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Molly's Sketchbook: Linen Thanksgiving Napkins

I love sewing napkins for Thanksgiving. They are such a simple and fun way to dress up the table and you can use them all year long. In fact, I like making them so much that I've made a new set for the Purl Bee every year since 2006!  My main goal for this year's set was that they be quick and simple while still being beautiful and different from year's past.

We recently received a big shipment of linen fabric from one of our favorite companies, Globalweave. They are based in India and specialize in incredible embroidered and block printed fabrics (which we have made exclusively for Purl Soho in hand-picked color ways). They also make stunning linens that range from the jewel toned Sheer Linen and Open Weave Linen, to undyed, rustic Linen Solids. Shipments from Globalweave often come from India wrapped in burlap and sewn shut by hand which always make them seem like such a speical treat. After unpacking the latest shipment of their lovely linens I knew I had to make this year's Thanksgiving napkins with of them.

I chose the natural Sheer Linen and paired it with one of our bright and seasonal Fire Spectrum Bundles. I love the look of the natural, nubby, undyed linen framed with the rich tones of red, brown and orange. Since the fabrics themselves were already so pretty next to one another, and since the operative word here was simple I sewed them up using a quick technique for clean mitered corners; no bias binding or fiddly hand sewing required!  Happy Thanksgiving!--Molly

You can find our previous Thanksgiving napkins here:


To make a set of 12 16-inch square napkins:


Cut one of the fat quarters into an 18-inch square.

Cut the linen into a 16-inch square.

Pin the linen square into the center of the larger solid colored square so there is one inch of the solid square framing the linen square on all sides.

Sewing the Napkins

Press each side of the solid square 1/2-inch towards the inside of the square.

Unfold the corners so you can see the marks the pressing made.

Cut off the corner diagonally at the point where the pressing marks intersect as shown above.

The corner will now lay flat as shown above.

Fold the corner down so it forms a 45-degree angle.

Then fold the sides down a 1/2-inch again, pinning down the corner so it forms another 45-degree angle.

Do the same to the opposite side and a nice mitered corner will be formed.

Fold down and pin all the sides in this manner.

Top stitch the folds down around all four sides, pivoting at the corners and making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Repeat with the remaining linen and fat quarters and you'll be ready to set the table!

Reader Comments (20)

Just lovely! I love the splash of color on one side and the linen on the other! These would go great with my Harmony House 'Wembly' thrifted dishes! Gobble! Gobble!
October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValerie
This is brilliant! I have struggled with bias binding on napkins in the past and thought it was too fiddly for words--but just doing two layers with a foldover Love it! thanks for sharing.
October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana
Absolutely inspiring! Makes me wanna go out and buy a sewing machine and make some napkins!!
October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicol
These would make a brilliant hostess gift since so many of us are guests on Thanksgiving aside from the usual flowers, etc.

Striking and simple! Thanks!
October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBlair
Do you have a kit for these? I would love to click just once :)
October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRuth
So simple and lovely!
October 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily S
freakin' fabulous!!
November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
i just made these and love them! here's my little blog w/ pics --

thanks so much!
November 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa
I'm making some today!!! Love this idea and am so excited that it is this simple :)
November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLetty
just saw the napkins what a great idea I do a quilt like this never thought napkins WHO KNEW will show to sewing club tomorrow Thank u thank u
September 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersewarose
What a great idea. Do these linen napkins need ironing?
September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrissie
Hi Chirssie-

If you want them to be crisp and flat they would need to be ironed. However I find slightly wrinkled linen to be rather pretty so I probably wouldn't iron them except for on special occasions, like Thanksgiving!

Thank you for writing in!

September 13, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Love the detailed photos. Appreciate the time you took and I love this pattern.
October 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPattieJune
I love your technique....So much easier than messing with bias tape!
October 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdolly
I absolutely love this pattern...thanks for sharing. Judyb
October 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Bee
Thank you for the DIY, I love this idea !!
November 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBouboulette
i wish there was a button on here to pin it! beautiful!
January 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteramy
Ooooooooooo, a coordinating button would be so CUTE on one corner of each napkin!
March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren B
I need to sew bias binding on my napkins as I already bought it but dont know how
To do the corners please if you can advise me tks
July 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterletitia
Hi Letitia-

This previous project will show you how to do the corners using bias binding:


July 22, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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