I dreamed of numbered napkins available only through H&M in Europe. Humph. So here’s how to make our own:

The inspiration:

It wasn’t THAT bad, although I will admit that on number six I was cursing myself for not telephoning Sweden and having them sent to me instead. Here’s how:

First, gather the supplies: black fabric paint, a small brush with an angled tip, a fabric marker, and an embroidery hoop — all available at Michaels. (Don’t buy the wood hoop in the first pic. It broke right away, and I had to go back for the plastic one. Grr.) You also need a sheet of blank label paper from Staples or Office Max and 8 napkins. (Mine are from Pottery Barn, here. Use whatever you’d like. Cotton or cotton/poly works best.) Before you start, be sure to wash and dry the napkins to remove sizing, and do NOT use fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Next, print out your numbers onto the label paper. Are you ready to love me? I made a template and you can download it right here. You’re welcome.

Carefully cut the numbers out, leaving the label backing intact.

Next, peel off the label backing and affix your number on the napkin, wherever you’d like it to be. It helps to fold them exactly how you plan to in the future.

Center your number in the embroidery hoop to give yourself a taut working surface. Using your fabric marker, trace the number. (Fabric markers are glorious. They rinse out with just a little water — a magic disappearing act.)

When you’re finished, peel off the label.

Here comes the hard part. Carefully fill in your number with black fabric paint. I will tell you that I did this s-l-o-w-l-y. And that a small, angled brush is the key to your happiness. And that I turned this thing every which way – upside down, sideways, whatever — to get it all filled in. You’ll want a heavy coat or two.

When you’re finished, let it dry flat overnight.

In the morning, rinse out the marker, iron the napkins, line them up, and feel very smug. You have outwitted H&M and their annoying reluctance to share their home collection with the U.S.A.

Set the table. Dream up dinner parties. Ask your boyfriend to model the matching glassware you bought long ago at Macy’s. Feel quite proud.