THREE TO MAKE, BUY OR CUSTOMISE
Napkins, folded neatly beside each setting (or even better, in a napkin ring), are a simple way to add the finishing touches to a meal. (There is also a whole world of napkin folding to discover, but we shan’t be going into that here)
Once you’ve made a few fabric napkins, you’ll wonder how you ever made do with paper napkins or (on a bad day) pieces of kitchen towel. It’s a very quick and simple project – they are just a square of fabric, hemmed, after all – that enables you to co-ordinate napkins with tableware, wallpaper, even food. To make four napkins, cut an 92x92 cm piece of linen* neatly into four 46x46cm squares. Fold one edge over by about 1cm and iron. Fold again, this time about 2cm. Iron. Do the same for the opposite side. Stitch in place. Repeat for the other two sides.
The ostensible purpose of napkins is to mop up spillages, wipe mouth and fingers and generally keep things tidy, but they also make the table look finished by adding a decorative flourish. They are generally square (either 40x40cm or 65x65cm) and look neatest folded into a rectangle and placed on a side plate. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty to choose from: plain linen or heavy white cotton are popular right now and suit most occasions: try West Elm’s Belgian Flax Linen napkins, £8 each, or Habitat’s 100% linen Albany napkins, £5 each.
This is a clever way of folding napkins. Fold the napkin in half from bottom to top to form a rectangle with the open end facing away from you. Fold top layer halfway down. Flip the napkin over. Fold napkin in half from right to left, then in half again from right to left. Flip napkin over. This creates a pocket into which you can neatly insert a piece of card. Use the card to write a menu or your guest’s name. Tie a piece of twine around it to secure a small bunch of herbs or flowers as a final flourish. Taken from How to Set a Table (Ebury Press)