I found this great red gingham fabric on sale and was able to make four of these napkins for less than $2 each.
Over time, this frayed edge will become softer with each wash. I went with a heavier cotton, which doesn’t wrinkle as much as a lighter cotton or linen. A heavier cotton also holds up well to many washes.
The red gingham goes perfectly with the red plates and tumblers that I picked up at Target a few year ago. Everything fits conveniently in my picnic basket, which always reminds me of something right out of a Yogi Bear cartoon.
What you’ll need:
- Fabric, such as cotton gingham, linen or muslin
- Coordinating Thread
- Sewing Machine
- Seam Ripper
Wash and dry your fabric, ironing if needed. Then you need to decide how big you’ll make your napkins. Most fabric napkins are 20″ for a full size napkin and 6-8″ for cocktail napkins. Cut your fabric into squares, making sure to cut on the grain. I used a rotary cutter and quilting ruler on a cutting mat, which helped me get perfect squares. The lines in the gingham are also helpful for creating straight lines.
Stitch a zigzag stitch around your square, 5/8″ from the edge or as far away as you’d like. For this gingham pattern, I stitched 2 rows in from the edge, giving me a nice medium length fringe. When you reach a corner, sink the needle into the thread, lift the foot, pivot the fabric and put the foot back down. Continue stitching until you’ve stitched around all the edges. Cut off any extra thread.
You should have a nice zigzag pattern around the edge, which I think adds a little to the charm of these frayed napkins.
Using a seam ripper, pull the thread off the edge. Once you get them going, you can pull them out with your fingers, being careful when you get towards the stitching. This is the part that gets messy – be prepared to have little piles of thread all around you by the time that you’re done.
All that mess is worth the end result – a perfectly frayed napkin edge, all ready for a summer picnic.
These red gingham napkins are great for a picnic basket, but you could also easily make these with a nice pastel linen for a dinner party or a rougher muslin version for a rustic backyard party.
This picnic basket was a great garage sale find a few years ago. My mom and I picked up two of these picnic baskets for I think $5 or $10. They were in great condition, with just a few repairs that need to be made to the latch and the handle. I’m hoping to wrap the handle with leather similar to this basket and stop the woven handle from unraveling any further. It’s the perfect basket to head out on an afternoon picnic.