For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Favorite Crafting Tips, Continued

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Dear Ann,
How the heck are you? Have you been slicing and dicing any ancestral table linens lately? Highly recommended!
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Favorite fabrics featured: Kaffe and Amy…..
The responses to my question about how to finish the raw edges on the back of my surgically enhanced French tablecloths were exactly why I love convening these basement blog meetings and polling whoever shows up. I gave deep, prayerful consideration to all of the clever ideas so generously shared. I was especially intrigued by the cross-stitch option that Charlotte suggested, and by Emily’s tempting idea of backing it in muslin or linen and doing some light n’ elegant free-motion quilting to hold the two layers. (She makes it sound so easy.)
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….Liberty and Lotta….
Clearly, to my mind anyway, it boils down to What Is The Governing Principle Here?
If the Governing Principle is As Heirloomy As Humanly Possible, by which I mean, make it so it will not raise the eyebrows of any Table Linen Traditionalists at my Passover seder, I think the line-it-and-quilt-it response is the right one. You would see nothing on the back but sumptuously plain cloth and glorious swoops of machine stitching. Ahhhhhh. I could hand that down the generations with pride. My heirs would not call me Weird Tablecloth Granny, or at least not Poorly Made Tablecloth Granny.
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….Naomi Ito/Nani Iro….
If the Governing Principle is As Close to Japanese As a Nebraska Girl Can Get, then clearly some kind of charming hand-stitching is required. In this case, I’d see Charlotte’s fantastic cross-stitch idea, and raise her some quirky running stitches or other sashiko-inspired embroidery In perle cotton, running parallel to the strips on the right side, and tackng the seams flat on the wrong side.
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….Orla Kiely for Target (originally a dishtowel)….
But what if the Governing Principle is I Don’t Want To Think About This Any More?
You see, when I finished the seaming, and the pinking, and the hemming of the inserts to (sort of) smoothly bridge the gap between the hemming of the original tablecloths, and I pressed it (a little) and hung it on the clothesline, I realized a couple of things:
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1. It looks just fine (with the usual disclaimer, “if you like this sort of thing”).
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2. It looks fine on the back, too. Keep moving, nothing to see here. Don’t judge me. My seams are pinked, what do you want from my life?
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3. It’s at least 2 feet too long on the ends. Even for my fully-leafed table on the “All Folding Chairs Are In Use” setting, the thing looks like the train on Princess Di’s wedding dress. It would require royal pages to fluff it up and keep it from getting stepped on. I simply do not have the staff.
4. Sigh. Easily fixed, but SIGH. Measuring things: try it sometime. Why so stubborn, Kay, about the not measuring? Why all this emphasis on the joy of the winging it?
SO. I have lovingly folded it up. I am having all kinds of thoughts about what to do, based in large part on comments and emails from people who actually know what they are doing. (Flat-felled seams? Be still my heart!) Right now, I’m leaning toward a resting period. I’m thankful that at least I was able to get all the pieces back together into recognizable tablecloth format before pooping out. And I’m thinking that if it still seems like a good idea in a week or so when I’m near the sewing machine again, I’ll cut off the excess length on either end, trim off all the machine hemming, do a beautiful pieced binding of the entire edge to (sort of) match the inserts (goodness knows I have the scraps for it), and do some running-stitch embroidery along the edges of the seams, perhaps with a strip of hemmed muslin covering the seams on the back side. (I know, Emily! I said I didn’t want to bind it like a quilt! I changed my mind!)
And if it doesn’t seem like a good idea, I’ll have a gin & tonic and knit something. And there it is, my favorite crafting tip: Have a gin & tonic and knit something.
Love,
Kay

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71 Comments

71 Comments

  1. Kay, you always bring a smile to my face! Love the cloth….doubt you will go down in history as Crazy Aunt Table Cloth or something, the family will love it! It will be part of all dinners of importance to come, however I can see a new book in the making here! Book people out there did you hear that?
    Now can you tell those Yanks to at least let us win ONE!!!! :-)That was embaressing!

  2. I love your favorite crafting tip – Also – the tablecloth is beautiful….Stop overanalyzing the finishing and just enjoyt your beautiful creation :)

  3. I can visualize the whole thing trimmed down a little and hemmed with assorted bits of the insert. It will be fabulous. Drink that gin and tonic ( I myself would have a glass of red wine, but you know best what stokes your muse) and start piecing!

  4. Bless your heart, Kay!
    Love ya, lady!
    It’s fantastic!
    I’ve got a miter/log cabin mash-up in the works that I can’t wait to finish already and snap a picture to send to you.
    xs and os,
    Alice

  5. Just like my crafting lately: have a Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and lemonade (1:3 ratio) and knit something!
    Have enough of those, and the Houston summer don’t seem like no thing.

  6. Have a gin $ tonic and knit something is my new motto. Lurve the tablecloth, why not just make a wedding dress?

  7. I inherited a lovely lace tablecloth which my parents bought in the ’30’s in Canada…….I think it was used twice……is beige and white cutwork and very beautiful, and very HUGE! Since I now have a very small table which on which I occasionally try to baste a quilt, do paperwork, but rarely eat! I’ve always thought the tablecloth would make a lovely curtain for my bedroom….you’ve given me food for thought…….Mona.

  8. I wonder if you might need an extra-long tablecloth when you set up the tables in the garden terrace for an al fresco meal a la Godfather?

  9. I’ve got that plate, too! I have chartreuse, green and persimmon. Love the table cloth. You’ll figure it out. I did sit up when you mentioned flat-felled seams. It brought back memories of taking “the Bishop Method” sewing classes as a young girl.

  10. I’m not a quilter and I’d like to keep it that way. Thank you very much. ;-)
    I usually respond to quilting with “that’s nice”, “pretty fabric there”, or “huh” but the idea of cutting up beautiful French linen tablecloths to make a tablecloth, ooooooooooo, that IS tempting. Still, I am up to my eyeballs cleaning out the basement (still finding things I didn’t know I had), no problem resisting.
    And then you had to go and put my dish in the photo.
    Sigh.
    After I post this, I’m going to force my way past the recycle pile, past the donate pile, over the exercise bike, and find that piece of fabric I bought a hundred years ago thinking it would make a nice tablecloth “I’ll take the rest of it”, and think about how to cut it up.
    And maybe put some dishes on it.

  11. Kay, my comment is on your writing skill in this entry: as nice a piece of writing as anyone could want, I read it again just for the pleasure.
    Thanks.

  12. This is one of the reasons I left sewing – so I could have a gin and tonic and knit a little.
    I do love your tablecloth, though. It was worth effort!

  13. I decided not to cook tonight and am taking the kids to the pub for supper. Perhaps I will have a gin & tonic and knit something, too! Totally support the “have a rest” idea as well.
    I wonder if you could (when you stop resting) not exactly cut the ends off, but somehow fold them out of sight for now… That long table, al fresco Godfather dinner worries me — it’d be awful to find yourself short of table cloth at such a time.
    Maybe I’ll have 2 gin & tonics….

  14. I think you mean a big gin and tonic.

  15. Kay, you magnificent creature! It is elegant, playful and fabulous all at the same time. I think the grandchildren would love to use it as a summer fort in the garden when they visit you every year. Think of the memories they will make and how they will fight over who will get it.
    Make mine a vodka tonic please.
    xo

  16. Napkins with sort of matchy to the table cloth borders. Cloth napkins make everything better.
    Pinkies up!

  17. i will drink to every one
    tahts whats wrong with the tablecloth

  18. I just wanted to say that reading this post just made me really happy. And I’m not even drinking a gin and tonic, but I am getting ready to knit something.
    I think it is a lovely tablecloth and has given me some ideas about what to do with all my grandmother’s hand-embroidered linens.
    Thank you

  19. It’s lovely! And if you want to use it and it’s too long, just fold the excess up & under!

  20. The BEST Gin and Tonic on earth. http://www.elladiningroomandbar.com/
    Tonic is HOMEMADE. Yet another reason to come West sister. So many treats in store for you!

  21. Absolutely gorgeous! I have piles of lovely old table cloths that never get used because they are the wrong size; now I know what to do with them.
    I vote for the “fold it under” method of dealing with the length. When someone spills red wine at your next seder (and you know they will) you can just pleat it back over the spill until dinner is over – no muss no fuss. And if you can’t get the stain out you can just cut a chunk out and seam it back up.

  22. All the talk of measuring and trimming and seam finishing makes me twitch. How about just folding some pleats at each end, stitching them down?

  23. Your favorite crafting tip sounds perfect right now after a weekend at Sock Summit. I have lots of knitting to do. Not sure how much the gin and tonic will help (depends on how many?).
    I have a new table coming on Friday (3 months after ordering it), and your tablecloth musings are inspiring me! The old cloths won’t fit the new table. You are a genius.

  24. All the talk of measuring and trimming and seam finishing makes me twitch. How about just folding some pleats at each end, stitching them down?

  25. Somebody get me a t-shirt that says “Have a gin & tonic and knit something”! That’s my new summer motto.

  26. Is that the new lemongrass fiestaware? Love fiesta, must`have all the colors.

  27. Yielding to the wisdom of my betters, if not elders. Have a gin & tonic & knit something. Words to live by.

  28. Ya know, I don’t remember the last time I had a gin and tonic. I don’t even know if I like them. I probably don’t but I might be wrong. I will, however, have a gin and tonic and knit something before the week is out!
    Halle-freaking-llujiah!
    You have a good approach towards life Kay, you really do. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Your post made my day…love the humor, the fact that I’m not a sewer and am awed by the things you tackle, and the final crafting tip, which I would use except to substitute margarita!

  30. We’ve been here before, Kay, with the gin & tonics. It is, after all, the best crafting tip of them all. I just love the tablecloth and wish you had done this before I got rid of an entire huge box of tablecloths that bored me silly. Not having your creative sensibility, they went to Salvation Army in the downsizing. Damn. I have to go get another G&T now.

  31. I only have the makings for gimlets…please still come over anyhow.

  32. Thing 1: It is absolutely stunning (and I was wondering about the plan, but should not have questioned you). Thing 2: Woman, go buy a table big enough to show the thing in all it’s glory and be done. Follow up that process with the G&T.

  33. Enough surfing. Where’s the Tanqueray and the tonic? Thank goodness I filled the ice trays before work!
    I’m not a tablecloth girl, but that would make a dynamite comforter cover! Guess I’ll go Goodwill diving this weekend.

  34. Well, with all the fabric stripping and then binding, I wasn’t sure you’d ever get to a craft tip I could use. I should never have doubted! G&T and knit. Ok, got it.
    As for the table cloth, reading about binding it exhausted me. I think it will look too much like a quilt. There are plenty of meals that make me want to take a nap, but I don’t think that would be a Seder at your house. Cut off excess ends, hem. Maybe have some fun with the seams. That would leave time to return to the G&T.

  35. “Have a Gin and Tonic and Knit Something”
    thank you for that.
    kim

  36. Chartreuse Fiesta – delicious! I have quite a collection myself – such a marvelous color.

  37. Love the Fiesta Ware – I have a collection of my own — mostly new(ish), but a few old pieces, too. And the tablecloth will be lovely no matter what you do to it. I must point out, though, that, since you have kids, you do have staff! Or at least, something more resembling staff than, say, my 3 cats….

  38. That is exactly how I feel about flat-felled seams.
    I cannot wait until the day when I am a grown-up, with a sewing machine, and am neither moving every yearish nor overwhelmed with schoolwork, and so can start quilting.
    As it is–at least knitting is portable.

  39. Your tablecloth is fabulous, and you will feel great about it when you pick it up an finish it whenever that may be. The great thing about sewing and knitting is that by the time your materials (potentially) “go bad” through disentigration or whatever, you are dead and gone and it won’t matter anyway– so take as long as you like to finish it!

  40. mmmm, gimlets. Or is it Pimms o’clock? Pimms would look nice on that cloth, the mint leaves and cucumber would really bring out the green.
    I think you’re overestimating if you think you’re safe from the ‘Weird Tablecloth Granny’ epithet myself, but it will be bestowed in the nicest possible ‘she made our lives more fun with these Frankenstein tablecloths’ way. x x x

  41. dear kay,
    it’s lovely – length and all. i would never cut something shorter – you never know when you will need the extra length. love maha

  42. dear kay,
    the tablecloth is lovely – length and all. love maha

  43. I like your crafting tip – I would be afraid to see what I would craft while drinking a gin and tonic – but it sounds quite refreshing – – so refreshing in fact that I may make a point of stopping at Rists and picking up some gin on my way home from errands today ;) Guess I might need to get some ice too huh – my next fridge will have an ice maker I swear (and the next one will be coming up soon – this one is on it’s way out)
    I agree with someone earlier (Lisa?) on the too long tablecloth – I probably would just fold some pleats in it – but I wouldn’t sew them down – you never know when you might want to bring the tablecloth somewhere that may have longer tables after all — but if you feel the need to cut and sew be sure to save the pieces for another project (there I go stating the obvious again lol)

  44. You always get me to thinking about what I might be able to do…or about what my offspring will dub me…

  45. I love your creativity! Have you thought about using the table cloths to make a wedding chupa. Not sure of the correct spelling but I think you know what I mean.

  46. It seems like the sensible thing to do when you’re uncertain is to always have the cocktail(s) first and then ponder the problem. I wonder if you’d get different creative solutions by imbibing different cocktails. Gin & tonic, pina colada, appletini … just imagine the possibilities. Your Thanksgiving table will be beautiful graced with your reinvented table cloth!

  47. The “new” tablecloth is fabulous — how cool is personalizing those wonderful tablecloths with the inspired fabrics! Regarding the excess — just fold and stop worrying since you never, ever know when you’ll need the Godfather-sized cloth.
    Also, I vote for “Have a gin & tonic and knit something” as the official knitters’ call-to-arms. Cheers!

  48. “Have a gin & tonic and knit something” sounds like a motto to live by! Thanks for a wonderful post!!

  49. Hm. I love your crafting tip at the end. I’ll have to amend it for myself – have a frozen mudslide and knit. Knit something simple. Something where a mudslide or two crushing your ability to yarn over and count will not be a blow you will be realing from the following day.

  50. You know, I like it just the way it is!

  51. I love the G&T idea, but if you decide not to cut it, my table is 10 feet with leaves and 12 feet with the board on top for the family dinners requiring that, I could always borrow it!!!!!
    Looks great though.

  52. ” Have a gin & tonic and knit something” – there’s a T-shirt slogan if I ever heard one!

  53. Mmmmmmmm. Simply fabulous. And it LOOKS like a gin and tonic. . .cool and refreshing. I wouldn’t stress about the finishing too awfully much. After all, a tablecloth is sure to be stained. Room for artful draping is a Really Good Plan. Love it!

  54. If you hem it into a tube (sew it to itself at each end), will it still fit your table if you aren’t inviting all of Memphis to dinner? Then you could have a rotating table cloth similar to those roller towels (with which you are already familiar). No washing when dinner is done, just rotate to the next clean section! Of course, you’d have to fold it, not actually roll it because those pesky table legs will get in the way, but maybe you can solve that one too with a few more G&T’s.

  55. Consider this. If you’d measured, you might have come up short. It DOES happen. Murphy’s Law, etc (“measure twice cut once” notwithstanding).
    I’m with the folders and pleaters. But I would make a fat double reversing pleat right smack in the center of the table. All the Passover Seder dishes and candlesticks will hold the pleats down. It’s likely the people at the ends of the table will move the plates and glasses and side dishes around, and undo those end pleats in no time.

  56. Love the tablecloth and LOVE the color of the Fiesta ware. I have soft blue, soft yellow and melon green ( about 10 year old colors)
    Margie in Maryland

  57. I’m not really a tablecloth kind of a girl but I’m strangely finding myself with tablecloth envy.
    Yours is beautiful. And I think it’s a great idea to leave it how it is until you pass by that sewing machine again and the Kay-insiration hits.
    I think I need to dust off the screen printing aparatus and print the slogan to live by on one of my T shirts!

  58. oh do I know this one… looks at Xmas tablecloth quilted two years ago and still going on XMas table without any hem edge .. bad Noonie
    I am veering towards finding some really nice lace edging and attaching that as it won’t need any hemming at all….

  59. Kay, I’m not too good with fabric, but:
    –Too long on either end? Why not remove the inserted strip of color in the middle, hack off the required amount of CENTER fabric on each side (this might take some measuring), then re-sew the colored strip back into place? You won’t have to touch the ends…
    OR
    –If it’s going to be quilted, won’t the quilting process take up some of that fabric??
    Gin and tonic? Well, the tonic part can help if, in the middle of the night, you wake up with one of those fierce leg cramps/’charlie horses’. It has quinine, which is suopposed to ease the muscle cramp. Vintage brand diet tonic is my favorite. I always keep some around for medicinal purposes… :)
    Thanks for the great post. As usual, you’ve gotten my imagination’s cogwheels turning.
    LoveDiane

  60. In my humble opinion, ‘Have a gin & tonic and knit something’ is not just a crafting tip – it is a LIFE tip! (Gordons export strength if I have a choice)
    and my solution to the table cloth too long – buy an extra folding table to add to the end…

  61. Love the tablecloth and the Fiestaware. I can’t believe it, but I’m working on quilted tablecloths right now. Just finished one with some old blouses and fabrics from stash and am getting ready to begin sewing one from Kaffe Facet’s book, Passionate Patchwork. Even purchased a new machine to work on my first machine quilted projects. Really enjoy your blog, knitting and quilting.
    tp

  62. Hi Kay
    Delighted that you’ve got a square for the Macmillan Cancer Support World’s Biggest Coffee Morning Comfort Blanket Campaign (http://www.macmillan.org.uk/theknitter). I’ll knit it when I’m done with the Debbie Bliss Square (which is nicely cabley and was lucky enough to be Up on the Web first).
    Can I be sneaky please? A group of Girl Guide (like Girl Scouts, but more British) friends and I are going to put together a blanket in memory of our friend Emily, a Guider, who died aged 32 (NOT FAIR) at the beginning of July. I’m worrying about having enough squares – we need 40 per blanket. In shades of blue and neutral, preferably, mostly because the first person to start knitting started in blue. We’re Guides. It goes with our territory (http://www.girlguiding.org.uk)
    Please could you point people who have spare 8″ squares at us? Our sewing party’s in London on 26th September.
    Jane
    xxxx

  63. I haven’t tried it yet, but this chamomile addition to a G&T sure sounds tasty:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/dining/05appe.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=chamomile%20gin&st=cse
    Cheers!

  64. Take a moment and realize what a whirlwind you are. I started a quilt after your blog post about in February (or was it January?) and I AM STILL WORKING ON IT.
    There, there, hare. After your gin & tonic and knitting session, you will finish and it will be wonderful!

  65. Did anyone yet suggest that you could cover the pieced strip on the back of the tablecloth with the trimmed off end? I’m sorry I’m in too hot of a hurry to read all of the comments . . . but it isn’t stopping me. Love your ideas. It just dawned on me a month ago that I, too, could just cut off the end of my seemingly endless supply of too long tableclothes.

  66. Thumbs upon for gin & tonic and for Use of Green Fiestaware as photo prop. I believe I’ve called that one out on more than one occasion myself– and I noticed so did the set designers for Julie & Julia. Couldn’t help myself, that set was rife with handknit afghans and such. And the old lady knitting on the stoop, too.

  67. wow that was a stream of consciousness comment I left, apologies for lack of grammar or cogency.

  68. I’m up for VODKA and tonic, then knit something. Gin makes me a little queasy.

  69. Hi!
    I’m leaving a comment because I’ve tried to answer the email Ann sent several times, but I always get a bounce saying the message is blocked. So Ann, I never tried to ignore your question, it just seems my message is bounced back with a several day delay. :(

  70. Please check out my blog at craftitwithliz.wordpress.com. Johnson City, TN

  71. Seems to me you did just fine not measuring. You just forgot to cut the napkins off the ends.