Easy Napkin Folding Alternative: Knotted Napkin

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Photo by Tory Williams

Every time we go to set the table, there’s usually one last step that takes longer than anyone expects — ironing napkins. For our usual table of 30, this means an extra hour of ironing. Don’t get us wrong! We love to experiment with different shapes and styles of folds to show off a variety of looks, but when you know guests are on the way, ironing a stack of napkins can be quite stressful. Lately, we’ve been working with a lot of linen. In the world of napkins, linen has the same dress-it-up or dress-it-down appeal as your favorite pair of jeans. For that chic, dressed down look, we have taken a liking to knotting our napkins.


It’s a simple technique that will add flair to your fall tablescapes, and maybe even save a little bit of time in your pre-party hours. Just lay out a dinner napkin lengthwise. Take hold of two opposite corners and tie them in a loose knot. The result is a casual look that seems effortlessly styled and perfectly elegant. Most importantly, there is no need to take the iron out of the closet for this dinner party! This technique works best on looser weaves and flexible fabrics. The knots end up looking more similar to each other, and with less finagling. Also, any wrinkles in the fabric seem intentional — bonus! It is totally possible to knot your napkins with a crisp cotton as well, you may just want to practice your technique a few times so that the result is consistent. With any material, you can center the knot, as we did here. You can also do something asymmetrical, where the knot is secured closer to one corner of the napkin.


These natural linen napkins by Dot & Army have a pop of blue stitching that adds interest to the subtle tones used on the table. We kept the rest of the table understated with a runner and added simple white bud vases. Then, we scattered some husk cherries and Asian pears from the local farmers’ market. Since Filigree Suppers is all about supporting local artisans, we made sure to use handmade plates by local ceramicist Lou Gruber for a homespun look. The neutral palette means that you can use a mix of different plates with mismatched silverware, and the table will still look pulled together. We often find that a great tablescape isn’t always about one giant centerpiece, but about the small details, and a knotted napkin is just the right amount. Your guests will feel right at home the minute they have a seat.


See great tips for setting a table and learn more about supporting local makers by visiting the American Made guide.


Watch the video below and learn another fabulous way to fold a napkin!