By Patricia Belyea
WAUCONDA WA I used to not like brown. Now that I own a log house in the woods, brown has become my friend.
As a frontier woman, I have only one set of china. It’s Buffalo dinerware with brown stripes. For a new set of napkins, I used two coordinating yet contrasting brown yukata cottons.
Here are instructions for making your own set of napkins:
FABRIC NEEDS FOR 4 NAPKINS
2 yards of yukata cotton for the napkin blanks
1 yard of yukata cotton for the contrasting edge strips
A NOTE ABOUT YUKATA COTTON
Most yukata cottons are hand-dyed so there is no right or wrong side. Both sides have the same vibrancy of color and pattern. This makes yukata cotton a great choice for napkins!
I bet your china isn’t brown! Here are a couple of options to get you thinking about intriguing color combos for your home—a multi-colored and an indigo set.
Pre-wash your yukata cottons in your washer with the warm wash/cold cycle. My detergent of choice is Seventh Generation. To dry, hang or lay out to dry.
I’m crazy about my brown butterfly fabric. On one end of the yard, the butterflies are clustered and on the other end they’re separate as they flutter away.
My contrast fabric is double-dyed in indigo and brown. The pattern includes nested boxes (bamboo boxes for measuring), a lattice, and arty lines.
Be sure to love your fabrics for this project!
Cut four 13 1/2" squares of yukata cotton.
To make a handy trimming template, cut a 13" square of freezer paper. Using a dry iron, press the template to the front of the fabric.
Trim all around, using a gridded ruler and rotary cutter, adding a 1/4" to each side so the final napkin blank is 13 1/2" square.
Cut sixteen 1 1/2" strips of yukata cotton, cutting across the narrow width.
Press the strips down the middle lengthwise, with right sides out.
Trim the micro-selvedges off one end of the folded strips with a 90º angle.
Flip each strip and make a mark that’s 13 1/8" from the trimmed end. Trim across the strip, on the mark, with a 90º angle.
The folded strips are now ready to sew onto the napkin blanks.
Place four folded strips along the four edges of a napkin blank back — with folded edges towards the center. Position one end of each strip exactly in the corner with the other end on top of the adjacent strip. Pin to secure while sewing.
Starting in the middle of one side with a 1/4" presser foot, sew all around the napkin blank. Keep the presser foot aligned with the project edge.
Approximately 1/2" before and 1/2" after each corner, adjust your stitch length to a micro stitch.
Be sure to make a sharp 90º turn at each corner. The needle-down function is useful for this.
Once back at the starting point, reverse-stitch to lock the stitching.
Before sewing, double-check that the folded edges of the strips are towards the center of the napkin blank. And, that the short ends of the strips are on top.
Clip the four corners of the project, first across the point and then in from the sides.
Pressing Step 1: Set the seams—press the project flat, as it was sewn, to release the tension in the thread.
Pressing Step 2: From the back, press the strips out. It is not possible to press near the corners yet.
Push out the corners with a point turner. (Do not use the tip of a seam ripper!)
Pressing Step 3: Pull the folded strips around to the front and press with the seam lines in the center of the edges.
Using a contrast thread, stitch along the inner edge of the folded strips. I used Aurifil 50wt cotton thread in White.
Give the napkins a final press. Tada!
As I was fussy cutting my napkin blanks, I only yielded four napkins from two yards of yukata cotton. You may be able to get five or six napkins from your fabrics.
If you make Contrast-Edged Yukata Napkins, please send me a pic! My hope is that your photo will be horizontal and that you’ll show your style with the photo staging.
I will add your project to this blog post. email@example.com
A NOTE ON THE BOOK: A Year In Japan, by Kate T. Williamson.
A NOTE ON THE DINERWARE: Buffalo China, Bunker Hill pattern.
Both my husband and my ancestors were in America for the Battle of Bunker Hill at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Michael’s family members fought with the Americans and my family members fought with the British.
After the War, one of Michael’s forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. My family, as United Empire Loyalists, left New York Harbor in 1783 on a ship that sailed to New Brunswick in the British colonies. There they were deeded tracts of Loyalist land. Today New Brunswick is a province of Canada.
ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.
FOLLOW OKAN ARTS ON INSTAGRAM @okanarts