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DIY Shibori Napkins and How to Keep Them Stain-Free

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I looked on in horror as my young son wiped his spaghetti sauce mustache on his sleeve. Nooooo!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told him not to do that. Wait, I can. About 3489257489284920583092 times. Yep. I mean the napkin was within his grasp but I guess his sleeve was closer. I thought, it’s a good thing I don’t have nice napkins or I’d internally flip if he stained those. As I was washing the dishes I remembered a story I heard about a woman that had a beautiful pearl necklace. She put them in a safe place so they could never get lost or ruined. She never wore them for fear of something happening to them. She passed away never having worn that precious necklace she valued so much. While I don’t go to that extreme, we use our china several times a year, I realized my mistake. I CAN have nice things. Yeah some might get ruined because we are a young family. But, I can also take more steps to protect my “nice” things. Thank you Scotchgard™ Fabric & Upholstery Protector for existing!! I don’t want to be worrying about things getting ruined because they are being used. Helloooo!! Napkins are supposed to be used to wipe off spaghetti sauce mustaches. They are supposed to wipe off chocolate after a fun fondue night. That is their purpose. My logic was all wrong and I decided to do something about it. I finally bought myself some nice cloth napkins and wanted to personalize them by using the shibori method of dyeing. It’s just a glorified version of tie dyeing (throwback to summer camp). And it was fun to get all messy crafting up a storm. And you sure are bound to feel pretty awesome looking at your new creation and confidently saying to yourself, I freakin’ made these. So you wanna make some of these yourself?? After some trial and error and some more error, here is a way to make these. Take note that every dye is different and while your napkins will don the same hue, each method of tying results in something different. I like to think of it as unique and personal. I love when they are imperfect because well, we all are imperfect and beautiful. Alright, enough with the sappiness and bring on the mess.

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Materials:
100% Cotton Cloth Napkins
Navy Blue Dye
Disposable Gloves
1 Cup of Salt (optional)
Bucket (I lined mine with a trash bag so it wouldn’t dye it)
Tools: rubber bands of various sizes and widths, cardboard, string, paper towel tube, etc.
1 Cup of White Vinegar
Scotchgard™ Fabric & Upholstery Protector (coupon for $1 off here!)

What To Do:

  1. If you are using new napkins, make sure to wash them to remove any chemicals that might alter dye. Leave them damp.
  2. Using various tools like rubber bands, string, tubes, tie damp napkins using various methods. Or you could use the same method if you want them all similar. Here are a couple of links to help you with different tying methods.
  3. Every dye has slightly different methods so make sure to read their specific directions. I used a combination of colors: navy blue and royal blue dye. Then I filled a bucket with hot water. Add a cup of salt and mix really well. You could also just use a singular dye.
  4. Make sure your napkins are still damp. This helps to soak in the dye. Depending on how big your bucket is, place the napkins into it in sets. I did 6 an 6. Insert into dye and agitate the dye every 5 minutes. The amount of time you let it soak will determine the intensity of the color. I would recommend letting it sit for at least 30 minutes. I accidentally learned this haha! Dyeing is a unique technique because even if you use the same method all the results slightly vary.
  5. Once time is up, remove the napkins letting the excess dye drip off. I wouldn’t recommend using a white or porcelain sink to wash off dye or it could stain it. Without removing the ties, let cold water run through napkin until the water is clear-ish.
  6. Once the water isn’t an intense color, remove the ties and run under cold water until the water runs clear. Run the remaining napkins under cold water.
  7. Once they are all done, put into washing machine. Don’t mix with any other clothing. Wash it (no detergent) with 1 cup of vinegar in cold water.
  8. Wash again using detergent in cold water.
  9. Dry using low heat. Once dry, iron. Or not. Ironing really isn’t my jam but it makes it look crisper.
  10. Using Scotchgard™ Fabric & Upholstery Protector, shake bottle really well. I recommend using a test swatch to make sure color doesn’t rub off. Holding the can 6″ away, lightly spray one coat onto fabric, front and back. Make sure to be in a well ventilated area and cover your work space. (watch video here on how to apply)
  11. Reapply a second coat once first coat is dry.
  12. Once dry, it’s ready to use! Because napkins are frequently used, you’ll have to reapply every few months. But now you can use them without any worry! And they won’t change the feel or look so spray away.
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So go take a stroll through Target and grab some supplies. Not gonna lie, my Target stroll not only included grabbing the Scotchgard™ product. A few other things jumped in my cart, too. #sorrynotsorry I finally found them in this aisle on the third shelf…not that I minded perusing every aisle to see what else I “needed.”

Now go spray your sofa, sofa pillows, other table linens…all the things. Actually first read on back what you can spray. And then stop worrying about it and just live your crazy awesome life.

2 thoughts on “DIY Shibori Napkins and How to Keep Them Stain-Free

  1. What an incredibly fun tutorial – and I love how your napkins turned out. I agree — use your fun stuff!!! #client

    1. Thank you! I really had so much fun making them.

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