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How to Fold Roses out of Cloth Napkins

I love giving tips on how to make beautiful decorations out of common items.

Roses folded out of napkins, and other common napkin folds

Roses folded out of napkins, and other common napkin folds

Because Roses Are so Much Cooler Than Normal Napkins

I learned quite a few useful tidbits when I worked in the dining hall in college. Most of the kids gave up after a night in the dish room. Silly kids—they'll never know what they were missing. For instance, they never learned this super fancy impressive trick of folding napkins in the shape of roses.

Bandits always leave their mark on the houses they rob (at least according to Home Alone), and I always leave my mark when I go out to eat. Literally, every restaurant, dining hall, or wedding I go to that has cloth napkins; I always leave roses on the table. I can't help myself.

We all have our hobbies. And if you follow these simple instructions, you can leave roses wherever you go too!


  • Starched napkins will hold their shape better than regular cloth napkins.
  • Try using different colored napkins to add more character and creativity.

The Rose Fold

Follow these six easy steps to make your own rose from a cloth napkin. It may take a few tries, but you'll get it!

1. Fold It Like an Accordion

To begin, spread out your napkin in front of you. Fold over about an inch of the cloth. Then fold the same amount of cloth backward, the other way. Continue to alternate the side to which you fold the cloth so that the whole napkin ends up folded like an accordion.

Fold the napkin over and backwards like an accordion.

Fold the napkin over and backwards like an accordion.

2. Roll the napkin halfway.

It's halfway on its way to becoming a rose!

Roll the napkin halfway.

Roll the napkin halfway.

Once your napkin has been folded into an accordion, it should look like a long, one-inch strip. It's ok if your napkin was not folded absolutely perfectly and some of the folds don't line up evenly. It just needs to be approximate.

3. Roll the End in Toward the Center

Now you are going to hold one end of your napkin and begin to roll the other end in toward the center. I always start with the right side. I will hold down the left side and roll the right side toward the left in a small circle. Roll until it is about halfway to the left side.

The final steps of folding a cloth napkin into a rose.

The final steps of folding a cloth napkin into a rose.

This part is a little tricky. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, and lucky me, I had someone standing right next to me to show me how to do it. I still have trouble at this point sometimes and have to start over. Fret not. We're almost there!

4. Pull the Unrolled End Down and Wrap It Around the Rolled End

Do you have your napkin rolled up halfway? Good. Now take the end of the napkin that is not rolled and pull it down and to the right. Wrap it around the rolled-up portion of the napkin, as far as it will go. You do not have to pull it too tightly; just pull it gently and then tuck the end of it into one of the folds in the center. You want to stick it into the fold to make sure it stays in place.

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This is going to be the bottom of our rose, so it can look a little sloppy. We have just wrapped one side of the "extra" napkin around the "rolled" napkin and tucked the end of it into the folds to hold it in place. Sometimes when I make napkins in a hurry or just fold them too loosely, the little part I tucked in falls out, but since this is the bottom of the flower, it will stay in place once it is flipped over. Don't worry too much about everything staying in its place.

5. Wrap the Fanned-Out Portion Around the Rose in the Opposite Direction

Now, if you'll notice in the picture, some part of the napkin which was neither rolled nor tucked is sort of fanned out to the left. We are going to take the end of that part of the napkin and wrap it around the rose in the opposite direction we just did. So take the end and pull it up and around the rose. Then you find a spot to tuck it in, just like you did with the other end.

Did you get it? This is what your rose folded out of a cloth napkin should look like.

Did you get it? This is what your rose folded out of a cloth napkin should look like.

6. Flip It Over

Now that it is all folded together, flip it over. Feel free to fluff it out a bit to your liking. I promise that the flower police are not going to come and inspect it. Just do whatever you need to make it look good.

Did you get it? It's quite easy to just shake out the napkin and try again, so don't be afraid to do it a couple of times until you've got it just the way you want it. I've been making them for years, and I still have to start over sometimes.

The Classic Fold

Once you've got the roses down, now we can have even more fun. I am going to show you two more simple folds that you can make along with the roses to add to their character.

The first one is the easiest fold ever, and you will most likely find it at a fancy dinner or wedding reception wrapped around the silverware. I actually learned how to do this for the place settings at the banquets we hosted, but I liked to fold it around my roses because I thought it looked like a bouquet.

It's great to try these out with different colored napkins. I always used green for the "bouquet" one, but unfortunately, at home, I am very lacking in my supply of various hued napkins. Once you learn how to fold napkins, set your imagination free and be creative!

The Classic Fold probably has a classic name—of which I am totally unaware. The first two steps of the classic napkin fold.

The Classic Fold probably has a classic name—of which I am totally unaware. The first two steps of the classic napkin fold.

Are you ready? Did you master the rose fold? If you did, you have nothing to fear from this one. It is simple, easy, and straightforward.

1. Set the Napkin in Front of You Like a Diamond.

There should be one point at the top—just like a diamond.

2. Fold the Bottom Point Up Toward the Top

Take the bottom point and fold it up toward the top point, like a triangle. Fold it almost to the top, but not quite (see the picture).

3. Fold Both Sides in

Next, you fold each of the two sides into the top point. Again, fold them almost, but not quite, to the top. They do not have to line up perfectly but try to make them line up as much as you can.

The almost final step of the classic napkin fold.

The almost final step of the classic napkin fold.

4. You're Going to Flip for It

First off, I apologize for all the puns. I guess that's another thing that I can't help. Now, you have the three corners of your napkin folded up to almost meet the top corner. In this step, we are going to flip it over. Don't just take it by the side and flip it to the other side. When I say flip, I mean completely, upside down, flipped over.

Ok, maybe not quite so dramatic, but here's what you do. Take the bottom tip of the napkin and flip it over so that the bottom is now the top, and the side that was facing us is now facing the table. So the side facing you has not yet been folded, but we will soon change that.

Take what is now the bottom point of the napkin and fold it up toward the center. It should now look like the above picture.

5. Fold It in Half

All that's left now is to fold it in half. Then place it over your silverware. Or your rose. Or wherever else you can think of putting it.

The final product: the classic folded napkin

The final product: the classic folded napkin

The rose, nestled in the classic fold

The rose, nestled in the classic fold

A rose placed in the center of the waterlily fold.

A rose placed in the center of the waterlily fold.

Steps 1 and 2 of the waterlily fold

Steps 1 and 2 of the waterlily fold

The Waterlily

This one's a bit trickier, but I love the way it looks with a rose in the center of it. It's called the waterlily.

1. Spread the Napkin out in Front of You and Bring Each Corner Into the Center

Try to get them to align as evenly as possible, but they won't be perfect.

2. Flip It

Next, flip it over so that all of the folds are now on the bottom.

3. Repeat the Corner Folds

You're going to do the same thing you just did; fold each of the corners into the center. Except for this time, when you fold them up, they will also be folded down the middle from the previous fold (see picture). That's ok, it just looks a little fancier than it did a minute ago. These are the "petals."

The final step in the waterlily napkin fold

The final step in the waterlily napkin fold

4. Pull Out the Napkin Tip

Now you are going to reach under the petals and pull out the tip of the napkin that is folded underneath. When you pull out all four "tips," it will look like there is a little "leaf" sticking out from under each of your petals.

Happy Folding!

And if you've managed to do that, congratulations! You've managed to master all of the cloth napkins folds that I know!


Shelley Weingaertner from New Mexico on September 28, 2015:

I have only been able to fold crowns so I very much enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 28, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD! Most interesting, and something fun to try. My younger daughter went through a phase where she liked to fold napkins in a fancy way. (She worked a couple of summers busing tables at a rather upscale restaurant, so she learned some of the fancy folds.)

I usually use paper napkins at home; I don't like extra laundry. LOL But I imagine some of these might be possible with the more heavy-duty "fancy" paper napkins.

Gaurav Dangi on September 28, 2015:

Very nice and Congratulation for HOTD!

Gaurav on September 28, 2015:

Very nice and congrats !

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 28, 2015:

Julia, this was beautiful and so easy to do with your instructions and photos to go along with it. Two thumbs up! Congrats on HOTD!

RTalloni on September 28, 2015:

Back to say congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this tutorial guaranteed to make those who see the result smile.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 28, 2015:

Congratulations for HOTD!

Very interesting and well presented hub. I have made roses from silk ribbons for decorating and sewing on frocks. But I did not know about this trick for cloth napkins.

Thank you for the illustration. Pinning on my Art board.

Julia Rexford (author) on September 08, 2015:

I hope you are able to make them. I tried to explain it, but some things are just so much easier to demonstrate. Let me know how they turn out! :)

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on September 08, 2015:

Hi Julia, thank you so much for passing this trick with the napkins on to us. They are so pretty. I think the next time I have company I am going to wow them with your trick. Cool hub.

Blessings to you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 08, 2015:

How beautiful. And with your instructions I bet I could do it, too!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 07, 2015:

Very clever! Sharing here and on Twitter.

RTalloni on September 07, 2015:

Nice, nice, nice, and timely since the holidays are around the corner! Thanks for the napkin folding tutorials. And I'm thinking that many more waitresses will smile as they pick up the tip now that you've shared your idea on leaving a rose napkin… :)

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