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Fabric napkins for the win.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

Fabric napkins for the win. Are you a cloth-napkin user? I am and have been since college. In fact, I’ve been using the same cloth napkins since college, which means my cloth napkins are quite old. So old, that every time I find myself folding and putting them away I’m thinking–I should really make some new napkins… It’s always been one of those “some day” tasks, but finally, I’ve made myself some new fabric napkins, and it basically took no time at all.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

This is hardly even a weekend project. For me it was a I-need-a-break/distraction-to-feel-productive-for-maybe-an-hour kind of project. And boy are they.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

Even though the colors look curated, they are the result of pulling fabric in order off my shelf, which I guess is curated…and in color order, but still. It was an easy effort. I grabbed and cut fabrics until I felt done grabbing and cutting, which apparently was 9 pieces.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

To back up a bit, the idea came after seeing these from Purl. For anyone wanting to follow a tutorial, you can totally follow that one, it’s good. On mine, I simplified the steps a bit and changed the overall size.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

I first made a snip at 19″ with scissors and then ripped the full width of fabric, which means that my fabric was 19″ x width-of-fabric (44″ish in this case). Ripping the fabric ensures you’re following the grain of the fabric, which does make a difference when you’re planning for frayed edges. (Plus, ripping fabric is a surprisingly fun task.)

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

I then threw those 19″ strips (ripped on 1 side) into the washing machine and dryer before ripping them into 18″ squares, by making a snip at 18″ and ripping each side, basing all subsequent sides on the first ripped side.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

After getting all of the squares made, I frayed the edges, but unlike the tutorial, I didn’t do an overall stitch around the sides. I figure the fraying will be fine. After you fray some edges, you start to see how unlikely more of it will be from becoming more un-frayed. Or, if it does become crazy in the future, I can always add some stitching. No prob.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

Of course, some stitching could be a lovely decorative element if using a contrasting thread or interesting stitch. It all depends on the look you’re going for! In my case, it was a no-muss, no-fuss situation. I like the looseness.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

I know that some people have some concerns with fabric napkins. First, to address the wrinkle issue, these napkins haven’t been ironed at all. I took them straight from the dryer, ripped to size and then just hand smoothed them before this photo shoot. Not bad, huh?

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

And this was just the first wash, they’ll get softer and softer with each wash. If you’re into ironing or have some guests to impress, you could certainly give them a good press before setting them out. Otherwise, I find them to be totally acceptable straight from the dryer.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

Another question about fabric napkins has to do with stains. This is a good question since you will be using them around food. There are a few ways you could look at it. First, if you’re really concerned about stains, you could just pick out really dark and/or busy fabrics that could easily camo some stains. Second, I haven’t noticed too many stains that really stick in my experience with cloth napkins, and I’ve been a cloth napkin user for almost 15 years. Third, if you do happen to get a pesky and unrelenting stain, just make a new one! This is a low-commitment project that only gets better and more exciting with new fabric.

Friedlander Fabric Napkins . Carolyn Friedlander

Fabrics included are from my collections, friedlander, architextures and doe.

Yay for fabric napkins!

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T-Shirt patterns for everyone else.

I recently posted some of my favorite t-shirt patterns for women, but here are some t-shirt patterns for everyone else. When I was looking for patterns to use with blake, I found there to be a TON of women’s patterns, quite a bit of stuff for kids and not so much for men. I guess that isn’t too surprising, but that makes it all the more worthwhile to share my findings!

For men, we’ve got Eugene by Seamwork, a classic henley-style t-shirt.

Seamwork Eugene in Blake knit

Seamwork Eugene in Blake knit

The men’s Metro T-shirt by Liesl + Co is a great, classic t-shirt.

Men's Metro T-Shirt in Blake Knit

Men's Metro T-Shirt in Blake Knit

There’s also Paxson by Seamwork, which is a raglan-style t-shirt for men, but it’s currently under construction and not available. It’ll be nice when it is available, because a basic raglan pattern for men is hard to find. I’ve looked…

For kids, there are so many good ones. Here are some of my favorites.

The Field Trip Raglan by Oliver + S, is a great raglan option for boys–with a pocket.

Field Trip Raglan t-shirt in Blake Knit

Field Trip Raglan t-shirt in Blake KnitThe School Bus t-shirt by Oliver + S is a great basic t-shirt pattern for boys.

I added contrasting cuffs and a pocket to this one. The pocket was quite the highlight for my nephew. Not pictured, but within minutes of putting it on, he was delighted to discover that he could fit his entire hand in the pocket. Score!

Schoolbus T-Shirt in Blake Knit

Another kid’s t-shirt that I haven’t tried, but would like to try is the Flashback Skinny Tee by Made By Rae. It’s really cute, and I like the wider cuffs.

Flashback Skinny Tee

The Modern Layette Set by Green Bee Patterns has some good knit options. I’ve been wanting to try this out, especially after seeing this set that Anna Graham sewed up.

Modern Layette Set by Green Bee Patterns

The Lunch Box Tee by Oliver + S is one that I’m hoping to whip up this week since my niece is coming to visit.

Lunch Box Tee

I think a striped version of the short-sleeve length would be very cute in some blake. (And the culottes might need to be made too–so cute!)

Lunch Box Tee

I really enjoyed the feedback and comments that I received after my last t-shirt post. You guys pointed me towards some good stuff to check out, including the Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top, Hey June’s Lane Raglan and Love Notions’s Laundry Day Tee (available in sizes XS-XXXL).

What other knit patterns are you a fan of?

 

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My favorite t-shirt patterns.

With Blake coming out, I knew I had a good excuse to find the perfect t-shirt pattern. It turns out, there are many.

To be completely honest, I was never much of a t-shirt wearer before I started making my own t-shirts. Looking back, it makes total sense. Store-bought t-shirts just never really fit me right. You’d think there would be more leniency with t-shirts given the fact that the stretch is forgiving, but that’s never been the case for me. There’s something about a t-shirt that makes me want a better balance between fit, fabric and cut–even more so than what I desire from woven tops. I’m not sure why. Having said that, I don’t think that sewing your own t-shirt should be scary. In many ways they’re easier to take in and make adjustments to. Plus, there are TONS of good patterns and resources out there, and this list just touches on some of them. Maybe one or some will work for you?

Here are some of my faves.

My first two faves cover two very important bases–a fitted t-shirt and a roomy t-shirt. They are Rio by Seamwork and the Basic Tee by Seamly.

Seamwork Rio . Carolyn Friedlander

This is a Rio in Robert Kaufman speckle cotton jersey. The only alteration made to this pattern was to straighten the hem, rather than do the high/low thing. I wear this speckle version so often that it was the first thing I sewed up with blake.

Rio Tee . Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

Rio Tee . Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

You can see another version of Rio in the Blake Lookbook on the lovely Vanessa.

Rio Tee in Blake Knit

The Basic Tee by Seamly is another favorite. Whereas the Rio is a more fitted tee, the Basic Tee by Seamly is more relaxed and has a pocket.

Seamly Basic Tee in Speckle Jersey

This version is also in Robert Kaufman’s speckle cotton jersey, and I wear it all the time. It’s kind of become my unofficial airport uniform. You’d think that I’d change it up, but I just love this one so much.

Seamly Basic Tee in Speckle JerseyI haven’t made one of these in blake yet, but it’s on the agenda. I made sure to cut some pieces out when I was prepping for Quilt Market. It will be happening…

Next up, we can talk about Jane by Seamwork. This is a pattern I was eager to try, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the fit right off the bat, but after some modifications to the neckline (I lowered it quite a bit) and length (I shortened it quite a bit), I’m very in love with this shirt. (By the way, I was wearing this guy on day 1 of Quilt Market.)

Seamwork Jane in Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

Seamwork Jane in Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

I think this type of shirt would be perfect for some fun appliqué or other personalization and detailing. Seamwork did a good job of showing some of those possibilities off.

Seamwork Jane in Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

We can’t talk about t-shirts without talking about Grainline’s Linden, which I know, is a sweatshirt…but in the right weight, it is also the perfect t-shirt.

This one (seen in the Blake Lookbook) is View B of the pattern which features short sleeves, shorter bodice length and no sleeve or bodice bindings. It’s really great.

Linden shirt in Blake knit

Linden shirt in Blake knit

A long-sleeved version is pretty great too.

Linden sweatshirt in Blake knit

I love a jersey-weight Linden because it’s perfect for layering. I have several others that I wear often, so it’ll be good to get this one in the rotation.

Linden sweatshirt in Blake knit

Also in the Grainline family is Lark. I don’t have one (yet) in blake, but I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. Lark is fabulous basic t-shirt with tons of handy adaptations available for you with different sleeve lengths, neck lines, cardigan variations, etc.

Oh, and the Hemlock tee by Grainline too! It’s actually a free pattern if you sign up for their newsletter. It’s single-sized–so heads up on that. You’ll maybe need to make some fit adjustments. I made one, but need to take some pics. (In the meantime you can see mine here and here posted by JanieLou.) I LOVE this top and have already been wearing it a lot. As for the fit, I did have to tinker around a bit as the one size that it comes in isn’t my size, but if you have some experience, it’s not too tricky. And knit is forgiving.

Next up is the Wanderlust Tee by Fancy Tiger Crafts. (You can actually watch how to make this on CreativeBug here. Even though I’ve sewn knits many times before, I learned a lot watching this video and others by Fancy Tiger.)

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

This t-shirt is comfy, and I like the style. It features a slightly dropped sleeve (which is a little easier to install if you are fearful of sewing in sleeves) and a curved hem. The version is drafted to be kind of cropped, so I’ve lengthened all versions that I’ve made. This version in blake is maybe the 3rd that I’ve made so far…clearly, I’m a fan of this pattern.

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

What’s nice about any t-shirt is that you can switch up the collar and/or pocket with another fabric for a nice little change of pace. Here’s another Wanderlust Tee doing just that.

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

Hopefully this list isn’t too overwhelming for you. I know that there is a lot out there, which is why I thought it would be useful to report in on some of my findings. Plus, the sheer amount represented here is a testament to how speedy knits can be to sew up. With knit stuff, it’s not uncommon for me to cut out and sew up multiples at once.

Do you have any favorite t-shirt patterns? Please feel free to leave a comment and share!

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