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.
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.
4 18-inch squares of your fabric (You want to cut these precisely. I am not precise, and consequently, my napkins are wonky)
Embroidery Thread (whatever colors you want)
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.