Holiday napkin set for gifting

A few weeks ago, I was shopping for a very Portland gift for my boss (who lives in California). The Oregon Health Authority had recently sent me a link to the Made Here store, of course encouraging people to do their Christmas shopping online this year. I was very inspired by this Tiny Napkin Set made by Portland company, Madre.

I especially liked the finished edge with a lovely contrast thread. On a recent Saturday morning, I decided to try making a set of these to give as a gift this year. First, gather the supplies:

  • Linen. I have a couple yards of natural-colored linen from a tablecloth that I’ve cut up for other projects.
  • Green serger thread. I have one spool of sea green serger thread.

To make this work — without leaving the house — I would need to make one spool of serger thread work on a four-spool machine. As luck would have it, Lyndsey at Inside the Hem, had recently done an Instagram story about how to use bobbins in your serger. I loaded up three bobbins and threaded them into my Brother 1034D.

I cut out my linen to 10″ x 10″, as I wanted napkins a little larger than the cocktail size. It took a ton of tests to get the serger to loop thread very tightly together over the edge, as the Madre napkins had done. Here’s the aftermath of just my tests.

Here are the settings that finally worked. I guess the “R” setting is for rolled hem, and it makes the stitches very tight together.

What I didn’t anticipate was that my upper looper thread would just fly out of the machine. I was only able to do one side of one napkin and then the fully loaded spool ran dry. I decided I didn’t want to load a spool and thread it in for every side of the napkin (can you blame me??) so instead I used a regular thread spool I thankfully had of the same color. The needle threads were not draining as fast, but it was using too much thread altogether. I also didn’t like how wide the serged edge was turning out to be. So I switched to a three-thread overlock, solving both issues.

I never really could get the tensions settings right for each of the spools. The loopers were always loose! Setting the upper and lower loopers at 6 worked OK, but setting them at 9 somehow worked even better.

In the end, I really liked the look of the three-thread overlock. I may not put the fourth needle back in! Three threads uses less thread and it looks much better than the four-thread. It remains to be seen if it’s noticeably less sturdy in a garment, but I intend to find out.

My cheap serger really can’t approximate the professional product. The stitches are just too darn loose. It wraps up really nice, though, and I don’t think the recipient will be investigating the stitch tenson (too closely).

These napkins would look lovely in any color of linen you had lying around. Also any contrast thread. I did a few tests with navy thread that looked very nice. I hope you’re having fun making some gifts, too, this year! -rp