The Proper Way to Fold a Napkin

Folding a cloth napkin properly doesn't have to be the mystery of the century. Fancy birds, fans and exotic flowers aren't necessary when a simple, crisp fold will suffice. Proper, formal napkin folding isn't about complicated designs but about a neat, orderly presentation. Practice folding the napkin on a flat surface and when you've achieved the fold you're satisfied with, iron the napkin to produce a sharp fold and professional appearance. Square napkins benefit the most from this simple fold technique.

Cloth napkins can be easily folded.

Step 1

Spread the napkin flat on an ironing board and iron the napkin on an appropriate setting for the napkin's fabric so that it is wrinkle-free. Cotton and linen are among the easiest napkins to fold but will always need to be ironed.

Step 2

Spread the napkin flat on a table with the wrong side of the napkin's fabric facing you. Fold the left napkin edge vertically, ¼ of the napkin's width, toward the napkin's center. If you're concerned with precise, consistent measurements, use a ruler to measure the napkin to determine the exact place to make your folds on the napkin. Usually you can eyeball the napkin for a satisfactory fold.

You don't have to fold wild birds and fans to set a formal table.

Fold the right napkin edge vertically, 1/3 of the napkin's width, toward the napkin's center.

Step 4

Fold the new left edge of the napkin (the fold) over toward the right, toward the center of the napkin, ¼ of the new napkin width.

Step 5

Fold the napkin in half horizontally and align the bottom of the napkin edges, forming a rectangle.

Always iron the napkin before and after folding for a crisp finish.

Iron the folded napkin. Press gently and pay careful attention to the folds to achieve a crisp appearance.