I have celebrated Thanksgiving all over the country, from sunny California to crisp New England. Everywhere I’ve spent the holiday has unveiled its own unique traditions. One year I went to Kauai and ate poi with my turkey, while an army of giant ants enjoyed our homemade pies. Last year I helped my friend Nicole make a delicious Mexican mole turkey in Richmond, Virginia. But no matter where Thanksgiving finds me, there are always some comforting constants: good food, friends and family, and a thoughtfully set table.

I’ve made it something of an annual tradition to contribute a new set of cloth napkins to the Thanksgiving table, wherever it is! In fact, this is my fifth set! (You can see all of them here.) It’s a tradition I love because, even if you’re like me and don’t have real silver or good china, it feels special to embellish your mismatched plates and odd serving dishes with some beautiful homemade napkins!

This year’s napkins were inspired by pretty antique linens. I used the soft and lovely Prairie Cloth, whose subtle texture and loose weave lend a warm, homespun feel. I gave the edges a fringed finish to add to the napkins’ old fashioned charm. My Pulled Fringe Napkins are as simple as pumpkin pie to whip up and will surely make your Thanksgiving festivities a little extra special!


To make eight napkins:


16-inches square


Cutting and Pulling the Fringe

Cut a 16-inch square from your fabric. Try to cut it out as much along the grain of the fabric as possible. This fabric isn’t woven 100% straight so it will be impossible to get all four sides cut exactly on grain so don’t make yourself too crazy.

With the matching thread sew 1/2 inch in from the edge around the entire perimeter of the square (along the black lines in the picture above). This inner sewn square should be invisible.

To create the fringe you will be pulling out the threads parallel to each cut side. Pull the threads one by one until you have 1/2-inch of fringe and have reached the line of stitching, which is there to stop the fraying. The tweezers come in very handy for this process.

This process will be really easy for the sides that are cut on grain. For the sides that aren’t cut on grain simply pull one of the threads as far as it will go, until it gets caught in the line of stitching, as shown above.

Then cut the thread to be the same length as the fringe.

Keep repeating this process along the side until the whole side has a neat 1/2-inch of fringe.

Repeat for all sides.

Adding the Red Stripes

Press a straight line 2 to 5-inches and parallel from the right edge of the napkin.

Using the red thread sew along this line. Once you reach the end of the napkin keep the needle down and lift the foot to turn the napkin around 180-degrees. Then sew back over the same line so you have a doubled red line of stitching.

Press another parallel line 1 to 3-inches from the first and sew over it in the same manner with the red thread.

Repeat this for all 8 napkins, placing the red stripes differently for each napkin, and you’ll be all done!