Sewing RV Linens

Back in 1988 my mother and I split the cost of a serger sewing machine. It uses four spools of thread, is complicated to thread, and makes special stitches a regular sewing machine cannot do that are stretchy for knit fabric. We both used it for many years, until neither my mom nor I were doing much sewing any more. For years the serger, also known as an overlock machine, sat in the box. It moved with me to our home at the lake, but continued to stay in the box. Over the last couple of years I tried to use it a few times for mending and upcycling projects, but I would always spend hours trying to get it threaded and could never get it to work right. The machine is shown in the next photo on the dining room table.

My Elna serger from 1988

Last winter I met a woman in Arizona who uses a self threading serger. It sounded so nice I went and looked at one at a fabric store in the Phoenix area while we were there. This year when I saw that the Vacuum and Sewing Machine shop in Fergus Falls was having a liquidation sale, I considered trading in my serger for a newer machine that would presumably have new technology and features, work better, and be easier to thread. I am sad to see that this storefront is closing, but I can’t say that I have ever been in there more than once. I am glad that the proprietor is going to maintain a new version of the business out of his home.

In preparation for bringing my serger in to the shop, I took it out of the box to have a look it. It was very dusty and grimy, and had a lot of lint all over the inside workings. It looked good once I got it all wiped down and the lint removed with the little brush that came with it. I decided to attempt threading it one more time, after reviewing the instructions in the manual. The first thing it said was to oil the machine if you had not used it for awhile. I am sure I did not do that the last time. This time I put oil in all the places indicated, and then carefully, step by step, threaded each of the four threads through all the hooks and slots in the correct order. The photo below shows the front panel lowered for threading.

Looking at the hooks and levers for threading with the front opened up

I put a scrap of fabric under the presser foot and slowly pressed the foot pedal. VOILA…it made a perfect stitch!!

I went ahead and brought the machine in to the sewing machine shop to discuss with the owner what features would be different or better on the new sergers, and how much he would give me for a trade in. There was a moderately priced machine that was not much different than what I already had, and another one with the fancy self threading that would have been $900, after the $100 he was offering for my trade in. OK, never mind. I could not justify spending that much when the one I already have works fine after all.

During the fall I had bought yardage of a product called “laminated cotton fabric” from an online vendor (creatively called Laminated Cotton Fabric) to make an RV tablecloth and placemats. I like that you can wipe it down easily because spills happen. People also use this fabric for bibs, diaper covers, lunch bags, and other things you want to be water resistant or easily clean off. Following is a photo of the fabric I bought.

Laminated cotton fabric I bought online

One length of the fabric was just the right size for a tablecloth for the RV kitchen table. All I had to do was hem all the way around the four sides. You can see the serger in the next photo making the overlock stitch and cutting off the edge of the fabric.

Doing the overlock stitch on all four sides of the tablecloth fabric

After serging all the way around, I folded the edge under and top stitched it down with my regular machine.

Corner of completed laminated cotton tablecloth

I also made four placemats that will work on the RV table. They are reversible with more of the same laminated cotton on one side, and some indoor/outdoor cotton on the other side. Photos of the completed product are found later in the post.

Cutting fabric for placemats
Sewing the two sides of a placemat together

The RV bathroom has a towel bar sized for only one towel. We thought of installing a hook for another bath towel, so I sewed tabs on all the bath towels and hand towels we are using in the RV. I found some grosgrain ribbon in a drawer filled with various ribbons and seam binding purchased and saved by my mom over the last 50 years. Notice this package of 54 inches of grosgrain ribbon for 35 cents, just the right length for a sweater! I actually have a cardigan sweater my mom knit in the 1960’s with grosgrain ribbon for the button band down the front.

Sweater length of grosgrain ribbon from the 1960’s

I used the vintage grosgrain ribbon to sew tabs on all the bath and hand towels, using my regular sewing machine.

After we got to Arizona and had the RV set up, we realized there was not a good way to install a hook anywhere in the small bathroom. We did not want to drill holes or use stick on products. It is working to hang the second bath towel over the shower stall. It is so dry there that towels dry very quickly.

Following are photos of the placemats with the laminated fabric side up, the other side up, and the tablecloth on the RV table. We have been leaving the tablecloth on the table most of the time. Last year my sister-in-law, Marlene, painted the Superstition Mountains desert scene in the frame on the table. We can see the top of the mountains from our RV.

Placemats using laminated cotton fabric
Indoor outdoor fabric on the back side of the placemats
Tablecloth using the laminated cotton fabric

The next photo is the towel bar behind the RV kitchen sink. For staging purposes I moved my basket with hot pads over from the stove area to be in the photo with the towels.

RV kitchen linens

I did not make either of the towels in the photo, but I love all these colors together and how they look in the RV. The Fika towel was designed and is sold by my friend Cindy Lindgren. You can find her products here.

I meant to bring one of my hand woven towels but somehow it never got in the right place at the right time when I was packing. In the basket is a hot pad I made on my potholder loom. I brought the potholder loom with me to Arizona as it is small and portable. Once I finally finish the socks I am knitting (that are taking forever) I will play with the potholder loom.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

10 thoughts on “Sewing RV Linens

  1. Like you, I love the colors in the RV kitchen linens. Fall/jewel tones are my favorites. We purchased an over-the-door towel holder for our travel trailer. Actually, we bought three. One has three hooks and hangs on the inside of the bathroom door for towels. The other two are single hooks and hang on the outside of the bathroom door for jackets, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I will have to look at the over the door hooks. There is some hardware for attaching a TV to the wall in the bedroom, but we are not going to use it for a TV, so Wayne installed a double hook there instead. There is a lot of brown in the RV with the woodwork, kitchen cabinets, and brown sofa and loveseats. The jewel tone towels brighten things up a bit. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy sewing, too. Like you, I have sewing notions from my mother and mostly my grandmother. It is very satisfying to me when I can use something from that stash. It is also fun to note the prices as well as the packaging. I’m glad you kept the serger sewing machine. I like the fabric you chose for the RV table cloth. We generally only use a table cloth if we eat on a picnic bench. We hang our bath towels over the shower, and that works just fine. Our towels are the mirco fiber ones though from Norwex. It sounds like you are really enjoying RV life. You have really added some nice homey touches!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comments…it is fun to compare notes and get ideas from other RVers. There is so much brown in the RV, the yellow tablecloth (besides being easy to wipe off after a meal) adds some color, along with the bring kitchen towels.

      Liked by 1 person

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