Search The Purl Bee
Sign up for our newsletter!

Idea Center
Follow The Purl Bee
« New! DIY Map Quilt Patterns from Haptic Lab | Main | Whit's Knits: Open Air Wrap »

Corinne's Thread: Fringed Chambray Napkins

In the sewing room, raw fabric edges usually sound an alarm, and much of my sewing time is spent finding ways to hide unruly edges. I tuck them neatly into hems, enclose them in French seams and keep their messy threads at bay with zigzag stitches. But for these Fringed Chambray Napkins, it is precisely the threads of the raw edge that make them so special!

With a white weft and a colorful warp, the exposed edges of Kiyohara’s Linen Blend Solids reveal a two-color surprise. Created by unraveling individual threads of the fabric, making these napkins feels a bit irrational, like pulling out a lot of hard work. But, lo and behold, in the act of destruction comes a set of beautiful napkins.

These Fringed Chambray Napkins feel both sophisticated and relaxed, making them suitable for a whole range of occasions. Since I plan on using mine for summer barbecues, I chose a combination of festive reds and blues and made a whole stack in a lunchtime size (13 by 13 inches). But with no hems to account for, these napkins are easily sized up to a generous dinner size or down to a diminutive cocktail size, whatever your summer plans!

And because there are no seams to press and only the smallest bit of preparatory machine stitches, these Fringed Chambray Napkins are a great carry-along project for summer road trips. May the only thing that unravels be your napkins edges! -Corinne


To make nine 13 by 13-inch napkins (in three colors), you'll need...

You'll also need a pair of small, sharp scissors and a straight pin.



From each fabric cut three 13-inch squares. Try to cut as much along the grain as possible. The grain of the fabric will not be 100% straight, so don't worry too much if you do not stay exactly in line.

To make larger or smaller napkins, simply cut the squares to your desired dimensions. All other instructions will remain the same.


Using the coordinating thread color, sew 3/8 inch in from all four sides of each square. In the photo, above, we used a contrasting thread to clearly show the sewn lines, but your stitches should be nearly invisible.  

Pull the Fringe

Working one side at a time, pull out the threads that run parallel to the square’s edge. Pull the threads one by one until you have reached the line of stitching. Use the sharp point of a straight pin to help pick each thread.

If a thread is partially caught in the stitching, carefully pull it until it hits the seam line.

Trim the thread close to the seam line.

Work all the threads at the seam in the same way.

Continue in this fashion around all four sides.

Repeat with the remaining eight napkins, and you’re all done!

Reader Comments (8)

Very nice! I have some perfect fabric to do this soon. Thank you for the great idea.
May 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLindaCP
These are a fabulous idea. But it makes me a little nervous that they'll just keep unraveling. Do you need to use any special kind of stitching to keep it from pulling out too once you've unraveled that far?
May 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
I love these! I'm assuming that the fabric is washable and that it was preshrunk before you made them? Thanks!
May 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichelle
Hi there,

Thank you again for such a lovely posting. Beautiful photography, simple and inspiring ideas for crafting something that is amazing.

May 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
I have made these before with cotton/linen blend and they're beautiful at first but after washing and drying the fray gets all tangled. Sigh..
May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMariana
Hi Rachel -

I completely understand your nervousness, but the line of stitching works great to hold the threads in place and keep the rest of the napkin from unravelling completely. You may find a few small threads to clip with the first couple of washings, but shouldn't have any trouble beyond that.

Thanks for writing in!
June 1, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Michelle -

Thank you for writing in! Yes! The fabrics can be machine washed and dried and though the shrinkage is minimal, pre-washing is always good practice.

I hope this helps!
June 1, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
These are so summery and cute! Great take along project, for sure!
June 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.