How to fold a turkey napkin

If you are planning a dinner party, working on a holiday table with a theme, or simply preparing for a special family dinner, add a decorative touch to your preparations with a set of fancy folded napkins. Folded napkin turkeys are well suited to a Thanksgiving feast.

Your first consideration is your choice of napkin. Some designs can be accomplished with paper napkins, but cloth napkins create decor with a touch of class, and are easier to work with when creating masterpieces for your table. Consider your choice of fabric. Cotton or cotton blends are very washable, less expensive and easily available. Linen or linen blend napkins are often the choice in your favorite upscale restaurants. Compare what you have in your linen closet, kitchen drawer, or your favorite kitchenware store to decide which is the best texture and price range for your needs. Next, consider your fabric design. You may want to stick with a plain color that fits your theme or season of choice, but will be versatile for other uses. For a fanciful touch, consider a pattern that fits the holiday for which you are preparing. If you are feeling ambitious, perhaps you might want to purchase and hem napkins from commercial material. Be sure to look for napkins that are at least 15 inches in length, with a square shape.

Your next step is to prepare your chosen napkins. If you are using new napkins, they may be stiff enough to suit napkin folding simply because of their commercial preparation. If you are expecting your guests to use your creations, though, you might want to wash them and begin anew. Depending on the quality of your napkins, you may want to begin with a starch treatment, or spray on a spray starch prior to ironing. This treatment will give your napkins a more workable and long lasting texture. In any case, iron each napkin carefully before folding, steaming out any wrinkles, paying special attention to hems, which tend to become very puckered over time.

Now, you are ready to fold your napkin into a hat creation.

  • Fold your napkin into a rectangle, matching the edges carefully. Place this rectangle with the short edges towards you and the long folded edge to your right.
  • Pick up both edges of one of the closest short, folded sides. Fold this edge over and under in accordian-type pleats about one inch wide. Continue forming these pleats until you have reached about three-quarters of the way across your napkin rectangle. For extra hold, you may want to spray and re-iron each pleat. If not, be sure to finger-press each pleat edge. End with all your pleats on top of your last folded pleat, and on top of the remaining flat fabric.
  • Place both thumbs under the fabric pleats in the center of their width and rest your hands on top of your pleats. Fold the left side under the right side and place on your working surface carefully.
  • Above the folded pleats, will be your unpleated section of cloth. Pick up the far right corner which will have four layers of cloth in it, and bring in down toward the near left corner of the flat cloth section, creating a triangle. Tuck under, finger-press or iron this fold.
  • Lift up your napkin and place the open pleat edges upwards, and the long section of your triangle downwards. Allow the pleats to fan out towards your working surface, creating the tail of your cloth napkin turkey.
Your cloth napkin design is now a complete cloth napkin turkey creation. Continue with your full set of napkins until you are prepared for all your future guests. Use your napkins as dinner plate or dessert place decorations, or as part of your centerpiece. To expand on a Thanksgiving theme, consider crafting simple turkey faces from construction paper, as a whimsical addition to your napkins. Your guests will be astounded with your decorating ability.  

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