Thanksgiving Napkins Progress

Two leaf napkins
Two leaf napkins

A few weeks ago I wrote about Thanksgiving napkins that SIL and I** were in the process of making. We have finished some of them.

There is some trial and error in the process, but SIL is working hard to minimize the loss of any napkins. So far so good.

Progress is good.


The process is

  • wash napkins
  • press and starch napkins
  • pick embroidery designs
  • figure out thread colors
  • test embroidery
  • embroider on napkins
  • rip off excess embroidery
  • wash
  • iron
  • Repeat
Warm leaf napkins
Warm leaf napkins

I did the washing and ironing. As I do with all of my fabric, I washed these napkins in hot water. Hot water is the worst than can be done to them, I think, in terms of washing. I ironed them with Mary Ellen’s Best Press, mostly. I used some Flatter, but I really don’t like the smell of the one I bought.

SIL had a few embroidery designs in her library that were suitable. I went looking at a couple of sites she suggested and bought a few. We plan to reuse the designs. I don’t want or need 30 different designs. using different threads and stitching them out on different colored napkins makes the designs different enough.

We do all the napkins we are doing to do with one design before we switch to the next design.

We had to simplify some of the thread choices, because SIL has a machine that can accommodate 6 thread colors. It is easier not to have to deal with thread changes in the middle of stitching out a design. I kind of wish she had bought the 10 needle machine, but I wasn’t laying out the cash. 😉 Also, I wouldn’t be doing this at all if she hadn’t brought her machine to live around the corner from me. I had planned to make napkins the normal way I make them, which is odious at the best of times. It would have been a ton of work as well as a ton of money for Thanksgiving appropriate fabric. If my math is right (1/2 yard of fabric for each napkin), I would have needed 15 yards of fabric. I love buying fabric, but this is much easier and much more cost effective.

More leaves
More leaves

SIL had some tension issues at the beginning. After much fiddling, she resolved them, but thinks the machine may need a spa day.

So far, we have about 6 done. Fortunately, once the machine is set up, it stitches the designs out without someone standing over it pressing a foot pedal. It is still a lot of work and I am trying to help as much as I can.









**Nota bene: Most of my part is making color choices and buying stuff. I also wash and iron the napkins as needed. She is operating her massive embroidery machine.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

6 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Napkins Progress”

  1. I have to say your napkins are beautiful Jaye! At my job in the past 2 years I’ve been washing and ironing laundry as needed (mostly sheets and napkins, and boy’s button shirts), and met the most simple napkin designs. A square of linen, with variegated thread stitching in 3 rows and 3 columns on 2 sides of the napkins(parallel to the edges), intersecting in the corner. Also there was another design with smaller and larger swirls all over. They were so simple, and $20 each! Insane, I know! I was thinking I should buy linen fabric and make my own napkins, although we don’s use cloth napkins for various reasons.

  2. I get out the cloth napkins for the holiday meals. Everybody just looks at me like I’m crazy. They hardly use them. I don’t care, because I like them. Some of the new linen colors are so beautiful. I bought some beautiful Martha Negley fabric in fall colors with a pink background for a tablecloth, then I thought we never use a tablecloth. Haha. Well, maybe I should make napkins. Some of the new linen colors are great now though. Could make them 2 layer, I guess. Probably will end up making a quilt with it eventually. Oh, maybe a picnic blanket! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. We always use cloth napkins because they are so many fun fabrics from which to make them! I also don’t like the garbage created by paper napkins. I might feel differently if we ate a lot of ribs and spaghetti sauce! LOL! Do what you like. You can always start using a tablecloth. Why not? Go for it!

  3. We’ve used cloth napkins forever and I still have the ones (though you can tell they are worn) from when the kids were small. I just did simple ones for everyday use. I like the idea of the embroidery.

    1. Most of mine are simple as well – except for decorative stitches. These are special to make Thanksgiving a little more festive.

      I like to test my decorative stitches on napkins and gift bags so I get an idea of how much thread and time they take.

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