There are plenty of ways to customize fabric and one of my favorites is to experiment with things you find around the house. Some time ago I tried wrapping elastic bands around a block of wood and voilá! A unique and funky pattern that translates into any number of applications. So let’s start simple by making some square napkins and when you get the hang of it try this technique out on drapes, pillows, clothes, or anything you can think of. Don’t forget to continue on reading after the napkin tutorial to make the matching leather napkin ring to top it all off.
- Block of wood
- Elastic bands in varying widths
- Tape (preferably packing tape)
- Pencil with intact eraser
- 2 different color fabric ink pads
- Unwashed gray linen cut on the grain at 17″x17″
- Sewing machine capable of a zig zag stitch
1. Wrap elastic bands around the wooden block, alternating the widths and the direction that the bands are put on to create a pattern on the bottom of the block. Stamp on scrap paper or fabric and adjust the bands accordingly. Once the bands are set, wrap tape around the block to hold them in place during the entire printing.
2. Use the block as a stamp and print on the linen either covering the entire surface, using the pattern as a trim on just the edges, or a stripe down the middle. When the design is finished use the second ink color and the pencil eraser to accent the design.
3. Heat set the ink with an iron set on high and no water. Follow the ink manufacturer’s instructions for proper set times.
4. Finish the edges by zig zag stitching all the way around the napkin 1/2″ in from the edges. Make sure the sewing machine is set on a short stitch (about a 1) so the zig zag is nice and tight and prevents the body of the napkin from fraying.
5. Stick the napkins in the dryer for 10 minutes to further heat set and then wash and dry as normal. If the ink fades at all it’s because it wasn’t heat set long enough.
6. Once the napkins are washed and dried, the loose threads around the outside will have come loose to create a frayed detail. Pick out any threads that are still in place and press the napkins flat.
Leather Napkin Rings
- Napkin template printed on cardstock
- Leather scraps (the best way to buy scraps for crafting is in bulk from a manufacturer such as Leather Unlimited)
- Large embroidery needle
- Embroidery floss
- Book binding beeswax block (optional)
1. Trace the template onto a piece of leather and cut out. Punch holes in the leather with the awl where indicated on the template.
2. Before stitching the rings together, run the floss across the beeswax block. Waxing the thread isn’t absolutely necessary but it does keep the thread from tangling and from fraying as it’s pulled through the leather.
3. Use the large embroidery needle to begin stitching together the rings. Don’t knot the end of the thread, instead, leave a 3″ tail hanging loose that will be tied at the end. Stitch down the ring diagonally through the holes.
4. At the bottom of the ring, change directions and stitch back up the ring creating an “X” pattern. At the end, tie the two thread ends together and trim.
And there you have it! Napkins and matching rings perfect for your next dinner party or a gift for a friend! If you have any questions about the steps feel free to leave them in the comment section and I’d be happy to clear anything up.
Good luck and have fun!