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NAPKIN RINGS DANCE WITH CREATIVITY

Imagination and fantasy play such a significant role in decorating.

Such was the case when I approached setting a table for a luncheon with a ballet theme. I wanted a beautiful but fanciful accent that carried out the theme, as well as a party favor that the guests could bring home. The featured napkin ring was my answer, a miniature version of a tutu worn by a ballerina. The dress was a perfect shape for a napkin ring, and it easily slipped over a napkin.

The tutu is made from pink ribbon and some fine mesh tulle. I already had 2-inch-wide French wire-edged ribbon, but I had to buy the tulle. I visited a party store for this supply. Fine tulle is sold in packages of pre-cut circles, designed for bundling up almonds or other candies for wedding shower favors, but it's perfect for our use. All you have to do is cut out a center hole from each tulle circle. This edge is gathered and becomes the waistband of the skirt of the tutu.

The ribbon becomes the bodice. The ribbon is doubled so that the skirt can be sandwiched in between for a neat finish. But before the ribbon is sewn together, three tiny pin pleats are made to replicate the look of darts on a full-sized dress. Although it is a small detail, it makes the tutu look more convincingly real.

Constructing the tutu requires only the most elementary sewing knowledge. I made six tutus, each one a little different from the other. Because the dress is such a small scale, placing the beads along the edge of the bodice or even across it on a diagonal will not change the overall beauty of the dress.The cluster of blooms was made by pulling off the fabric blooms of an artificial lily-of-the-valley stem. The blooms were folded into even smaller flowers and tacked to the bodice front.

However, you can decorate your tutu in any way you choose. If you you have a stash of little pearls or rhinestones, use them. If you want to use variegated ribbon for the bodice, fine.

Estimated working time: 1 hour per ring

Estimated cost of materials: $9.52

Materials

To make one tutu napkin ring, you will need:

For bodice with straps:

12 1/2 inches wire edged ribbon, 2 inches wide (69 cents)

4 1/2 inches satin ribbon, 1/8 -inch wide (22 cents)

Matching thread ($1.10)

Fabric glue ($1.19)

For bodice decoration:

Seed beads in gold or colors, as desired ($1.89)

Beading needle (25 cents)

Artificial flowers with blooms 1/4 -inch wide ($1.29)

For skirt:

White tulle: 6 pre-cut 8 1/2 -inch circles ($2.89 per package of 36 pieces)

Straight pins

Ruler and pencil

Scissors

Sewing machine

Directions

1. To prepare tulle for skirt, lay six circles together, all edges even.

2. Fold circles in quarters, securing folds, using straight pins.

3. Beginning at point, measure and mark arc 1 1/2 inches from point, using ruler and pencil.

4. Cut along marked arc, using scissors. Note: The circle cutouts are 3 1/2 inches in diameter and will become the waistband of the skirt.

5. Remove pins and open up stack of circles.

6. Secure layers of tulle flat, using straight pins.

7. Use scissors to make straight cut from outer edge (hem) to inner edge of ring (waistband).

8. To prepare skirt sections, position and pin two ring sections together, all edges even, repeating to form two more two-circle sections.

9. To gather one skirt section along waistband, use double-threaded needle to sew basting stitch 1/4 inch from edge, pulling tulle along thread until waistband measures approximately 5 1/2 inches; set section aside.

10. Repeat Step 9 to make two more gathered skirt sections.

11. To make skirt, layer and pin three gathered skirt sections together along waist area, raw edges even.

12. Machine-stitch skirt sections together along waistband, a scant 1/4 inch from raw edge; set skirt aside.

13. To prepare ribbon for bodice, measure and cut two lengths of ribbon, one 6 inches long and a second 6 1/2 inches long.

14. To make pin pleat on front ribbon section, fold longer ribbon in half widthwise.

15. Machine-stitch fold a scant 1/1 6 inch from edge.

16. Fold and stitch two more pin pleats, each 1/4 inch from center fold, adding more pleats, if necessary, until ribbon measures 6 inches.

17. To attach skirt to pleated front bodice section, lay one edge of ribbon over raw edge of gathered waistband, allowing 1/4 inch of ribbon to be free at each end, and distributing gathers evenly across ribbon; use straight pins to secure.

18. Slowly and carefully machine-stitch skirt to bodice a scant 1/4 inch from edge.

19. To make straps, cut narrow ribbon in half and lay one length at each side pin pleat, raw edges even, using tiny dab of fabric glue to secure; let dry.

20. Lay second ribbon bodice section over bodice front, right sides together, and top and side edges even.

21. Machine-stitch two short sides a scant 1/4 inch from edge, and one long side at top, 1/8 inch from edge, trapping straps in place.

22. Clip ribbon corners and turn bodice to right side.

23. Decorate front, back and straps of bodice, sewing on beads and blooms, using threaded beading needle, as desired.

24. When satisfied, turn tutu to back and turn under bottom edge of ribbon a scant 1/4 inch, and secure it with tiny hand-sewn stitches.

25. To finish straps, tie single knot at ends of ribbon, and tack to bodice back 1/4 inch from back edge.

26. To finish tutu, overlap ribbon bodice at back, overlapping slightly, then use threaded hand-sewing needle to tack closed.

27. To display, slip napkin through tutu from top, arranging napkin in flare.

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