Rip and Tear Napkins
For a practical, no sew, no glue project, rip yourself some new napkins! In the easy peasy category, these napkins are quick to make, and quick to launder. Basically, you need 1/2 yard of 44" wide fabric for 2 napkins. So, just decide on how many napkins you want and buy 1/2 yard for every 2. VERY IMPORTANT: no matter how many napkins you plan to make, always add 1/8 yard (4.5 inches) to the amount of fabric you need. Seldom are fabrics cut true to grain, and you will need some extra fabric for your first and last tears.
NOTE: Unless you bought fabric that is dyed through and through or has individually dyed threads as found in plaids, there will be a right and wrong side to these napkins. I find this to be more than acceptable for everyday use. If you prefer you can sew two pieces together instead of unraveling the edges but it will require twice as much fabric, and they take longer to dry.
For twelve (12) 18" x 18" napkins
3 1/8 yards 44/45" fabric
1] General: To rip fabric make a cut with scissors about 1" into fabric, trying to follow the grain of the fabric. Firmly hold the fabric on either side of the cut and rip the fabric all the way through the other side.
A: 1st rip: Rip approximately 2" from one cut end (non selvage side) of the fabric.
B: 2nd rip: Rip 1" from selvage. (You will rip off the entire selvage on one side.)
C: 3rd rip: Rip 18" from 2nd rip.
D: 4th rip: Rip 18" from 3rd rip.
E, F and all remaining rips: You will now have 2 long strips. Make rips every 18" giving you 18" x 18" square.
2] Beginning at a corner, unravel a side, by removing 1 thread at a time. Unravel 1/4" - 1/2" of threads depending on how wide you want the "fringe". Unravel all 4 sides.
3] On woven fabrics, often the warp (lengthwise threads) and the weft(cross grain threads) are not perpendicular to each other (right angles) like they should be. To see if your fabric is, fold one of your napkins in half. If your corners do not match up, then the grain line is off and you will need to adjust it.
4] To adjust the grain line, grab a short corner and its diagonal corner. Tug on the two corners. Refold the fabric and see if the corners match. If not, repeat the tugging until they do. Usually, after you've adjusted the warp and weft you will not need to do it again.
Your napkins are now done and ready to use!
TIPS ABOUT LAUNDERING: You may find after your first or second launderings, that a few more threads come off or that the grain is slightly askew. Simply follow the steps for straightening the grain as explained above the first time or two they are washed, and they should stop shifting. Also, most of today's woven cotton fabrics require no ironing if a little attention is given when laundering. Wash your napkins in the usual manner, however, before throwing them in the dryer, vigorously shake them out, giving them a good "fluffing". If an edge is turned under, stretch the fabric between your fingers until the fabric lies straight. Do not over crowd the dryer. And, fold the napkins as soon as they are done drying. They should not require ironing.
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