DIY Embroidered Cloth Napkins for a Bright and Sunny Thanksgiving Table

DIY cloth napkins

It’s another year we’re not actually hosting Thanksgiving, but I’m still playing make believe with a table dressed for the occasion. Chalk it up under weird blogger things that shouldn’t make sense, but kinda do. Last year’s table was a riot of traditional colors and patterns; this year’s, while still bright, is a more restrained and modern approach.

Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting
Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting
Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins

Inspiration struck when I remembered I had a set of these INSANE golden hued vintage plates – the coolest gift from my friend Nick, procured from Black Awning Vintage, our friend Bryan’s popup shop. Their quilt-like detail in blazing yellow and orange felt like just the right nod to traditional Thanksgiving colors, but quirky enough to keep it interesting. And is it just me or do they kind of resemble the cutest personal pumpkin pies? Just me??

Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins

To up the modernity and prevent the look from going too kitsch, I kept the other elements simple – our everyday white dinner plates, basic glass and stemware, and the set of gold flatware I keep around for photos because that’s normal. A crisp white table runner (made from a remnant of the shower curtain I altered for this project) creates a textured and minimal (and free!) backdrop.

Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins
Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins

But what really adds the finishing touch is the addition of these blush colored cloth napkins – I’m not sure I can totally get away with characterizing them as embroidered, so we’ll say – edged in electric orange.

Bright blush and orange modern DIY cloth napkins

Cloth napkins don’t get enough love. Outside of formal events or large holiday gatherings when do we even use them? But what’s more eco-conscious and fancy than cloth napkins on the daily? Even if I haven’t fully convinced you (or myself…) to completely drop the roll of paper towels you can still easily and affordably add a little glamour to your holiday table by making some! Here’s how:

I started with the underside of some pink cotton fabric I had on hand and used a carpenter square to cut a 17”x17” square. You can make yours as large or small as you’d like, anywhere from 16”x16” to 20”x20” seems to be standard.

Cloth Napkins DIY

With an iron, press a 1/4” fold around each side, then fold and press each side again to form a clean hem with all raw edges hidden.

Cloth Napkins DIY

Once finished, pin the hem in place and get to work on the corners. Here’s how they look after the sides have been folded and pressed.

Cloth Napkins DIY

At a diagonal, clip each corner along the point created by the first fold.

Cloth Napkins DIY

Then fold and press that edge up 1/4” like you did along the other sides.

Cloth Napkins DIY

Once you’ve done this, refold your side edges along the double fold you already created, and, hooray!, a perfect mitered corner! Press and pin in place.

Truthfully, this step can take a little finesse to get the mitered corner to line up perfectly. Even some of mine are less than stellar, but just keep tweaking your fold and you’ll get it. Also, remember you’re basically creating an adult burp cloth. So, I mean, don’t stress.

Cloth Napkins DIY

Then comes the easiest part. Stitch a straight stitch along the entire folded edge.

Cloth Napkins DIY

When you come to the corner, leave your needle in place, raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric 90 degrees.

Cloth Napkins DIY

Then lower the presser foot and continue sewing down the next edge.

Cloth Napkins DIY

Congratulations! You just made your own cloth napkin. Now do that three to seven more times and your’e done...

Cloth Napkins DIY

To add a little pop to the barely-there blush I used an upholstery needle threaded with neon embroidery floss to wrap the edges – a super easy step best done whilst rewatching 1 or 2 episodes of your favorite British detective show.

Cloth Napkins DIY
Cloth Napkins DIY

Though in hindsight, I may have just moved these napkins into hand wash only territory… eek. Or maybe not. Just throw them into a mesh bag and let your washer go to town. Either way, I’m holding firm to the opinion that the effort and effect were totally worth it.

Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins
Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins
Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting with DIY cloth napkins

Whether your table involves homemade cloth napkins or the care-free paper variety, may your food be plentiful and your company convivial.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bright and modern Thanksgiving table setting, Dining Room with vintage art