Want to find a use for your mother's or grandmother's linen napkins? Transform them with dye.
I buy vintage linens through online auctions and I often get many sets of small cocktail or tea napkins in the lot. They are pretty but not that appealing to most people because they are generally white or ivory and seem delicate for regular use. Dyeing them a darker colour or with a pattern transforms them completely. This is what a typical vintage napkin might look like:
This set has mitred corners and is totally plain. I dyed two sets of these in shibori patterns. The black and white set is a classic spider web pattern-I bound the centre square with string and left the border so that it would be all black. I also added the machine embroidery.
This other set was similar but it had a nice open work design around the centre. I basted a circle in the centre and then folded it into a triangle. Wood blocks help to keep the dye from saturating the whole piece. I dipped these ones in indigo.
I have also dyed napkins that have lace or embroidered edges. I generally dye this type in a solid colour like these ones:
Or this set of slightly larger napkins:
You probably only use cocktail napkins when you have guests but pretty cloth ones make a great alternative to paper and they will last for years.
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