Sam’s Napkin Tutorial

posted in: Family, sewing, Tutorial | 1

Ds2 really enjoyed the sewing he got to do in High School this year, and with me dripping creative goodness all around the house, he decided that he would spend some time over the school holidays improving his sewing skills. Our first project we chose was double sided napkins, which would be fairly straightforward sewing, with something that the whole family can use as the end product!

You will need approximately 1m square each of 2 different fabrics – we chose pure cotton for the look and feel, as well as durability. This will make 4 18 inch square napkins, double sided.

Parents note – most of this project is entirely do-able with small amounts of supervision. We found the rolling out and seam pressing the most challenging part. Lots of this project is just simple straight line sewing, which serves to give your young sewist lots of confidence controlling the machine, practice keeping a consistent seam allowance and an understanding of how the basics of the sewing machine work.

Firstly, prewash and iron both your fabrics. Especially important in the case of the bright cotton fabric we chose to use.


Borrowing Mum’s awesome quilting rulers, mark out 4 x 18″ squares on the wrong side of your fabrics. Do this for both pieces. Using two rulers helps you to keep your corners nice and square.


Carefully cut along your marked lines, until you have cut out all 8 pieces for your napkins.


Right sides together, pin one square of each fabric together, carefully lining up the edges. At the bottom of each side, when the edge is facing you at your left, make a mark 1.5 cm (5/8″) in.


Also mark a section along one side, at least a hands width across, where you will not sew. This is for turning inside out after the seam has been stitched.


Starting at one of your marked turning sections, stitch carefully, keeping a 1.5cm seam allowance, to the mark you made at the corner. Make sure to leave your needle down in the fabric – turning the hand-wheel if necessary, or using the needle down function of your machine.


Raising your presser foot, pivot your work counter-clockwise to continue stitching down the next side – don’t forget to lower your presser foot again after the turn! Repeat for all corners, remembering to stop before you close up your turning section.


After you have finished sewing this seam take it to the ironing board and give it a press to set the stitching.


Clip your corners close to the stitching line (but not over it). Turn inside out, using a blunt pointed tool to poke the corners out nice and sharp. Be careful not to poke straight through the fabric though!


Now for the tricky part. Rolling your seam between two fingers to bring it right to the edge of your napkin, then pressing with the iron. This takes a bit of practice to master, and will probably need some help. When you get to the open sections, simply press those in line with the seam stitched on either side of them.

When you are finished pressing all four, put a couple of pins in the opened side areas to hold them in place for the top-stitching stage.


Chose either a matching or a contrasting thread for topstitching. We went with white so that it would stand out on our colourful napkins. You may choose, depending on your machine, to do a simple straight stitch, remembering to keep it between 1.5cm or closer to the edge of the napkin, so it catches down your seam allowance. We decided to experiment with 4 different embroidery stitches on my Janome machine, one for each napkin.


As you are stitching, remember to leave yourself enough room at the end of each corner for the pattern to turn. Follow the same steps as for the seam, leaving your needle down and raising the presser foot to turn the fabric, before lowing the presser foot again to continue on sewing.


Give them a final quick press with the iron, and they are ready for dinner!!

 Happy Crafting - Cassie.

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