Category Archives: table napkins

Time for a Tablecloth

For the last decade or so, my husband and I have spent Thanksgiving week in Atlanta with my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. Three years ago I arrived at her home with a gift of these table napkins, made from a fabric called Heavenly Peace by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics:

A Dozen Table Napkins for Diane

Diane loved the fabric, and I promised to make a matching tablecloth. After three years, isn’t it about time?

Since I like to work on a home dec project when I’m at Diane’s, I brought all the yardage I had left — which was considerable — along with a piece of fabric (from the American Jane line designed by Sandy Klop for Moda Fabrics) that was a perfect color match:

tablecloth fabrics 1-001

Diane and I worked out a simple design that would feature the fleur de lis fabric on the table surface. A few inches of the large floral print would also show on the table and continue down to a generous drop. I wanted to miter the corners and continue the miter around to the back so the stitching lines would be covered. That way no raw edges would be exposed.

I did the math (or so I thought) and created a little paper pattern to guide me in the preparation of the miters:

tablecloth fabric

Well, friends, it would have taken 11 yards of the floral fabric to make the tablecloth the way I originally envisioned it. That’s because I was going to cut a 25″ strip and needed 398″ inches. The modified plan used half that because I cut the fabric along the fold, getting two strips from a width of fabric instead of one. (I wish I could tell you I figured that out before cutting the first 25″ strip.)

The mitered corners came together nicely. Here is a shot from the back . . .

tablecloth mitered corner from back

. . . and from the front:

tablecloth mitered corner from front

On the back, where the folded edges of the miter meet, I used Steam-a-Seam 2, a double-sided fusible web, to fuse the folded edges together:

tcloth with fused miter


From the front, I stitched in the ditch where the two fabrics meet. The stitching line caught the folded edge of the miter on the back:

tablecloth stitched in ditch

Here is Diane’s new tablecloth in place:


And here is the table set with a matching napkin:

tablecloth with setting

Diane and I both declared ourselves very pleased with the result. An added bonus: the fleur de lis motif is a lovely reminder of our recent big birthday trip to Paris.




Posted in home dec, mitered corners, table napkins, update | 9 Comments

Back Home Again

“Hey, it’s good to be Back Home Again.” Do you remember the song by John Denver? It came out in 1974, so you have to be Of a Certain Age to know it. We are indeed home after a delightful two-week stay in Atlanta with my sister Diane and her husband, made even more delightful by the arrival of our sister Reigh and her husband a couple days before Thanksgiving.

I managed to squeeze in a couple of little sewing projects for my sisters the last week I was there. Reigh said she would love to have a runner for the pub table in the dining area off her kitchen, and Diane said she would love a new set of pillowcases for the guest room on the main floor. My arm didn’t have to be twisted:  it meant a trip to a local quilt shop!

Off we went to InTown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, where both Diane and Reigh selected batiks for their projects. Reigh has a lot of brown and blue in her kitchen and dining area, with touches of yellow and gold. The colors in this simple table runner should go very well with her décor:

Reigh's table runner and napkins

Reigh bought enough fabric for me to make two sets of napkins, four in each set.

Because the design of the runner is so simple — just a rectangle of fabric with four borders — I mitered the corners to give it a little something extra:

Reigh's table runner, detail

I used low-loft batting and did some very basic topstitching to finish it. Reigh has promised to send me a photo of the table runner when she gets back home so I can show you how it looks in its designated spot.

Here are the pillowcases I made for Diane’s guest room:

Diane's new pillowcases

Here’s another view that includes the pleated bedskirt I made last year during my annual Thanksgiving visit:

Diane's new pillowcases en suite

I love the way the gold fabric in the pillowcase picks up the gold in the bedskirt.

Reigh and Diane joke about shackling me to the sewing machine when we are all together but the truth is I am in my element when creating something with fabric.




Posted in bedskirt, family, home dec, mitered corners, roll-it-up pillowcases, table napkins, update | 6 Comments

Make Mine Mitered: A Tutorial on Table Napkins

This tutorial is for a 19″ square napkin with a ¼”-wide hem and mitered corners. Here’s a look at the corners from both sides:

For two napkins, you’ll need ⅝ yard cotton fabric 42-44″ wide. Wash and iron fabric.

acrylic ruler with 45° angle marking
sewing stiletto (I use a bamboo skewer)
removable marking pen or pencil (I like the Frixion pens)

1. Trim selvages from fabric. Cut a 20″ square.

First Light Designs tip: trim ¼” from one of the sides that is parallel to the selvage. This reduces the crosswise width by a quarter inch. Why this step? The crosswise grain has more give than the lengthwise grain. With repeated use and washing, the napkin will relax along the crosswise grain. Trimming the fabric at the beginning compensates for that bit of stretch. To identify the crosswise and lengthwise grains, give the square a gentle tug in both directions; you should be able to tell immediately which side has more give. (Of course, you can cut the napkins 19¾” x 20″ initially but somehow I find trimming a 20″ square easier.)

2. At the ironing board, align 45º marking on ruler with top right edge of napkin as shown below. With a removable marking pen or pencil make a mark 1½” in from the edge of the napkin (not the edge of the ruler):

See the pink dot I made with the Frixion pen? It’s exactly an inch and a half in from the corner.

3. Bring point of fabric in to meet the mark and press:

4. Fold raw edges ½” down and press all the way around. The pressed edges form a miter at each corner:

5. Bring the raw edge in to meet the fold and press about 2″ in from the corner:

6. Fold again, forming a ¼”-inch miter. Press fold in place, again about 2″ in from the corner. Repeat for all corners. Do not press all the way around. Do not insert any pins yet.

7. Open up folds at each corner and trim a ¼”-square from the point of fabric. (You don’t need to use pins to hold the folds open before trimming; I did it here for photography purposes only.)

8. Place a pin at each corner to hold the miters in place:

9. Starting in the middle of any side, bring raw edge in to meet fold, fold again to form ¼”-inch fold, and finger press in place. The finger-pressed area is at the left edge of the photo:

10. Move to the sewing machine. Set stitch length at about 12 stitches to the inch (2.4 on computerized machine). Insert needle right next to the fold and begin stitching. Stop every couple of inches to make the two folds that form the quarter-inch hem.

11. As you approach the corner, remove the pin and use the point of a stiletto to hold the fold in place as you stitch toward the corner. Pivot when the needle is at the point the two folds meet. Remove second pin and continue stitching. When you get to the starting point, change stitch length to almost zero. Stitch three or four tiny stitches. Bring threads to the back and cut close to the line of stitching. Give the napkin a final press to set the stitches.

Add a pretty napkin ring, and you’re ready to set the table!





Posted in mitered corners, table napkins, tutorial, update | 4 Comments