How to Quilt: Mitered Frame Napkins

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Welcome to the ninth week, and the ninth project, of How to Quilt: A Beginner’s Guide. This week we’re learning how to sew mitered frame napkins!

Miters are joints created when two fabrics, usually at 90-degree angles to each other, are brought together at a 45-degree angle. Don’t sweat the math though, it’s easier to make than to explain! In quilting, we usually use miters in borders or frames.

Mitering ends up frustrating some quilters, because the first time they try it is in a border and there aren’t many chances to practice the technique. Mitered borders involve big, unwieldy pieces and it can feel like the pressure is on to finish a quilt. So we wanted you to have a chance to try the process first on a small scale with mitered frame napkins. We’re giving instructions to make four napkins so you have lots of opportunities to practice. You’re going to be a mitering pro by next week when we start the All-Border Quilt which, spoiler alert, has mitered borders. Let’s get started!

We’ve made a playlist of uquilt videos that show you pre-sewing skills. Take a moment to watch and review. Be sure to refer to your sewing machine’s manual for specific threading and setup guidance.

Now that we’re caught up on our skills, let’s make a Mitered Frame Napkin!

Mitered Frame Napkins

mitered napkin

The fabrics to make four Mitered Frame Napkins in the material pictured above are part of the How To Quilt Fabric Bundle, which includes all the fabrics for the series. There’s also a starter kit with sewing and quilting supplies.

Fabric/Supply Requirements for Four Napkins

5/8 yard of Frame fabric
1 yard of Reversible Napkin fabric (batiks, wovens, homespuns, muslins, and solids are all great options, any fabric that looks the same from the front and back)
Coordinating threads for topstitching
Pins or Wonder Clips

Cutting Instructions

From the frame fabric, cut:
(8) 2 1/2″ x Width of Fabric strips, and then subcut into:
(16) 2 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ strips

From the reversible napkin fabric, cut:
(2) 16 1/2″ x Width of Fabric strips, and then subcut into:
(4) 16 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ squares

Assembly

Adding the Frame

First, on the 2 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ strips, mark the short ends 1/4″ from the edge on the wrong side. Along one of the long sides, mark 1/2″ from the edge on the wrong side. Repeat this for all the strips.

Next, position a 2 1/2″ strip, right side down, onto the 16 1/2″ napkin fabric square, with the unmarked long edge of the strip along the edge of the napkin fabric. Because the napkin square is made with reversible fabric, there’s no “wrong side,” per se, rather the strip is being sewn onto the back of the napkin. Secure the strip with pins.

Now, bring the strip under your needle and use the hand wheel to bring the needle down exactly on the marked 1/4″ line. Sew a 1/4″ seam allowance from this point to the other marked 1/4″ line, again using your hand wheel to bring the needle down at the exact marked line. Press away from the center. Repeat this on all four sides, making sure to never sew over a neighboring strip, only right to it.

Once all the frames are added, fold over the long edge of the frame so the edge meets the marked 1/2″ line. Press a crease and repeat on all sides.

Creating the Miter

Fold the napkin in half diagonally, so the right sides of the frame face each other. Pinch the ends of two frames together so they’re aligned along the raw edge and the folded edge and secure with a pin several inches from the end.

Place a ruler on the fabric so the corner is at the exact point the seams meet (1/4″ from the edge) and the stitches of the seam are aligned in a straight line down from this point. Mark the wrong side of the frame at a 45-degree angle.

Add a pin near the top of the frames. You can pin right along the marked line and check the miter if you like, but at this size, it’s safe to go ahead and sew.

Once at the sewing machine, bring the needle down at the beginning of the marked line where the seams from the frames meet. Sew on the marked line and backstitch at the folded edge to end inside the seam rather than at the folded edge for tidiness.

You can turn and check the miter now before trimming to take another shot at the seam.

After you’re satisfied with the miter, trim 1/4″ from the seam. Repeat on the remaining corners.

Finishing Touches

Now that all the frames are mitered, turn the frames right sides out so they fold to the front of the napkin. Manipulate the fabric until so excess fabric is trapped in the seams and the corners are sharp. Press a crease along the seams and set the miter seams so they lay flat.

With coordinating thread, topstitch an 1/8″ from the inner edge of the frame. Pivot in the corners at the miter seam. Stitch a couple stitches past where you began. Do the same thing on the outer edge of the frame.

And you’re ready to throw a dinner party! These napkins make great gifts and the more you make, the more comfortable you’ll get with mitering.

This pattern is really easy to customize, too. Change the center to any size you want and cut the frames the same length. Adjust the width of the frame to any size you like. Have fun with it!

Ready to join a community of beginners, share your progress and get exclusives?

Join the How To Quilt AQS Facebook group. We can’t wait to see what you make!

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It would really be great to have printed instructions WITH diagrams that were printable for future reference. Can’t aways go to a video when sewing.

Carolyn Cooper

Are the directions for the cutting of the fabric backwards??