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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cloth Napkins- What's With That?

The comments on my last post revealed two things.
The first is that a LOT of people have been tidying their fabric stashes.....
could this be a pre-cursor to, and a subliminal desire for SPRING CLEANING?
The other was an interesting round up on the cloth napkins and their place at table nowadays.
I think finger bowls are very rare  but it was nice to know what is de rigueur in front of the waiter.
 So cloth napkins.....
are we seeing the demise?
I know that less and less people are using tablecloths to save on laundering and ironing, after all tables are made quite durable these days no longer need as much protection from heat and moisture. It is much easier to wipe down after meals. I myself opt for placemats and napkins.
Do you remember these that I made for friends
and the tutorial here for mitring corners.

I love to make coordinating napery and setting the table for guests is a joy for me.
Some of the comments said

"... hardly anyone ever uses them. They stay folded and unused..."


"We use cloth napkins, and it's funny to see the varying reactions from guests. Some think we're 'oh so elegant,' while others think it's part of our 'hippy lifestyle."

I have noticed a similar thing too. Many times they remain unfolded and people seem proud to have saved me the trouble of having to wash them. I've started to wonder if it is just me and that I am so uncoordinated that I can't manage food to my mouth without occasionally needing to blot (and no thank you, it's not because I am shovelling). 
I know from friends in America that napkins are very commonly used at table and not just for entertaining but they seem to be quite at home with paper now.

I remember napery sets as a girl for the glory box. They were so smartly boxed with clear lids.

At school they were one of the first sewing projects we worked on...well pulled thread work anyway.
I keep my napkins in a couple of drawers close to the dining table and I have another drawer in the buffet for afternoon tea napery.
Brights in one drawer and neutrals in the other.

So what do you think is responsible for the slow demise of the serviette?
Is it that even good restaurants these days only offer paper to save on expense?
Or is it that we don't dine at table the way we used to, with cloths etc,?
Is it because we have become so informal. Are we opting for trays in front of TVs?


  1. I was bought up on napkins at the table... Though we don't do it with our children. To be honest I think I have done this to avoid the work... We don't seem to need to use them. Though i do like it when we are at mums for a meal and they are out. My children only remember to use them because I have to hint...

  2. Oh I do love a serviette and use one every night and like you I am not shovelling but just find it's very handy............

    I always put them out for dinner guests, but find most don't even use them. I don't mind washing them at all and think it's nice to have them.

    Times are changing and what was once the norm is now old fashioned and out of touch.. ......

    Better check out the mitred corner tutorial while I'm here, never know when I might need it.

    Claire :}

  3. Tanya, your table setting looks so elegant! I have a collection of old embroidered tablecloths, mostly supper cloth size...I get so much pleasure out of laundering them and then ironing them with spray starch...I put them on the small tables we have in the loungeroom. Most of my friends think it's too much trouble and that I'm a bit 'mad'! lol

  4. I like napkins - the trouble is the iron finding and followed by safe place to keep them on hand in volume.

    Mine are all still in a box to unpack since the last move - i do hate having to present paper ones - seems so unfancy at a dinner party :)

  5. Wait, what? We're supposed to iron them?
    That will NEVER happen around here!


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