scrappy fabric napkin tutorial

by Nova on November 28, 2012


Earlier this year I was invited to share a tutorial via  the accuquilt  newsletter. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to get hold of the link to share here so in case you missed it here’s my scrappy prairie point fabric napkin  tutorial just in time for the festive table!

 Cloth napkins are one of my favourite ‘go-to’ handmade gifts. A useful gift and so easy to personalise, you can change them up by using seasonal fabrics or match colours to the decor  – you can’t really go wrong!

I made a mis-matched set of 4 napkins in a friend’s favourite colour palette using fat quarters of Kona cotton for the napkin fabric. I raided my scrap bin for the prairie points.

My napkins have a finished size of 16” square & each have 10 prairie points. You can easily change the size of the napkin if you prefer a larger or smaller size – just remember to cut your napkin fabric with an extra 1” on one side to allow for the pleat (this will make sense as you read through the tutorial). If you change the size you will need to adjust how many prairie points you use for each napkin, this will depend entirely on the size you make, just lay them out to determine how many – you might prefer to change the size of the prairie point too!

Scrappy Fabric Napkin Tutorial with Mitred Corners

What you will need to make a set of 4 cloth napkins:

  • 4 pieces  of fabric (I used cotton but linen or a linen blend would be lovely too) 18” x 19”
  • 40 assorted 2” squares
  • Iron, tailors chalk, quilters ruler, pins, sewing machine
  • Embroidery floss & needle (optional)

How to:

First prepare your prairie points. There are 2 ways to make prairie points.

1.) Take your square & fold it in half horizontally with wrong sides together. Press.
With the raw edges towards you, fold the top 2 corners towards the centre & press.
This way gives you a sweet little centre pleat that makes a nice feature. However, I will be using the second method that I am about to show you for my napkins but feel free to use this style if you prefer. You will have to space your prairie points out more & use less of them as you don’t have the benefit of being able to tuck them inside each other as the next method will show.

2.) Take your square & fold it in half diagonally with wrong sides together. Press.
Fold in half again & press.

This method leaves you with a little flap on one side that allows you to tuck your tiny prairie points into each other.

This is the method of prairie points I will use for this tutorial but I wanted to share both methods as it’s nice to have options.

Prepare your pleat. Make 2 marks with tailors chalk along the longest edge of your 18″ x 19″ piece of fabric at 3 ¼” & 3 ¾” from the corner. Repeat on the opposite side.

Fold the fabric at the 3 ¼” mark & press. Open the fold back out.

Fold the fabric up at the 3 ¾”  mark. Press. This will create a pleat for your prairie points to sit in.

Make a mark on your pleat at 1 ¾” in from each edge.  These marks act as a guide to keep your prairie points within the hem line which we will sew later.

Lay 10 prairie points inside the pleat within the 2 marks you just made & with the raw edge of the prairie points flush with the fold of the pleat. Tuck them inside each other a little (the overlap is approx ½”). Once you have them all in place & evenly spaced, fold the pleat back over & pin in place.

Sew along the top edge of the pleat close to the edge. Back stitch at start and finish. It is helpful (but not essential)  to use a walking foot attachment as you are sewing through quite a few layers and this helps to keep everything in place. Alternatively you could baste them in place with some large hand stitches.

Flip your napkin over and sew along the pleat at the back, again the walking foot is helpful here and back stitch at the start and finish.

You now have a nice, neatly sewn pleat. You can add a few hand stitches along the pleat at this point if you like. I used 3 strands of embroidery floss but Perle 8 cotton would work too. I stitched through the top layers only so the stitches are only visible from the front.

Mitre the corners. Mitred corners add a lovely finish to cloth napkins and are simple to do.

With the right side up, fold and press all 4 sides of your napkin in by  1”. Open back out.

Fold the corners in at 45 degree angle, the fold lines will all meet up. Press. Open back out.

Now fold the napkin in half diagonally with right sides together, matching up the fold line you just made. Sew along this line from the fold of the napkin stopping ¼” from the raw edge. Back stitch at start and finish.

Trim the point leaving a ¼” seam allowance from the stitch line. Trim the point on the folded edge at an angle.

Open out and press the seam open. Repeat for all corners then fold and press the edge of the fabric at ¼”.

Turn the edges right side out (in effect you are simply flipping the edges over towards the back of your napkin). Poke the corners out, press and pin in place.

Sew close to the edge of the hem & admire your lovely mitred corners! You can top stitch around the edge from the front if you like though it’s not essential.

Your napkin is complete. Yay!

Now make 3 more to complete the set :)

You could use the same technique to make a  table runner with a row (or 2 or 3) of prairie points tucked into pleats at each end. It would also make a sweet trim along the bottom of an apron too!

If you use this or any of my tutorials or patterns to make a crafty project for yourself I’d love to see! You can share your projects in my flickr group :)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Flying Blind November 28, 2012 at 6:30 am

They look super smart!


Karen November 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

These look so adorable, I think I would be afraid of staining one and be tempted to discretely wipe my fingers on my clothing instead!


Bea November 28, 2012 at 11:43 am

These are super cute! The idea will perfectly work in so many other projects… thanks for the tuto :)


Anna November 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Great tutorial! Putting it at the bottom of an apron is a great idea… I was planning on making an apron for one of my friends for Christmas :)


DeniseMarie November 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks for the new technique – I love it! I’m making Christmas stockings this weekend and I think Prairie Points are going to be making an appearance somewhere. Maybe not the mitred corners though…


Jenni Birchwood November 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Hi Nova, Thanks for this idea. The mitred corners make the whole thing look so crisp and very special. Your colour choices are also lovely!


diane stanley November 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

This is such a great idea for using up small scraps and making something really beautiful and useful


Irene May 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

That’s so beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it’s a great idea for gifts or dress up our dining table.


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