Lavender Hour Embroidered Napkins
Lavender (Lavandula) is a native of the Mediterranean region and is one of my favorite garden plants. I can’t help but be inspired by the beautiful varying shades of purples the different species produce, as well as the intense fragrance.
Its name comes from the Latin root lavare, which means to wash, and because of it’s soap-like scent and relaxing properties, lavender was used frequently in laundry and baths to help purify, rejuvenate, and control unpleasant odors.
Because my mother’s family is Spanish, the scent of lavender was everywhere growing up. My grandfather used lavender water as cologne (Agua de Lavande), and its heady fragrance and antiseptic properties were also present in lotions, essential oils, bath gels, soaps and other toiletries.
Even today I gravitate towards lavender-infused items such as candles, air fresheners, drawer sachets as well as the requisite soaps and lotions. I also use dried lavender blossoms in my kitchen, mixing my own version of Herbes de Provence with plenty of lavender, making simple syrup for cocktails, or using the blossoms in recipes for sweets, mixing the dried blossoms directly into teas, cookie dough, sugar glazes, and homemade ice cream.
A word of warning: Because the scent is so strong, a little bit of this herb goes a long way.
Lavender was a popular garden plant during the Victorian era not just for its wonderful scent, but for its medicinal properties, and has been used as an antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, and anti-depressant.
The Lavender Hour design has been named for an old saying, referring to the time of day, just before dusk when the sky is no longer blue - but is not yet dark. During this time of the evening, the sky takes on a lavender hue. It’s also that time of the evening when the day is done, and we reflect back on what we did during the daylight hours - and make our plans for the next day.
To capture the colors of this useful and pretty flower, I’ve stitched a set of hand embroidered Lavender Hour napkins featuring a simple sprig of flowers using embroidery thread in variegated colors of green and lavender, using just two basic surface embroidery stitches and two colors of six-strand embroidery floss.
Lavender Hour Embroidered Napkin Pattern
I’ve used DMC #94 and #126 in my version of this project, but any over-dyed embroidery thread in the proper colors would work just as well. Remember that lavender is also available in blue and pink varieties, so if lavender isn’t your favorite color, you have other options.
To make your own napkins, stitch the simple design on ready-made napkins (I used linen napkins with an old-fashioned hemstitched hem area) or make your own from cotton or linen fabric.*
Enlarge or reduce the size of the pattern provided to your needs. In this example, the finished size of the lavender sprig is about 2.5 inches in height.
Print the pattern and then trace the design onto the napkins using either a water-soluble fabric marking pen or pencil (for temporary markings) or onto paper using a hot-iron transfer pencil (for permanent markings – these must be completely covered with embroidery).
Work the stems in back stitch and the blossoms & leaves in single, detached chain stitches. Two strands of the 6-strand floss are used for the stems, and three strands of the 6-strand floss are used for the flowers and leaves.
This pretty design can also be used in repeating vertical or horizontal rows, which are perfect for working along the sides of a placemat, around the edges of a tablecloth, or along the hemmed edges of a set of sheets or pillowcases.
*TIP: if making your own napkins using evenweave fabric, you might want to try making them with a self-fringed edge for a vintage, Spanish look.