Sustainable Kitchen Witchery: Greens Muslin Bag

I watch a lot of videos about zero waste and minimalism. Most of the time it’s like flipping through an IKEA catalog: lots of white, lots of pretty interiors, a view of a lifestyle that I can’t achieve right now. From time to time, however, I learn a bit about how to be a little more sustainable in my day to day life. This week I learned about a thing called a greens muslin bag. These are cloth bags used to store greens to keep them fresh longer.

The concept works in much the same way as storing lettuce in a container with a damp paper towel. The moisture keeps the lettuce (or spinach or other greens) from going limp before you can use them. This is something that has plagued my house over the years. We eat a lot of salad, even more the last few months as my husband has started on an anti-inflammatory diet. But sometimes we don’t graze fast enough and I end up having to toss the romaine. It’s not a complete waste as the food goes into our compost.

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Setting a Place at the Table

We’ve reached a weird point in the year. Spring is trying to hurry winter along, and winter is refusing. We’re still a month away from starting seeds. Snow still lingers in the shaded parts of yards. The ground is squelchy and the temperature vacillates between warm and frigid. There’s this constant tug of war going on between the desire to rest ad the urge to get moving.

I’ve dealt with that tumult by diving into my fabric stash. I have so much of it. Some is neatly stored on cardboard bolts. Most, though, is stuffed in file boxes and plastic bags, in bins and piled on tables. It’s an overwhelming mess that I simultaneously want to shovel into the trash heap and lord over it like a dragon who has settled in the back of a defunct hobby store.

Last week I decided to make use of some of the scraps and sew up a set of placemats. I’ve wanted to have some for a while now, due to my nine-year-old’s table manners. Placemats are one of those pieces of household linens that makes it look like you have your life together.

I pulled out two bags of fabric scraps. They were all floral prints in shades of red, orange and yellow. Those colors are always associated with cooking and eating for me. There wasn’t enough to make the placemats from each print, so I ended up quilting them together for the tops and using a length of floral linen for the backs. To add a bit more protection from hot plates, I dug out a remnant of yellow flannel to use as a batting.

Placemat Fabrics
Each place mat is made up of the quilted top, a flannel interior and a fabric back.

I’m not a great quilter. It’s not really an aspect of sewing I’ve ever gotten into. For these placemats I just cut the fabric into rectangles and squares. I pieced them together in rows and then sewed those rows together. My only goal was to make four pieces large enough (17″ x 13″) and I wasn’t too concerned with the patterning.

Othala rune stitching
I chose to mark the flannel with the Othala rune as it has associations with the home and prosperity, energies I would like to bring to the dinner table.

I decided I wanted to add a bit of sew craft to the placemats. To that end, I stitched the rune Othala onto the flannel pieces. Othala is a rune of home, prosperity, and family, all energies I wanted to reinforce. I basted the flannel to the wrong side of the quilted top pieces. And for good measure I top stitched inside the seams of each rectangle and square.

Placemat Topside
Topside of the placemat. I wanted to stitch it to the flannel to keep the flannel from bunching during use, but also to reinforce the quilting seams.
Placemat backside
The backside of the placemat, showing the quilting lines where I sewed the top fabric to the flannel.

The project spanned three days, with the bulk of the time spent on cutting and piecing the fabric together. I plan on making one more set, so that I won’t ever run out (one set can be on the table when the other is in the wash). And it’s not like I don’t have plenty of fabric to use.

Placemat Detail
Making the placemats from fabric that I love and which invoke feelings of plenty and prosperity and richness, makes the table a little more inviting come dinner time.
Finished placemats
I had enough fabric to make four placemats. Each one is different.