Pojagi Inspired Cloth Napkins

Pojagi is a form of Korean hand stitching where your seams are fully enclosed, creating a beautiful, reversible piece. I first saw Daisy from Warm Folk talk about it, and I knew it was something I wanted to try for myself. Since the beauty of Pojagi is seeing both sides of your finished piece, this technique would work well for placemats, curtains, a simple linen shirt, apron, or table runner. Here’s some examples of traditional pojagi and a brief history. The beauty of pojagi is that creating the stitches results in a whip stitch on one side and a row of tiny, vertical stitches on the other. Reversible, beautiful, uses scraps, and hand sewing. It ticks all the boxes for me.

I chose to make some cloth napkins that I could use everyday and I love their beauty and simplicity. For fabrics, I wanted to use up what I have in my stash. I knew that cotton would work well, but wasn’t sure what to use until I found these little fat eighth packs from Quiltcon. These are artisan cotton fabrics from Windham Fabrics, and have a beautiful woven texture and depth of color. I had two packs, one from Quiltcon 2019 and the second from Quiltcon 2020. I loved the idea of not only using up something I already had, but being able to remember two fantastic trips filled with amazing memories when I used them.

To prep my fabric for stitching, I first zig-zagged all the raw edges and threw them into the wash. I don’t normally prewash when quilting, but I know from previous experience of buying cloth napkins (before I was a sewist) that after that first wash they turn into parallelograms and distort in a myriad of ways. So, prewash! I was so glad I did, too, because these fabrics shrunk a lot more than I expected them to.

Once washed, I pressed them and then cut each fat eighth into a 8.25″ x 15.75″ rectangle. I used two fabrics for each napkin, which finishes at about 14″. If you’re trying to do quilt math right now and don’t understand how the numbers add up, I promise you they do! Due to the way you construct and sew Pojagi, you end up using more than a 1/4″ seam allowance.

When it came to sewing, I found this tutorial especially helpful and informative. I first sewed the two fabrics together to create a square, and then hemmed the edges in the same fashion, doing two opposing sides, then the finishing with the last two sides.

I used my absolute favorite thread, in my favorite weight, and my (current) favorite color to make these! The entire process of making the cloth napkins (apart from zig-zagging the edges prior to washing) was made using Aurifil 12 weight thread in #2311. This color is a creamy, almost vintage off-white that lends itself to timeless projects beautifully. I just got an entire cone of it, I love it so much!

I love how these cloth napkins turned out, and my mom exclaimed them “too pretty to use”. But I’m looking forward to finding a little basket to house them in on our kitchen table, adding brightness and beauty to that spot! Since most of the colors are dark, I’m not too worried about getting them stained. If they do stain, I’m sure I’ll be able to do some creative visible mending to keep them looking fantastic 😉

My next Pojagi project will be a set of curtains. I just need to decide on fabrics and size! It will probably be a longer-term project. What would you make with this sewing technique?

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