Napkin Magic?Posted by in Crafts
On yesterday’s show, Martha kicked the show off by demonstrating a “good, green thing.” Martha says you can take old shirts and cut them up and use them as napkins. Hey, I thought, even I can do that! It looked so very easy! Martha said you just cut a square out of the back of a shirt then you can hem the edges or fray them. Basic, simple steps. I really was sure I could do this one! Martha said instructions would be on the site, but they weren’t – just the video of what she did on the show.
Off I went to Goodwill, since Mr. MarthaandMe has no shirts he is ready to part with. I bought 2 short sleeve dress shirts for $2 each. One is pink and is not a button down. The other is a blue striped button down. I thought they would look cute together, maybe on a white tablecloth.
I got them home and marked off a 12 inch square on each. Then I cut them out. Umm, Martha? How do you make straight cuts? Mine were all jagged and weird, no matter how hard I tried. They looked pretty awful. I tried to trim them once I saw the edges, but that just made it worse. I really, really wish Martha would take the
time to explain these kinds of things. I have no idea how to get it straight. There’s probably some expensive tool you’re supposed to have to do this (which really does not make this an affordable project if that is the case).
All right, I said to myself, maybe I’ll just fray it and you won’t notice. Right. That just resulted in an uneven frayed edge. So I tried to trim it again. No go.
Now, look, in these photos they don’t look too bad, but I know that if you took one of these and opened it up to use as a napkin you would clearly see how misshapen they are.
The pink dress shirt was probably a bad choice – too thin really to be a napkin. The blue striped button down is a heavier material and I could see using that, although it still does not feel like real napkin material to me. Yet again, I am vanquished by a Martha Stewart craft. Is there no hope for me?? I would have felt to frugal if this had worked.
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Well, they look good in the picture. I think you’re just supposed to naturally be able to cut straight, something I can’t do.
Apparently I flunked that course in kindergarten!
You need a rotary cutter, clear ruler, and one of those rubber mats with measurements … like what quilters use. Once you square up a side, the rest should turn out OK.
Still … looks like a good try.
Aha! I knew there was a trick to this! Thanks for letting me know. If only Martha had been specific about that.
You can also snip the edge and pull a thread from a more loosely woven fabric, such as oxford cloth. Once the thread is pulled all the way across it makes a cutting line that will insure that the cut is straight. Its an old sewing trick I learned, along with a lot of other stuff that Martha does, from my Polish grandmother who helped raise me. FYI, my grandmother also taught me to machine sew a line 3/8 inch from the edge and fray up to there. The sewing keeps the fabric from continuing to fray after several washings. Keep at it with the oxford shirts because they really do make nice napkins with the frayed edges, especially for summer barbecues and eating outdoors.
As for Martha, I like her well enough. However for anyone raised as I was, by a Polish mother or grandmother, these things come as second nature so I don’t see Martha so much as a novelty. Strong Polish women kept and managed their homes, sewed clothes, canned fruits and vegetables, put homecooked meals on the table daily, budgeted money, and raised kids with skills learned from her mother. In turn, they taught these lessons to their daughters and granddaughters. Its our obligation to now pass them on to the next generation. Martha’s mother was the real brains in that operation and she is capitalizing on those skills in a large way.