Cathy Callahan’s Old School: Vintage-Inspired Tabletop Decor


Old School: Vintage-Inspired Tabletop Decor
I always tell everyone that if they only have room for one vintage craft book in their collection that it just has to be 1966’s Better Homes and Gardens Stitchery and Crafts. I have a rather large collection of vintage craft books covering just about any technique you could imagine (if you need any pantyhose craft ideas I got ’em) but BHG S and C seems to be the one I turn to most of the time.
One of my favorite sections in BHG S and C is “Ideas for a Variety of Placements,” and that’s where I found my inspiration for this project. I love to use vintage dishes but it’s always hard to find vintage placemats and napkins that are in good enough shape to use for company. So I thought why not just make some?
I think it would be really fun to make the placemats in different fabrics for a big dinner party. BHG S and C gives us this handy tip: “For a coordinated color scheme at a special dinner, use not-so-common color combinations in mat and napkins.” As soon as I ran across that scrap of 1940s upholstery fabric, I knew that I found the perfect combo to create a beautiful place setting consisting of matching placemat, napkin, and napkin ring.


Toilet paper or paper towel tube
12″×17″ vintage fabric for placemat
19″×19″ fabric for napkin I used some Japanese linen
5′ rickrack
10yds hemp beading cord 20lb. test strength
Embroidery floss
Embroidery needle
X-Acto knife
Mod Podge
Sponge brush
Acrylic craft paint
Paint brush
Steam iron
Rotary cutter
Sobo fabric glue my new favorite glue!


Napkin Ring:
Vintagetabletopdecor Step1
Step 1: Measure the cardboard tube in 1.5″ increments and cut using an X-Acto knife.
Vintagetabletopdecor Step2
Step 2: Wrap hemp cord around the tube (as shown), making sure you are wrapping it evenly and with the same tension as you work your way around. Brush on an even coat of Mod Podge an inch or so ahead of where you are wrapping — it will dry out too soon if you apply the Mod Podge all at once. Allow to dry.
Step 3: You may choose to leave the napkin ring natural or paint it using you choice of color. Allow to dry.
Step 1: Using the rotary cutter, cut the fabric to 12″×17″
Vintagetabletopdecor Step5
Step 2: Apply a thin bead of fabric glue at the edge of the fabric, and apply the rickrack. Allow to dry.
Step 1: Using the rotary cutter, cut 19″ square of fabric for the napkin. Fold a ½” hem over twice on all 4 sides and press.
Vintagetabletopdecor Step7
Step 2: Snip the corner off as shown and press. This makes the corner lay flat and not be so bulky.
Step 3: Using the floss and needle, stitch a running stitch (or stitch of your choice) along the edge.
About the Author:
Cathy Callahan
Cathy Callahan is a crafter and window dresser who draws inspiration from vintage crafts. She blogs about 1960s and 1970s crafts at Cathy will be teaching a papier-mâché class at Home Ec on August 20 and 27.

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