Maybe (almost certainly) it’s a function of being almost 30, but I’ve become darn near obsessed with napkins. Colorful paper napkins, tea-stained decorative vintage napkins, playful cocktail napkins and everything in between—I hoard them all. They offer an easy way to dress up everything from barbecues to bar carts, and there’s something about having a stash of linens at the ready that I find oddly comforting.
And that’s why, on a recent trip to Ikea, I snagged a stack of plain white linen napkins with a mind to make a project of them. Inspiration struck while I was rummaging through my box of embroidery thread, and I decided to go with a simplified and oversized take on the classic cross-stitch. There’s something so relaxing about undertaking a repetitive task like this, and I love the modern, graphic effect I ended up with—it certainly makes serving coffee a bit more pretty.
For this project, you’ll need the following:
• plain linen or cotton napkins (I used these from Ikea)
• black embroidery thread
1. Turn the napkin over so the back is facing up. Measure the distance from one end to the other, then divide that by five—in my case the result was 2.5″.
2. Using a pencil, mark every 2.5″ along each edge, then draw lines from side to side so you’re left with a grid. You’ll be creating an embroidered X at each place where the lines intersect.
3. Split your embroidery thread so you’re working with three strands at a time, then knot the the end.
4. As the gif above shows, you’ll make the X by threading your needle through the fabric from the bottom right quadrant of the grid you’re working on. Then, bring the needle back through the fabric in the upper left corner. Thread it through the fabric again in the bottom left corner and then bring it back through in the upper right corner.
5. Finish the X by threading the needle through the stitch that’s showing on the back and looping the needle back through your thread to tie a knot. Repeat once or twice more until the knot is secure. Trim the excess thread.
6. Repeat until you’ve created an embroidered X at each point where the pencil lines intersect.