I like having paper napkins on hand for the various seasons of the year, as well as the thematic and generally decorative ones, and for many years always stocked up when I could get them at bargain prices on clearance or in the bins at Michaels, for instance. I have a small wicker basket on my china cabinet that is the exact shape of normal cocktail napkins, so it always contains napkins reflecting the current season. Right now, for example, it still contains Valentines napkins.
These days I don't do that much entertaining, but I still have napkins from 20 years ago! lol
After I began moving more and more into quarter scale, I began noticing that even when the main design was too large, often a trim or edging on these napkins had very tiny design elements.
So when I purchased napkins (or packets of purse tissues) I looked for those whose designs worked first for my quarter scale projects, and secondly for use with glasses and cups or for my purse!
My husband likes to have small tissue packets in his backpack when he is out in the boonies. and I have often found them with colorful small designs that I might use, so I stock up.
I figured he wouldn't mind blowing his nose on a cute little napkin since nobody but a high flying buzzard or hawk is likely to see him. lol
USING COCKTAIL NAPKINS
In retrospect, I believe I found my best decorative cocktail napkins - well, all kinds of unique paper goods - when I was in Tuesday Morning, although I was always on the lookout everywhere I went. At this point, I am trying to downsize my stashes, so I don't need anything and don't get out much to prowl around, so I am not sure what their stock is nowadays.
Here is the 5x5 cocktail napkin which I used to upholster my first resin sofa.
(I wanted to use that oval floral for a bed but it was a bit too narrow. I may go back now and see if I can glue it onto a larger section of the blue and try again.)
I don't remember now what I was thinking of when I decided to use the sunflowers. I needed enough for several elements - the front and back of the sofa, the seat, two arms, the bottom ruffle. And, of course, that was the one flower least likely to be seen full on, wouldn't you know. So, I had to cut the trim pieces off several napkins to find where that particular motif was printed.
Most of the sections of that napkin are more pink toned, but by the time I got through with this sofa, it took on a much more yellowish beighish look as the different edges of the design were pressed into place. And it hardly resembles the original napkin at all. Who knew?
I find myself thinking of it now as my sunflower sofa.
I made that sofa a few years ago and didn't take in-progress pictures. Recently when I remembered that I had these pages ready but had forgotten for some reason to put them on my website, I decided to cover some more of the resin furniture pieces so that I could get a few pictures of the process. I looked through all the design strips to find pieces that would work with the sunflower sofa if I wanted, or would stand alone somewhere else.
Notice the indentation design; not evident on every napkin or in the same place. They don't really show up that much in real life by the time the furniture pieces are glued in place.
I used regular Tacky glue in a metal-tipped dispenser and put glue on both the furniture section and the paper piece, which made it even more malleable. There are no patterns as such; I just used the techniques my mother used when she made slipcovers. I cut sections and pressed them in place with my finger tips to get an idea of the shape, then cut individual pieces to glue in place. I started with the chair front and seat, making sure the designs were as centered as possible. I covered the round ends of the chair arms first and then glued the arm pieces.
Next I glued a strip underneath the arms, wrapping to the back.
Here is the back, which doesn't look too great here, but in real life looks fine.
I cut a larger section to cover the overlapped sections.
You can get a better idea of the size of this chair when you compare it with the toothpick.
These four resin pieces, in addition to the sunflower sofa, were all upholstered with the design elements from the same napkin - although several were required in the process. And by the way, after I cut off the design strips I moved the small white napkins to the china cabinet to be used as real napkins. lol
Those "dots" in the armchair and on the slipper chair, far right, are the indentations in the design. They don't show up in the actual chairs because they are so tiny.
Here is one of the striped sections which I used to make the skirt for the round table above. I looked carefully to find stripes that didn't have indentations even though by the time the pleats were done they wouldn't have shown anyway.
Here is another, more masculine sofa, once again using the trim around the edge of the napkin. I made that skirted table with the plain section of another napkin when i noticed it matched the strip which forms the top of the skirt.
This was the napkin I used.
I discovered here that I needed two-play because one was too thin. I glued an entire strip together and worked from that.
I matched the seat design to sofa front and glued it in place.
Some of the scrolls were not balanced, so I found sections of the strip that would more realistically work for the arms and cut mirror images
I was afraid some of the white would show through somewhere so used the center napkin section to cover raw edges on the back and wrap around where the arm pieces would be glued
I glued the excess to the bottom. This gives a finished look if someone should pick up the sofa and look at it, which people invariably do - like looking to see if your doll wears underwear. lol
I decided to use the stripe in the design for the skirt. Here I have glued a hem for a more natural look.
I thought I would make pillows, but neither of the solid colors worked. I used the eraser to cup the section, then glued it over a tiny cotton ball, but didn't like the look so left my sofa pillow-less.
I have a heavy glass top on one of my real life living room tables which is wider than the table top. It looks good and provides additional display space. I added a "glass" top here on the skirted table for the same reason in order to have room for a lamp and an acccessory item or two.
USING A REGULAR 6 1/2 by 6 1/2 PAPER NAPKIN
This resin chaise was covered with a design from a toile table napkin; the print was perfect scale. (It is a deeper green than shows here. I hate these new lighbulbs that distort the color.)
The dark trim was the edge of the same napkin. I also made some cushions which I used on other chairs, but don't believe I have photos anywhere.
I use paper all the time to make sofa, chair and bed pillows for quarter scale. It pays to go back and look over napkins or tissues used for my previous projects, because once I start perusing a design again I can find smaller and smaller elements that I may have overlooked before.
There was a period when Michaels had dollar bins of various small items reflecting a certain theme - like stationery, notepads, stickers, pocket tissues, etc. I usually bought one of eveything they had. lol
Some time ago I decided to use a Mary Engelbreit paper tissue for a sofa. Its bright colors and cheery flowers were perfect for a tomato scrubby that I wanted to use for a canning scene, and I loved that doily on the back of the chair.
(NOTE: Someone asked me recently what a scubby is. It is a decorative ceramic container for one of those plastic scrubbers we use to clean pots and pans. Google scrubby holder and you will see lots of examples.)
Since I have a large supply of BPF - brown plastic furniture - I decided to use two chairs for my sofa.
After gluing the two chairs together, I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the entire back all the way to the floor. (If I had been smart here, I would have cut the chair backs down to the first rail, but I didn't think of that at the time.)
Here I have started my upholstery, first covering the base of the chairs, and beginning the process of covering the chair backs, which will become the arms. Notice I marked where I needed to cut at the seat level. This napkin is two ply and I decided to leave the second ply on to provide more stability in manipulating and gluing.
Here the ends and base are covered. I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the upholstering, but basically I laid a strip from front to back to cover my seams. I covered my cardboard back and glued it in place, and made a seat cushion.
(ANOTHER AFTERTHOUGHT: At this point, after covering that front seam, I could have had a neat daybead, couldn't I?)
My sofa needed some cushions, so I cut out various elements that might work, then realized I needed bigger pieces to work with.
So I cut a strip that I could fold over, giving me some "tails" to hold onto while I worked with my cushions.
I turned the napkin over and with my toothpick laid a line of glue OUTSIDE the doily, then I folded the strip right side out and used my thumb to indent around
the outside edges. This gave a poufy look which turned the doily into a pillow.
I let it dry thoroughly and then cut out my little cusHion.
It is cute as can be, but as it turned out, it appears too old-fashioned to work with this particular piece of furniture.
So, I used the flower sections to make my pillows. Because I had left the second ply on, it was already cushioned enough, so all I did was use my stylus to indent it FROM THE BACK, which gave it dimension.
This picture shows the sofa, chair and ottoman. Oh shoot; it's all too big, too tall for my tomato scrubby! I didn't realize that leaving the second ply would add that much extra thickness to my paper, but it sure did when you consider how many layers were folded over, and over. And when I started upholstering the BPF I didn't think about the fact that those chair seats might be taller than the seat of a sofa.
You might notice the list above - that's where I was making notes about what I needed to complete my setting in the tomato scrubby.
I got so wrapped up in my upholstery problems that I put that probject aside and then never got back to it!
I measured and then my husband helpfully cut the legs off below the rungs on both the chair and the sofa. I trimmed the bottom skirts and the chair works now. I am going to keep it and the ottoman as is; they can be displayed without the sofa and if I use the appropriate table and accessories, they will be fine.
But my sofa with the three cushions (one is a rolled pillow behind the two dark ones) ... hmmm... what I have here is not a sofa, I realize; it's a Great Chair that dwarfs everything in mini just as in real life!
Okay, back to the drawing board ...
The first thing I did was to remove the cushions, whcih were glued into place. In the process, of course, I messed up the back and the seat cushion - one disadvantage of using paper! Oh well. Fortunately, I have a whole package of paper napkins!
Here I have cut a new piece and have begun folding under a smooth edge on one side. I will do the same on the other, and then this piece can extend from the floor and over the seat and up over the back to hide the tears. As I started to do that I
decided that the arms were too high and the look with that straight back was too modern. So, I carefully pulled the paper away and made the back curve down to the arms.
Now I have a much more satisfactory piece, which should work fine in my tomato scrubby.
This looks a whole lot better in real life than in this larger than real life picture.
The throw, by the way, is made from the trim along one edge of another paper napkin.
I also found the perfect table in my stash to form this grouping.
Despite how it looks here, this is a really tiny print!
A couple of years ago or so Peggy in Wisconsin reported that Faye Michaela demonstrated to their club on using rice paper napkins to cover metal mini shoes.
Marilyn Ford wrote me that a few years before she experimented with a napkin fabric that had a tiny reptile print.
Unfortunately, I don't have a larger picture.
She used white felt for padding under the paper.
She also has used mulberry paper, "which makes a nice soft fabric look and comes in lots of colors." Here she has used it on two Art Deco chairs.
And here is a sofa.
Aren't these other paper uses great? Thanks you, Peggy and Marilyn.
OTHER USES IN PREVIOUS PROJECTS
When I was working on my Sunday House during the Christmas holidays I spied this colorful and busy Christmas cocktail napkin.
I was needing some towels for my kitchen washstand and when I examined the back of the napkin I discovered what looked like old-fashioned huck towels like my grandmother used to have.
Here they are on the table in the Sunday House bedroom. More of these towels are stacked under the washstand in the kitchen.
The throw across the foot of Mama's bed in the Sunday House is made of a paper napkin ...
... as is the pillow. The spread, however, is fabric.
I cut a strip from this Christmas napkin (like the one in the middle of the left side) to form the table runner for the table in my NAME QC Hutch setting.
It was only 1 ply so I doubled it, glued the folded strip together, pressed it firmly with my iron, then cut the ends into points.
Unfortunately, I don't have a better picture than this one; perhaps later I will get it out of the china cabinet and take new pics.
However, this white featherbed in my Sunday House is made from several layers of pristine white Kleenex. The long pillow case is also tissue, although the edging is cotton lace. The quilt and pillow are made from printed fabric.
I have used paper in other ways and in larger scales, but cannot find pictures at the moment. Sometimes the center section of the napkin may be too big for smaller scales, but works fine for twelfth.