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!!!
Great tutorial, Tammy! Now I need to get busy making some napkins! ;)
Thanks for the tutorial. I have been debating whether to do this or use my serger The corner technic is a good idea, something I have used in quilting. Your napkins look great!
Tammy, these are SO pretty!! And you make it seem very easy, too!! I can't even sew a straight line, but I think I am going to have to give these a try!!
You did a great job making this tutorial easy to understand. If I knew how to use a sewing machine, I would definitely give this a try. :)
*sigh* What a great tutorial. Reading this makes me want to go and buy my own sewing machine finally. Someday.
Those are really pretty! You have quite a talent for sewing...
Tammy...this is a great tutorial....I never knew how to do those corners...so MANY are switching to cloth for everything...which is probably a very good idea..now this is more motivation..thank you
Great Tut Tammy, I think I need some of those too!!
Thank you for the tutorial. Cloth napkins make meals a little bit more special.
Blessings to your day
Can you email me at email@example.com? I need to ask you a question about zipper patterns...
Thank you for writing such a wonderful tutorial.
Great Tutorial! Especially on the corners. I wish I had done that with my recent quilt I finished the binding on. I will have to remember this.
There is something so special about cloth napkins. Makes the meal feel a little fancy even if its just hamburgers and fries.
Great tutorial! We use cloth napkins everyday. I've picked all mine up cheap at discount stores. Now I can make some of my own, thank you!
This is how I make the corners on my cloth napkins too! Very well-written, simple, tutorial.
I am a beginning sewer and wanted you to know how GREAT this tutorial is!
Wow,these are more simple than I imagined,you've made it easy to follow.I'm going to try this tutorial tomarrow,I can't wait.
These are great! I've added them to my to do list. I have been wanting to make some for my daughter's snack at preschool. We're trying to be more environment friendly. This is a great tutorial for that. Thanks
What a great tutorial! Looks like something I can actually accomplish. :-) My daughter starts kindergarten in the fall and I wanted to make special cloth napkins for her lunch box.
I just made 4 cloth napkins tonight and wish to thank you for posting this detailed tutorial that even the most inexperienced sewer, such as myself, could follow. They turned out so cute! Thanks for sharing and teaching.
thanks for sharing your skills.. I always wondered how to make those fancy corners!
Great tutorial, thanks!
Frugal tip: My MIL uses the backs of old men's cotton button-up shirts for her cloth napkins.
I used your tutorial to complete my very first sewing project! Very easy to follow and they have turned out great. Thanks!
Fabulous tutorial! I'll be making some cloth napkins for Christmas gifts - thanks!
I just finished 18 napkins following your instructions, except with 1/2 inch finished hem. They turned out great and was much easier than any other method I've tried before.
Thank you so much!
I just found your tutorial, and want to tell you that I love the corner instructions. My 11-year-old daughter is about to hem some napkins for Christmas presents, and after making a set myself with the mitered corners, I was worried that it would be too hard for her since this will be her first time sewing on a machine. I think this will help her!
Thanks! I just found your tutorial and the corner example is great.
Thanks for all the comments here. :-) Happy sewing, everyone!
Lol when I googled napkin tutorial yours came up. I forgot you wrote one! I reread what I commented and wow i've come a long way since then! Gonna be making some for our table! Thanks for the tutorial, Tammy!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was about to kill myself over mitered corners, but luckily I found your site!
Your mitered corner tips were so helpful. Thank you, thank you. :)
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