Yesterday I mentioned that I had questioned the cost-effectiveness of making your own table linens. I keep kicking this idea around, more because that is where my pre-coffee brain has landed than anything. Of course, I also have the theme song from “WKRP in Cincinnati,” stuck in there this morning, so take it as you will.
But seriously, assuming you pay full price for fabric, and that you are just making simple reversible placemats and unlined napkins, I figure that each napkin/placemat set costs $6.25 each. Here’s how I figured it:
You need a bare minimum of two yards of fabric, that is, one yard each of two fabrics (front and back) for placemats. These are cut into six mats, 14 x 18″ or less, depending on the width of the fabric and whether or not the print is directional. At $10 per yard, that equals$20.
For napkins, you’ll buy 0ne and 3/4 yard (you really only need a yard and 2/3, but most fabric stores I know don’t cut in 1/3 yard increments). You’ll cut this into six 20″ squares for napkins with a 1/4″ double hem, these will finish at 19″ square, I like to do a 3/4″ hem because it’s less fussy, so mine finish around 18-1/2″). At $10 per yard these, then, cost $17.50.
Add these together and you get $37.50. If you choose to line or interface the mats, obviously, the cost will be higher. If I line mine, and I like to for the weight, I usually dig out some old stash flannel. But lately, I have skipped that step. Then divide $37.50 by six for a per set cost of $6.25.
Looking at similar pieces at WalMart, I found these Pioneer Woman print placemats for $13.88 for four, and they are quilted and bound. Napkins cost $9.92 for a set of eight. I won’t bore you with the math, but dividing these out gives a total per set cost of $4.71.
So the per set cost is less at WalMart by $1.54. And they are already made. We can argue all sorts of points here. As I said, the WalMart ones are done. They are cute, if the Pioneer Woman style suits your decor. They are quilted and bound too, and my version in this case is not.
We can also argue against the ready-made version. The fabric is probably not quilt shop quality. The person making them probably earned a dollar for their portion of the making. They aren’t custom-matched to your decor (or someone else, if you’re giving a gift). And lastly, you (or I) did not have the fun of making them.
This discussion could go on and on, I’m afraid. There are obviously ways that the linens you make could be even more expensive: you might choose to piece, interface, line, bind, quilt, and so on. They could also be slightly less expensive if you used sale or thrifted fabric. I heard someone say that she uses thrifted sheets to make them. Sorry, but I draw the line at using fabric that someone has slept on. The ick-factor is waaaaay too high for me there. If it doesn’t bother you, you can definitely save a lot by doing that.
I’ve made a lot of assumptions here, I know. Do you even use placemats and napkins? Do you prefer the wipe-clean vinyl mats? Paper napkins? How do you set your table? I really find it interesting to learn how other people do things, so ‘fess up!
The coffee has kicked in now, so I am off to my workroom. I will keep thinking about this, though. I am thinking there are other ways to cut the cost of table linens, they just haven’t hit me yet. Do you have any suggestions?