Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Fans, Folds, Pleats, Pockets …

I had fun in June reading this library book

100classicnapkin folds

Bob had a few of the local clergy round to lunch yesterday, so I decided to make a Bit Of An Effort, and folded a simple Clown’s Hat for every place setting [that is not meant to imply anything about our local clergy, you understand!]



Steph learned the simple fan many years ago when she was working as a waitress, and taught me. That’s in the book…


I liked the flowerbud fold, and also the pinwheel


The designs in the book are for both paper and fabric napkins – I have a load of large black paper ones [leftover from a pack donated for a church event] which are not exactly festive- but useful for practising!

The instructions and photographs make the designs very easy to replicate. However I do think they work best with beautifully starched linen napkins [especially if you iron as you fold them] or – bizarrely – with very cheap paper ones. Many of the ideas don’t come out crisply with soft 2-ply paper serviettes.

I like polyester damask napkins [easy care, non iron] for everyday use – the book has a number of quick ideas for displaying these in napkin rings – and my IKEA ones are good for this purpose

ikea rings It took less than a couple of minutes to prepare half a dozen Clown Hats – but made quite a difference to the appearance of the meal table.

I am reminded of Edith Schaeffer’s book ‘Hidden Art’ which came out in the 70s, encouraging us to make the simple quotidian things beautiful, and show love and care to those around us. [For an excellent, ongoing review of that book, do check out MK’s blog, Through A Glass Darkly] It was subsequently re-issued as ‘The Hidden Art Of Homemaking [creative ideas for enriching everyday life]’

Whilst “100 Classic Napkin Folds” is a great book to borrow from the library, I am not sure I would want to own it – and many of the ideas can be found elsewhere on various internet sites, so I would only rate it *** [Hidden Art, on the other hand is probably **** if not *****. I really must dig out my copy and read it again!]

Whatever Nancy Mitford said, as far as I am concerned

  • napkins are fabric [but one person may re-use the same one if it is not sticky or stained – leave it neatly by the plate]
  • serviettes are paper [and should be scrunched up and discarded after use]
  • if I am in an eatery which gives me a handful of serviettes, along with my coffee, then I use one and fold the others neatly and put them in my bag. They often come in handy.
  • any paper serviettes or paper towels tucked into family lunchboxes should always be embellished with a message [Have a great day, I love you, I hope you enjoy the trip etc.]


  1. I must have folded a couple of thousand of those fans when I worked in a posh St Andrews golfing Hotel when I was a student - I do it occasionally nowadays, but not too often! Thanks for today's post - inspiration to do more, and bringing back memories!

  2. Quite agree with the thoughts on Nancy Mitford!
    I did wonder if clown shapes had any significance!!

  3. Miss Nancy is on the button as always!
    I was thinking that the fold you used for the lunch looked like a bishop's mitre!
    Jane x

  4. This post reminds me of a slightly surreal evening spent in Boulogne many years ago.
    We were on one of our motorcycle camping holidays, on the way home, and as most of the French restaurants were closed (as they often are in France if it's after 9pm or a Monday!), we resorted to a Chinese meal.
    We spent ages trying to figure out how the napkins had been folded into such an elaborate design. Then a French couple at the next table joined in. Then the waiter fetched the head waiter, who proceeded to give us a tutorial in French, with a Chinese accent !!
    I can't remember how it was done but I'll never forget how much fun it was finding out !!

  5. Ha ha! I love this! My sister was taught to do the fan by one of the waiters in our local Indian restaurant when she was 12 and she can still do them! I, on the other hand, was not able to! I'd like to be able to do the heart for my wedding! Coool!!!! I also keep the spare serviettes in my handbag! x

  6. What an artful way to present a lunch to your clergy. I haven't made a fancy napkin fold in a long time. I like the clown hat very much.

  7. Is Hidden Art less "lifestyle" than Jane Brockett? She has me totally intimidated on the homemaking front! Love the message idea. Might inspire me to put serviette in boys' boxes. Well, maybe not. Might inspire me to actually make a lunch for Prince Charming!

    1. I'll dig my copy out and show you in a fortnight's time!!


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