Brighten Someone's Spirit with a Verse Lap Quilt

Quilts, whether large or small, can brighten the spirit and bring a bit of joy to those who need it in almost any situation.  Made with love and detailed with words of comfort, Susan Osborn shows us how a simple but heartfelt project can help make the days a little better for others.&... [More]

Western Wedding Quilt

Keeping up with traditions can be a challenge when you are as far away from your family as Debbie  Martin is.  But she obviously spends a lot of time and energy to share her love with family as shown in the wedding quilt as well as others who will appreciate the warmth of a handmade gift -... [More]

Community Circle April 3-4 in Orlando - Registration Ready at Long Last!

It's the gathering of the year and even if this is the first time you have joined me I know you'll be re-energized and ready to go after two full days with Eileen Roche and me. We'll share our best techniques and insider tips for expressing yourself through embroidery. For all the detai... [More]

Welcome to the AnnTheGran Community!

Welcome to the AnnTheGran Community! Many people know for free embroidery designs, and that's great, but now the site offers so much more. If you've just been using my site to get free designs, you've been missing out! Answers to All Your Questions If you have a questio... [More]

Embroidered Hot Cup Wraps

We had so many requests for Diane’s hot cup wraps from an earlier promotion that we decided we shoul [More]

AnnTheGran Community Circle in Orlando - A Few More Hints

OK, gals, mark your calendars today – April 3rd and 4th – less than 9 weeks away. It’s time to get together and re-energize our passion for embroidery at the first annual AnnTheGran Community Circle retreat. I love sunny Orlando and we’ll spend two whole days exploring innovative techniques, inspira... [More]

Japanese Embroidered Full Length Women's Wool Coat

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who sent in feedback about my Community Circle event in April. It was a deluge! So many people responded that we needed to step back and re-plan the event to make it bigger. We're almost there; I'll be announcing all the details, along with r... [More]

I'm Having a Party, and You're Invited!

Let's face it, gals, it's been far too long sinced I've rubbed elbows and shared stories with most of you. So, I've resolved this year to put myself back into circulation, at least a bit and, unlike most of my New Year's resolutions, this is one I intend to keep!To celebrate the ... [More]

Framed Letters for a Personalized Nursery

For Diane Brown, embroidery started as a hobby to get away from all the stress of her job as a bank compliance officer. It didn’t take long, however, for her obsession to blossom into a new career. For a number of years she has been working behind the scenes in the development of software and embroi... [More]

AnnTheGran is Getting a Facelift!

Dear Friend, 2008 is going to be quite a year for me, and I hope it will be for you as well. My big news is that AnnTheGran is getting a complete facelift! No, I don't mean me -- I like myself the way I am (well, most days anyway) -- I mean my site! You see, as we've grown, some of my s... [More]

Personal Holiday Greeting from Ann (AnnTheGran) Cobb

In December, 1996, AnnTheGran's Design Exchange had been online for 2 months, and it was all very, very new. Our small community had shared a hundred or so designs and I sent the Christmas greeting you see on your right, created around my greatest blessings at the time.AnnTheGran, my Internet ni... [More]

Charity Project - Star Bunting with Polar Fleece Blanket

Every child is precious but sometimes the families of certain little ones face unique challenges. The charity FHCS (Faith Hope & Charity Stitches) has a very special way of sharing their love of sewing and embrodiery. The tiny buntings and quilts they make are a wonderful gift to those babies, k... [More]

Embroidered Shirt to Honor a Veteran’s Commitment

Each of our veterans is a true hero who has made a commitment to serve in times of war or peace. Our veterans deserve the full measure of our respect. This project was submitted by Sue Ellen Parker. Sue Ellen used her creative talents to show her loved one and others how proud she was of their dedic... [More]

Embroidered Greetings Cards

Our international trend continues this week with a project from Jean Isley in England. Growing up du [More]

Christmas Tree Skirt from Table Runners

To take a simple or plain idea and mold it into something personal and unique is always rewarding. Michelle Gauthier created a special Christmas tree skirt to become a focal point for holiday cheer in her home. Without spending a lot she gave of her time and love to bring special smiles to those aro... [More]

Simple Baby Quilt for Cold Northern Winters

Creating keepsakes for loved ones is such a joy for those who love to sew. With her simple blankets, Sue Kerlin shows us how she continues her love of giving to family even when life is too full for intricate details.Sue's Description:I picked this pattern of baby quilt because I am not a detail... [More]

A Little Treasure - Should I Or Shouldn't I?

  Hi, Folks,I'm in a bit of a quandary. When I set up this blog, I made it clear to the team here who help me get this to you that I really wanted the blog to focus on projects contributed by the AnnTheGran community. So far, you've all been great with that, and we've seen some gr... [More]

The Perfect Gift - Embroidered Wine Bottle Bags

Tuck a bottle of their favorite beverage inside a festive wrap - no wrapping paper required. Trisch Rosema's embroidered gifts of wine got rave reviews even though they were quick and easy. What a lovely hostess gift one of these custom wine bags would make! Or you could do as Trisch did and mak... [More]

Race Car Themed Quilt for "Big Boy Bed"

Every child's first birthday is exciting and every mother wants to create great memories of the event. This race car themed quilt was created by Gina Martinez to complete her son's graduation to a "Big Boy Bed" and give him a special birthday memory to cherish for years to come.Gen... [More]

Blown Away By Baby Blankets

This project was submitted by Kim Yunkun. I chose to post this one because it is simple but beautiful and any level of embroiderer can do it. Not everyone is an expert, but everyone can share the sense of pride that we all feel when we've accomplished something. Sometimes, when we've been do... [More]

Share Your Creations with our Community!

Our creations are like our babies! The amount of time and care we expend on a cherished project makes those products of our hands and our hearts feel pretty special.You are currently resting your eyes on my new blog. If you don't know what a blog is, don't worry about it. Neither did I until... [More]

Quick Project - Blackwork Placemats

We wanted to create a design collection that you could use to add some classic style to your project whether you are embroidering evening accessories, elegant linens or an heirloom piece. My Blackwork collection is a versatile set of ornamental designs, professionally digitized for beautiful results... [More]
Embroidery and the Art of Napkin Folds By Cathy Sundermann

Embroidery and the Art of Napkin Folds By Cathy Sundermann

We are excited to have Eileen Roche, Editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery share this content with you, which was originally posted on Eileen’s Machine Embroidery Blog:  

Embroidery and the Art of Napkin Folds

Embroidery and the Art of Napkin Folds

By Cathy Sundermann

The art of folding napkins was first documented in the year 1639. Yes, the 1600’s! Napkin folding was considered a highly regarded art form. Universities and schools had classes dedicated to the art of folding. Heads of households paid to send their staff members to these schools in Rome and Florence to learn folding techniques or they hired an expert to come teach the skills in their home. The folded napkins were intended to impress their guests plus be utilitarian by holding place cards, bread, sweets, or even a live bird. (Side note…..I’ve never folded a live bird in my napkins!) The napkins were intended to delight the guests while impressing the guests with the host’s wealth and status. Napkin presentations became quite the competition between hosts.

The era of napkin folding ended during the eighteenth century replaced with diners just wiping their hands and faces on the tablecloth. Let’s just skip that century…..

During the 1800’s napkins and folding made a resurgence in use. Since then its popularity has ebbed and flowed during turbulent times of war, the Industrial Revolution and the invention of paper napkins. Over the centuries there were so many rules on how to fold napkins and the etiquette of using a napkin it would make your head spin trying to remember them all.

When choosing napkins, select heavier weights with body to the fabric to hold your folds in place better. Select square napkins instead of rectangular shapes. If the square is slightly off, it usually will still work for your design. And it’s easiest to start with a well ironed napkin free of lines and wrinkles.

The Overcoat

The Butterfly Butterfly Kisses

Do you choose the napkin fold first, or the embroidery to be highlighted? That is totally your choice. I usually choose the napkin fold first fitting to the occasion. Then I select a style and size embroidery design to match.

The most important tip…..Pin Pin Pin!

Start by placing your napkin on your work space. Place a straight pin in the top right corner if starting with a square. Or pin the top tip if starting in a diamond position.

Now fold the napkin into the selected style.

Look at the completed fold and decide where your embroidery will be highlighted best. Mark that spot using pin(s) so you’ll know where to place and stitch your design.

Unfold the napkin and stitch the design in the pinned designated area. Remember that first top pin placement? This is where its importance comes in. When you place the embroidered napkin on your work table to fold it again, you’ll know exactly where to start. Without that pin, you’ll be trying every corner on top, fabric right side up and right side down, until you find the right starting placement point so your embroidery design lands in the chosen spot and not inside a fold or upside down. (Yes, I’ve done this and end up folding and refolding the napkin for what feels like a gazillion times.)

The Elf Hat


If you’re looking for inspiration you will find a multitude of written instructions and video instructions online. If you prefer a book in hand, there are many books dedicated to napkin folding available. Among my favorite books are; Napkin Origami edited by Brian Sawyer, and The Complete Illustrated Book of Napkins and Napkin Folding by Rick Beech.

The Rabbit

The Lover’s Knot

The Triangle

Try some new folds on your holiday, celebratory, and everyday tables. As everyone gathers at the table watch their reactions to your handiwork.

The reactions usually go one of two ways. The guests who smile and admire your work and are reluctant to unfold the napkin. And the guests who immediately reach for the napkin and with a quick flick of their wrist unfold it and drop it into their lap. The life of a folded napkin is short. But the ones with your embroidery will delight your family and guests. You now have the art of the fold and can be creative for the next event.


Ideal for inserting silverware or treats.

Japanese Folds

Perfect for holding an embroidered place card.

It’s just embroidery, have fun with it!

The Candle Make a Wish

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