Studies have shown that the human brain is naturally drawn to groups of three. Groups of two suggest conflict (yes or no; black or white), and four or more start to veer toward chaos, but three is just enough to allude to possibility (yes, no, maybe; black, white, gray). This rule is used in everything from speech writing to fine art… to napkin design!

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

Composed of three right triangles, these Pieced Napkins exploit the brain’s natural affinity for three, as well as for all things beautiful! In Robert Kaufman’s striped Railroad Denims, plus two lovely, rustic solids (Robert Kaufman’s new Raw and Very Refined and Kiyohara’s Linen Blend Solids), this super-fun-to-sew set is instinctively right at home! – Corinne

Materials

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

  • Fabric (shown from the top down)
    • Color A: 2 ½ yards. I used Robert Kaufman’s Raw and Very Refined in Ivory, 88% cotton and 12% linen.
    • Color B: ½ yard. I used Robert Kaufman’s Railroad Denim in Small Twill, Denim, 100% cotton.
    •  Color C: ½ yard. I used Kiyohara’s Linen Blend Solids in Navy, 85% cotton and 15% linen.
    •  Color D: ½ yard. I used Robert Kaufman’s Railroad Denim in Slub Stripe, Denim,100% cotton.
  • A 274-yard spool of Gutermann’s cotton thread in color 1040

You will also need . . .

  • A walking foot for your sewing machine

These are enough materials to make 8 dinner-size napkins.

Size

Finished dimensions: 16 ¼ by 16 ¼ inches

Notes

Prewash all fabrics before starting.

The fabrics used here have no clear right or wrong side. If you are working with these or similar fabrics, you may choose either side as the right side.

All the fabric pieces in the instructional photos are shown at approximately half size.

Pattern

Cut

Cut two 18 by 18-inch squares from all fabrics. You will have 8 squares total.

From Fabric A, also cut eight 16 ¾ by 16 ¾-inch squares.

Mark and Sew the Triangles: Step 1

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

With right sides together, use Fabrics A and D to make two stacks of two squares. Orient the pieces so that all stripes run vertically.

On each top fabric, use a pencil and a straightedge ruler to mark a diagonal line from one corner to another. Pin the fabrics in place on each side of this marked line.

Sew a seam ¼ inch along each side of the marked line.

Cut along the marked line.

Open up the pieces and press the seams toward the darker of the two fabrics. Trim any seam allowance that extends beyond the corners.

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

You now have two identical pieces called Squares 1 and 2.

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

Repeat with Fabrics B and D. These are now called Squares 3 and 4.

Mark and Sew the Triangles: Step 2

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

With right sides together, make four stacks of two squares, pairing Squares 1-4 on top of the remaining 18 by 18-inch squares. The top square will be slightly smaller than the bottom square. Push the top square into one corner, lining up two of its raw edges with two raw edges of the bottom square. Trim off the overhang from the larger square.

To make the combinations we made, match up the following fabric squares . . .

(shown clockwise from top left)

  • Square 1 with Fabric A
  • Square 2 with Fabric C
  • Square 3 with Fabric B (Orient the fabrics’ stripes so that they are running in the same direction.)
  • Square 4 with Fabric C

On each top fabric, use a pencil and a straightedge ruler to mark a diagonal line from one corner to another, bisecting the seam from the previous step. Pin the fabrics in place on each side of this marked line.

Sew a seam ¼ inch along each side of the marked line.

Cut along the marked line.

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

Open up the pieces and press the seams toward the darker side of the square. Trim any seam allowance that extends beyond the corners.

Repeat with the remaining stacks so that you now have 8 pieced squares.

Piece the Napkins: Step 3

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

With their right sides together, stack one pieced square on top of one of the 16 ¾ by 16 ¾-inch Fabric A squares.

Pin along all four sides.

Using your machine’s walking foot and starting in the middle of one side, sew along the pinned edges with a 3/8–inch seam allowance. Stop about 3 inches from where you started, leaving an un-sewn gap.

Trim the corners.

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho

Turn the Napkin right side out through the gap and press flat, making sure the corners are nice and pointy and that the seams run right along the folded edge.

Pin the two layers together along all four sides.

With the walking foot still attached, sew a topstitch along all four sides with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Repeat for the remaining seven napkins and enjoy them all!

Pieced Napkins | Purl Soho