How to Make Table Napkins

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Cloth napkins can add a lot of character to your table. They can be made in a small amount of time with little investment in materials. In addition to being much nicer to use, cloth napkins are the ultimate in recycling -- they never seem to wear out! Cloth napkins vary in size from 14 inches square to 20 inches square; not surprisingly, the larger typically cost more when purchased in a store.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 1/4 yard fabric, 45 inches wide
  • Pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board
Pretty as a picture!
Pretty as a picture! (Image: Debbie Williams)

How to Make Table Napkins

Step 1

Choose your fabric while keeping in mind which colors and patterns will help you achieve the style you want. Cotton is always a good choice, consider polyester and other synthetics for more formal occasions. Please see the last slide for a complete list of materials.

Basic materials needed to make napkins.
Basic materials needed to make napkins. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 2

Wash and press the fabric before beginning construction. Line the selvage edge along the bottom straight edge of a cutting mat and trim the open edge along a vertical rule line to square the fabric.

Square the fabric.
Square the fabric. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 3

Trim the selvages from the fabric. Cut four 18-inch squares, checking with the rule lines of the cutting mat to insure accuracy.

Trim the selvages.
Trim the selvages. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 4

Turn up a 1/2-inch hem on each side of the square and press. Fold 1/4-inch of the rough edge under to the fold, press, and pin in place.

Press in the hems.
Press in the hems. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 5

Sew the hems close to the edge of the fold, running off at the end of the side.

Sew the hems.
Sew the hems. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 6

Work in a clockwise manner, starting each side again and folding the previous hem into the fold of this side.

Form the corners.
Form the corners. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 7

Trim the excess threads from the corners and press the hems again.

You should have square corners.
You should have square corners. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 8

Check your work to be sure the napkin is square.

Perfectly square!
Perfectly square! (Image: Debbie Williams)

Tips & Warnings

  • When using cotton, always purchase a little extra fabric to allow for shrinking.
  • A clear quilting ruler can be invaluable in cutting smaller pieces of fabric accurately.
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