I have made moderate attempts to begin both of my 2014 goals.
The first, make photo books, is teaching me the importance of keeping my photos organized. Is it bad that I’m already thinking, “oh, I can just focus on the photo books this summer?” Yes, very bad.
My second goal, to use only cloth napkins, is going quite well! I had a stock of store bought and previously handmade napkins to get us started at the beginning of the year. However, every new goal requires new supplies, and I decided to make new napkins. I have very basic sewing skills. Other than heated exchanges with my bobbins, I enjoy sewing. I have sewn table runners, napkins, tea towels, curtains, blankets, and even an apron. (Yes, those are all just varying sizes of rectangles.)
Happily, a friend has decided to join in my new year’s napkin crusade and wanted to make her own napkins too. We set off to Dongdaemun Fabric Market for our supplies. I have previously been to the Gangnam fabric market (above the flower market), but it wasn’t too exciting. Dongdaemun though… wow. This was my first time visiting, and I know that I will return. This seven story building has hundreds of stalls that sell everything a sewer could possibly need. Like most places in Korea, when you look closely you can see that it is organized chaos. The floors are arranged in this manner:
B1: Thread, Lace, Curtains, Handicrafts
1st: Bedding, Curtains, Home Goods
2nd: FABRIC! Cotton & Silk, Hanbok (traditional Korean dress)
3rd: FABRIC! Mostly Cotton
5th: Accessories- ribbons, beads, sparkly things
6th & 7th: Management and not fabric
It’s best to go to Dongdaemun with a plan or project in mind. If I had not been looking specifically for napkin fabric, I am sure I would have bought random patterns with no idea of what rectangular object it would become. Luckily, we had a plan. We knew we wanted a heavier cotton fabric with little stretch and a fun pattern. We began by wandering down the aisles and touching every potential fabric we spotted. We veered to stalls that had the rolls of fabric ready to cut, rather than ones that had only samples. We weren’t sure that we would want to wait for fabric to be brought in from their warehouses. We stayed fairly focused and soon found a stall on the third floor that met all of our expectations.
The vendors measure fabric in yards, and our fabric was ₩ 5,000 per yard. After we each got a few of our favorites at that booth we went searching for more. However, we had a difficult time finding fabrics that were heavy enough for napkins. There definitely could have been more there, but the place is such a maze to figure out. We ended up back at our treasured booth and the vendor sent us to his brother on the second floor who sold similar fabrics. (If you are in Seoul on a similar hunt, check out booths A-3099 & A-2190!)
Though we only bought from two booths, I was very happy with my purchases. My friend sought colors that were complementary and matched her kitchen decor. I laughed in the face of forethought and bought whatever caught my eye. That’s how I ended up with one fabric that has giant strawberries and another with various circles and dots. Now I know exactly where to go when I need to make more napkins. Unfortunately, I have not actually made the napkins yet. Maybe I’ll wait until summer…