Looking for a quick and easy way to set a Valentines Day table without investing in specialty holiday dishes? Then, learn how to make a draped, heart-shape napkin.
It’s one of 20 different Napkin Folds for All Seasons, Holidays & Occasions that I’ve included in numerous tablescapes over the past few years. I’m a big proponent of using napkin folds to enhance a setting and raise the bar in terms of table styling. Not only that, but if you already have the fabric napkins, there is no additional cost.
Another major benefit is that fabric napkins are reusable and easy to store — taking up little space. And, they aren’t breakable like dishes and glassware. That’s a big part of the appeal for me. As a life-long dish addict, I have an extensive tableware collection, and am maxed out on storage space. Incorporating unique folds (or by changing the napkin color and pattern) allows me to continually update the styling of table settings.
Since sharing the Romance & Red Roses Reign on Sweetheart Table, I’ve had numerous requests on how I folded the soft draped heart. Let me show you how to do the moderate difficulty heart-shape napkin in five illustrated steps.
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Draped Heart-Shape Napkin Tutorial
There is a YouTube video that shows three different methods for folding a heart-shape napkin fold. However, the video moves quickly, and contains no voice-over or text narration. It covers all three techniques in just under two minutes — fast! Even after rewinding and watching the video numerous times, I still struggled to understand two of the steps.
My tutorial is meant to supplement the second method shown, which results in a heart-shape napkin with curved upper edges. It’s the only technique I found anywhere to achieve the soft draped look.
How to Fold a Heart in 5-Steps
Here, you’ll find helpful photos that breakdown the action into five basic steps — along with explanations and tips.
- Press & lay napkin flat
- Fold forward into triangle
- Fold into accordion pleats
- Slide ends up from middle
- Twist ends, tuck under & shape
As with any fold, you need to consider several factors in choosing a fabric napkin:
- Size & shape of napkin
- Fabric stiffness or softness
- Color, print & decorative edging (if any) of fabric
For the heart-shape napkins seen in this tutorial, I used either a 14-inch (pink) or12-inch (red). Each finished fold covered the surface of a standard-sized dinner plate. Any larger napkin may overwhelm the plate, but work on top of a charger, placemat or tablecloth.
This is one of the few napkin folds that benefits from using softer fabric to achieve the draped look. The silky, red damask of the red fabric was ideal. For illustrative purposes, however, I used a stiffer pink napkin and still achieved the desired effect.
No napkin rings or ribbons are required to make or maintain the heart-shape fold.
Step 1: Press & Lay Napkin Flat
As with any napkin fold, start by pressing out any creases or wrinkles in the fabric. Because the finished heart-shape napkin will have a soft, draped appearance, you won’t need to use an iron after each subsequent fold step.
Once pressed, lay the fabric out flat, back-side facing up.
Step 2: Fold Forward Into Triangle
Next, simply take one of the top two corners and fold in forward to the opposite bottom corner — forming a triangle. Few napkins are perfectly square, so don’t fret if the edges don’t all exactly align.
Rotate the napkin so that the long folded edge is at the top, and the point is at the bottom. Easy peasy so far, right? The next step is where it gets tricky.
Step 3: Fold Into Accordion Pleats
Now you are going to make four, approximately equal-width accordion folds. Start at the top long edge of the triangle and fold about two-inches of fabric down towards you. Then, fold half that fold’s width back up. Not hard to do, but difficult to see in the online video.
Repeat the action a second time — fold about two-inches of fabric forward down, and then half the fold’s width back upwards. Each of the accordion folds stack on top of the previous one.
What makes the heart-shape napkin challenging, is holding the accordion stacked folds together the length of the fabric. It took me a bit of practice to get a hang of it. The silky material of the red fabric was a little harder to hold in place. But, it helped that it was a smaller, 12-inch napkin to begin with.
Repeat two more times, so that about a two-inch point of fabric remains at the bottom.
It takes four, equal-width accordion folds to make a heart-shape napkin. My finished folds were about an inch wide. Larger napkin sizes will necessitate wider folds.
Step 4: Slide Ends Up to Middle
Step four of making a heart-shape napkin is super easy! Simply slide each of the far ends of the accordion-folded napkin up above the center point.
First, press the index finger of your left hand into the middle of the stacked accordion folds. Then slide or gently lift the long end on the right-hand end upwards, until it rests above the center.
Then, repeat on the left-hand side, remembering to use a finger to press and hold the center down. When you’re done, it will look like your napkin has rabbit ears, lol!
Afterwards, carefully move the napkin onto a dinner-size plate, placemat or tablecloth — wherever the finished heart-shape napkin will sit on the tabletop. Do this by sliding one hand underneath the to lift the folded napkin, while using the other hand to pinch or hold the accordion folds together in the center.
Finish step five there.
Tip: If the napkin will rest on top of a plate or charger, it’s best to keep them stacked right next to surface area where you are folding.
Note: For the purposes of this tutorial, the illustrative photos will continue to show the fabric against a white background.
Step 5: Twist Ends, Tuck Under & Shape
Make two full twists of the fabric ends, or “tails,” to create each rounded top half of the heart-shape napkin.
After a third half twist, tuck the end behind and underneath the fabric.
Now, repeat on the other top side.
Finish by “poofing” and shaping the draping of the upper two portions to form a heart-shape napkin. Sometimes, it helps to “roll” the outer edges under to achieve a more rounded shape.
Tip: If the napkin has spread out too far, simply pinch or slide the upper two areas of fabric together.
Finished Napkin Folds for Valentines Day
Other than it’s pleasing look, another nice feature of the heart-shape napkin is how easily it unfolds from table to lap — without being a wrinkled mess.
I’d love to know how the fold tutorial worked for you!
If you’d like a simpler heart-shape napkin fold, try the third method depicted in the online video. Here’s what it looks like using the same pink fabric napkin. But I much prefer the draped heart-shaped napkin. What about you?
Another napkin fold perfect for Valentine’s Day is the super easy rose-shape. It also takes up much less space on the tabletop. In the picture above, I layered the rose fold over the draped heart. Both were made using the same fabric napkin.
Wishing you a healthy and happy Valentines Day!
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