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Top 10 Napkin Fold Techniques

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I know what you're thinking. Only a Top 10? It's napkins for goodness sake! There's got to be, well, at least 23 3/4 great ways to fold them.

And you'd be right.

But we've got to single out the best. The folds that showcase napkins for what they truly are: the unsung hero of every meal. The star of the place setting.

Now I looked at a lot of napkin folding techniques, considered 20 of the coolest, (as recommended by Mrs Beeton and listed by Quamut) and narrowed the list to the ten which virtually anyone can make.

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To reach napkin folding nirvana, (a spot usually reserved for America's Next Top Maitre D) you need to put away those silly silver napkin rings, leave the lazy half-fold for those who don't know better and, for goodness sake, stop tucking them into your shirt.
That's a bib baby.

Now experts will probably disagree with some of my choices, since there are a lot of complicated, origami like ways to fold napkins. But I chose to pick the ones that I think anyone can do. So grab your best linen and get ready to get folded.

Oh, and apologies up front to those of you who love the afternoon tea napkin fold. It didn't make the cut.
On the bright side nappy lovers, I've included a how to guide so you can duplicate it at home.


10. Fleur-de-Lis Napkin Fold - French inspired. Pretty quick and easy to unfurl in case you, Pierre or Fifi spill mayonnaise on the brie.

1. Fold the napkin into a triangle, with the open end facing you.
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2. Fold the bottom edge back up so that it extends 1-2" beyond the long edge of the triangle.
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3. From left to right, fold the napkin accordion-style.
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4. Lift the napkin upright and fit its base into a glass or napkin ring. Fan out the ends of the fleur-de-lis.
These come in handy in case your date faints at the sight of this dope fold.
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9. Pinwheel Napkin Fold - Pinwheels aren't just for steaks, fireworks and ninja dinner parties. They're also a great festive holiday napkin fold.

1. Fold the four corners into the center.
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2. Fold the top edge and the bottom edge into the center.
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3. Bring the left and right sides into the center.
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4. Find each of the loose corners at the centre and gently bring them out to the side to form four points.
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5. Fold the bottom left point to the left side and the top right point to the right.
If you did it right, the pinwheel fold is also a lethal weapon.
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8. Diamond Pocket Napkin Fold - Otherwise known as the engagement fold.

1. Fold the napkin in quar­ters, so that the open corner faces away from you.
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2. Fold down the top layer of fabric, so that the top corner reaches almost all the way to the bottom.
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3. Fold down the next two layers in the same way, creating a cascade effect.
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4. Flip over the napkin.
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5. Fold the napkin into thirds by folding back the left and right sides of the napkin.
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6. Flip over the napkin and slip silverware (or 4 carat Princess cut diamond ring) inside the pocket.
You rock Romeo!
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7. Crown Napkin Fold - This kingly fold requires 7 steps. But it reigns supreme over your fine china.

1. Fold the napkin into a triangle, with the open end facing away from you.
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2. Fold the right corner of the napkin up to the middle corner.
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3. Fold the left corner up to the middle corner. The napkin should be a square, with the bottom corner pointing at you.
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4. Fold the bottom corner up, about two-thirds of the distance to the top corner, forming a small triangle.
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5. Fold down the tip of the small triangle you formed in step 4, so that the tip touches the bottom edge of the napkin.
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6. Roll the left and right sides of the napkin into a ring, and tuck one end into the other.
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7. Stand the napkin upright. Now everyone knows who rules the plate.
You, your grace!
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6. Candle Fan Napkin Fold - Otherwise known as the V for Victory fold or the Hippie Peace sign fold or simply 2 cigars smoldering in a glass.

1. Lay the napkin flat, then fold in the left and right sides of the napkin so that they touch in the center.
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2. Fold out the four corners of the napkin without moving the center of the napkin.
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3. From the edge of the napkin closest to you, roll half of the napkin into a tight cylinder.
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4. Accordion-fold the other half of the napkin until the accordion fold comes right up against the cylinder.
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5. Arrange the cylinder and accordion fold so that the cylinder is on top of the accordion fold.
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6. Bend the napkin in half, with the cylinder on the inside, and arrange it in a glass or mug.
Resist urge to light napkins.
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5. Rosebud Napkin Fold - Lets call this the Citizen Kane of napkin folds. It may not be the most complicated to do but it means business fella.

1. Fold the napkin into a triangle, with the open end facing away from you.
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2. Fold up the left and right corners so that they meet at the middle corner, and so that the edges of the two folded flaps are parallel at the center of the napkin. The open end of the napkin should be pointing away from you.
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3. Flip over the napkin, but make sure that the open end of the napkin is still pointing away from you. Then fold up the bottom of the napkin, about three-quarters of the distance to the top corner.
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4. Flip over the napkin, so that the top is still pointing away from you.
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5. Bring the left and right sides of the napkin together, and tuck one side into the other, forming a ring.
Stand the napkin upright, raise a glass to Orson Wells. May that fat, drunk crank rest in pieces.
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4. Rose Napkin Fold - Details man. Details. Don't just buy flowers and make her favorite dish. Serve it on a napkin of rose pedals.
When you're lying in bed later and she's gushing about your napkin folding prowess, you'll thank me.

1. Lay the napkin flat. (A prelude to later)
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2. Fold in the four corners of the napkin to the center of the napkin, creating a new, smaller square.
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3. Again, fold the corners of the square to the center of the napkin, creating an even smaller square.
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4. Flip over the napkin so that no folds show on top. Then, once again, fold the corners of the square to the center of the napkin.
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5. Hold down the center of the napkin by placing a heavy glass on it or pressing down with the fist of one hand.
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6. While pressing down on the center of the square, reach under the four corners of the square and pull out the flaps, which form the petals of the rose.
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7. Still pressing down, reach under the center of each side of the square and pull out smaller petals to finish the rose. (Swoon kid, you rock.)
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3. The Shirt Napkin Fold - Win killer points for creativity from your dinner guests. Especially if they work at The Gap. You'll need an iron for this fold by the way.

1. Lay the napkin face-down in front of you.
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2. Fold the two right corners of the napkin diagonally so the tips rest at the center.
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3. Fold the two left corners of the napkin diagonally so the tips meet the other two in the center.
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4. Fold the right side over so it's edge rests on the napkins center-line.
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5. Fold the left side over to meet the last fold at the center-line of the napkin.
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6. Turn the napkin over.
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7. Fold the top 1/4" - 1" down and press it with your iron. This will be the collar of the shirt.
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8. Flip the napkin over again.
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9. Fold both upper corners in diagonally, so the points meet in the center at an angle to form the front collar of the shirt.
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10. Take hold of the two corners in the center of the napkin's near side and fold them up and out diagonally - so the edges are almost parallel to the folds at the far end. These will become the sleeves.
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11. Take hold of the near end of the napkin, and fold it up towards the collar, tucking it underneath the lower points of the collar and pressing it down.
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You could then cut it in half to make it a sweet love 1/2 shirt. More here.


2. The Sachet - Just by the name you know it's a cool napkin fold. Based on its look, I'd have called it the Spotlight.
Attempt using only your best, crisp linens.
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[click to enlarge photo]

1. Fold into Fours

2. Turn down the corners (A)

3. Fold down the corners (A) again to the perpendicular lines (B)

4. Fold at the diagonal lines (C) and portiosn (D) upwards.

5. Fold at the dotted line and bring the portion marched (D) over on to (E).

6. Fold over at Dotted line and turn (F) on to G.

7. Fold over the part market H at the dotted line.

8. Fold at dotted line and bring the point J right over to K.

9. Open out L and curl the leaves.
Calling all hungry people! Your table is set.


1. Bird of Paradise Napkin Fold - You want to send the right signal to your lover? This fold is for you. It's a subtle reminder of what could stand tall later that night. Especially if the meal is orgasmic.

1. Fold the napkin in quar­ters--first fold it in half horizontally, then in half vertically.
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2. Fold the napkin diagonally in half, and place it so that the open end points away from you.
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3. Fold the left and right points of the triangle so that they extend below the rest of the napkin.
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4. Fold these two points up under the napkin--the napkin should look like a puffy triangle.
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5. Fold in the left and right corners of the napkin. An oval indentation should run at the top of the napkin.
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6. In the oval indentation are four flaps of fabric. Lift each flap up so that it extends into the air.
(Ding. Ding....Iceburg, dead ahead!!!)
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Enjoy the meal!

Visit Quamut for more napkin folding techniques and other cool how to guides.


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4 Comments

Finally an informative post.

I used to wait tables, and various napkin folds were a badge of veteran superiority. "I know 32 ways to fold a napkin" usually conveys "I have worked at at least 32 restaurants that had real silverware and cloth napkins. Aren't I cool."

Now thanks to the internet, it's just a sign that you have too much free time.

said LostInDaJungle on March 6, 2009 12:08 PM.

The Diamond Pocket is the only napkin fold you'll ever need. All other folds are inadequate lumps of fine linen shit.

said davelog on March 9, 2009 12:03 AM.

Nicely worded Dave. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

said Baierman on March 9, 2009 9:57 AM.

Uhm, how are they the coolest way to fold napkins when you haven't folded the napkins in real life? They may be totally impractical or impossible to do as described, not to mention the final drawings don't make the napkins look that great. You should really fold the napkin and take pictures. I'd be curious if your list were the same.

said Monique on March 9, 2009 11:38 AM.
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