Embroidery and monograms on the corners of towels, napkins, and handkerchiefs looks classic and sharp, but it can sometimes be difficult to hoop an embroidery project when a design is close to the corner or the edge of the fabric. There is an easy way to get around this if you are making your own napkins or handkerchiefs. I like to mark and finish the embroidery before I cut the fabric for the project, ensuring that I have plenty of room to fit the embroidery hoop while I work.
I usually plan a project so I will make a set of four items from one piece of fabric. For instance, if I wanted to make four 16 inch square handkerchiefs, I will cut a large piece of fabric 32 inches square. For napkins, handkerchiefs, etc, I don’t add a hem allowance, because there is no need for them to be exact, and the hems are very narrow on these projects.
I fold the large fabric in half in both directions, and press creases to define the borders of the finished pieces. At the center of the fabric, where the creases cross, mark the embroidery designs. Place them in the corners, bearing in mind that the piece should be rotated so the design will be the right side up on the same relative corner for each item. Then the whole center can be tightened into an embroidery hoop once and the stitching completed.
After finishing the stitching, simply cut the four items apart along the creases and hem as desired. I like to use the rolled hem option on my serger. It is generally very sturdy, and looks really tidy and professional. I even cut the fabric into the individual pieces using the serger, cutting and finishing the edges at the same time. Other hem options include the rolled hem foot on a sewing machine, a narrow stitched hem, and a hand rolled hem. You could also finish the edges by crocheting or embroidering over them, forming a decorative border.
By keeping items like napkins and handkerchiefs as one piece of fabric until the designs in the corners have been embroidered, it is a simple matter to hoop and embroider these designs. This will solve the problem of trying to hoop fabric and embroidery close to its cut edge after the item has been cut out and hemmed. When I realized how simple it would be to embroider the corners of homemade napkins, etc, I was glad to rethink my design placement and go for the corners.