Galley Linens

By Annette Baker of Seamless Sailor — a long-time reader of The Boat Galley, Annette began Seamless Sailor to gather information, and share ideas and resources with other cruisers who want to “sew it themselves.”  Here, she shares some ideas of items that everyone needs in the galley and which are easy to make yourself, with links to directions.

Seamless SailorWhat linens do you need to provision for use in the galley, clean up, and dining?  While you can buy linens, they may not be exactly what you want or your style.  It’s not hard to make your own linens for your boat. Besides it’s a great way to save some money.  Practical and self-sufficient. That’s the essence of being a Seamless Sailor. Here is a checklist eight types of linens that every Seamless Sailor should consider having in inventory.

1. Kitchen towels – I like to have plenty of these – a fresh one every day or so depending on how much cooking we are doing.  Any inexpensive bar or kitchen towel will do.  No need to use paper towels all the time.  White kitchen towels are easy to bleach.  My decorative ones are nice, but I don’t use them all that much. I add tabs to the everyday towels made from binding tape to hang them on a hook clamped on the safety bar (or a clothes hanger like the heavy duty ones sold at the boat show).

Another option is to hang some suction hooks.  It’s not so great if the kitchen towels end up on the galley sole dropping off the oven door handle underway.

2. Dish rags, sponges and dish drying mats – A necessary evil in my book.  The Boat Galley has covered this subject well here.  We seem to go through a lot of sponges and scrubbies. On our boat, I have to keep the galley sponges from becoming project sponges or at least make sure that they don’t get returned to the sink by mistake. Yuck. We use a waffle cloth dish drying mat to air dry dishes since we don’t have a dishwasher on board. (How many cruisers do?!)

3. Hot pads and oven mitts – Several silicone or oven-glove mitt-style hot pads to reduce burns is a great start.  There are heat resistant fabrics if you want to make your own.  Directions here and here.

4. Table cloths, place mats and cloth napkins and napkin rings – We want to reduce using paper napkins or, worse yet, using paper towels as an excuse for a napkins.  Just because we are on the water we don’t have to use paper all the time.  These can be beginner projects and even easier non-sewing projects. Use Phifertex which comes in a variety of colors to make non skid place mats and is available from a variety of sources. Napkins or napkin rings which can be personalized make napkins easy to keep track of between laundering.  The Marta Stewart nautical napkin rings in the photo above are e-z to make with a brass boat eye snap hook and a bit of small cotton line.  I added small tags to personalize.

Brittany on Windtraveler shared that a new sewer can make up some very nice place mats!

5. Aprons – Not hard to make – just shape a pattern for the body of the apron and bind the edges using binding tape leaving the binding plenty long for ties.  Or use a tea towel for the body of the apron.  Aprons can reduce splatters on clothes and add a level of safety for the cook.

6. Potluck dish carriers – Practical for those cruiser potlucks or raft ups. Make a carrier that keeps the dish (or Lock & Lock – which I love by the way) warm or cool and provide a trivet to set it on.  Here are a variety of styles.  A quilted one would be nice whether you quilt yourself or buy quilted fabric.  Lined with vinyl or old sail cloth, it will clean up nicely.

7. Cockpit items – How about some non skid or Phifertex cut to fit the cockpit table for eating underway? Or non skid for coasters?

8. Swiffer pads and cleaning rags – I made Swiffer pads from extra microfiber rags.  Super easy to stitch in the sides to cover the ends if you want a custom fit.  Or use a washcloth and sew in elastic.  Or forget all that and just tuck the ends into the Swiffer or stick Velcro to the top of the Swiffer head and stick your fleece, microfiber or washcloth to that!  Less waste since you just wash and reuse.  And much cheaper.  Use scraps or washcloths as alternative cleaning cloths.  Rags are some of the most used items on our boat, along with scissors.

I suppose this list may look a bit like what you’d use on land.  Then maybe it’s not a bad little list after all. Other ideas for boat galley linens?  What makes your boat more “homey”? Leave a comment with your ideas.

About The Seamless Sailor — A Seamless Sailor takes pride in being self-sufficient when it comes to making canvas or other soft goods for function or design on her (or his) boat. There are lots of pre-made items on the market and many excellent custom canvas shops. But having custom items made can be expensive and buying items can be a challenge if you can’t find exactly what you want, the color, or the size for which you are looking. The Seamless Sailor blog is a place to gather information, and share ideas and resources with other cruisers. Check it out at and on Facebook.

About Annette Baker — Annette and her husband, Anthony, caught the sailing bug in 2009 after a day sail with friends. Following ASA sailing lessons from the Pentagon Sailing Club and Sistership in BVI and help from wonderful sailing friends, they bought their 1990 44′ Morgan, Magnolia, in 2010. They currently sail the Chesapeake Bay as weekend cruisers, but plan to head south in fall 2013. They would love to hear from other “Class of 2013” first-time cruisers.

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  • Jackie Bartz
    Posted at 20 February 2013 Reply

    I don’t believe you mean to say that Phifertex is non-skid because it’s not. Quite the contrary, in fact.
    I believe what you’re meaning to use is the rubbery sort of non-skid shelf liner. It looks sort over like a loose woven fabric, but sponge-y rubber-like. I’ve, in fact, seen place mats for sale out of this. (So easy, just cut an oval.) And sometimes you can find it in the dollar-type stores as opposed to paying $7+ for the same roll of it in a “home” store or marine shop, for that matter!

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