…… and it’s time to finish them after a decade of storing. The tasks at hand are hemming the edges of all seven embroidered napkins, and adding embroidery and hemming to the last eighth blank square to complete the set.
The napkins are smaller than dinner size and will probably be considered cocktail napkins. Except, I don’t do cocktails. I do high tea, so I’m calling them tea napkins.
In case you haven’t noticed, there are four ecru and four white napkins. They are made with fine linen, with scraps left over from a couple of much loved and much worn blouses — in the 90s. The napkins have a vintage look but are made with 21st century technology – except for the hand hemming. They’re embellished with machine embroidery using a Brother embroidery machine and card #67.
Since my old embroidery machine did all the embellishment, I’m going to focus on a hemming technique my fellow students and I learned way back in our clothing lab at college.
Invisible Hem: That is what the professors of Clothing and Textiles called it in back in the day. Halfway across the world and decades later, it’s called a “slip stitch”. Whatever the name, this is the technique I use for hand hemming anything. On the inside it is truly invisible, and on the right side you can barely see the stitches. On certain fabrics, if you ply your needle correctly, it’s also invisible on the right side.
Here’s how I invisibly hemmed the linen napkins:
- Press all edges of the napkins in a double fold hem by pressing up ¼” then ¼” again.
- Thread a fine hand sewing needle suitable for lightweight linen. You can wax the thread with beeswax at this point but I did not. Make a small knot at the far end; my professors hated knots but I did not get into the habit of no-knot hand sewing. Working from the wrong side take a small stitch in the body of the napkin by picking up a couple of threads with your needle.
- Pierce needle into the upper fold of hem right above the previous stitch and bring it out approximately 3/8 to ½” away.
- Pull thread all the way so that the stitch is reasonably taut but not loose. It should not be so tight that you can see dimples or puckers on the right side. Here’s how my hemming looks. I like it.
Tip: My favorite hand position while pulling the thread is holding the stitch between my thumb and forefinger of the left hand (the right hand plies the needle). For lefties, reverse this. If I can feel the thread moving, I can control the tension of the stitch. This is also a good way to avoid thread tangles .
- Keep hemming until all four sides are done.
Tip: I kept the napkins visible through the hallway, and took a few stitches as I passed by. As I write this, the ecru napkins still need to be hemmed. Hope you like my invisible hemming ways :).
My home is a cloth napkin establishment. We almost never use paper napkins unless necessary, like the time when my guest asked for a paper napkin rather than use the pretty cloth versions. Yes, that really happened. What do you think? Why do some people shy away from a nice clean cloth napkin?