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Patchwork Napkin Set Uses 14 Different Pretty Prints

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Paper napkins are... well... paper! Cloth napkins are more beautiful, more absorbent, and more green. These pretty napkins use a technique for building patchwork strips called a 'strata.' Today you get to practice the technique to make a set of coordinating napkins. The finished set is so colorful, it will make breakfast, lunch or dinner feel like a party. 

We used both yardage and pre-cuts for our napkin set from within one amazing collection, but this would also be a fun ScrapBusters project. Follow our plan below, which shows how we blended colors, mixed design styles, and varied motif sizes for the most pleasing patchwork. 

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We originally used fabric from the Vintage Modern collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics, an older collection that is no longer readily available. We went browsing for alternatives at Fat Quarter Shop and came upon Miss Kate by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics and Somerset by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda Fabrics. Both collections are full of great mix and match options. 

We've left all the fabric detail in place, even though it is specific to the original Vintage Modern collection. This detail will make it easier to follow along through the steps, and to see exactly how we assembled our 14 different fabrics. You can then simply substitute your own selections and still keep track by number along the way. We also provide yardage calculations with and without pre-cuts in the mix.

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If you love these napkins, you'll also want to check out the coordinating placemats. A full set of both would make a wonderful holiday, housewarming or hostess gift. And to round it all out, click to download an adorable set of matching recipe cards and gift tags. You're set to brighten your kitchen from top to bottom. 

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Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Supplies listed below are for FOUR reversible napkins; each finishes at 20" x 20".

  • 14 cuts from within one collection or from coordinating scraps: yardage is shown below both with and without pre-cuts in the mix
    NOTE: We also always err on the side of a little extra versus to-the-inch cuts. This allows for better fussy cutting options.
  • All purpose thread to coordinate with fabrics
  • Machine quilting thread, 50 wt: we used white
  • Adhesive dots or masking tape
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Specific Yardage Notes

All four patchwork strips are cut from one main strata, which is made of 10 strips; the starta finishes at 20½" x 19".

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The Front/Back combination for our first napkin is as follows:

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The Front/Back combination for our second napkin is as follows:

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The Front/Back combination for our third napkin is as follows:

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The Front/Back combination for our fourth napkin is as follows:

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Getting Started

Fabric 1 - Floral Wish Pebble:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 2 - Floral Vintage Sky:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½ x 20½" square and ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½ x 20½" square and cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 3 - Floral Hopscotch Multi:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 1½" strip, ONE 15½" x 20½" rectangle and ONE 2½" x 19" strip

Fabric 4 - Floral Snickerdoodle Pear:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 5 - Floral Wish Sky:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 1½" strip, ONE 15½" x 20½" rectangle and ONE 2½" x 19" strip

Fabric 6 - Floral Dots Pear:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 7 - Floral Snickerdoodle Sky:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 1½" strip, ONE 15½" x 20½" rectangle and ONE 2½" x 19" strip

Fabric 8 - Floral Wish Melon:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 9 - Floral Hopscotch Sky:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 10 - Floral Swirl Candy Apple:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 2½" x 19" strip

With yardage/pre-cuts:

Cut the Jelly Roll strip down to 19"

Fabric 11 - Floral Wish Candy Apple:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 1½" strip and ONE 15½" x 20½" rectangle

Fabric 12 - Floral Dot Stripe Candy Apple:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 20½" square

Fabric 13 - Floral Vintage Cream:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 20-1/2" square

Fabric 14 - Floral Vintage Pebble:

Without pre-cuts:

Cut ONE 20½" x 20½" square

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create a 'strata'

  1. A strata is a quilter's term for a block of pieced fabric made up of strips sewn together side-by-side.The completed strata can then be cut into smaller strips for the project. It's a wonderful time-saving technique!
  2. Collect the TEN 2½" x 19" strips.
  3. Place the strips in a row in the desired order. Number the strips using an adhesive dot or a small piece of masking tape. This will help you keep track of the order.
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  4. With all purpose thread in the top and bobbin, use a ¼" seam allowance to sew together the 2½" x 19" strips to create a 20½" x 19" strata.
  5. To do this, place the first two strips right sides together, aligning one 19" side. Pin in place. Stitch together. Add the third strip to the remaining 19" raw edge of the sewn pair. Pin and stitch in the same manner. Continue to create the finished strata, which should measure 20½" x 19".
  6. Press all the seam allowances in the same direction, toward the very first strip.
  7. Using a rotary cutter, quilt ruler and cutting mat, square the end of the strata, removing as little fabric as possible. This means aligning your strata along a cutting mat grid line, then also aligning your ruler along the grid line and trimming the edge perfectly straight.
  8. Cut the squared strata into four 4½" x 20½" strips, one for each of the four napkins. Discard the extra 1" strata strip.
    NOTE: We folded our strata into thirds to make it easier to cut with a smaller ruler.
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    NOTE: If you are new to patchwork techniques, take a look at our coordinating placemats. There are additional photos, showing how we made a similar strata for this project.

Finish the napkin

  1. Following the diagrams above of our mix-and-match selections (or using your own design), find one "front set" made up of one 1½" x 20½" strip and one 15-½" x 20½" rectangle.
  2. Place the 1½" x 20½" strip right sides together with the left side of the 4½" x 20½" strata strip, aligning the 20½" sides. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ¼" seam seam allowance, sew the two pieces together. Press the seam allowance together and toward the strata.
  4. Place the 15½" x 20½" strip right sides together with the right side of the 4½" x 20½" strata strip, aligning the 20½" sides. Pin in place.
  5. Using a ¼" seam seam allowance, sew the two pieces together. Press the seam allowance together and toward the strata.
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  6. Flip the sewn 20½ x 20½ square to the right side.
  7. Re-thread your machine with white quilting 50wt in the top and bobbin.
  8. Topstitch along the long edge of the strata on each side, approximately ⅛" in from seam on the patchwork.
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  9. This completes the napkin front. Press well.
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  10. Find the appropriate 20½" x 20½" back square for the front you've just completed.
  11. Place the front and back squares right sides together. Pin around all four sides, leaving a small opening in the middle of one side for turning.
  12. Re-thread your machine with matching thread in the top and bobbin.
  13. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, locking the seam at either side of the opening you have left for turning. Remember to stop at each corner, with your needle in the down position, and pivot.
    NOTE: We're using our Janome Quarter Inch foot to keep an exact seam.
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  14. Clip the corners at a diagonal, but be careful not to clip into your stitching.
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  15. Turn the napkin right side out. Using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a large knitting needle or a chopstick, poke out each corner so it is nice and sharp.
  16. Press well.
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  17. Turn in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
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  18. Re-thread your machine with the 50wt quilting thread in the top and bobbin.
    NOTE: Although your final topstitch will help close the opening used for turning, with the narrow ¼" hem, we recommend also hand stitching the opening first and then topstitching. An extra measure that helps insure the area doesn't open up with frequent laundering.
  19. Topstitch around all four sides of the napkin approximately ⅛" from the edge.
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  20. Repeat for each of the remaining three napkins.

Contributors
Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

Section: 

Comments (5)

Kris Valle said:
Kris Valle's picture

Very beautiful! I love items with patchwork. Thank you!

Just Wing It said:
Just Wing It's picture

"Cloth napkins are more beautiful, more absorbent, and more green."

I don't know about the more green part (washing machine and dryer use, plus ironing) but they are beautiful!  Thanks for the instructions.

cori said:
cori's picture

Love the napkin and placemats, thank you. These will make great gifts

homelyauthor said:
homelyauthor's picture

They look lovely, but can you show a picture of them laid out completely, so we can see the whole front and whole back, too?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ homelyauthor - I don't have any additional beauty images to post for you, but I hope you can get the idea from what is there and the step-by-step photos. As shown in the instructions, the patchwork panels are made from a strata, so they are similar on all four napkins. The back is a solid square, and the front is simply a panel split to sew to either side of the patchwork. As mentioned, all the details for front/back combos and the strata combo were left in place with our original collection. That will help you translate from our original to your new choices. That's the beauty of this napkin set, it's all about using your creativity to mix and match a BUNCH or pretty fabrics. 

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