Mitering Fabric
How to Get Perfectly Pointy Inside Corners

How many times have you flipped over a pretty napkin or tablecloth and noticed the neat, polished look of a mitered corner?

Mitering fabric is actually quite easy to construct and they can make such a difference in the presentation of a handmade item.

Napkins-pointed-end

I’ll admit, before I figured out how to miter corners, I used to just turn my fabric edges over, iron the fold and then turn the edge over again before top-stitching across the folded edge.

Of course, that folding technique works fine but I think a mitered corner is even better.

mitered napkins

Even if you have limited sewing skills, you can do this.

If you can use a steam iron and stitch a straight line with a sewing machine, then you can miter a fabric corner.

Let’s get started.

fabric mitering

I’m making linen napkins to demonstrate this mitering technique.

First, turn the fabric edge over 1/4-inch and iron.

Then, turn the folded fabric over again about 1-inch and iron.

miter a corner

Open the folds that you just ironed and notice the creases that were formed.

The key to mitering is folding the fabric and ironing-in creases that will ultimately serve as guides for creating the mitered corners.

The arrows below point out the ironed-in creases that will act as the guides.

 Mitered arrows2

Turn the tip of the first corner over and line up the smaller creases that in the tip with the creases created by the 1-inch fold.

The arrows below show the where the creases need to be aligned.

Once aligned, iron the folded tip.  This will create a new diagonal crease.

Mitered corner angle2

Open the corner tip that you just ironed and you’ll see the diagonal crease that has now been created as indicated by the arrow below.

At this point, turn the fabric over and with right sides together, bring the outer edges of this diagonal crease together.

Miter pin arrow

Here’s what the napkin should look like after those outer edges (right fabric sides together) are brought together.  Pin in place.

The diagonal crease now appears as a vertical line and this is your newly created stitch guide.

Stitch along the vertical crease guide.

Miters16

Even though you’ve pinned the fabric in place, it can still shift slightly so it’s important to begin the stitching at the top edge of the fabric (where the two sides of the fabric meet).

This will help ensure that the inside edges of the miter are perfectly lined up.

Mitered arrows5

This is what the end of the napkin will look like after you’ve stitched along that diagonal line.

Can you see how the mitered corner is beginning to take shape?

Napkin cut2

Trim the excess fabric beyond the stitch line to reduce bulkiness.

Mitered arrows4

Iron the small seam open.

The inside edge of the seam will already be in the shape of a point.

You’ll want to give the other end a point too so carefully clip the other end so that the seam has the same diagonal point.

This step helps to ensure the miter lays flat.

  Mitered-corners-points3

You’re almost there.

Gently turn the inside point over and you’ve created your first mitered corner.

Repeat the same mitering steps for the remaining corners.

Napkins seams

Once the corners have been turned, press the entire napkin with a good steam iron to flatten the edges.

It’s a good idea to also press the front of the napkin to make sure there are no wrinkles or puckers anywhere which could interfere with the next stitching step.

As you can see from the arrow, the inside edge is still open and now needs to be stitched in place.

Miters11

You may want to pin the open edges in place to prevent them from shifting.

Carefully, and slowly machine stitch the open edges down.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Bobbin color is very important at this point.  As you’re stitching, the back of the napkin (the side where the mitering is visible) will get the top spool of thread.

Keep in mind that whatever color you want visible on the FRONT of the napkin is the thread color that needs to be in the bobbin.

Miters5

Once inside edges have been machine stitched, iron the napkins once again.

I also sprayed the napkins with a bit of lightweight starch while ironing to help with the clean, crisp presentation.

Miters7

Mitering may seem like a lot of steps but don’t let that deter you.

Carefully go through the steps that I’ve outlined here and you’ll soon see just how easy this technique really is to employ.

More mitering graphic

Here’s another example of mitering featuring some placements I’ve been making out of remnant upholstery fabric that I found on a clearance table.

I’ll share these finished mats later in an upcoming post.

NOTE: If you want to increase the width of the mitered band, just increase the width of the second fold from 1-inch to whatever width you want the finished band to be. 

This place mat in the photos below have @1-1/2-inch mitered band compared to the 1-inch band on the napkin featured throughout this tutorial.

Miters8

One of the things that I love about this technique is that it really doesn’t require any special or advanced sewing skills.

You’ll love the look.

Napkin-tray2

So, next time you walk by a remnant table at your favorite fabric shop, see if you spot any linen in the pile.

I was able to make 8-dinner size napkins from the one yard that I picked up.

Consider adding mitered corners to your next fabric project for a polished, more professional looking presentation that will beautifully finish off your handmade items.

Try mitering and let me know how it turns out for you. ♥

Mitering graphic2

Thanks for stopping by.

See you back here next time.

 

I’m linking this tutorial for mitering fabric to the following:

Trish and Bonnie at Uncommon Designs

Debbie at Confessions of a Plate Addict

Lucy at Craftberry Bush

Kim at Savvy Southern Style

Barb at The Everyday Home

Heather at Whipperberry

  • Denise

    Thank you for the tutorial. I was able to make batik purple napkins that look better than store bought. Batik has been a perfect choice for the pattern to be the same on both sides. I would like to share the picture with you.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Yay, Denise!
      So glad to know that my directions worked out for you.
      Yes, please. I would love to see your napkins. Just email me a photo.
      Good for you.
      Now that you know how to miter corners, you may never go back to straight edges again-lol.
      Happy day to you.

  • Joy Evans

    I’m so pleased to have found your website. Everything is beautiful, but for now I’m interested in the invisible mitering. You have shown the most beautiful work I have ever seen…I even think I can do it….we shall see. Thank you.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Joy, so happy you’re going to give mitering a try. I’m sure you’ll be able to do it.
      Once you miter a few corners, it gets easier and easier.
      I think you’ll be fine but feel free to email me if you have any other questions or run into any problems.

  • Angela Mullins

    Your directions seem very clear. What dimensions did you make the 8 dinner sized napkins? You said you only used one yard of linen.

  • Lisa C Smith

    This tutorial is so clear with fabulous photos. Thank you! I was able to make some gorgeous linen “handkerchiefs” with machine embroidery on them for my (first) daughter’s wedding. You are a great teacher. Thank you so much!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      That’s wonderful, Lisa.
      So happy to know my instructions worked out for you.
      Once you have that “ah-ha” moment, it all makes much more sense, right?
      Congrats on your daughter’s impending nuptials.
      Happy weekend too.

  • Anita

    Thank you Lisa. Finally an instruction on this that I GET!!! Now I see how it works. Thank you so much. I can finally make that baby blanket.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      That’s great, Anita.
      So happy to know that my instructions work for you.
      It takes a wee bit of practice but with every miter, you’ll get even better at it.
      Good luck with all your future projects.

      • Donna

        Thank you for the easy to follow instructions for mitering. This was something I knew how to do years ago, but had forgotten. I just hemmed 9 napkins. 36 corners of practice. Hopefully that will improve my memory! If not, I have your page pinned.

        • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

          Wonderful to hear, Donna.
          I’m so happy that my instructions make sense to you and they’ve reminded you how to execute this great technique.
          Good luck with all your upcoming mitering projects.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Anita.
      It’s easier than you thought, isn’t it?
      You may never go back to straight edges again now that you can see how it’s done.
      Good luck with all your mitering efforts from here on out.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      That’s great, Anita.
      I’m so glad my instructions make sense to you.
      This mitering technique can be applied to any straight edge fabric.
      Good luck with the baby blanket.
      Happy weekend to you.

  • Floriane

    Thank you for this clear explanation and for the pictures, they are extremely useful. I’m working on making towels for an anniversary gift and you tutorial is the clearest I found.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      That’s wonderful to know, Floriane.
      I’m glad these instructions work for you.
      The more mitering you do, the faster and more second nature the technique will become.
      You will get the point where you will no longer need to look at my pictures to whip out a few projects.
      Thanks for popping by. Good luck.

  • Donna Cross

    Thank you so much for this tutorial on mitering. I am a seamstress, but have never had to miter anything. At first, I went by another tutorial that is more folding than yours. I like the fact that the finished miter is sown shut, not left open. Great tutorial….I even took snap shots of it on my phone for future reference.

  • Jody

    Yeah! I finally got it right, thanks to your pictures and directions! Thank you so much!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      That’s great to read, Jody. So glad my tutorial worked for you and thanks for letting me know.
      You may never go back to sewing straight edges again.
      The more you make, the faster and more second nature the process will be for you too.
      So, keep making them.
      Happy day to you.

    • Abby

      Thank you for this tutorial!
      A beautiful , professional result!!

      • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

        Hi Abby, so glad this worked for you.
        Enjoy the technique.
        The more mitering you do, the better you’ll get at it and the sharper your points will become.
        Good luck and thanks for popping by to let me know you appreciate the tutorial.
        Do let me know how your projects turn out for you.

  • Judy Ann Niedens

    Lisa- I’ve researched how to create mitered corners for my quilting project for over a year. I have never been able to accomplish this step in the blanket and quilts I’ve have made over the years– UNTIL I found your post for written instructions & pictures. I immediately understood how to accomplish this sewing technique. In my past life I wrote software instructions and taught many legal secretaries and paralegal students. Therefore, the written word & visuals were very important in conveying the message. I got started immediately and within 30 short minutes I had created four perfect mitered corners on a quilt. Thank you so very much for your expertise.
    Judy Ann Niedens
    Wichita Ks

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Judy, I’m thrilled my instructions worked for you.
      It took me a long time to figure this technique out too and I’ve made a mess of many a napkin-lol.
      However, once you figure it out… it seems so simple, right?
      The more miters you make the better they’ll look.
      Good luck with future mitering projects and thanks for your sweet note to let me know you appreciate my tutorial.
      Happy weekend to you.

  • Hallie

    Great tutorial! Any tips or tricks for pressing perfect 1/4″ seams? The seam gauge seems helpful but do you use something to help hold it in place while ironing?

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Hi Hallie, so glad this tutorial is easy for you to follow.
      I often use a rotary cutter and quilt ruler to cut a 1/4-inch strip of cardboard (like the kind that is attached to the back of a notepad).
      Then, I insert the cardboard inside the fold to help guide and maintain a consistent 1/4″ fold.
      Does that make sense?
      The folding process goes a little faster for me this way too.
      Good luck and let me know if this works for you too.

      • Hallie

        That’s a great idea! I’ll try that. Thank you!

  • Leah Timberlake

    Thank you for the clear directions and well photographed steps. After studying your instructions about 4 times, I tried it on a 9X9 inch square of unbleached muslin. It turned out on the first try. Now I’m on to making some acetate satin table covers using this trick.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      YAY! So happy to hear that my instructions worked out for you, Leah.
      You may never go back to straight edges again. The more mitering you do, the better you’ll get and the prettier the miters will be.
      Thanks so much for letting me know.
      Happy day and happy mitering.

  • Lorraine

    Your tutorial is wonderful- my main problem is what size should I make my finished napkins and placemats?

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Lorraine, the beauty of this technique is that you can apply it to whatever size napkin you want.
      How much you turn your initial folds over depends on how wide you want the miter.
      After you decide how large you want your placemats and napkins, add additional seam allowance to accommodate the folds you’ll have to make.
      My large dinner napkins measure 16 X 18 finished square inches. More formal dinner napkins are traditionally 22 X 24 finished square inches.
      Remember “finished square” means the size you end up with AFTER you turn the folds and miter.
      Hope this helps. If you need more help, email me directly and I’ll be happy to get you through it.

  • Camille

    I just purchased 3 yards of beautiful linen on sale at Joanns. Of course I found your blog on pinterest, Thank you so much for sharing and making the instructions so simple to understand. I will be embroidering the corners with with callia lilies. Happy New Year.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Camille.
      I so glad my instructions make sense to you.
      Good luck with your napkins. Drop me an email with a photo once you finish.
      I’d love to see how your miters and callia lilies turn out.
      Happy weekend to you.

  • Desiree

    Thank you Lisa for this tutorial! I found your instructions to be very easy to follow. I’ve been wanting to make linen napkins for a long time but my last attempt did not turn out so well. I just finished a test napkin with some scrap fabric and it looks great! I can’t wait to go fabric shopping now!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Desiree.
      I’m glad this has worked out for you.
      I’d love to know how your actual napkins turn out.
      Keep me posted.

  • Sally Cripe

    Thank you so very much for sharing these instructions. I am sewing up linen napkins for Thanksgiving on Thursday. I just sewed one according to your directions(love the arriws). It turned out beautifully! It looks store bought. I can’t wait to make the rest. Before this I was mitering in a different way and it didn’t work that well with linen. but this technique is brilliant.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Sally, you don’t know how much I love knowing this. I’m so glad the instructions make sense to you and you’re putting them to good use.
      I always say, once you start mitering corners, you’ll never go back to straight edge again.
      Also, the more you make the better they’ll look. You’ll be a pro in no time.
      Be sure to check out my post called “How to Use a Wing Needle”. It’s a wonderful way to add even more flair to your lovely mitered corners.
      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for letting me know about your project.

  • Sarah Cronje

    Thank you very much for this tutorial. I have just completed 6 napkins and a picnic tablecloth for my brother and his wife-to-be’s wedding present. The full present is a fully kitted out picnic basket. My Mum was very impressed that I knew mintering! I have pinned this for future use.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Sarah, thanks so much for letting me know that this worked out for you.
      I love mitering my corners and now that I know how to do it, I will probably never go back to straight edges again.
      Next time you need to make a similar gift, consider adding a row of heirloom stitching just above the seam line of your mitered edges.
      I have an easy tutorial called “How to Use a Wing Needle” on this blog which demonstrates how easy it is to add this type of stitching for an extra special touch.
      I’m glad your napkins and picnic tablecloth turned out the way you wanted.
      Thanks again for popping over. Happy weekend.

  • Sam

    I am a complete amateur sewer, attempting to make a Christmas table runner. I followed your instructions and I’ m delighted with how easy it was to do and how professional the finish is. Even my first attempt looked good! Thank you so much for these instructions.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      That just makes me smile, Sam.
      So glad your mitered corners came out the way you wanted.
      This is a simple technique to master.
      Now that you’ve completed one piece, you’ll find yourself looking for more edges to miter.
      Also, I suspect you may never go back to straight edge corners again.
      Thanks for letting me know you were successful.

  • Susan

    Thank you for a really clear tutorial. I’m definitely going to use this method for some Christmas serviette so.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      So glad this tutorial will work for you, Susan.
      This mitering technique is great for napkins, placemats or tablecloths.
      Good luck with your holiday sewing and preps.

  • Katie M

    Thank you for such a clear and straight-forward tutorial. I am trying to sew napkins with a 1/4″ hem. I tried the folding method, but the corners don’t sit nicely. I’m going to try this method instead. I presume that if you just make the second fold narrower, that it will work the same. Have you tried making napkins with a narrower hem? I’d love to know if all I have to do is turn that second 1″ fold into a 1/4″ fold.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Katie, hmmm, 1/4-inch is very tiny but I think you could still use the method I outlined in my tutorial.
      If you make adjustments to any of my measurements, you would need to make identical adjustments all the way around.
      I typically stick with the size I use because it’s just easier for me to work with but I don’t see why a more narrow hem wouldn’t work.
      I think you’ll be fine. The key really lies in the ironing. I think as long as you can clearly see your ironed-guidelines you should be OK.
      Once you get the napkins you want, be sure to check out my “How to Use a Wing Needle” tutorial for an extra way to dress up your mitered napkins. Good luck and please let me know if the more narrow hem works.

      • Katie M

        Thanks for the reply Lisa. I made up four napkins using the 1/4″ measurement, and they worked perfectly. So much easier and neater than the folded corner method.

  • Barbara

    Beautiful example and beautiful fabric! Thank you for sharing!

  • Susanne Hughes

    Clear and concise and wonderful Photographs. Thank you, a well thought out post. I am looking forward to following you (in a good way! 🙂 )

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      You are so welcome, Susanne. I’m happy that the instructions are clear for you. Happy mitering. Fair warning… once you get started, you’re going to want to miter just about everything-lol.

      Have fun and thanks for stopping by.

  • Confessions of a Plate Addict

    Wow! I have been sewing for most of my life and have never even thought of this one! Such gorgeous corners! Thanks for the tutorial! Hugs…Debbie

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Debbie, I fairly sure once you try this… you will never go back to regular edges again-lol.
      Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit.

  • Charlotte Dougherty

    Thank you SO MUCH for this tutorial with clear pictures. I’ve sewn my own clothes for 50 years. But I never fully understood the mitered corner until I read your tutorial. I see the trick is iron, iron and then iron! More work equals less work! It really does! Thank you!!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Hi Charlotte, what an amazing compliment. I’m honored to unravel the mitering mystery for you after all these years. It may take a few practice corners but you’ll be a mitering pro in no time at all. Now that I know how to do it, I miter just about everything I get my hands on-lol. Thanks so much!

  • Robin

    Just found this tutorial after seeing another not as professional looking method elsewhere and thinking, there’s got to be a better way. Your instructions were clear and simple and my pocket square benefited from them!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Robin. I’m thrilled you find it useful. Once I started mitering my corners, I rarely finish anything with a straight edge anymore. Also, the more mitering you do, the better you’ll get at it. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

  • Leslie May

    Very clear instructions with great pics. Thanks!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Leslie. Once you start mitering corners you’ll probably never go back to straight edges again. Good luck with your projects.

  • Jen

    This is the BEST tutorial ever for mitered corners. Perfect every time with no hassle. Thank you.

  • Kim Banta

    I just have to come on over to mention to you that I had posted this post on mitering many months ago, onto my “Sewing” board on Pinterest. It continues to be my MOST repinned post of ANY. Just thought you would want to know how helpful your post has been to so many!
    I would like to know how big to cut the fabric square in order to get a proper “Dinner Sized Napkin.” What is the size of a Dinner Napkin?

  • Rose

    Most clear and easy to follow instructions- thank you!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Rose. I’m actually just learning to use this reply function on my new site-lol. Please let me know how your mitered corners turn out. I think once you crate a few, you’ll be a pro in no time at all. You’ll be looking for things to miter.

  • Gina

    Best tutorial of all, especially for a wide hem.

  • Shirl

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. My 83-year-old mother could not remember how to miter corners after years of sewing. I just printed this out for her to refresh her memory. You make it seem so easy; I think I could even do it. Thanks again!

  • Maria Muñiz

    Love it and love the pic by pic tutorial…that way seems really simple! Thanks

  • Sandi

    I’ve always HATED my mitered corners because they ended up bulky, even when I could get the stitching to look okay. This is a fantastic tip. Thank you for leaving this tutorial up.

  • Joan

    Terrific instructions. I’ve printed them and will start on my first mitered edge. Thank you.

  • Marliza

    Excellent. Thank you.

  • Beatriz Jansen

    OMG! It’s a fantastic explanation! Thanks for sharing!

  • Cris Perez

    I just tried your mitering method and I loved it! The bad thing is I keep turning over the overlay that I made to look at the corners!! Lol This might be a dumb question, but if I decrease the one inch miter to half inch, would my first fold still be quarter inch and will it work with these measurements?

  • Orianne

    You are amazing! Like all your tutorials, this is wonderfully detailed and so clearly explained with the addition of your practical tips and potential mishaps. My dear, I don’t think there is anything you can’t do! Many thanks for sharing these instructions.

  • Monique DC

    The best tutorial on mitered corners I’ve ever found. Thank you so much.

  • [email protected]

    This was so clear and easy! I’m making napkins galore now! Thank you!

  • Julie @ The Crafty Quilter

    You did a great job of “breaking it down” for mitered corners. I always enjoy your tutorials, Lisa! I drool over every photo!

  • Heather

    Thank you! I sew a lot and never thought about making the corners on napkins or
    tablecloths like that. I will be using it in the future! :} I just came over from Thistlewood Farms!

  • Lisa Campbell

    I have read your comments over at Thistlewood Farms and I am so glad KariAnne linked us here. I will definitely be following your blog. Great tutorial on the metered corners!

  • Pendra

    Thanks for the GREAT tutorial. I have been sewing for years and I never knew how to do an easy and perfect mitered corner… this is it!!! Came to you from Thistlewood Farms and will be visiting more often!

  • Mary Feguson

    thank you so much for this information. Your napkins look terrific.
    I will be following your blog – it’s great.
    Mary

  • Kim Banta

    And I really did think I knew how to stitch mitered corners! This way is so much better! I am thrilled and happy that you showed me this better way, and very clearly. Thank you! And Thanks to KariAnne for sending me to you!

  • Rhonda

    Great feature!! You explained it so well, after reading this I will only do mitered corners from now on, they look so much neater than any other way.
    Thanks for sharing your blog!
    ~Rhonda~

  • Heather {Woods of Bell Trees}

    OH MY GOSH! I am saying that out loud! This is so freaking awesome. I have wanted to learn how to miter corners but I was so sure it would be complicated and didn’t bother looking it up, but when Thistlewood Farm featured you on her latest post I thought “why not it’s right here, it won’t hurt”. I see my future projects being oh so much better! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  • Thistle

    Lisa!
    I love those napkins so much! I would love to include them over on Thistlekeeping if you are okay with it!
    Just let me know!
    karianne

  • Megan

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve always loved the finished look of mitered corners, but shied away from sewing them because I thought they’d be difficult. You made the process look so easy! I can’t wait to try it.

  • June G.

    This is very useful…thank you! I would have never figured this out myself! I’m visiting today from The Scoop…thanks again for sharing this and with great directions!

  • [email protected] Designs

    Wow Lisa…this is a fantastic tutorial…gorgeous napkins!

  • rosie

    Thank you for this simple tutorial! I think I can do it!

  • Thimbleanna

    BEAUTIFUL Lisa! I love mitered corners — thanks for the quick tutorial!

  • Tinu menachery

    WOW… i loved it.I have just started sewing, and this i must say was really simple and easy,thanks to ur pic by pic tutorial 🙂

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