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THE BAXTER BULLETIN, Mountain Home, Ark.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Living Dyeing can be grand: Linen napkins, Martha Stewart-style By HOLLY RAMER Associated Press Writer

The subtitle of the new “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts” is “Basic techniques for sewing, applique, embroidery, quilting, dyeing and printing.” And pressing. Don’t forget the pressing. Making a basic linen napkin the Martha way requires applying a hot iron no fewer than 20 times per napkin. But all that steam is well worth it to produce perfect, professional-looking mitered corners. And once the ironing is done, the actual sewing couldn’t be simpler: a quick line of stitching along the edge of a fold with no pinning required to keep everything straight. The book, published in March by Potter Craft, includes more than 150 projects, with information about fabric, setting up a sewing area, key sewing supplies and basic sewing techniques. But what sets it apart is the inclusion of some of the other techniques, particularly the dyeing and printing chapters, said Silke Stoddard, deputy editor of holiday and crafts at Martha Stewart Living. Dyeing plain linen napkins is a creative way to personalize them to your own tastes and decor, she said. True enough, though the introduction to the

dyeing chapter may overstate it a bit: “Dyeing is eventful in a grand sort of way,” it states. Sure, dying can be grand and eventful, if you’re Romeo or Juliet. Dyeing, on the other hand, is more of a trial-and-error tricky, technique, particularly when using the fiber-reactive dyes called for in several projects. Producing subtle gradations of color from light to dark using the ombre dyeing method probably isn’t for beginners. Having never dyed anything other than Easter eggs, my first attempt at dyeing six luncheon napkins resulted in uneven splotches where I had placed pins to mark the gradation lines. But with those mistakes folded to the back, the results are quite striking. Producing a solid color using all-purpose dye, such as RIT, is easier, as is using the same kind of dye to tint already printed fabric. Among the simplest no-sew projects in

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A stack of handmade dyed napkins is shown. Instructions for sewing and dyeing the napkins are among the 150 projects in “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.”

the book are napkins cut from striped ticking material over-dyed in pastel hues, with the edges left frayed and unhemmed. Basic Linen Napkins, from “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts”

Materials basic sewing supplies 23-inch square of fabric for each napkin Instructions • Press two folds into each side of the fabric square; the first fold is 1/2 inch wide; the second is 1 inch. Unfold the second crease. Fold one corner in

so the second crease lines up. Press. • Unfold the corner, and refold on a diagonal with right sides together. Stitch along the crease made by the folded corner. Repeat with the remaining corners. • Trim the points from the corners to 1/4 inch, tapering at each end of the seam. Press the seams open and the corners flat. • Turn all four corners inside out (which is actually right-side out); press again. • Stitch down the fold all the way around, so you have a seam 1 inch from the edges. Dye if desired.

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