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Autumn Leaves Machine Cross Stitch Placemats & Napkins

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Cross Stitch is one of the oldest styles of embroidery. According to several historians, it dates back as far as the Tang dynasty in China (618-906 AD). It is traditionally done by hand with hundreds to thousands of tiny cross-hatches forming each finished design. In many ways, it’s really a precursor to today’s pixelated digital designs. To create cross stitch by machine, you need a thread with a matte finish to replicate the traditional antique look, and it must be super fine in order to form the multitude of tiny crosses. We chose Aurifil 80wt thread, which succeeded beautifully on all levels, producing a soft, realistic heirloom finish. 

We stitched our designs on a set of luxurious linen placemats and napkins. The larger design would also be lovely at either end of a table runner. 

We love adding elegant touches of embroidery to home décor projects and knew traditional cross stitching would be the perfect accent for upcoming Fall gatherings and holiday meals. 

We selected nine rich autumn tones for our custom embroidery designs. The full garland design is used on the placemats with a smaller design created to perfectly fit a napkin's corner point. 

There are two classic hemming techniques shown below. The napkins feature a narrow ¼” double-fold hem with clean corners, which is an easy folding technique that creates a tidy, unobtrusive hem all around. 

The placemat has a wider 1½” hem with full mitered corners. This is a traditional heirloom finish and adds just a bit more weight along to edge to help hold the placemat flat.

The Aurifil 80wt is super fine and virtually lint free when stitching – unusual in a 100% cotton thread. We also found it to be stronger than silk, a thread type that can be problematic when a machine is running at 600 stitches per minute for embroidery.

Our placemats finish at approximately 19¾” wide x 12½” high. The napkins are 18” x 18” when flat. The Main Autumn Leaves Garland Design is about 5” x 8” when fully stitched and the Autumn Leaves Detail finishes at about 1½” x 3”. 

The links below take you to our Download Page where the designs are available in all the major embroidery machine formats free of charge – thanks to the sponsorship of Aurifil

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies



Yardages listed below are for a set of TWO placemats and TWO napkins

  • Machine cross stitch embroidery download(s) from the Getting Started section below
  • ¾ yard of 54”+ wide mid-weight linen or similar; we used a 56” 100% European Linen in Cream
  • ⅝ yard of 54” + wide mid-weight linen or similar; we used a 56” European 100% Washed Linen in Bayou Brown
  • Tear-away stabilizer as recommended for your embroidery machine
  • Aurifil 80wt thread for the cross stitch:
    Burgundy 2460
    Dark Red 2260
    Pink 2423
    Beige 2312
    Dark Cream 2123
    Olive 2905
    Yellow Green 1147
    Brown 2372
    Light Beige 2312
  • We also recommend Aurifil 80wt thread in the bobbin for the machine cross stitch; we used White 2021 (for our placemat samples) and Dark Red 2260 (for our napkin samples)
  • Aurifil 50wt thread is recommended for the construction; we used Ecru 2310 (for our placemat samples) and Brown 2372 (for our napkin samples)
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the linen for the placemats, cut ONE 18” high x 24” wide rectangle for EACH placemat you wish to make.
  2. From the linen for the napkins, cut ONE 19” x 19” square for EACH napkin you wish to make.

Embroidery preparation

  1. Download the Main Autumn Leaves Garland Design and the Autumn Leaves Detail Design in the appropriate format for your machine. Save the design to a memory stick. You should also print the PDF files with the design cross hairs for placement. 
  2. Our Download Page also contains all the Color Chart information with the color change steps. This information has been repeated below as well. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Hemming the placemats

  1. Thread the machine with Ecru 2310 Aurifil 50wt thread in the top and bobbin.
  2. For each placemat, you’ll create a wide hem with mitered corners. 
  3. To do this, fold back the raw edge 1⅛” on each side and press well. 
  4. Fold an additional 1⅛” and press again. 
  5. Unfold each corner so the hem is folded only once. 
  6. Using the intersection of the two sides as your center point, draw a diagonal line across the corner with a fabric pen or pencil. 
  7. Fold the hems right sides together, creating a point at the corner. The two outer ends of the original drawn line (the folded edges) should align back to back. Pin in place. 
  8. Stitch along the drawn line through all the layers. 
  9. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼". 
  10. Finger press open the seam allowance and flip the corner to enclose the seam. The corner is mitered and the hem to either side is once again doubled. Press in place. 
  11. Repeat these steps at each corner. When all four corners are complete, re-press the double hem and edgestitch in place, staying close to the inner fold and pivoting sharply at each corner.

    NOTE: If you are new to mitering corners, although the steps above are fairly detailed, we do have a full mitering tutorial you can review prior to starting the project.

Hemming the napkins

  1. For our napkins, we used our favorite narrow ¼” hem with clean corners. If you are new to this technique, we have a full tutorial that shows all the simple steps.

Machine cross stitch

  1. Thread the machine with white Aurifil 80wt thread in the bobbin and 80wt thread in the top as listed on the color chart.
  2. Cut away the excess paper from the Main Autumn Leaves Garland Design template. Position the template on the pre-hemmed placemat. Make sure the placemat is facing right side up. We placed our Garland 3½" in from one side, centering the design top to bottom. The crosshair should be parallel with the edges of the placemat. Mark the center of the crosshair with a pin.
  3. Remove the paper template so you now have just a pin marking the center of the crosshair.
  4. Set up the machine for embroidery, following your manual. 
  5. Follow the steps and suggested colors on the Download Page Color Chart for the embroidery (also shown below). 
  6. Hoop a piece of stabilizer and attach the hoop to the machine. 
  7. Open the Main Autumn Leaves Garland Design on your machine. 
  8. Position the placemat over the hoop so the needle is directly above the center marking pin. The side of the placemat should be parallel to the side of the hoop. Use a pin or two to secure the fabric in place or, if possible, use the baste function on your machine to secure the fabric. We love the baste function on our Janome embroidery machines.
  9. Embroider the design.
  10. As with all embroidery designs, the stitching will stop as needed and you’ll be cued to re-thread with a new color. We used the same color in the bobbin throughout and so did not remove the hoop from the machine until the embroidery was complete. 
  11. The stitching is very precise and it’s fun to watch the delicate shading and detail take shape.
  12. When the embroidery is complete, remove the fabric from the hoop and remove the excess stabilizer from the embroidery. 
  13. Press from the wrong side. Repeat for all remaining placemats.
  14. For the napkins, the process is the same but you are working with the smaller Autumn Leaves Detail Design.
  15. Position the template in one corner of the napkin. For our samples, we positioned the crosshair 1½" in from from the side and 2" up from the lower edge. 
  16. As mentioned above, because of the dark color of our napkin linen, we used a dark red 80wt in the bobbin, following the other color changes as shown on the color chart.
  17. Hoop a piece of stabilizer and attach the hoop to the machine. Position the napkin over the hoop so the needle is directly over the center of the template crosshair and the napkin’s corner is parallel to the edges of the hoop. Pin in place or use the baste function of the machine to secure in place.
  18. Remove the paper template and embroider the design. Repeat in one corner of each napkin. 

Below is a Color Chart summary

MAIN GARLAND - 20282 Stitches, 125 mm x 200 mm

  • Burgundy 2460 Leaves and berries
  • Dk Red 2260 Leaves
  • Pink 2423 Leaves
  • Beige 2314 Leaves
  • Dk Cream Leaves
  • Olive 2905 Leaves
  • Yellow Green 1147 Leaves
  • Brown 2372 Stems
  • Lt Beige 2312 Fern 

LEAF DETAIL -  3296 Stitches, 38 mm x 78 mm

  • Burgundy 2460 Leaves and berries
  • Dk Red 2260 Leaves
  • Beige 2314 Leaves
  • Lt Beige 2312 Fern
  • Brown 2372 Stems

Contributors 

Project Design, Design Digitizing and Sample Creation: Michele Mishler

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Comments (7)

Diane Marie said:
Diane Marie's picture

The quilt stores near my home do not carry 80wt for this project.  where can I purchase the thread for this project?

molly pitts said:
molly pitts's picture

Thank you! As an avid machine embroiderer (embroiderist?) I love it when you feature this kind of project.  And what a bonus to have the embroidery files and template (kind of a rarity to receive the template).  I think this is my weekend project to replace my halloween table scene.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Molly - You are so welcome. The 80wt allowed for such amazing detail with a cross stitch pattern. Let us know how it turns out. And, thank you for offering to help the gal below with the older embroidery format. 

Haley said:
Haley's picture

I love this design.  And, would love to make these.  Unfortunately, the design is not offered in my format: .pcs.  There are still people out there who use the 4"x4" designs and would like to be offered them, too. 

molly pitts said:
molly pitts's picture

Haley, if it's ok with the folks at Sew4Home I would be glad to convert the designs for you in my software.  You'd have to give me your email. You can PM me at molly dee 44 at gmail dot com.  

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Haley - Sorry we aren't able to offer all the possibilities with our free downloads; we had to keep it to the six most common. Your software may open pes formats and when sent to the machine, convert on the fly. The larger design won't fit your hoop, but the smaller design would.