Whether you're swirling paint or baking a cake, the trick lies in using the perfect combination of ingredients. The same is true of choosing and matching textile patterns.
Lucky for us, Jennifer Hoverson Jahnke knows a thing or two about fabric. As a recent bride and co-owner of needlework supply and fabric stores Purl and Purl Patchwork in New York City, she's more than qualified to offer tips to help you weave fabric into your wedding. Here's some advice straight from Jennifer:
1. Get Your Numbers Straight
Every company and store is different when it comes to ordering fabrics, but many large companies print only one round of a pattern; in many cases, stores will have only one or two bolts of the fabric with no option of reordering. Once that bolt is used, the fabric is gone forever. When I was choosing fabrics for my napkins, I made sure to purchase the total yardage I needed to make all the napkins for each table in one shot so as to avoid this problem.
2. Pick a Color Scheme
To keep a consistent look throughout your tables, choose a color scheme and stick to it as closely as you can. Specific patterns aren't so important. I mixed and matched polka dots, gingham, and contemporary and vintage-looking floral prints on each table, but they all coordinated because they were within the color scheme.
3. Focus on Your Needs
There are endless materials to meet your crafting needs, but not all are equally suited for each project. I chose cotton and cotton-linen fabrics because they are practical for making napkins (all that wear and tear), and they offer the largest range of prints to mix and match at affordable prices. Also, the weight of my fabric needed to lend itself to becoming a napkin, so that meant no upholstery-weight or extra-stiff fabrics -- though these are beautiful for larger projects such as table runners.
4. Think About Size
Always keep in mind the size of the projects you're considering. Big patterns can be great for big projects (like tablecloths) but not necessarily for smaller projects. For example, the prints that I used needed to be small in scale to work for an 18-inch napkin; if I were doing table runners instead, I could have used a larger-scale pattern.
5. Start Simple
If you're set on incorporating fabric into your wedding but don't have the time, skill, or patience to make, say, 300 napkins, make table runners instead or work with your florist to make fabric centerpieces. For example, you can glue fabric around a piece of cardboard to act as a placemat under the centerpieces or around flower vessels.
6. Stay on Budget
Using fabric is a good way to keep costs down if you plan correctly and shop around. Look for sales on fabrics that are out of season, or use solids instead of prints (they are usually $3 to $4 less expensive per yard). Stick with cottons or cotton blends because other fibers can be at least twice as costly. You can also scale down your projects. Table runners require fewer yards of fabric than all those napkins.
7. Design Your Own Fabric
Spoonflower is a great new business that will print your original fabric design on high-quality cotton fabric. I had Spoonflower print 5 yards of fabric with a simple motif for our wedding -- an orange dot with a J and a green dot with an R (for my husband, Ray).
8. Dress It Up
If you're worried about the casualness or busyness of printed napkins, you can always go for a more traditional look by using solids. And don't be afraid to add embellishments to your projects, such as a binding on the edge. Purl has a great tutorial on napkins with binding.
9. Recycle and Re-use!
After my wedding, I was able to collect at least one napkin from each table to make a quilt from the pattern book my sister, Joelle Hoverson, wrote: "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts." I used the Color Wheel Quilt pattern, and while mine isn't exactly a complete color wheel, it is a wheel of our colors! I love this quilt and will cherish it every time we cuddle up under it on the couch.