Posted on 21 Comments

Vintagey stripe envy


As you may know, we’ve been using cloth napkins around here since 2007.  I’ve gone a little loopy over them from time to time (the evidence can be found here, if you need some convincing).  I have an everyday set, and three seasonal sets of 20-25 coordinating prints each, and I change them out in January, May, September, and December.

I have been very happy with this setup.  Sure, all of those coordinating fat quarters were a little pricey when I first bought them. But most of these sets have been serving us well for four to five years, and are still going strong.  I’d rather not do the math (I like to avoid rude awakenings wherever possible) but I do feel some optimism that the benefits have outweighed the costs at this point.  Plus if we keep using the same four sets for the foreseeable future, the savings will just continue to grow.

So why bring this up now?

A few reasons, actually.  For one thing, there’s the state of my everyday napkins.  They get used the most out of all of the sets, and they are showing signs of wear.  I sorted through them today and discovered that of the original 25:

  • four have gone missing – can’t find them anywhere
  • twelve had visible stains
  • nine are fine
(12 stained napkins)
(9 napkins still in nice shape)
(a few extra fat quarters)

Technically, I can deal with the missing ones by making some more. I have extra fabric from that collection.

And I’ve been thinking (for nearly a year now) that I could deal with the stained ones by over-dying them in navy blue and/or red.

So, problem solved, right?

Sure.  Sure, it would be, if I didn’t know about this  (“this” being French General’s Panier de Fleurs collection). I’m in love with the stripes, in particular, and the fact that there is blue in this collection.  Most of the French General fabric I have seen in the past has appealed to me, but it’s been all reds.  Red looks nice in my kitchen, but blue is really what belongs in there.  So now that there’s one of these collections with navy blue stripes? Swoon!

I have started daydreaming again about kitchen improvement.   About navy, cream, and red striped napkins alongside dark blue stoneware bowls.  About new curtains, new seat cushions, and a new apron.

Our kitchen has gone largely unchanged since we moved here 14 years ago.  The more I think about it, the more I want to splurge on that fabric, make some new napkins, rip down the old white+navy wallpaper, paint the kitchen navy blue, pull up the old white linoleum floor, put down some stone tile, or wood, replace the cabinets, get a new counter top…

The price tag on the striped fat quarters is hard enough to swallow on its own, but factor in the chain reaction of home improvement that could follow? Probably best to let this one go.  But, oh! the wanties are strong with this one.  Really really strong.

sigh  Think I’m going to try the over-dying thing on the old napkins.  I’m sure it will breathe new life into these designs.  It’s a shame that no amount of dye could make watercolor flowers and teapots look like vintagey stripes, though…

Darn you, French General, and your old-fashioned, European countryside charm!

Posted on 21 Comments

21 thoughts on “Vintagey stripe envy

  1. I’m with you on those bee-ootiful stripes. The problem is you’ll probably be thinking about them for such a long time. And then there’s the regret, oh the regret – you should probably just save yourself all that trouble and go for it. Just a thought… 😉

    1. I’m still trying to convince myself there’s a cheaper way to go. Been doing a lot of online stripe searches. Of course, if time is money, then I’ve probably already spent more than I would have just buying the fat quarters in the first place 😉

  2. OMG!!!! i love it. I want it. This is going to sound stupid but can you please put up a pattern of how you make the napkins. I am a complete sewing beginner. Thanks for giving us something to swoon over.

    1. Sure! I already have a pattern online, actually… it’s for a lunchbox-size version, but you can easily increase the dimensions, if you want to make dinner napkins.

  3. Oh I love this. I love that fabric collection and it had me swooning too. And it cracks me up how one little fabric can make you just absolutely need to remodel a whole kitchen, but so true!

    1. I was lying awake last night thinking about new paint colors for the kitchen. Crazy! Especially because I know my follow-through is so bad… I’ll likely never do any of it. (Except *maybe* buy that fabric and make those napkins, LOL!)

  4. Oh, you must go for this! I am just about finished a quilt of French General fabrics and they are the bomb! When I ordered the fabric way back when, part of the line was unavailable, so I didn’t receive it until last week. Perfect timing, I’d say, for some new napkins! Thanks!

    1. Do you have any of the yarn-dyed wovens? Those are the ones that are calling my name, but they are much more expensive than the others, and I’m not sure how they compare to regular quilting cottons. Are they roughly the same weight?

  5. No – I thought those might be a bit on the heavy side for hand quilting. I think they are best used for throw pillows. I bet they would be great for dishtowels and napkins though . . . I’ve got to say that the colors in this line are just beautiful – red, putty, mushroom, cream – beautiful combo.

    1. Hmmm, I don’t want anything heavier than a quilting cotton – I like the napkins to be nice and soft. I think I’ll email them at Fat Quarter Shop and see what they think.

      Nice to hear the colors are as lovely in person as they are on the screen!

  6. I love this idea of changing the napkins for the seasons! I’ve always used cloth napkins but most were picked up on sale at various places. I also got some homespun (I don’t think that’s the right word — this was a woven fabric, sorta heavy but soft and the weave on one side was different from the other, making them totally reversible) and made tablecloths and napkins from that but all that needed there was to fringe the edges. Piece of cake!
    I can understand why a piece of fabric makes you want to redo your whole kitchen. Perfectly rational and sane response in my mind!

    1. I’ve been thinking that if this fat quarter collection doesn’t work out, I may just start collecting blue striped fabric from various thrifty sources. As long as I cut and sew them all in the same manner, they should look unified no matter the source…

      Fringing the edges sounds much simpler than the hemming I usually do. Did you need to run any kind of stitch around to keep them from fraying too far, or has that not been necessary?

      1. Yep, I did. I sewed a single line about 1/2 inch in from the edges and spent several evenings fringing. I used a straight pin to pull out the threads to get it started and then just started ripping them out. Very zen and therapeutic and totally mindless! HA!

  7. You must be my real daughter — no, let’s make that younger sister! I would like to tell you this story. When my daughter was either a sophomore or junior in HS, my husband went out of town for a long weekend. I had a 20+ yr. old kitchen with linoleum floors, warped Formica countertops and aging wood stained cabinets. I decided that I could accomplish a quick renovation over the weekend. All I initiallyI was going to do was strip the wallpaper, and paint the cabinets. Well, I didn’t fully understand that the Sheetrock underneath the wallpaper had paper like layers. I thought I was pulling off wallpaper. I ended up pulling off half of the Sheetrock along with it! I took the cabinet doors off to paint, decided I liked the “country look” of open cupboards so left the doors off of the dish cabinet. The up side of the sheetrock fiasco was that I became an expert at applying drywall mud. The kitchen was a mess for more than a year as were other parts of the house as we were in our “do it yourself” era. The bottom line is, when my daughter was a senior, our state required a statewide English composition assessment. They give the subject, the kid writes. Her subject was ” If you could pass a law, what would it be and why”. She wrote a humorous essay about parents not being allowed to do home improvement projects that never end. She scored in something like the 99th percentile!

    About the fabric, love it. Wouldn’t it be a tad less expensive to by the yardage? I think sometimes they tack on a bit for the cuts. I realize it might be harder to get the variety as you would need to by 1/2 yd. cuts to yield the correct measurements, essentially getting 2 fat quarters from each 1/2 yard or of course, 4 from a yard. There’s just two of us now but we go through paper napkins like crazy. I like your idea and am thinking seriously. I like the turned hems but if anyone has a serger, they could do rolled hems very quickly.

    1. Haha! I love the silver lining you found with your daughter’s essay. And yes, I decided to go with some yardage. As much as I like to have a little bit of each design, it wasn’t worth it in this case. I’m sticking with a handful of the most interesting designs and choosing to be happy with it!

  8. Maybe IKEA has some similar fabric?

    1. I never think of IKEA. I really should check them out now and then!

  9. […] got the urge to deal with them today.  Rather suddenly, in fact, while in the midst of packing and shipping orders.  I had just […]

  10. Well Robin Keller that isn’t quite as bad as the time we did an illegal (no permit) addition to our house. Tore out an outside wall and framed a room on the patio to make an extra bedroom, then we ended up with a tiny family room/kitchen with no drywall and it took us 5 years before we could afford to finish it. I laugh when I look back at all the kids birthday party and Christmas pics with the stud walls. In our next house I convinced DH to do a “trading spaces” type 2 day kitchen remodel, tore out some cabinets, built an island out of them and tiled it, refaced the rest of the cabinets with molding and painted and clear coated them. That one only cost us under $200 but it took 5 months to finish completely.

    But I got some inspiration from you Lisa and converted to cloth napkins. I made a cute table runner and bought a couple of cheap sheets to use for backing and accent fabrics to go with my charm packs. I cut up the rest of the sheets and a couple of remnants I got at Joann’s and made a basket full of cloth napkins. I love them! Always hated spending money on paper napkins and adding to the trash, and I think a cloth napkin just makes an everyday meal seem a little more fun. Thanks!

    1. Oh, wow, stories like that make me kind of glad that I’m not particularly ambitious about starting household projects 😉

      Welcome to cloth napkin land! I think they feel much nicer than paper, and it kind of makes you feel like your doing something good for the planet in some small way every time you use them, too. Win win!

  11. […] thinking paint or new cabinets as much as I’m thinking a change in linens.  I have plans to replace the napkins, the table runner, and my apron. I’d like to recover the chair cushions and change out the […]

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