Friday, September 14, 2012

DIY: You're in my favor.

I don't know if you remember my lovely friend Dawn and her plans to wed in the summertime in Washington, but if you do you may recall that she had some aspiring plans for a wedding of whimsy and sweet sentiment. She wanted small cloth tea napkins with hand embroidered images befitting a backyard wedding, all on the night of a nautical full moon. I gladly volunteered to hand embroider napkins to dress her wedding tables, and here's how it went...

There are so many ways you could take this favor: you can strictly monogram the napkins, or have one reoccurring picture, maybe little phrases or embroider a nice little border... The important thing is that you know the direction you want to go prior to having a stack of tirelessly embroidered napkins in front of you and a change of heart on the theme.

After the concept is firmed up, get to work sketching out the fun embroidery patterns. We kept the designs simple because we had sixty to do, and not a lot of time.

Transform the sketches by using tracing paper and an iron-on transfer pencil. I used an Aunt Martha's Studio pencil. Oh, Aunt Martha. These transfer pencils are available at any given craft store, typically you can get to for under $5.

Next cut the lucky fabric. You can make them as large or small as you like, just leave room to hem the edges.

Now to transfer the embroidery pattern to the fabric! Place the side with the pencil residue against the fabric and gently iron over it until the image has visibly transferred. Be sure to remember if you are using words or monograms they need to be backwards on the transfer so they are legible.

Arm yourself with your floss. Dawn picked out some embroidery floss to match her wedding colors, so simple and sweet.

And away we go! Embroider to your heart's content and then keep going because you have a deadline.

Once you've got your batch done, use some gentle soap and warm water to hand wash over the embroidery. This will help to remove any residual pink color from the pencil transfer that the floss doesn't cover. I used some lingerie soap I purchased from Nordstrom (probably too long ago to mention, but it still smells divine).

Now comes my least favorite part, the hemming. I'd suggest ironing your hem lines after your napkins are still damp from the gentle wash, then pinning them.

And pinning them...
And pin some more (I used a lot of pins).

Sorry I don't have any photos of the hemming, probably because it was one hundred degrees and even with the air conditioning, sitting in front of a hot sewing machine for hours is not my kind of fun. Anyway, add to that the lighting was really poor because I was doing it in the evening time. Excuses, excuses, I know. But if you want to see a tutorial on how to do this, you should look at By Hand London--they have a great rolled hem stitch tutorial.

And voila! The napkins create a lovely little favor for the wedding table, and they are a perfect personalized accoutrement to eating cake.

And whenever your guests look at them in adoration of their cleverness they'll remember your lovely whimsical wedding.


Congratulations Jay and Dawn!


  1. These are amazing. Are they machine washable afterwards? Should one just soak them in gentle cleanser and rinse?

    1. Hey Kathryn,
      I don't know that an official test was done. I think the best thing would be to soak them with laundry detergent and gently agitate them by hand. If there are any stains, the best thing to do would be to use a tide pen or something like that to get it out. You don't want to make the embroidery loose.


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