Phil and I are just back from the most completely lovely weekend over here on cookquiltmakeandbake, as we got to celebrate the much anticipated marriage of Phils older brother Simon, to his beautiful bride Ella. It just so happens that Simon, who is one of the kindest, nicest and tech savviest people you could ever happen to meet, managed to find in Ella someone who was equally kind, very smart, calm and beautiful, so as you can imagine it was an emotional and happy happy weekend.
It was also a rather whirlwind trip for us both, as the couple were celebrating their wedding weekend in the South of England (while as you probably know we live in Scotland), so we downed tools on Friday afternoon, hopped in our car and headed right to the airport (actually, I pretty much literally downed tools as I happened to have an exam on the Friday afternoon so more or less walked out of my exam and onto a plane).
I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing, but Simon and Ella have had a bit of a whirlwind themselves, as Simon only proposed on Christmas morning, which gave them exactly 132 days to plan the whole event! But, not to be fazed by any challenge, the pair whipped themselves into action, and produced just one of the prettiest, most thoughtful and fun wedding days you could hope for. The day was jam packed with cute details, including a beautiful guestbook tree for guests to leave their thumb prints on which was made my Simon and Phil’s super talented sister Sarah, favours which contained sweet treats from areas of the world which reflected both the couples heritage, and delicious fruit cake which was made with love by the bride’s mother.
I could literally chit chat all day about the details, but sadly, being the bad bloggers we are, we were so swept up in the moment of enjoying the day that we mostly left photograph taking to the professionals, and instead danced, ate (the food was delicious!) and celebrated the night away.
So, instead we thought we would take a few minutes to share with you our gift for the couple, which of course I couldn’t resist the temptation to get crafty and make myself: hand embroidered monogrammed napkins!
These are a project which has been pootling along in the background for a while now, and we managed to finish just in the nick of time for Fridays departure. Our plan was always to hold off blogging about them until after the weekend so we didn’t spoil the surprise, but in the end my own dilly dallying (I blame revision) has meant that post wedding was really the first time they were finished to share the process with you all.
Before I get started with the details I should also say (and this is not trying to be modest, but simply laying the facts out so you all are encouraged to have a go!): I am really not a very practiced embroiderer. I love to dress make and I totally love to quilt, and I’ve even dabbled in the odd but of cross stitch now and then, but embroidery has never been my thing. So, even if you havn’t given it a try before, have a go with some embroidery thread on an old piece of cotton before you dismiss it, because you might just be pleasantly surprised at how pretty and neat things turn out with only a tiny bit of practice.
I turned to google before I started to get some advice on stitching, and found a couple of super helpful tutorials and blogs which I’ve linked to below, so if you are unsure, check them out:
Right, down to business 😀
Monogrammed Embroidered Napkins
You will need:
8 cotton napkins – If you were feeling even more crafty than I was you could always get the cotton as a big sheet and cut and hem these yourself, but I was a little pushed for time, so used a nice heavy weight plain white cotton napkin already prehemmed from the store.
an embroidery needle and small embroidery hoop
embroidery thread (I used 2 skeins of DMC stranded cotton thread, but had a fair bit left over, so it doesn’t really take much. )
a propelling pencil
an ipod or an ipad, or a light box or brightly lit window would work well.
1) Design your monogram – For this part of the project I enlisted Phil’s help on Photoshop (although if you are not a Photoshop lover, you could just as easily use word. Also, if you look online there are a bunch of website which will let you design your own monogram for free using their preset fonts and designs). We decided to make the napkins super personal we would use the same font as on Simon and Ella’s save the dates. So, really we just used each of their initials and the first initial of their last name and rearranged the letters until we were happy with the logo, then saved it at a JPEG.
2) Outline onto your napkins – Next we transferred the JPEG logo onto the ipod. Believe it or not there is method to this madness. The ipod acts as a light box, which means then when we placed the logo on the screen and popped the screen behind the napkin, you could see the logo really clearly to trace around it with pencil and transfer the logo onto the napkin. If you don’t have an ipod or another back lit electronic device and old fashioned light box would work just as well if you printed your logo out. You could even go totally old school and just print it and use the window (our napkins were a little too thick for the light of the window to be sufficient though).
As a side note, for these napkins I decided to place the monogram in the corner of the napkin on a diagonal angle, so when the napkins were rolled and folded it would still be able to be seen, but you could place it anywhere you wanted, totally up you!
3) Get stitching – Pop your napkin in the embroidery hoop to keep it nice and taught and sew away. I used a satin stitch, using 2 strands of the 6 strand thread to sew my monograms. Satin stitch is literally a straight wrapping over and over stitch. The only tricks were to keep the stitches very close together (literally, one stitch for every warp thread in the cotton of the napkin) and to really take time with placing the needle for each stitch to make sure your edges stay nice and even and straight, rather than getting a bit wiggly.
The pencil line outline really helped with this too. Before jumping right in there and sewing on my napkins themselves I practised the logo a few times on a old piece of comparable weight cotton (an old pillow case actually) to make sure I was happy with the direction and density of the stitches.
Also, as another side note, I didn’t use any knots of the back of my sewing to anchor my thread (as it is really important that the napkins are reversible!) so instead a just left a loose end at the beginning and end of the logo and sewed it into the other stitches once I was finished, to anchor it.
4) Wash the napkins – One of the reasons I chose to use DMC thread is that the cotton thread is prewashed, meaning the color from my stitching wouldn’t wash out onto the white napkin (disaster!!!) when Simon and Ella first washed them. But, as I’m a little paranoid about things like that, and I wanted to make doubly sure none of my sewn in threads has any intention of popping out, I hand washed the napkins after sewing them (this also made sure any of my pencil marks which had inadvertently been left visible were gone too!).
Also an important thing about the thread was that it was very important that it was 100% cotton. Because, as the napkins underneath are cotton they will need a fairly hot iron, so if there were any synthetic polyester type fibres in the thread you would risk melting them when you ironed your napkin (double disaster!!!).
5) Box up – All that was left to do was iron the finished napkins, fold them, roll them and box them up. We couldn’t find a box that we liked to display the napkins in for gift giving so instead Phil set too and made a box which we covered with co-ordinating gift wrap. The box ended up being pretty sturdy when it was finished so hopefully it will come in useful and a good storage box for them in the long term too.
So, that’s all there is too it! I’m not going to lie, the napkins definitely took a little while to finish, at 2 – 4 hours per napkin (I got faster as I went along), 8 of them ended up being a fair time commitment, but we were super super happy with the end product, and Simon and Ella seemed very pleased, which makes it totally worth it!
So, let us know if you did any fun celebrating this weekend! Don’t they make the cutest couple?