If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen the craziness that is my dining room right now. I recently built a ladder shelf system to store all of our extra dishes and tablescape decor. Needless to say the room was in shambles. Saws, drills, wood, hammers, all of it. It's since recovered, but I'm now mid-closet remodel so theres still a corner filled with power tools until the weather cooperates enough for me to move outside.
Speaking of weather, the weather plus a recent cold has kept me housebound, giving me plenty of time to clean up the room. Which is exactly what I did....just kidding...I decided to take the drop cloth leftover from the aforementioned shelf project and make these little napkins instead. It takes mere minutes and costs less than a dollar per napkin (depending on size). So if you've got a dinner coming up and want to impress, make these little guys. Do it! Do it now! Well, first read how I did it so you don't make my mistakes.
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I've actually been looking for a neutral linen or burlap napkin for a long time. I wanted something a little rustic but still simple and pretty. I liked these ones from Hawkins New York, and these ones from Pottery Barn, but my wallet didn't like the price. I also wanted them a bit more rustic and not so tight of a weave (I'm not picky or anything). My dining room has had a lot of metallic decor and I am hoping with the spring to bring in a little simplicity and some more natural textures to offset the "glam." I hadn't quite found the right neutral napkin, so of course- I made it myself.
This was the EASIEST project ever. All you really need are scissors and a drop cloth. Do you know about drop cloth? I have only recently discovered it and oh man, is it the answer to my textile prayers. Fabric is super expensive; the fabric I always pick out anyways. I've been looking for a good quality but inexpensive fabric for upholstery and many other projects for some time now. Enter drop cloth. Drop cloth, as in the stuff you buy to put down while you paint! It's super inexpensive. My 8x15 drop cloth cost me $10 at Lower, if you don't have a big box store near you, you can get it on Amazon. I usually buy the hawk brand, but there are many other quality brands out there. It's a bit more to buy online, but still a good deal. In general, it's a very durable woven canvas fabric. You can dye it, wash it, cut it, sew it, and manipulate it in many different ways. I can't say enough about it. The answer to my many fabric problems had been under my feet the whole time!
Okay, back to napkins. Oh wait, I forgot an important step! Prior to starting any drop cloth projects you need to prep the cloth by washing it. Well, let me say this. If you plan on using the napkins as...well napkins you should prep the cloth. If you're just using them as a decor item than you can skip this step. I know some of you may have rolled your eyes at the thought of napkins you don't use, but don't lie to yourself, you've set the table with pretty things and no intention of using it before. No? Just me? Okay fine, wash the cloth.
So you'll actually want to wash it twice, because it does shrink, so after two times it should be at it's final size. You'll then want to use your iron on the steam setting and iron it while damp. Are you sure you still want to make usable napkins? Anyways, once you're done with that, you can start the actual napkins.
Decide what size and shape napkin you want. Cut your fabric with about a quarter to half inch (depending on how much fringe you want) larger than the size.
To create the fringe, loosen a string from the corner using a needle, safety pin, or your nail. The first one is the hardest, but once you get the weave loosened it's pretty easy. Pull the end strings going in one direction off of the fabric. Do this with as many strings as you want until you get the desired fringe length. Then repeat on each side. That's it! Again, I'm just using mine as decor, but if you want to use them as actual dinner napkins you should add a little liquid seam sealant to prevent them from fraying.
That's it! You can get more creative and paint stripes on your napkins or even stencil them. You could use bleach to whiten the drop cloth prior to making them if you want white napkins. You can also die them with RIT Dye if you want a different color! I'm thinking about making a set and adding a fleur de lis and possibly another set with some summer stripes. They would be really cute with a little lace too. There's so many options!
I'm planning on making a few sets for actual use once I gear up to wash and iron. After you use them at a dinner party, they are washable which is nice. If for some reason a stain gets in them that you can't get out... it's cheap and easy to make new ones.
I'm definitely going to be doing more drop cloth projects in the future. I'm already thinking of the curtains I can make for our camper this summer (even though I don't have said camper yet) and my office make over. I'm also thinking of some upholstered chairs for the dining room and some pillows...hmm... my creative juices are flowing!
I'd love to know what you've made with drop cloth! Have you tried these napkins? Did you embellish them at all?