How to Make Cocktail and Dinner Napkinscomments (11) October 30th, 2008
Beautifully hemmed cloth napkins make any table special, whether the style is formal or casual. And it’s easy to make them part of your holiday décor—add a hand-painted motif, some decorative stitching, or let the beautiful hem provide all the detail. Sew up some generous dinner napkins or scale them down to cocktail size. I’ll show you how to master the miter and give you some ideas for embellishing table linens for any occasion.
Choose the perfect fabric.
I suggest using linen (perfect for a more formal table), cotton, or a blend of the two. Synthetic fibers, like polyester, make ironing easier, but it’s very hard to remove stains from poly and poly blends—and napkins will definitely get stains. For more casual napkins, check out your local quilt shop for some great cotton holiday prints. You can skip the embellishment with a print, but a mitered hem is a great finishing touch on both solid and printed fabric.
1. Determine the size of the finished napkins. Measure some you have that seem just right or use the dimensions I used for my cocktail and dinner napkins: The cocktail napkins are 9 inches x 9 inches finished and the generous dinner napkins are 21 inches x 21 inches finished.
2. It’s important that you start by finding the exact grain on the fabric. Do this by pulling a thread across the width at one end or square up a line from the selvage. Tearing across the width of cotton fabric will also give the straight grain.
3. Cut a square for each napkin, using the established grainline as a guide, that’s 1 inch larger on each edge than the finished napkin size. (For a 9-inch cocktail napkin, cut an 11-inch square). To form the hem, turn in and press 1 inch all around. Then press under 1/4 inch on each edge.
Miter the corners.
1. Mark the point where the inner folded edges intersect with two pins.
2. Open the hem, keeping the 1/4-inch fold in place, and turn right sides together, matching pin marks.
3. Mark a line from the outside corner of the hem to the pins (the inside corner) and pin the two layers together.
4. Stitch diagonally along the marked line.
5. Turn the corner to the right side to check that the miter fits.
6. Turn inside out again, then trim away the excess fabric, making a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
7. Press this seam open. Turn right side out and press.
8. Sew the hem in place along the inner fold and admire your miter!
Hand-paint an image at the corner of each napkin using fabric paint. Do this freehand or cut a stencil to use as a guide to paint the shape, then add detail with a small brush.
Use a decorative machine stitch, like the blanket stitch, to sew the hem in place. Variegated thread expands the design.
If you like to embroider—by hand or machine—add an embroidered design.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
Dare to Make It! Holiday
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