n is for napkin folding
Today in our Alphabet Month, N is for Napkin Folding. With thanksgiving coming up, there will be a lot of napkins getting folded, and this is a way for your kids to join you!
My sister is currently working on getting certified to teach Montessori methods, and she's always sharing wonderful things with me. One of the work jobs that jumped out at me was napkin folding. It falls under the category of Practical Life and I really liked that you could use embroidery in a functional way for this!
The goal is for children (even very young children!) to learn how to fold napkins, or really, anything. These specially customized napkins have features that help them practice this skill, and just think how proud they'd be to assist you with your holiday table!
Start with napkins that are around 12 inches square. They can be a little larger or smaller, but if they vary too much, they will be more difficult for children to fold.
I made my napkins from osnaburg. They are sewn around the edge so that they will fray and fringe only to a point. You could also do a standard hem (which I recommend if you're going to use these at your table and wash them on a regular basis.
Using a ruler and a water-soluble pen, mark folding lines on the napkins. For traditional Montessori napkin folding, there are four basic folds:
Using contrasting embroidery floss and running stitch, embroider the lines.
You can also fringe the edges, or let your kids help with this!
The process of using these starts with you demonstrating, and your child trying it next. (You don't even need to explain...just show!)
Run your finger along the stitching, top to bottom using your dominant hand.
Fold the napkin over, left to right.
If folded properly, the line of stitching shows along the fold. In Montessori, this is called the "control of error", which is basically a self-check system so your child knows if they got it right!
Repeat the process for each fold, then let your child try!
You should make all of the folding patterns for practice, but if you're making a set that will be used for the table, obviously you'd want them all to match. Keep in mind that these are used to teach a skill, so it shouldn't take too long before your kids can use plain napkins.
But actually, I really kinda like the look of the osnaburg (or linen) with a contrasting color along the folds. It feels so modern!