I wrote this tutorial last fall, and since then I have come across several tutorials for cloth napkins. While a napkin is a napkin, I especially like the corners, which are unique from the tutorials I have seen. I copied them from a purchased set of napkins that I have. This tutorial is also written (hopefully) for the beginner seamstress. If you need extra help, please feel free to ask in the comment box.
For four napkins, you will need one yard of fabric. I suggest 100% cotton, but a cotton-poly blend will work too.
1. Pre-shrink your fabric. Just throw it in the wash with like-colored clothing, or if you're in a super hurry, get it thoroughly soaked in the sink, spin it in the washer, and throw it in the dryer.
2. Cut out your napkins. I cut my squares at 18", but you can cut smaller square if you wish. If you are making four napkins, and cutting 18" squares, you will need to measure your fabric carefully before you start cutting, and make sure you still have a yard long piece of fabric. Otherwise you might get just two napkins, and that wouldn't be any fun!
You can make a pattern out of tissue paper, if you want. I used a quilting ruler to make my first square, and then used the first square as a pattern.
3. Now the fun begins! My napkins are a little more casual; I will be using these for every day, not with my good china. Therefore, I've made the hem a little wider. The more formal the napkin, the narrower you'll want your hem.
Working on the wrong side of the fabric, I started out by folding one side down by 6/8".
If you don't have one of these 6" gauge rulers, and you do any amount of sewing, I highly recommend you get one. It costs less than $2, and you'll find many uses for it!
Next, flip the edge under so that it meets the fold. The hem will be a little over 3/8" wide now. As you're flipping it under, iron it down. Hint: take the water out of the iron so the steam doesn't burn your fingers!
Do the same exact thing on the opposite side ("top" and "bottom").
Now you're ready to do the other two sides ("right" and "left"). Iron down 6/8", right over the other ironed down hem.
On each corner, open the hem back up and fold back the hem by 45 degrees (on the side you are working on--the "top" and "bottom" sides are left just as they are):
Then you'll fold under the hem just like you did on the other two sides:
See, a neat, precise corner!
I put a pin on the corners, but not along the hem. Sometimes fabric doesn't hold a fold as well, so you might need a few pins along the hem.
That was a long step! Now on to the next step!
4. Sewing! This is the quick part! Choose a seam allowance close to the edge of the hem. In my case, it is 3/8". Just pick a place to start, and sew along.
Pivot at the corners. (Leaving the needle in the fabric, lift up the pressure foot and turn the fabric.) Some of the corners may be a little tricky to get just right. Sew slowly and use your fingers to press the folds down.
When you get back to your starting place, sew right on top of the stitching for about an inch or so. This will keep the stitching from coming undone.
5. Stand back and admire your handiwork! Set the table and take pictures for your blog! If giving as a gift, find a pretty ribbon to wrap around them.
If you want to use a different coordinating fabric for each napkin, buy a fat quarter for each napkin. Square it up and sew it up! (The fat quarters will be a bit more expensive than buying fabric by the yard, but then you'll have all different napkins, which would be fun.)
If you are giving these napkins as a gift, perhaps you could find some pretty napkin rings to go along with the gift. Or, you could make them.
Cloth napkins are very eco-friendly. They are small and even if you use them at every meal, you probably won't notice the difference in the laundry. I'm working on sewing up quite a few so that we can use them instead of paper napkins.
Remember while making these napkins: they are not a ball gown for the queen. No, people will wipe chicken grease off their faces with them! So if they are not perfect, don't fuss about it! Just do your best, and remember that no one (unless your mother-in-law is that way; thankfully mine is not! LOL) is going to turn them over and measure the hems to make sure they are all exactly the same! Just have fun!!!