How to Sew Fabric Napkins – Beginner Friendly Project

How to Sew Fabric Napkins – Beginner Friendly Project

Today, we are going to sew some fabric napkins!

My kiddo is a messy eater. 

While we initially used to use wet wipes to clean her up, the cost (not to mention the environmental impact) really adds up.

So we invested in a few cloth napkins to test the waters, and they work well for us. My kiddo is still a messy eater, but likes using napkins with cute prints, so will use them.

Once I realized how easy they are to make, I just sew mine now. They are really are very easy to make.

And quite honestly, they really add a bit of cheer to meal times. 

They can be personalized to match the season/holiday/personal preferences, are reusable, and look a lot nicer than paper napkins or a roll of kitchen towels sitting on your dining table (in my opinion).

Best Size for Napkins

The size and shape of your napkin is up to you! Typically they are square, and larger napkins are used for more formal affairs.

MealSize Range
CocktailSmaller than luncheon (actual dimension not given)
Luncheon12 x 12 – 18 x 18
Dinner 18 x 18 – 24 x 24
Banquet24 x 24 – 32 x 32

Source: Cheryl MendelsonHome Comforts (The Art and Science of Keeping House)

Best Fabric for Napkins

To go back to Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts book, she advises that table linens should have the following qualities:

  • Absorbent
  • Smooth hand
  • Crisp, drapable
  • Durable

I think linen would work really well for this project, but I chose to go with quilting cotton because that is what I had at hand.

My kiddo chose some fat quarters with cutesy prints on them from Joann’s a while ago, so now feels like a good time to use them. The cotton she picked feels absorbent, and was on sale. I know that we are currently at that stage of life where everything is going to get stained, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on fabric.

Fabric, in general, can get pretty expensive. To save a fair few pennies, I suggest raiding your airing cupboard or visiting a local thrift store to see if they have anything you can upcycle.

With all this said, let’s crack on and make some napkins!

Supplies Needed:

  • Fabric (I used quilting cotton) 
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and ironing surface
  • Optional (but very handy):  cutting mat, rotary cutter, quilting ruler

Prep your fabric! Wash, dry and (if required) iron as advised by your fabric care label.

Have the right side of the fabric facing DOWN. Starting in one corner, mark one inch up, and one inch going across. Join the lines together. The base of this ‘triangle’ should be approximately 1 3/4 inch.

Cut the corner/triangle you just drew.

Repeat this for all four corners

Fold down the corners you just cut by 1/4 inch and press in place.

Repeat on all four corners.

Fold the long edges by 1/4 inch, and press in place. Repeat this again (so the raw edges will be completely hidden).

As you start to fold and press the other sides, your corners should now look like this:

Once everything is pressed into place, I advise pinning it too. This will help make sure everything stays in place for when you are sewing.

Sew in place using a ¼ inch seam allowance. Remember to keep a pin cushion near by!

When you get to a corner, stop sewing. Lift your presser foot (don’t move the needle), and turn your fabric 90 degrees. Then continue sewing!

Remember to backstitch the last 2-3 stitches to secure stitches in place.

Congratulations! You just made a napkin!

Folded Napkin on plate with Cutlery

I would love to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below or use our contact page.

If you decide to try this project out, I would love to see it! Contact me, or tag me on Instagram or Facebook using the #sewmanyplansblog

Happy Sewing!!!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: