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DIY Thanksgiving Napkins

DIY: Cloth Napkins With a Binding Edge

Feeling crafty this weekend? Interested in adding some DIY elegance to your Thanksgiving table? Then you're in luck! I wanted to share this napkin tutorial I created a few years ago. These napkins are pretty easy to sew, even for beginner seamstresses. Impress your guests this holiday season with handmade napkins.

Over the weekend, I made a slightly more complicated version of our DIY napkins, riffing on a pattern I adapted from The Purl Bee. My sewing style is a little more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants when it comes to more straight-forward sewing projects. For instance, I didn't pin anything on the project. While this is fine if you're used to working with fabric, I would recommend pinning for this project if you're not comfortable with more "free form" sewing. This is definitely a pretty project though, and one that will get lots of oohs and ahs at your next dinner party. These directions make 12 napkins.

Keep reading for the DIY directions and a photo tutorial for this cloth napkin DIY.

Here's What You Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Three yards of fabric for the body of the napkins
  • One to one and a half yards of fabric for the binding
  • A binding maker
  • Pins
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Newspaper or paper bag measuring approximately 12 inches by 9 inches to use for napkin body pattern
  • Thread that matches the color of the binding fabric
  • Iron and ironing board

To get more directions and to see photographs of the process, just read more
Here's How To Do It

  • Prewash all fabric to avoid shrinking and puckering after sewing.
  • Iron fabric.
  • Using your newspaper, weight the body fabric (three yards worth) down with a heavy item (I used a Stoli bottle, but a juice bottle works fine as well, or a book). Cut out around the perimeter. You can pin the newspaper to the fabric if you're concerned about accuracy, though this is a forgiving project.
  • Cut the fabric for the binding, using the directions on your binding maker. For instance, for my binding I cut the fabric to 1 3/4 inches. You can do this on the diagonal to make the fabric longer, though I simply cut it straight across and sewed the ends together. Either way works fine. The great thing about cutting straight across your fabric is that you can notch a cut about four inches into the fabric and then quickly rip the fabric, and it will come out to the correct width. This saves a lot of time.
  • Iron the binding fabric.
  • Pull the fabric through the binding maker, ironing as you go. When you get to the end, fold the binding over again and iron. Working on a high steam setting seems to work best.

  • Once you've ironed all of your binding, fit the square napkin body between the binding edges and sew along the edge. The binding should measure the same on each side, so you don't have to worry too much about missing the binding edge.
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  • Stop before you get to the corner, and either pin or tuck the edge fabric so it aligns with the corner. You're basically tucking a tiny bit of the binding fabric inside itself to form a neat corner.
  • When you get to the end, finish the edge by cutting a bit of excess for the binding, then tuck it inside itself so no raw edges show, and sew it onto the binding edge where you began.
  • Do this eleven (or however many napkins are needed) more times, and then do a little party dance (or have a drink with some of that Stoli you used to weight the fabric).
  • Find a cute and clever way to present the napkins on a table, and smile humbly when you are complimented on such a fine job.

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