Monday, February 20, 2012

Linen Napkins {Tutorial}

Recently I was at a friends' house, sipping coffee and chatting about life while she folded laundry.  (Yes, I offered to help.  No, she wouldn't let me).  She was folding along when she mentioned to me how they always use cloth napkins, even though its more laundry.  Hers were in need of replacement, she sighed.

I've had a set of cloth napkins every now and then but not enough to be in constant rotation.  I figure a family our size probably needs about two dozen.  After talking with my friend, I hopped online to see what was available.  Functional napkins are inexpensive enough, but I wanted something that was a natural fiber.  Pretty napkins are more expensive.  With the amount I need to make paper napkins a thing of the past, I could spend quite a bit.

Instead of clicking "Buy It Now" on a particularly fetching set of 6 napkins ($20 plus shipping!), I dug through my fabric stash to see what I had.  Some dark brown linen might be just the thing - dark enough to hide the worst of what dinner time with 5 young ones could come up with, but nice enough to bring out for company.

Want to make a set of your own?  With minimal sewing skill, you can!  If you want to extend the savings even farther, consider checking out a thrift store - vintage sheets, table cloths or even an old skirt or two can be re-purposed into napkins at pennies on the dollar.  The best part is that using cloth napkins is not only frugal, but environmentally friendly.  If you re-purpose a used item, that goes double!

Cloth Napkin Tutorial

Step 1: Gather your supplies.  You'll need:

Enough fabric for the number of napkins you want.  I cut mine into 12x12 squares, so do the math and figure out how much you need.

Sewing Machine



Rotary Cutter/Mat/ruler (not required, but this makes cutting and measuring so much easier!)

Iron/Ironing board

Step 2:  Cut out your napkins.  12x12 is standard napkin size

Step 3: Using your iron and ironing board, press the edges in 1/4 inch, then fold over 1/4 inch and press again, making a nice finished hem all the way around.  Pin in place.

Step 4: Sew all the way around the napkin, making sure the corners stay tucked the way you want them.  I used one of the fancy decorative stitches on my machine, but a straight stitch works just as well.

That's it!  If you want to further embellish your napkins, you can pop them in a hoop and embroider them.  Be creative!  And enjoy your lovely, frugal, earth friendly napkins!


  1. Thanks, this is great! I can always use another set of napkins and these would even make a great gift too!

  2. I started using cloth napkins in our home from the very beginning. My then fiance's (now husband's) mother used them and I got hooked.

    I like a larger napkin. Most of mine are 17" square. I use printed fabric as it hides stains best and a rolled hem on the serger and Viola! I have very few that match as I make them from the scraps from my quilting habit.

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  4. Beautiful! Do you cut out 12x12 pieces, or do you add for the seam allowance (which I guess would be more like 13x13?)

  5. I cut them 12x12 but you are right, if you want them that size you should probably cut them to 13x13.

  6. I need to do this, I keeo telling myself to but I haven't. The sewing machine scares me a bit. I don't use it often enough. I love your choice of colors!


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