Stained linens and worn napkin rings can be made good as new again.

By Lisa Butterworth
October 28, 2020
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dyed linen napkins
Credit: Johnny Miller

When setting the table for any gathering—whether it's Saturday dinner, Sunday brunch, or a Thanksgiving feast—stained cloth napkins can still have a seat at the table. Just camouflage spots with a wash of pink, using natural onion-skin dye. In a stockpot, simmer up to 10 napkins in two gallons water and 5 1/3 cups non-iodized salt for an hour; let cool and wring out. Clean the pot and add two gallons water and the skins of 20 yellow onions. Boil for one hour with the lid on; strain. Submerge the napkins; soak for at least an hour and up to over-night (for deep color), swirling occasionally with tongs. Hang to dry, then rinse, air-dry again, and say hello to your good-as-new linens.

We used a mixed-and-matched collection of ivory and white linens: Helena Linen Dinner Napkins ($9 each, crateandbarrel.com), and West Elm Napkins in Mini Check ($40 for four, westelm.com) and Belgian-Flax Linen ($38 for four, westelm.com).

dyed napkin rings
Credit: Johnny Miller

Give place settings a little glow with this all-natural idea: Dye simple wooden napkin rings—we used JNW Teethers Natural Untreated Beech-Wood Rings ($2 each, jnwteethers.etsy.com)—with turmeric. Boil four cups of water with one to two tablespoons of the ground dried spice for 30 minutes; let the dye cool, then pour it into a glass pitcher or tall jar. Add the rings and soak them overnight, using stainless steel utensils to keep them fully submerged. The next day, drain the dye, blot the rings on a paper towel, and slide them onto one of the utensils set over a large bowl to air-dry.

Styling by Marisa Sellitti

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