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How to Fold A Napkin

11 January, 23


Preparing to fold a napkin is the key to success when it comes to creating a beautiful finished product. The most important preparation step is to ensure that you have the right materials for the job. You’ll need a square-shaped napkin, a flat surface and ironing board, and a steam iron. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary materials, you’re ready to start folding!

Gather the materials needed

Creating the perfect napkin fold requires a few basic supplies. Before attempting to fold a napkin, you will want to make sure you have everything you need:

  1. Napkins: The number of napkins you need depends on how many people are being served. Generally, one cloth or paper napkin per guest is sufficient.
  2. Table: An appropriately sized table for your space is necessary for folding the napkins. If needed, folding tables can be rented from special event suppliers.
  3. Surface cover: This can be anything from a fancy tablecloth to an old towel or simply the tabletop itself. It depends on whether or not any messiness is okay in your space and your personal preference. Keep in mind that if using cloth napkins, they may need a mat so that they don't slip on the surface as you manipulate them during folding procedures.
  4. Additional decorating items: Various ribbons and adornments can be used in combination with the final folded product to enhance presentation and theme of the table setting such as pine needles, pepperberries, forks or spoons immediately identify their purpose, or other decorations such as Evergreen leaf springs (pictured) or tiny bougainvillea blossoms all work well!

Choose the size and shape of the napkin

When selecting napkins to fold, be sure to choose a version that is made of a lightweight material such as cotton, linen, or rayon. Napkins that are too thick or stiff will be difficult to fold neatly. Additionally, in terms of size and shape, squares tend to be easier to work with than rectangles. If you’re using rectangle shaped napkins, the width should be two and a half times longer than it is wide; the finished design will look best if your corners are all even.

When choosing designs to reproduce from guides or books, keep in mind the amount of fabric you have available and how much time you have to spend folding. Some designs require more fabric than others and many intricate designs also require more time for folding because there are multiple stages involved. Be sure to plan ahead when selecting your design and desired materials!

Folding Steps

When it comes to folding a napkin, there are several different techniques you can choose from. Whether you're setting a formal or casual table, the napkin should be folded neatly and symmetrically.

In this article, we'll walk you through the most popular folding techniques, so you can feel confident choosing the right one:

Lay the napkin flat on a table

Lay the napkin flat on a table in front of you so that the crease is facing up. Smooth out any wrinkles and make sure it is evenly distributed. Adjust the napkin so it is aligned with all four corners running parallel to the sides of your workspace. This will help you ensure even, symmetrical folds when completed.

Fold the napkin in half

Folding a napkin into cute and decorative shapes is an easy way to add style to your table setting. To create the third in our series of four napkin folding styles, start with a square napkin. Place it in front of you on a flat surface and fold it in half so that all four corners meet. Smooth out any wrinkles and creases as you go.

Fold the napkin in half again

Now fold the napkin in half again to form a rectangle. You should have four layers of fabric layered one on top of the other, resulting in a crisp folded rectangle hemmed on all four sides. Make sure that you are not shifting the width or length of the finished rectangular shape.

To ensure a perfectly creased and even fold, run a clean finger down each edge.

Make a triangle shape

Creating a perfect triangle shape is an easy method for folding a napkin that is best suited for casual events, buffet-style dining, or picnics.

  1. Lay the napkin out flat and fold in half diagonally to make a triangle shape. Make sure the corners of the square napkin match up before folding.
  2. Fold the left corner over to meet the right corner forming another triangle.
  3. Fold one end of the base of the triangle up and find its matching point along the opposite side to form a perfect triangle.

The two triangles should accurately match each other and form smooth edges around all sides of your newly folded napkin. With practice you can learn how to quickly create stylish triangle foldings with ruffles or double triangular shapes that look beautiful atop any plate setting.

Fold the triangle in half

Folding a napkin into a triangle helps to give a beautiful look to the tabletop and can add visual impact to your culinary presentation. This method works best with thicker paper-based napkins but can be adapted for thinner fabrics, like organza or linen.

To start, lay your napkin flat. Then fold up the bottom corner so it meets the top corner in a triangle shape. Once in this triangular form, simply fold down the top corner to meet the bottom corner and press firmly in place until you have created a perfect crease line. This fold is often seen accompanying silverware on formal tables and is relatively easy to create with any size paper or fabric napkin.

Fold the triangle in half again

Fold the triangle in half again. The flat, rectangle shape should be visible on both sides. Fold the lower third of the napkin up towards the top of the triangle so that a nice straight line is formed at the folded side.

To make sure you have a clean fold, use your hands to press down and crease along the folded edge. This will give you perfect lines when your napkin is finished!

Finishing Touches

After you learn the basics of folding a napkin, you can add some finishing touches to the napkin. These touches can add a more sophisticated look to the folded napkin and therefore your table setting overall.

In this section, you will find different techniques to give your napkins a neat and finished look:

Make sure the edges are even

When you've finished folding your napkin, make sure the edges of the napkin are even and symmetric. This step is necessary for a clean, polished look. You can straighten the edges by gently running your fingers along the sides of the napkin and pressing down lightly until all sides are level. Use light pressure when doing this to avoid creasing or wrinkling the fabric.

Additionally, you should be careful not to press any pleats firmly into place – they should remain subtle so that they don’t detract from your finished creation.

Tuck the edges in

Now that you have a pleated napkin, it is time to start tucking the edges in to create a smooth and clean look. Start by tucking the left and right sides in, similar to how you would fold a letter. You want to make sure the corners are tucked in nicely. If your napkin fabric is particularly thick or stiff, consider using a flatiron or ironing the napkin before you start folding.

Now, fold in each of four corners bringing them into the center and fold together for one neat package. This process should also create an even surface that will remain spread out when displayed on a dinner table.

Fluff the napkin

Fluff the napkin lightly to help it take the desired shape. Gently lift it up and give it a few fluffs, gently pulling each corner outwards toward its focal point at the center of the napkin. Take your time and enjoy the process of shaping your napkin. This not only ensures that your finished product looks beautiful, but also means that you will spend quality time on this small detail.

As you fluff, use your fingers to feel for any pleats or wrinkles that need to be carefully smoothed out with your hands:

  1. Gently pull each corner outwards toward its focal point at the center of the napkin.
  2. Use your fingers to feel for any pleats or wrinkles.
  3. Carefully smooth out any pleats or wrinkles with your hands.


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