Stupid Question #4856 for people who sew...

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

aprettytruestory

eating my words
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 18, 2013
Messages
121
Reaction score
18
Location
the woods
So I've recently tried my hand at sewing and have managed to sew two fleece blankets without killing myself or setting my house on fire (which I, personally, would consider a rousing success ;)); I've been wanting to try my hand at sewing napkins and placemats next but I'm a little confused... what fabric should I be using for these? Obviously food and beverages (and grease and etc. etc. etc.) will be in contact with these particular items so I was told to avoid calico and obviously fleece is out but that leaves...what? Home decor fabric? Should I be looking for a particular type of fabric (like all cotton, for example)? Or is it okay to use calico if I do something to it? (Like laminate it? Hah, just kidding... I think).
 

harmonyisarine

Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
349
Reaction score
29
Location
Farmlands of Western PA
I don't know if this is to late, but I found out what you need! I didn't answer sooner because I didn't know, but then today in my e-mail I got a sales notice from Mood for "napkin fabric" and I thought of you! Obviously you don't need to buy from Mood (they can be pricey), but it'll at least show a good range. I did see some polyesters on the page and I personally don't like them as much, though. They don't absorb nearly as well as natural fibers (silk is actually one of the most absorbent, but cost and the delicacy of weaves make it impractical for this), though natural fibers also stain way easier than polyesters. On yet another hand, polyesters are a very large source of microplastics that are causing... well, my bio nerd is showing. XD

ANYWAY, tl;dr, here is a link to napkin fabrics:

http://www.moodfabrics.com/fashion-...6694%2C16812&utm_campaign=DIY+Holiday+Napkins
 

Silva

saucy
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 24, 2015
Messages
1,762
Reaction score
248
Website
twitter.com
Plain cotton will work just fine. Anything that washes well (i.e. is absorbent) and can be treated for stains if necessary will work. For place mats and tablecloths, you can get a material that has a wipe-able surface, too. It's sort of like a very lightweight vinyl with a thin fleecy back to it; I'm not sure what the technical name is.

If you walk into a fabric store and ask for material recommendations, employees should be able to make suggestions (and explain their suggestions). (You don't have to buy there if you'd rather online.)
 

CoffeeBeans

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 5, 2013
Messages
1,499
Reaction score
433
I would also suggest cottons for your napkins, though any linen-blend will get a good choice (both depend on how much use/how much you hate ironing) You can use the same for placemats, or you can use the backed vinyl Silva mentioned. I don't know the name of it either, but it is sold with the outdoor fabrics. Googling suggests it might just be "tablecloth vinyl." Otherwise, you can stick with the same cottons and linens you use for the napkins.

Good luck!
 

Maryn

Baaaa!
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
47,581
Reaction score
13,417
Location
Pasture
Napkins and placemats are excellent projects for beginners. I would use any cotton or cotton-polyester blend. I would pre-wash it and dry it in the dryer, even though that means you'll have to iron it before sewing it. That way, it's already had the roughest treatment the finished product will have to endure when someone's messy with their spaghetti and red wine.

Napkins are especially easy, since all you do is machine-hem or bind the four edges. I turn under a small edge, then turn again about 1/4 inch deep and machine stitch along the fold. Sometimes I iron the fold in to make it easier or straighter.

Placemats are usually either made of thicker fabric or multiple layers. Often they're bound with a bias-cut strips of the same (or complementary) fabric. (Bias is cut at a 45 degree diagonal angle to the weave.) You can buy bias tapes or make your own. I'd consider backing with pre-quilted solid color fabric, so the placemat becomes reversible.

At my house, I'd also avoid anything with a white background. Some stains just won't come all the way out. A busy print with some beige or tan in it hides a lot of hard use.

Maryn, who makes napkins often but not placemats
 

aprettytruestory

eating my words
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 18, 2013
Messages
121
Reaction score
18
Location
the woods
Aha, thank you all for the suggestions! That is absolutely gorgeous fabric, harmony! ...unfortunately it's a little out of my price range (also, I'd be terrified of messing up and it would probably sit there forever. Better for me to practice on the scraps at JoAnn Fabrics first so I can make all my mistakes there. But I'm totally bookmarking that site for when I'm a pro :)) Okay, I'm sooo excited for this... I'm hitting the sales on Black Friday and I'm going to stock up on cheap cotton/cotton-polyester blend fabrics... hopefully in a few weeks I'll be the proud owner of new placemats/napkins. Thank you again!! :)
 

MaryMumsy

the original blond bombshell
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2008
Messages
3,391
Reaction score
811
Location
Scottsdale, Arizona
"I would use any cotton or cotton-polyester blend. I would pre-wash it and dry it in the dryer, even though that means you'll have to iron it before sewing it."

I always pre-wash cotton or poly-cotton blend. Then I iron it dry. That really gets out the wrinkles and makes sure any shrinkage occurs before cutting/sewing.

MM
 

Maryn

Baaaa!
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
47,581
Reaction score
13,417
Location
Pasture
Exactly. If the cloth is going to shrink, twist, or whatever else, I want that to happen before I cut it.
 

Orianna2000

Freelance Writer
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
3,428
Reaction score
201
Location
USA
Pre-washing and pressing-as-you-sew are two of the biggest things that make a difference in your final product, and strangely, a lot of crafters and DIYers tend to ignore them. It's never made sense to me. If you want your crafts to look professionally made and not "happy hands at home," you need to follow the rules for good crafting/sewing!

Just a note--don't expect much if you ask the salespeople at the fabric store. At least, not at Joann's, Hobby Lobby, or Hancock's, or any chain store. These days, they don't hire people based on sewing experience or fabric knowledge. They just hire whoever applies off the street. This is actually becoming a huge problem with Joann's, because their clerks barely know their way around the store and they're clueless when it comes to sewing jargon, so they can't help if you ask where the "interfacing" is, or "a pressing ham," or whatever, because they have no idea what those items are. It's making a lot of customers unhappy. There's even some kind of campaign that was started by a blogger who's hoping to get Joann's corporate managers to change the way they hire employees. Personally, I tend to just buy my fabrics online.
 

NanMartin

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 26, 2015
Messages
113
Reaction score
7
Location
Texas
Aha, thank you all for the suggestions! That is absolutely gorgeous fabric, harmony! ...unfortunately it's a little out of my price range (also, I'd be terrified of messing up and it would probably sit there forever. Better for me to practice on the scraps at JoAnn Fabrics first so I can make all my mistakes there. But I'm totally bookmarking that site for when I'm a pro :)) Okay, I'm sooo excited for this... I'm hitting the sales on Black Friday and I'm going to stock up on cheap cotton/cotton-polyester blend fabrics... hopefully in a few weeks I'll be the proud owner of new placemats/napkins. Thank you again!! :)

I'm probably way too late but thought I'd just say I find wonderful yardage at thrift stores. I've brought home some lovely linen blends that would make up nicely into napkins, and the price in our area is way cheap. (I've paid as little as $3 for 5 yards.) If you didn't find anything Black Friday, give that a try.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away