Embroidered Napkin Tutorial


Embroidered napkins are presently one of my favorite projects. I have several reasons: they’re useful; they’re inexpensive; they save us money and help us not to use paper napkins; they’re pretty; and they serve my family. I pretty much only make things that are useful, because I want to use the things I make, and neither Bret nor I are big on clutter. Besides that, there’s not much space around here for extraneous items. Cloth napkins save money, because once you make the initial purchase, you can use them over and over again, and plus, we’re not wasting paper napkins. I really like being able to embellish them however I want.

DSCN2888 by you.

The latest ones I made are for fall, which is so fun. The napkins serve my family by making our home a welcoming, warm, comfortable place, as well as saving money. Ok, here’s how I made them.

You’ll need:

DSCN2889 by you.

4 18-inch squares of your fabric (You want to cut these precisely. I am not precise, and consequently, my napkins are wonky)
Embroidery Hoop
Embroidery Thread (whatever colors you want)
Embroidery Needle
Water-soluble marker (You can use the special fabric ones, or just plain old kids’ markers. The fabric marker didn’t show up on my fabric, so I used a kid’s marker, and it worked just fine.)
Optional: Dressmakers Tracing Paper

Ok, first you need to come up with the design you want to use. I’ve drawn my own (see here). Or printed off a line drawing from the computer (see here). If anyone’s interested, I can upload the pattern I used for these napkins; just leave a comment and let me know.

Then, you trace the design onto your fabric. With the first napkins (and the burp cloths), I placed the design under the fabric and traced it. With the fall napkins, my fabric was to dark, so I tried taping the paper and the fabric to the window so there was light coming through. That was difficult, though, because there’s something in front of every window in our house. So I moved on to tracing paper. Tracing paper is fantastic! To use the tracing paper: place your fabric right side up on a hard surface, then place the tracing paper colored side down on the fabric, then place your design right side up on top. I pin through all three layers so nothing moves. Then run over the lines of the design with a pencil or pen. Also, the lines from the tracing paper rub off, so I go over them with a marker. When you’re positioning your design on the fabric, you need to take into account seam allowances, and also how your embroidery hoop is going to fit. I left about an inch at the edge before the design starts.

Next, you get to embroider your design! This is the fun part. You can make your stitches as complex or as simple as you like. I’m still on the simple side, but I think you can still make pretty things with the simple stitches.

Almost done! Hem up your napkins. I used a 1/4-inch seam. I think this is common-sense, but if you’re new to sewing, you want to pin down 1/4-inch of fabric to the wrong side, press it down, then fold it over one more time. This completely encases the ragged edge, and keeps your napkins from fraying.

Finally, rinse the marker out of the napkins. Make sure to use cold water. Once they’re dry, I like to press them, just to set the seams and at least start out with them looking all nice. I do not press them after washing normally.

This project is pretty quick and easy. If you’re not like me and sew two napkins, then loose your design paper, and ransack the house for it until your sweet husband traces it onto a new piece of paper so you can finish.

Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.


About Rachel

Most importantly, I am saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is more than enough to satisfy my heart. In His abundant goodness, I am also delighted to be a wife and mama. I work at home and enjoy spending most of my time caring for my husband, 2 sons and new daughter. I also try to squeeze in some creativity, coffee, chocolate, and good books.

6 responses »

  1. Hey Rachel!

    I found your blog off of another blog. I love your napkins- so cute! I’m going to “attempt” to make Clay a t-shirt quilt for Christmas. I’m not a sewer at all so I’m really nervous. I’d love to know how to make those beautiful napkins. How much do you think the supplies cost (when you don’t even have pins!)?

    Thanks for being a good (and helpful) friend,

  2. I am wondering how you handle the “back” part of the embroidered napkins. Even if I were careful, the back will not look like the front.

    Thanks. Great site.

  3. The back does not look as great as the front. If you think about it, though, most people leave their napkins folded in half even when they’re using them. I’m banking on that. Also, the back doesn’t have to look as pretty as the front, even professionally manufactured embroidered items have a wrong side. That said, I do try to make the back look neat. I can take a picture of what the back looks like, if you want.

  4. so they are not double sided and the embroidery shows on wrong side? lovely!!!
    thinking of Xmas gifts to make…

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