Sew Your Own Napkins & Add Fall Botanical Embroidery
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Sew Your Own Napkins with Machine Embroidery

Sew Your Own Napkins for Family Gatherings

Sew Your Own Napkins Finished Sample

Sew your own napkins for a great alternative to single-use paper napkins. Cloth napkins are easy to sew and really add a personal touch of handmade to your family gatherings, holiday meals and home décor.

napkin supplies


TIP: Grab the Fall Botanicals Machine Embroidery Palette to have all 10 designs and 10 Rayon Thread spools needed to create a collection of napkins that all coordinate.


Napkins vary greatly in size, and the beauty of being able to sew your own napkins is that you get to choose the napkin size to make. The featured napkins are 14″ square. Some people prefer a 186″ square napkin for a “dinner” size, while others prefer a 10″ napkin for a “cocktail” size.

Determine the number of napkins desired and the desired size, and then decipher the yardage required from there.

Nice quality quilting cotton fabrics make great napkins. Linen fabric is also a luxurious choice, but wrinkles severely when washed and oftentimes has an open-weave structure that can stretch and/or warp when hooped, so not the best for machine embroidery.

Not all napkins need to match! If you have a fat quarter bundle of fabrics from the same collection, make different napkins that coordinate for a festive table. Choose a different fabric for the front and back, making the napkins reversible for different holidays or décor styles.

After cutting the napkin squares for each napkin desired, set them aside to prep the sewing machine for embroidery.

Install a size 80/12 Universal needle. Thread the needle with the first Rayon Thread color in the design. Then, install a bobbin wound with 60 wt. Bobbin Thread.


Smaller scale designs work well on napkins, providing a subtle yet effective embellishment. The Fall Botanicals embroidery designs range from 1″ to 3″ and all fit within a 4×4 hoop. Plan to stitch the same design on all the napkins you’ll create, or choose different designs from the same collection to mix and match for a cute napkin collection.

Fall Botanicals ME Design Collection

Decide on the embroidery design placement, using the napkin “front” to audition an embroidery template in the correct size. The featured napkin is embroidered along one corner point, leaving a 2″ fabric border beyond the design perimeter to account for seam allowances and topstitching.

measuring napkin for design placement

Mark the design placement using a removable fabric marker. Or fold the fabric in half widthwise and lengthwise at the desired design center; finger-press, and then unfold.

Then, load the design into the embroidery machine, and set the machine to add perimeter-basting around the design, if possible.

perimeter baste function for napkin placement in the hoop


Hoop a piece of Tear-Easy Stabilizer. If embroidering a dense design, such as the featured Fall Botanicals Gourds design, hoop two layers of stabilizer.

stabilizer in hoop

Place the hoop onto the machine.

Next, stitch the first color stop, which is the perimeter basting, directly onto the stabilizer. If not using this function, omit this step and proceed to the next directive.

hoop on machine

Then, remove the hoop from the machine. Use the perimeter basting stitches to aid in placing the napkin fabric square in the hoop, centering the markings. Or use the placement aid of your choice to ensure proper fabric placement.

Use KK 2000 to secure the napkin fabric to the hooped stabilizer.

stick napkin to stabilizer

TIP: If using a magnetic hoop, you can attach the top hoop right over the napkin fabric, even though it doesn’t fit entirely in the hoop! Magnetic hoops are a game-changer for machine embroidery in many ways, and this is one benefit to using them.

napkin in magnetic hoop

Place the hoop back onto the machine, and then embroider the design. Clip jump threads with each thread change, using Curved Tip Squeezers.

clipping jump threads

When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine and the stabilizer from the hoop.

finished embroidery on napkin fabric

Then, gently tear away the stabilizer beyond the design perimeter. If using two layers of Tear-Easy for the stitchout, tear away each layer independently.

tearing away stabilizer on napkin back

If needed, press the fabric from the wrong side, keeping the iron away from the stitching.

napkin front fabric with embroidery

Repeat to embroider as many napkin front fabrics as desired.


Now you’re ready to sew your own napkins!

First, place the embroidered napkin and coordinating fabric squares on a flat work surface with right sides together. Pin the perimeter.

pin napkin perimeter

Then, stitch the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 3″ to 4″ opening along one edge for turning.

stitching napkin perimeter

Next, clip the napkin corners up to, but not through, the stitching.

Then, trim the seam allowances to 1/8″ except for the opening location.

trimming napkin seam allowance with rotary cutter

Turn the napkin right side out through the opening. Then, press the napkin perimeter to set the stitching. Next, fold the opening seam allowances toward the wrong side, and then press again.

pressing napkin

Lastly, edgestitch the napkin perimeter, closing the opening with the stitches.

topstitching napkin perimeter

Repeat to construct each napkin.

finished napkin on cutting table

Finally, set the table for your holiday feast, placing each embroidered napkin atop a plate to display them proudly.

napkin with napkin ring on place setting

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I am the Director of Content for Sulky of America. The former Editor in Chief of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines, I hosted Sew it All TV on PBS for nine seasons. I've appeared on It's Sew Easy on PBS, DIY Network's Uncommon Threads, Hallmark's Marie Osmond Show, MacPhee Workshop and more! Come sew with me!

One Comment

  • SewHelpMe

    Lovely designs. Have you considered doing a mitered hem instead? I think it would look better with these designs and it’s easier to do than to turn inside out. See the YouTube video from Sew Very Easy (Laura Ann Coia), called something like Any Size Mitered Hem.