Skip to content
Fall and Thanksgiving Embroidery Ideas

Fall and Thanksgiving Embroidery Ideas

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that brings out the embroiderer in all of us. There’s something about the crisp autumn air, the changing leaves, and the anticipation of a delicious feast that really gets us feeling crafty! 

Thanksgiving decorations are so incredibly versatile, too. Even if you don’t celebrate, most Thanksgiving-themed projects will easily double as general fall or harvest décor. This also means you can keep them up longer! No need to rush about taking down Thanksgiving embroidery projects just because the holiday has passed. Autumn leaves and harvest pumpkins won’t go out of style until there’s snow on the ground!

Here are some of our favorite machine embroidery projects for the Thanksgiving season as well as some Kimberbell embroidery event recommendations. Some of our embroidery suggestions are thrifty hand embroidery ideas, and others are more involved machine embroidery projects. Hopefully there’s something here to your liking, or at least some fun inspiration to create your own ideas!


Embroidered placemats are the piece de resistance for a holiday table. You can customize each one to its respective family member, and you can get really creative with your embroidery. 

One fun trick is to combine patterns. Things don't always have to match! Selecting a different placemat from several different patterns can create a fun and eclectic table spread.

Machine embroidery placemat kits are about as common as runner kits. If you’re looking for an easy way to customize placemat patterns for each family member, try swapping out fabrics and thread colors to give each place setting a unique flare!

Placemats are a cinch to whip up by hand, too. Hand-embroidered placemats can look just as professional as machine embroidered placemats! 

To make your own hand-embroidered placemat, all you need is the following: 

  • Approximately 1.5 yards of cotton fabric (wash and iron before using)
  • Approximately 1 yard of interfacing
  • Ribbon, embroidery floss and sewing thread (bonus points if they all match in color!)

You’d be surprised just how many fun and easy placemat designs don’t require anything more than a satin stitch and some back stitching! And there's nothing stopping you from using your favorite embroidery designs on other patterns.

For example, this Candy Corn Table Runners and Placemats pattern is just calling out for family member names and little embellishments. 

Embroidery Tip: To add embroidery to a design that doesn't originally call for it, you may want to start from a pattern, rather than a pre-cut kit. This way you can embroider before cutting the fabric down to size. 

Napkin Corner 

Custom napkins are a staple of embroidery design. There’s nary an embroider on the planet who hasn’t tackled this project at least once. Now it’s time to do it for fall!

We love projects that are both pretty and useful, so cloth napkins had to make the list. Acorns, leaves, pumpkins, gnomes…there’s a lot you can put on a napkin to make it wonderfully autumn-esque. Combining the design with the monogrammed initials of family and friends is even better.

But everyone knows about embroidering something small on the side or corner of a napkin, right? So how do we make it a true show-stopper?

If you're a beginner, embroidered napkis are an easy learning project. For those of you who already know how to embroider napkins with finesse, there are some more advanced designs out there. Try replacing the corner of the napkin with a freestanding embroidery design, rather than just embroidering onto the fabric. This will give your napkins an incredibly high-end look–people might even think you snatched them from an upscale restaurant! 

Pumpkin and acorn napkin corner embroidery designs in fall colors

Image: Embroidery Online by OESD

The design may look complicated, but it's actually a very simple pattern (don’t worry, we won’t tell!).

You can find these napkin corner embroidery designs here.

What is the best stabilizer for napkins?

When embroidering napkins, go with tearaway, not cutaway. 

Table Runners 

You have three options for embroidering a table runner:

  • Make one yourself
  • Embellish onto a purchased runner
  • Purchase an embroidery kit

How to make a table runner

If you’re making one yourself from scratch, the sky’s the limit! But the simplest route is:

  1. Pick your fabric
  2. Embroider your design
  3. Cut to the desired length and width


You may switch the cutting and embroidering steps. However, it’s a good idea to leave a little extra room while you’re embroidering. You can always cut more off, but you can’t put it back!

Depending on your budget, you may find yourself working with all sorts of materials. One of our favorites is industrial felt. It can be pricey, but the final results are often worth it.

Since industrial felt doesn’t fray, it’s a very quick option as you can leave seams unfinished while retaining a very high-class look. A rotary cutter is necessary for working with industrial felt. 

Embroidery Tip: Look around for places offering felt remnants. You can easily scale table runners up or down to match the amount of fabric you have available, so this is a simple way to save money. 

What is the best fabric for an embroidered table runner?

Keep in mind that your embroidered table runner is going to go, well…on your table. It will likely encounter its fair share of spills, so pick a fabric that can withstand gentle cleaning without shrinking. Polyester is a good choice. So is cotton. 

If you’re confident in your family’s ability not to make a mess, or you’re making a runner for decoration only, then you can look into some more delicate fabrics like silk. 

For that perfect Thanksgiving vibe, we’d recommend trying burlap, or natural fibers such as reed or rattan. These materials just scream “cozy, rustic home with a crackling fire.”

How to embellish a table runner

You can embroider onto a table topper that you’ve purchased to give it a little extra Thanksgiving flair. You’d be surprised how little it takes to bring a plain white table runner from “meh” to “wow!”. 

If you’re doing your own embellishing, then it’s actually to your advantage to start with the drabbest and plainest (and conveniently cheapest) table runners. This way you’ll have more room to work! A runner like this one from Amazon is a good option. Here are a few suggestions for making even the humblest table runner or tablecloth a Thanksgiving masterpiece.

Use Built-In Stitches

Your embroidery machine likely comes with a whole suite of built-in decorative stitches, so be sure to look! You may find that you don’t even need a pattern for your table runner. Many table runners come with parallel lines down each side that make easy tracks for you to follow with decorative stitches. 

Add Fabric

Think of it as giant applique. Try giving your table runner some dimension by adding coordinating fabrics to it. Perhaps a ruffle that hangs off each end, or padded pockets for dishes to sit on.

Selecting a Thanksgiving table runner kit

If the design aspect of making the table runner gives you a headache but you still want to make your project from scratch, consider a kit! Look for a pre-cut kit that can help take the guesswork out of design, fabric choices and measurements. At RebsFabStash, quilt kits are our specialty, and we’ve got plenty of table runner embroidery kits to keep your home looking cozy and festive. 

A collage of fall and autumn-themed table runner kits

Gnome Table Runner Kit

Autumn Elegance Table Set Kit

Autumn In the Air Table Runner Kit

Intertwined Table Runner Kit

Fall Table Runner Kit

And some autumn embroidery patterns for the applique lovers out there:

Patchwork Apple Table Runner Pattern

October Table Runner Pattern

Freestanding Lace

Three Freestanding Lace Pumpkins

Image: Embroidery Online by OESD

Freestanding lace is a gorgeous machine embroidery trick. If you’ve not tried it before, it basically amounts to embroidering on a wash-away stabilizer with no fabric. Then, when the stabilizer is washed away, the design holds on its own, typically looking somewhat see-through, like lace!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, there’s just enough time to whip up some gourds, turkeys, or autumn leaves. (And of course the gorgeous pumpkins pictured above.) These work wonderfully as general décor but where they really shine is at the dinner table. Place freestanding lace autumn pumpkins as the centerpiece, scatter freestanding leaves in and amongst the plates, or whatever other placement takes your fancy!

If you’re just getting started, this freestanding lace applique tutorial may be helpful! Embroidery Online (OESD) offers a huge selection of freestanding lace patterns for fall and all year round.

Recipe Towels

A roasted turkey next to an embroidered towel with recipe instructions

Image: Embroidery Online by OESD

Food is king during the holidays, and perhaps with Thanksgiving most of all! If you’re looking for a unique way to spruce up your holiday décor, then try embroidering your favorite Thanksgiving recipes onto kitchen towels. 

If you're confident with embroidering text, then you can stitch your own family favorites onto any pre-washed tea towel. A hand-drawn accompanying design works really well for these towels, so don't be shy about flexing your freestyling embroidery skills.

If you’re not excited about creating your own design, you can purchase patterns, instead. And who knows? Maybe after you try the recipe on the pattern it will become a family favorite!

And there’s no reason this idea has to be Thanksgiving exclusive. You can do this for Christmas, Easter, Halloween… any holiday that calls for delicious meals or yummy treats, really! (And that’s most of them 😊)

What towel is best for machine embroidery?

You’ll want a towel with some thickness to it to make sure the design sits nicely. Terrycloth is a popular choice, especially for thicker designs. However as long as the towel is made of a tightly-woven fabric like wool, cotton, linen or even silk, you will have a stable surface to work with.

Embroidery Tip: Be sure to wash your towels before embroidering! Many materials–like cotton–will shrink the first time they’re washed, and you don’t want the design on your embroidered towels to warp from shrinkage!

Embroidery Events

Harvest Table Kimberbell Virtual Event--embroidered napkin and placemat designs with leaves, acorns and pumpkins

Still need more autumn embroidery inspiration? Try looking around for group events and activities. These often come with patterns, kits or extensive instructions and it can be great fun to embroider next to other crafters. Kimberbell embroidery events are virtual, too!

At RebsFabStash we partner with Kimberbell to host machine embroidery events every month. The Harvest Table Kimberbell Virtual Event is a great space for anyone looking to make a a show-stopping autumn table spread.

And remember to check back frequently to see what's on the calendar. We add new Kimberbell events regularly and popular events may just pop up again! 


These are just a few kitchen and décor embroidery ideas for the autumn season. Be sure to check out what all the other RebsFabStashers are creating this fall–and share your own projects, too! Other embroiderers are your best resource for more embroidery tips, tricks and inspiration. You can connect with other quilters and embroiderers in the RebsFabStash Facebook group.

Out of stabilizer? Broken needles? Child turned your embroidery hoop into a hula hoop? We can help you restock your embroidery supplies!

Affiliate link disclaimer: RebsFabStash earns commission from purchases made through external links on this post.

Previous article What is Aurifil Thread?
Next article The Quilted Witch Quilt Kit by Lori Holt

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields