Saturday, October 3, 2009

Save Money with Homemade Cloth Table Napkins

Save Money with Homemade Cloth Table Napkins
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When I was growing up, my mother used cloth table napkins only on very special occasions, but once I was out on my own, I discovered it's pretty easy to save the paper napkins for the special occasions (large picnics) and use cloth napkins on a day-to-day basis—if you know a few tricks. Using cloth table napkins is a great way to save money, leave some trees standing in the forest instead of heading to the pulp mill, and cut down on the amount of trash you generate.

Local stores should have a good selection of cloth table napkins. I prefer natural fabrics, as they seem to be more absorbent. (If you buy new ones and they don't seem to soak much up, add a cup of white vinegar to the wash the first few times you launder them; vinegar cuts through the natural oils in cotton that can hinder absorbency.) If you have kids or other messy eaters, choose a busy, colorful pattern so stains won’t show as much. For everyday use, you don’t need the priciest damask, though those are lovely for extra-special occasions.

You can also check out thrift or vintage stores, ask elderly relatives if they have a stash they’d like to be rid of, or sew some up if you're handy. You can buy fabric by the yard or, better still, reuse something you already have—napkins are a great way to recycle soft, worn-out flannel shirts or sheets, or other time-softened fabric. Then, you'll be keeping even more waste out of landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each American sends an average of 67 pounds of perfectly reusable towels, linens, and other fabrics to landfills every year.

To make cloth table napkins from scratch, just cut squares the size you prefer (18 inches square is a nice size) and either run a narrow hem around the folded-over edge, or sew over the cut edges with a zigzag decorative machine stitch to keep them from unraveling.

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