How to Make Cloth Napkins

by Morgan | November 13, 2018

Like many people, I've been looking for ways to be more eco-friendly and less wasteful. As I've been auditing my habits and purchasing choices, I've been moving more toward reusable, high-quality items that will last. I've selected insulated coffee cups, stainless steel water bottles, glass food containers instead of plastic, and so on. I've been looking for cloth napkin options, and while there are a lot, it's hard to find styles that match my decor in my area. That's why I was so excited when Jen filmed a tutorial for DIY cloth napkins. 

I haven't made my own yet (I'm going to soon!) but I wanted to write out the instructions for you using Jen's video so that you, too, can make your own cloth napkins. And, of course, I want to see what you make so I can be inspired, and I'll share with you what I make. 

How to Make Cloth Napkins Video Tutorial

If you prefer written instructions, they're included below the video. You can make these using fat quarters, or make yours exactly like ours with the Cloth Napkin Kit - Poinsettia & Pine. Don't forget to grab the free download as well! 

How to Make Cloth Napkins Using Fat Quarters

Fabric Requirements for 4 Napkins:

- 2 yards fabric (we used 1 yard of red and 1 yard of black to make the napkins reversible) - you can also use 8 fat quarters.

Helpful Notions:

Here's a list of the products and tools we actually use every day in our sewing room here at Shabby Fabrics. We wouldn't recommend them if we didn't love them. Feel free to use your own tools at home. None of these are required to make the project, we just share in case you'd like to know! 

What we used:

Shabby Fabrics Rectangle Ruler 2½" x 6½" - Very helpful for precise measuring

Schmetz  Topstitch Needles, size 80/12 - Extremely helpful for stitching through multiple layers of fabric

Clover Point 2 Point - Very helpful for making crisp points in your corners

Clover Patchwork Pins (Extra Fine) - Very helpful for precise pinning 

Clover Magnetic Pin Caddy - Great for keeping your pins together

Frixion Pen - Very helpful for marking sewing lines

Prepare Your Fabric:

  1. Decide whether you'll make reversible napkins using two fabrics or napkins using one fabric.
  2. Press out any folds or creases in the fabric.
  3. Cut your fabric to 18" x 18" squares.

Sew Your Napkin Together:

  1. Pin fabric right sides together (RST)

  2. Pin the pieces together, making sure to leave an opening so you can turn the project. 
  3. Mark your opening so you don't accidentally sew it closed.  (We used a red Frixion Pen and our 2.5" x 6.5" ruler) We left a 5" opening so there's plenty of room to turn the fabric through. 
  4. Sew around the square using a 1/4" seam allowance
    NOTE: Since we're using two different fabrics (black and red) we used black thread in the top and red thread in the bobbin. If you do this, make sure the top thread color matches the fabric that is facing up (i.e. our black thread is in the top, so we sewed with the black fabric facing us).


  5. When you get to a corner, stop about 1/4" from the edge, leave your needle down, lift the presser foot, pivot your fabric, put the presser foot back down, and then continue sewing. 
  6. After sewing around each side (leaving the gap to turn the project through) remove the pins from your project.
  7. Clip each corner on a 45 degree angle (this will help you get crisp points after you turn the project). 

Turn Your Napkin Right Sides Out:

  1. Carefully turn the napkin through the opening you left. 
  2. Using your hand, push the edges and corners out as much as possible. 
  3. Get a crisp point on your corners using a tool like a Clover Point 2 Point Turner or other object (a lot of makers use chopsticks for this purpose!) 
  4. Press the edges

Close the Opening:

  1. Using your fingers (and an iron if you'd like), fold the seam back into the napkin, pressing with your fingers to close the seam.

  2. After you've pressed the opening, pin it in place so you can stitch it closed. 
  3. Topstitch the opening with 1/8" seam allowance. (It doesn't have to be EXACTLY an 1/8" seam allowance, just something smaller than 1/4".) 

  4. Continue that 1/8" seam allowance around the entire napkin, pivoting at the corners like we showed you earlier. 
  5. Trim the threads and you're done! 

BONUS: How to Fold A Cloth Napkin

  1. Fold your napkin in half so the fabric you want on the outside is facing you.

  2. Fold the napkin in half the other way.

  3. Finger press the point (shown in the picture above, the point that's facing Jen.) This makes a crease.
  4. Hold the napkin and place one hand inside, grabbing the point you just pressed with the inside hand.

  5.  Take the other hand and hold the crease, while using the hand that was just on the inside to pull the fabric through (almost like a funnel). 

  6. Push the fabric through your hand a few times, then hold it about halfway. Add your napkin ring and then fluff and adjust the napkin as desired. 

  7. Arrange on your table or plates to dress up your place settings. 

Make Coordinating Projects

We have a bunch of coordinating projects using the Poinsettia & Pine Collection from Maywood Studio Fabrics including table runners, Jelly Roll Placemats, Jelly Roll Rugs, Quilt Kits, and more. You can find them all on our website here

Share this blog post or save it for later

If you loved this blog post and want to save it for later, or you'd like to share it with friends, please Pin it using the image below. 

I'll share the Jelly Roll Placemats Tutorial (seen in the image above) with you soon (you can view that tutorial on YouTube while you're waiting). 

Let me know if you make napkins using this tutorial! I'd love to see pictures and hear how it turned out for you. I'll update this post when I make my own napkins as well to show you my fabric selection and share my progress.