric and one front fabric together (ugly sides facing out).

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TIP: I learned the hard way that the marking pencil I bought needed sharpening VERY FREQUENTLY, and after completing this project, my pencil is already half whittled down.  It was a total pain to use (note in the picture that you can see its lead marked a fat, uneven line) , though its white lead was very visible against the dark back fabric I used.  I will probably not buy one of these again, even though it wasn’t very expensive.  Chalk is probably what I’ll use for future endeavors.

Phase 2: Machine Sew

I started sewing with my old friend, the sewing machine, miraculously remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of my sewing.  When I reached each corner, I raised the pressure foot, turned the material 90 degrees, lowered the foot, and continued sewing around the napkin.  I stopped sewing about 1.5 inches from where I first started to allow me to turn my napkin right-side-out.  IMG_1794

TIP: Don’t raise the needle–just the pressure foot! This helps hold your fabric in place and allows you to stitch continuously.

Phase 3: Inside-Outside-Upside Down

I pulled the fabric through my 1.5 inch hole so that the pretty sides were now visible.

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Then I used a bamboo skewer to make the corners nice and sharp (be careful not to poke through the fabric, though!).IMG_1878

At first I congratulated myself on my cleverness, only to learn that the bamboo skewer is a rather popular sewing tool (make sure it is in your arsenal!).

BEFORE:

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AFTER:IMG_1879

I ironed the napkin to have crisp edges and then hand sewed the remaining 1.5 inches closed, leaving me with one finished napkin–now only nine remaining!

TIP: I have moderately thin and relatively nimble fingers, so the inside-out process was not so difficult, but if you have shorter, thicker fingers, I would suggest leaving a slightly larger opening.

Phase 4: Rinse, and Repeat

I repeated this process 9 times for a grand total of 10 napkins.  Why 10, you ask?  Over seven years ago, when Chris and I were registering for china, we had a major crisis (#firstworldproblems, anyone?).  Chris, who comes from a large family, wanted to register for 12 place settings, while, I, an only child, thought 12 would be excessive.  Summoning my powers of persuasion, I convinced him to agree to 8, but we ended up receiving 10.  We took it as a sign that 10 was the happiest compromise anyway, so we needed 10 napkins to go with our 10 place settings.  I chose to make three napkins of this soft, medium floral print:

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three napkins of this modern, edgy, geometric print: Napkin1

and four napkins of this bold, large floral print:ImageThis way, I can mix and match depending on the size of the dinner party. For our everyday setting of four, I can either do all matching or 2/2. IMG_2104For settings of six, I can do 3/3 or 2/2/2.  For settings of eight, I can do 4/2/2, and if I ever have all 10 place settings of china in use (and the Ikea table I’d like that seats 10!), then I will use all of them together!

I tire very quickly of design choices, so this way I can change things up cheaply and still get that nice, newish feeling, all for a few bucks.  Each fat quarter was $1.25 originally, but getting them at a reduced price (yay sales and coupons!) meant my total cost for this project broke down as follows:

(10 front fabric fat quarters x $.75) + (10 back fabric fat quarters x $.75) + (1 spool of thread x $1.75) =  $16.75 for 10 Janus napkins.  Less than $2 per napkin.  Not bad, considering they are custom, double-sided, and who knows, maybe I’ll even monogram them with the remaining thread?!