In anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sharing a 3 leaf clover napkin fold to embellish seasonal table settings with a wee bit of green.
Folding napkins into attractive and creative shapes is a cheap and easy way to dress-up a table and impress guests. Over the last several years, I’ve used 18 different napkin folds in tablescapes. See them all in, Napkin Folds for All Seasons, Holidays & Occasions.
Most are super fast and easy to do! Others have more steps, or require practice to learn the technique. Think of it as very basic origami, but with fabric rather than paper!
The 3 leaf clover napkin fold is part of this month’s Craft Hop hosted by Andrea of Design Morsels. Links to all 14 posts are listed at the end. If you’re coming from Cecilia’s and her lovely fresh citrus and herb bouquet, welcome!
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Three’s ♣ a Charm
All you need is a square napkin to follow along this 6-step tutorial. No napkin rings or ribbons are required. Once you get the hang of it, use an iron to create crisp edges as you go.
Although there are numerous online videos for folding shamrock shape napkins, I couldn’t find one for a 3 petal clover.
After a little trial and error, I came up with an easy method on my own. Basically, I’ve added a step to the basic shamrock; converting its fourth leaf into the stem of a lucky clover. Use fabric with some body or stiffness to it, so that the stem “stands” in place. Let me show you.
6-Step Napkin Fold Tutorial
If you’re new to napkin folding, the lucky clover shape is moderate in difficulty. However, the classic shamrock was the first I ever tried, and it took just a few tries and practice to figure out.
- Open napkin and lay flat
- Fold corners into center
- Flip napkin over
- Fold corners into center
- Lift napkin edges from underside
- Pinch fourth corner, poof petals
Tip: Any solid green napkin fabric — or pattern that doesn’t have a St. Patrick’s Day specific motif— could also be used on a Christmas table.
Step 1: Open Napkin Out Flat
To make a 3 leaf clover, any napkin or piece of fabric at least 16 or 17 inches square will do. I used 20 by 20 inch, green and white buffalo check napkins. Several years ago, I scored 16 of them for $8 at a resale shop and couldn’t pass them up.
Tip: The bigger the napkin, the easier it is to handle the folds and fabric. However, it will also increase the size of the finished clover.
First, spread the napkin out — wrong side up — and press flat. Wrinkles in the picture above were because I had deconstructed an already folded clover shape napkin.
Tip: Unless you’re just practicing, setup on an ironing board and press the 3 leaf clover napkin fold as you go during steps 1-4. Depending on the fabric material, using steam will provide the most defined edges.
Step 2: Fold Corners Into Center
Next, fold each of the four corners of the napkin into the center, forming roughly equal size triangles.
Don’t worry if the points of the triangles don’t meet perfectly in the center. But, try to make two pairs of triangles that are the same size and line up along one edge — see above.
Press in place.
Step 3: Flip Napkin Over
Simply flip the napkin over and press again.
You’re halfway to completing a 3 leaf clover napkin fold. Easy right?
Step 4: Fold Corners Into Center Again
Now, repeat the second step, folding the corners into the center.
And, like the first time, don’t worry if you have spaces between the triangle folds.
When you’re done, the napkin will be another half size smaller. Press a final time.
Tip: Once you’ve completed all four, six or more napkins to this point, stack them and carry to the kitchen or dining room.
Step 5: Lift Corners Up From Underside
For steps five and six, you probably want to complete the fold right on the dish. For illustrative purposes below, I took photos on the same flat surface.
Forming a leaf is the trickiest part of the 3 leaf clover napkin fold. But, once you get the hang of it, a little light bulb will go off.
Reach under, behind a corner, and then pull and lift up the fabric edge an inch or two (depending on the napkin size). This action will also raise the front side corner.
Hopefully this close-up view will help to illustrate how it’s done. Viewing an online video may also be helpful. Just search online for, “shamrock napkin fold.”
Repeat the action on three corners to form the petals of your lucky clover. If you want a four leaf shamrock, repeat the process on the fourth and final napkin corner.
We’ll get to shaping in a wee bit, but here’s how the completed shamrock shape napkin looks on the table.
Otherwise, move to step six to create a stem for a lucky 3 leaf clover napkin.
Step 6: Pinch & Poof
So that the napkin doesn’t unravel, it’s best to also complete this step right on the plate.
Simply take the fourth section of fabric — near the center of the napkin — and pinch it together between your thumb and forefinger.
If you leave the petals as they are, your 3 leaf clover napkin fold may resemble more of a fleur-de-lis as seen below.
Finally, play with the three petals to give them a more rounded shape. Do this by folding the outer pointed tips under slightly. Then, use your fingers to slightly spread open each petal.
Here’s the completed 3 leaf clover napkin fold on my latest Irish theme tablescape. What do you think? Does it look like a clover?
Although not necessary, I placed a gold shamrock coin in the center of folded napkin. Feeling lucky? Game to give it a try?
Tip: Placing the folded napkin in a shallow bowl helps to create a more dimensional clover.
See the same fold, using a smaller (12-inch square), emerald green napkin in, Traveling Irish Shamrock Cloth Tablescape.
Join me for more of holiday setting , when I host a hop where 14 Stylists Share St. Patrick’s Day Table Setting Ideas. And check out my Easy, Hearty Irish Stew.
15 Arts & Craft Projects
Next up is Terrie of Decorate and More with Tip and her fun boho canvas art project.
Hop on to Easter
Before you know it and it will be Easter!
So while you’re practicing a shamrock or 3 leaf clover napkin fold, consider trying your hand at a bunny or rabbit.
The adorable bunny shape napkin requires a piece of ribbon to hold its shape. For that reason, it also works well on a buffet setup.
See it made up in three different colors and prints on, Sweet Rustic Rabbit Easter Table.
Although this rabbit ear napkin fold can lay flat on a plate, I like it standing in a glass. For the Vintage Easter Table with Chocolate Rabbit Centerpiece, I used my great grandmother’s etched crystal stemware.
It also requires a small piece of ribbon, which is tied around a real or faux Easter egg.
Both napkin styles are sure to bring a smile to children of all ages!
Heh, maybe occupy your kids or grandchildren by letting them try a fold or two?
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I regularly participate in: Metamorphous Monday, Centerpiece Wednesday, Share Your Style, Tablescape Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Fabulous Friday, Saturday Sparks, Happiness is Homemade, and Love Your Creativity.
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