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This cute napkin set makes use of the wide variety of panel block fabrics available within many quilting cotton collections. Normally used for quick and easy quilts, table runners or wall hangings, we’ve broken the mold to use them instead as feature appliqués on pretty banded, double-sided napkins. We made a set of eight, alternating two crisp coordinating cottons for the main napkin fabric.

Fabric panels are an amazingly affordable way to create clever appliqués. With our mouthwatering confectionary theme, we matched the cupcake panel blocks with pink fabric in dots and stripes.There are dozens and dozens of other panel block options from a variety of fabric manufacturers to create your own personalized set. Choose from animals, florals, kid-friendly themes, holiday fun, and more!

This napkin design uses a clever “rolled tube” construction method, which cuts down on the number of seams and makes a super smooth edge all around. The napkins finish at a very generous, dinner size 20″ x 20″. All eight of ours feature a unique block from the panel as an appliqué.

Remember, panel blocks vary in size and shape. You should adjust your layout to best fit your fabric. And, while panels work perfectly for this project, you could also fussy cut blocks from standard yardage.

Wouldn’t these make a perfect hostess gift? Feel free to use our idea to bundle the napkin set in baker’s twine and present it in a classic pink cake box.

As an extra bonus, we designed a set of matching gift tags. Click the image below to download the free printable .PDF file.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Sewing Machine and standard presser foot.

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Amounts shown below are for a set of EIGHT coordinating 20″ x 20″ dinner napkins.

  • ONE printed panel with at least 8 approximately 6″ x 6″ blocks for the appliqués; as noted above, our cupcake panel fabric is no longer readily available – you could also use your own feature blocks cut from fabric in your scrap stash
  • 2½ yards EACH of TWO 44-45″ quilting weight cottons for the napkin front and back panels; we used two coordinating pink prints – one dot and one stripe
  • 1 yard of fusible web for appliqués; such as Wonder Under by Pellon
  • 1 yard of tear-away stabilizer, as recommended for your machine, also for the appliqué process; such as Stitch ‘n’ Sew by Thermoweb
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • 40 wt. decorative thread for appliqué; we used a deep pink – you should choose a color that picks up an accent within your appliqué blocks
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From EACH of the coordinating cottons (Pale Pink Stripe and Pale Pink Polka Dots in our samples), cut FOUR 21″ high x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips
  2. From each of these eight WOF strips, sub-cut the following:
    ONE 21″ high x 15″ wide rectangle and ONE 21″ high x 27″ wide rectangle
    NOTE: If using a stripe, the cuts should be made to insure the stripes run vertically.
  3. From the fusible web, cut EIGHT squares about 1″ larger than your panel squares; in our sample, our finished squares were 6″ x 6″ so we cut EIGHT 7″ x 7″ squares.
  4. From the tear-away stabilizer, cut EIGHT squares about 1″ larger than your panel squares; as above, we cut EIGHT 7″ x 7″ squares.
  5. From the panel fabric, carefully cut out EIGHT OVERSIZE squares, one for each napkin. We cut each of our squares at about 8″ x 8″.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Appliqué preparation and attachment

  1. Find all eight of your panel squares. Flip them over to the wrong side and center a square of fusible web over the motif area. Make sure your fusible web square goes beyond the edges of the motif square. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  2. Again, following manufacturer’s instructions, peel away the paper backing from the fusible web.
  3. Flip the square over to the right side. Using your clear ruler and a rotary cutter, trim down the square to its finished size. As we mentioned above, our finished squares were approximately 6″ x 6″.
  4. Repeat these steps to prepare all eight appliqué blocks.
  5. Find all eight 21″ x 15″ backing rectangles. Fold each piece in half so it is now 21″ high x 7½” wide (tall and narrow – oriented exactly as it will be on the final napkin).
  6. Place the folded piece on your work surface with the raw edges of the 21″ side on your left (left as you are looking down at the fabric).
  7. Place the appliqué at the bottom, positioning the square 1″ in from the raw edges and 1″ up from the bottom edge. You can lightly pin in place as you adjust.
  8. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the appliqué in place.
  9. Unfold the fabric (it was just folded to mark placement) and press the entire piece flat.
  10. Repeat to fuse the remaining seven appliqués in place. If you are following our mix-and-match design, you will fuse four appliqués onto the stripe and four onto the polka dot.
  11. Thread the machine with decorative thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin. Select a tight zig zag stitch.We used a 3.5 mm width and a 0.40 mm length.
  12. Find the squares of tear-away stabilizer.
  13. Layer a square of stabilizer under the fabric directly behind the appliqué, then slide both layers under the presser foot.
  14. Align the presser foot with the edge of the block and satin stitch around the entire outer perimeter.
  15. When the stitching is complete, tear away the stabilizer. Press the piece from the wrong side of the fabric.
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, check out our Appliqué Tutorial
  16. Repeat to stitch the remaining seven appliqués in place.

Assemble the napkin panels

  1. Find the eight 21″ x 27″ rectangles. Pair them up with the eight appliquéd rectangles. If you are following our mix-and-match design, you should pair a large stripe with an appliquéd polka dot, and a large polka dot with an appliquéd stripe.
  2. Pin each pair together along both 21″ sides, creating a tube.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both 21″ seams.
  4. Turn the tube right side out and press the seam allowances away from the appliqué panel.
  5. Edgestich along each seam (about 3/16″ from the seam line) within the main panel (the non-appliquéd panel).
  6. Turn the tube wrong side out again.
  7. Roll the tube to match up the two seam lines. Pin along the top and bottom edges, leaving an approximate 5″ center opening along the top.
  8. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top and bottom. Remember to lock your seam on either side of the 5″ opening at the top.
  9. Clip the corners, being careful to not clip into your seam.
  10. Turn the napkin right side out through the opening. Gently push out the corners from the inside so they are nice and square. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick.
  11. Press the napkin flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  12. Edgestitch around all four sides. This helps keep the layers from shifting against one another and closes the opening used for turning.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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