Here's a simple way to create a gorgeous place setting and easily dress up your table with pretty bow tie napkins. In a few simple steps, you will be able to fold a napkin into a bow and secure it with a napkin ring.
Combine bow-tie napkins with the DIY napkin rings that I shared last week to create a beautiful table setting for your celebration table. If you follow the step-by-step instructions below, I guarantee that you'll love the results!
Table of contents
Why fold a napkin?
A festive table, set with your best flatware and decorated with flowers, is a beautiful sight, but it's never perfect without folded cloth napkins.
Napkin folding has become an art in itself and you will come across many napkin folding and origami techniques for celebration table settings.
The bow tie is a favourite napkin fold of mine because it doesn't require any special origami skills! Heck, this fold is simple enough to spruce up your weeknight dinners too!
TIP: Choose napkins to suit your colour theme and slip a place card underneath or attach it with a piece of ribbon for the perfect finishing touch.
Which fabric is best for napkin folding?
Cotton napkins will work well for folds that need some strength to stand alone, like the fleur-de-lis napkin fold. Linen napkins are better for accordion folds or folds with many pleats like the Christmas tree napkin fold.
If you are folding cloth napkins made of cotton, linen-mix, polyester and other synthetic fibres, you should strengthen them with starch, but they should not be so stiff that they become difficult to work with.
I have linen and cotton napkins and I will sometimes make a napkin fold using one of each sort as a test. Whichever napkin looks the best after folding will be the one I choose for my table.
What is the best size napkin for folding?
Square napkins are best for most folding techniques with the best napkin size being the standard size 20 x 20 inches or 51 x 51 cm. Cloth napkins in size 16 inches x 16 inches or 40 x 40 cm will also work well. For the best results, all of the napkins you want to work with should be the same size if possible.
What if my napkins are not square?
Not all napkin folds require a square napkin, the bow-tie-napkin-fold being one of them. If you are going for a more informal look with your table decorations, the bow-tie-napkin-fold is one of the most forgiving.
For today's tutorial, I am using some simple napkins that I made myself, from linen. None of the napkins I made are perfectly square but despite that, I was still able to create a pretty bow shape. Linen gives a more casual look to a dinner table but still works well with the napkin bow fold.
When to use the bow-tie napkin fold
The bow-tie napkin fold is simple enough to use every day and works well for many occasions, including celebrations and any holiday table setting.
Use the bow napkin fold to add a special touch for:
- Baby shower
- Easter table
- Birthday parties
- Sunday dinner table
- Christmas table
- Dinner parties
- A special tea-time
How to make a napkin bow
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Very few supplies are needed to make the napkin bow, only two in fact - here they are:
- Cloth napkins in linen or cotton
- Napkin rings like these in natural or these napkin rings with dried flowers.
Bow fold Instructions
- First, lay the entire napkin onto a flat surface. If you are using a patterned napkin, the pretty side of the fabric should be facing downwards.
- Next, Turn the napkin diagonally, creating a diamond shape.
- For the first layer, take the bottom corner of the napkin and fold it over to the opposite corner to make a diagonal fold or triangle shape.
4. Next, take the top edge of the triangle and fold it down towards the centre of the napkin.
5. With the top half folded down to the middle, fold the bottom edge (longest side) up to make another fold at the centre of the napkin, then fold it up again to make a long strip.
6. Now, fold the sides of the napkin inwards towards the middle of the napkin (See photo).
7. Place your hand in the centre of the folded napkin and gently scrunch one of the folded ends together – right side or left side it doesn't matter which.
8. Take the ends of the folded napkin in one hand, then push them through a napkin ring.
9. Arrange the napkin ring in the centre of the folded napkin.
10. Lastly, tweak the ends of the napkin until you are happy with the shape of the napkin bows.
TIP: You can easily make napkin rings from everyday items. See my DIY napkins post for further details.
An artfully folded dinner napkin is the crowning highlight of any festively decorated table. If you've followed my step-by-step instructions, you should now be able to quickly transform a cloth napkin into an attractive eye-catcher for your table decorations.
TIP: Place a small party favour underneath the middle of the bow as an extra surprise for your party guests. If you are folding napkins for a DIY wedding, christening or another special occasion, why not make DIY menu cards for the table too.
Have fun designing and using your beautiful bow-tie napkin table decorations!
Napkin folding FAQ
Paper napkins can only be used for a few origami folding techniques since they are generally too small and thin and can easily tear when folding.
If you don't want to use napkin rings, simply tie a piece of ribbon through the centre of your bow to hold it in place.
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Barbara at Mantel and Table says
great tutorial Jayne - I love the bow fold! You photos are beautiful as always! 🙂 Thanks for the napkin inspiration!
Jayne Westerholt says
Thanks so much, Barbara! Do try the bow fold, it's so easy!
Kim | Shiplap and Shells says
I am so glad you shared this Jayne! I am always at a loss when it comes to napkin folding.
Jayne Westerholt says
Thanks, Kim! I use this napkin folding technique a lot because it's so easy and looks great!