Pantone’s Color of the Year is Greenery and we are fully embracing this color palette for the spring season. Here is a super simple tutorial to make frayed linen napkins, which we are using in our botanical Easter brunch table setting. Fringed napkins are the perfect thing to DIY because the project is really easy and it can save you some money. I was in Sur La Table the other day and I saw napkins for $6 or $7 each. By buying our own fabric we were able to make these for less than $2 per napkin! Yes please!
Tools & Materials
- Serger (optional, to close raw ends before washing, not for finished napkins)
- 1 1/3 yards Linen Fabric (56″ wide)
- Matching Thread (if serging before washing)
- Gather the tools and materials listed above.
- Prewash your fabric. You may want to serge the edge of the whole piece of linen before washing so that the edges don’t unravel and become tangled, but this step is optional.
- Each napking will be an 18 x 18″ square, including the fringe. To begin the napkin, you will need to create a straight edge by cutting along the weave of the linen. To do this, pull a thread on one edge through the fabric as far as you can. The thread (or two) that you pull out will create a straight line across the fabric.
- Cut along the line, all the way across the piece of fabric.
- Measure 18″ along this edge, create a cut and tear another thread running perpendicular to the edge.
- Cut along this line to create the second side of the napkin.
- Repeat this process to create the four sides of the napkin.
- Pull threads off along each side to create the fringed edge.
- Create a fringe that is about 1/2″ long on each side.
- Continue cutting and fraying to create 6 napkins.
This project is a bit more visual, so find our photo tutorial below for crafting these frayed linen napkins!
Our frayed edge napkin tutorial shows you how to make six 18 x 18″ napkins. You also have the option to make four larger napkins if you prefer. We found our European linens from Fabric.com, and you can find the specific links to our color palette in Shop this Project below. You have a lot of freedom with this project, so personalize it in a way that will reflect your individual style or home decor. We kept our fringed edge to about a 1/2-inch, but you can easily continue fraying for a full inch on your DIY linen napkins.
If you like those brush painted leaves in our photo, you can find the project instructions here. For another easy home project similar to this, be sure to check out our tutorial for making your own linen tea towels, which includes an adorable embroidery pattern. We always like getting you in on the creative process, so leave a comment below if you have project requests and suggestions for us! Always feel free to share your project photos with us using #DIYDreamingWithLia, and head over to our membership page to join our crafting community. See you soon! ~ Lia & TeamAqua Linen | Turquoise Linen | Cilantro Linen
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With all the linen tablecloths I have accumulated, I’ve begun cutting and fraying these for napkins. They work great.
Great upcycling idea!
I just followed your steps and made napkins. I frayed them a bit but wonder if throwing them in the wash/dryer would do the rest of the fraying for me or should I do it by hand? Also, once they’re at the desired fray, will they pretty much stay that way or keep fraying every wash? I do not sew at all so they’re all just pulled frays around each edge. Thank you in advance.
Hi Samantha. It really depends on how tight the weave is on your fabric on if it will continue to fray. The linen we used was quite tight so it did not continue with washes. You could run a matching thread stitch around the napkin where you want the fray to stop as a backup. Or you could wash a scrap first and see how it responds to the washing.
I see the serger is optional in your list of supplies, but I don’t see it mentioned in the method at all? How does a serger help with this project?
And, if using a sewing machine, would you sew one straight line down the edges of the fray?
Thanks in advance for your answer. Great post 🙏🏼
In step two it explains that the serger is to close off the ends of the fabric before washing to prevent unwanted fray before you make your napkins. You can also just use a straight stitch if you do not have a serger. If you pre-wash your fabric without securing the ends you could waste some of the fabric. Does this make sense?
Hi Lia! Love this idea because nice linen napkins at a reasonable price are impossible to find, especially is your want 16!
Which weight linen do you recommend? I’m lookin at fabric.com’s navy linens and they have “5 oz”, a “medium weight” and they also have an 8.4 oz tumbled Belgium linen. The 8.4 oz is temporarily out of stock and the one review says it is almost black so not sure I would go for that one anyway.
If I’m successful I think I just found the perfect gift idea! And can’t you also see wrapping gifts with these in all kinds of sizes!?
Hi Susan. I would go for the lighter-weight linen since it will be softer to the touch. I love my linen napkins and have sets in many colors. Yes, great gift idea bundled up in a pretty ribbon. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this project. I love your color palette and the idea of pulling the thread in order to get a straight line is brilliant. I have never used Fray Check but was wondering if you think this might be a good way to keep the napkin from further fraying (beyond the intentional fraying) once they are used and washed? I’m thinking of making a tablecloth using your method.
We have used this method for both these napkins and linen blankets. I found that they become more difficult to pull threads the longer the fringe, so in the case of the blanket, it all stayed in place after washing. If you want to run a stitch around the edge of the napkin where the fray ends, that might help as well.
can you estimate how long it takes you to fray each napkin? We’re thinking of making 100
It can take anywhere from a few minutes up to 10, depending on how quick you work 🙂
I loved making these napkins! I just knotted the corners using four thread pieces (two thread pieces on each side of corner) to keep from possible fraying. A little tedious but worth it to secure the napkin!
Love that, great idea!
Question: What if you don’t have a serger? Can you tape the cut edge? I am thinking masking tape.
I’m not sure if tape would stay put through the wash, however the serger is optional you may just have slightly frayed ends after washing. You could also sew along each edge of the napkin before washing as you would with a serger to stop it from fraying more, not as effective as a serger but much better than nothing! 🙂
I think I’d run a stitch using matching thread 1/2″ from the edges (where I want the fringe to stop) . Otherwise you’ll eventually end up with several hundred 18″-long threads. But I love the idea of pulling out a couple of threads to create a cut line! That’s genius! When I made fringed napkins I ended up with uneven fringe because even though the edge was “straight,” it didn’t follow the weft of the weaving.
Do you think this would be as effective using a linen blend?
Hi Kayla! Yes, using a linen blend for this should have the same effect!
Where did you purchase the linen fabric to make the napkins? I love the colors!
Hi Susan! Look for the links to the linen under “Shop This Project” 🙂
You share such cool and inspiring ideas for the home! It would be neat if you could share some bathroom decor ideas. That seems to be one room that gets overlooked often.
Thanks Angela! Yes, that’s a great point. I have only done one bathroom tour on the site (https://liagriffith.com/my-home-tour-the-bathroom/), so maybe it’s time to do one in my new home.
I adore the look of these napkins but am curious how they hold up in the wash post-use? I fear the edges might unravel further…thanks!
I recommend line drying them just to be safe! They may unravel slightly in the dryer. You could try reinforcing the corners with fabric glue or even adding a stitch if you sew 🙂