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Make your own cloth napkins

Posted by  ·  April 20, 2009  ·  Last Updated: April 20, 2009


I am working on a little project that needs cloth napkins (stay tuned…) and thought making cloth napkins would also be great for Earth Day (April 22)!

Here are two versions, one with  mitered corners and the other with square corners. First pre-wash the fabric. Cut fabric into a square 1″ larger than the desired finished size. I cut 17 inch squares so that I would have 16 inch napkins.

Mitered Corner Napkin Instructions

Iron edge over 1/4 inch.

miternapkin1Moving clockwise, iron next edge 1/4 inch over. Iron all four sides then fold first side over again another 1/4 inch. Do all four sides moving clockwise.

miternapkin3Open up corner.

miternapkin4Cut off top of corner.

miternapkin5Fold top edge down (to corner of second fold line) and iron.

miternapkin6Fold the side edge  to the middle on each side (folding on press lines – fold side down then fold again to make corner). Repeat until all four sides have mitered corners.


Sew all the way around the edge of napkin.

miternapkin8Finished with a mitered corner napkin!


Square Corner Napkin Instructions

To make a napkin with square corners, iron edge over 1/4 inch. Moving in clockwise direction iron next side 1/4 inch until all four sides have been pressed 1/4 inch.

napkin10Now fold over edges another 1/4 inch (moving in a clockwise direction).

napkin11When all four sides have been folded over twice, sew all the way around the edge of the napkin. I think most people sew straight off the edge on each side, but my sewing machine doesn’t like sewing through those layers.


I also like the way it looks from the front.



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Leave a Comment


  1. Saturday, October 29th, 2016
    Can't wait to try this out! I just bought some cute fabric. Great way to cut back on paper towel usage!
  2. Therese
    Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
    Thanks for the instructions. It's funny, I was looking at buying 4/$35 on a website and then remembered that I have (almost) identical fabric in my basement. I'll give it a shot!
  3. Debbie
    Monday, October 8th, 2012
    I'm making 120 napkins for my son and soon to be daughter in laws wedding - its a 'rustic' affair at our cottage, so I'd like to fringe the edges of the napkins. I'm using a good quality poly fabric that is specific for table linens. Did one as a sample and I'm not crazy about the outcome. I pulled a straight thread on each side giving about 1/2 inch of fringe and then did a zigzag stitch to stabilize each side, but the zigzag stitch caused a scallop effect. Not what I wanted - I would like to just keep the simple fringe. Any ideas out there?
    • Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
      Debbie, what if you just did a single straight stich instead of the zig zag?
    • Diane
      Friday, July 20th, 2018
      Try no fray fabric glue they sell at Joann fabric
  4. Rosangela de andrade
    Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
    Adorei saber fazer esse guardanapo.Estava louca para aprender,vou começar agora a fazer pois tenho certeza q irei acertar qualquer dúvida saberei aonde recorrer mto obg
  5. Shea
    Thursday, September 13th, 2012
    I am not as crafty as some of these other ladies...anyone willing to make 150 napkins for my wedding? of course im willing to pay....my colors are lime and navy green...wedding is not unitl the spring.
  6. Faran Maqsood
    Thursday, September 6th, 2012
    I need some help of a professinal person, i have to make a huge quantity of cloth nakins, but i was unable in doing the costing , i need to know for example how many meters of fabric i need for making 100 napkins or 10000 or 100000 cloth napkins, if any body have the idea of it help me i will give you some gift after i have done the costing.... contact me at 0092-322-4153578
  7. Monday, September 3rd, 2012
    This is a follow up to my comment a few weeks ago...

    Thanks again for this great tutorial! I just completed my first set of napkins this weekend and, because of your clear instruction, they turned out beautifully! I posted about the project on my blog tonight and linked back to your site. :o)
  8. Victoria
    Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
    Your tutorial kicks ass! I looked at several others sites that did not have clear instructions and photographs. I am in the midst of making napkins for my wedding, but I only have 64 to make! Tonight I finished my first eight, and I'm pleased with the turnout. They certainly aren't going to win any awards, and they don't look as uniform as yours, but they are unique! Thanks!!
  9. Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
    Just found you via pinterest! I'm excited to try making these napkins! Thanks for the tutorial!
  10. britney
    Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
    I have gave 240 kids napkins
  11. Sunday, July 1st, 2012
    This is great! I have so much fabric that needs to be used and kids who need napkins! Thanks for the tute!

    S. Saleehy, Most fabric is 40ish inches wide, so you'll be able to cut two out of each width. So you need 12x17 inches. then divide by 12 to get how many feet, and divide by 3 to get how many yards =5.6666 yards. Just buy 6 yards. Iron lines in it before you cut to make sure you have it figured out. Good luck!
  12. Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
    This is an amazing tutorial, and I am excited to say that I have officially made my first mitered corner cloth napkins for my daughter's birthday. I am linking back to your tutorial tomorrow over at www.meaningfulmama.com Thank you! Thank you!
  13. Shannon
    Saturday, June 16th, 2012
    I was wondering what kind of fabric you used? I have looked high and low for a quality, texture cotton for a decent price. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
  14. S Saleeby
    Monday, June 11th, 2012
    I understand the 17 inch square for a 16 inch napkin. I am not a sewer but would like a friend to do the sewing for me if I get all the prep done. How many yards for 24 napkins?
  15. Laurie
    Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
    Found your site through Pinterest and I love it. Thanks for all of the beautifully photographed and detailed tutorials. I've made napkins and makeup pouches with your help. I'm addicted!
  16. Judy
    Monday, April 23rd, 2012
    Wow, I am surprised to see two people who are aso industrious to make 200 napkins each, for weddings! Good luck! I am sure you will both have stories to tell us when you are done! You will each be masters at this. I am concerned to make 4, for a shower gift! Am trying to figure out the nicest way to edge them.
    I personnally would wash the fabric first, so that you don't come up with any suprises when you go to make the quilt later. I have had fabric that I thought was just fine, and then after washing it, it stretched , or was not what I wanted. You don't want to put that much energy into a project and then find out it is not the way you wanted it. Hopefully the fabric will look crisp and vibrant for many washings to come. Good luck to all!
  17. Amy
    Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
    Hi, I am also making 200 napkins for my friends wedding! AND, I'm also wondering if I should pre-wash the fabric. If I was just going to use the napkins for the wedding, then I would definitely wash them. However, I plan on using the napkins afterwards to make a quilt for my friend. I'm afraid that the pre-wash and then the afte-dinner wash will take away from the crisp, bright, new fabric that I want the quilt to have! Am I being silly to think that two washes will do that? ;) Thanks for your help!!!
  18. Ann Majors
    Sunday, April 8th, 2012
    Thanks for the reminder and illistrations they were excellent.
    I made napkins before and only like the triangle courners the others in my opp. look careless.
    I also crochet hand towel tops / top I put a strong snap on this was the present for my kids they loved the sets so much... Ann
  19. Laurie
    Saturday, April 7th, 2012
    #55 response. I would definitely wash and press your fabric first. Even if you are not going to use them after the wedding, they will be softer and smell better. :) Good luck....sounds like you have a lot to do! Congratulations.
  20. Amanda
    Friday, April 6th, 2012
    Hi!! So happy I found your cloth napkin DIY tutorial! I am getting ready to make 200 of these for my wedding and I have purchased all of the cotton fabric. Should I cut the fabric into the right size squares first, or pre-wash the fabric first? How should I pre-wash the fabric? On gentle with detergent, or no detergent? Thank you so much!!
  21. Charlene
    Monday, March 5th, 2012
    To reduce the bulk (for your machine) on the squared corners, simply cut the 90 degree angle off the folds (same area where you cut the 'triangle' for mitered corners. Then refold and sew as usual. Hope that makes sense!
  22. Jean
    Saturday, February 4th, 2012
    Wow, Thank you! I've been trying my hand at quilt making this is going to be so helpful, your awesome! Jean
  23. Dawn Nowak
    Thursday, December 1st, 2011
    Just found your tutorial for making napkins & L-0-0-0-0-V-E it! I'm a beginner at sewing & couldn't figure out how to miter the corners - your pictures are super. Thanks so much :)
  24. Cindy Young
    Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
    When mitering corners, I don't mark, I just iron the fold lines in place on all 4 sides. Then I fold the corner in, and trim it as shown. I love that sewing it doesn't require pinning!
  25. Sunday, August 14th, 2011
    This was so useful and well instructed. I did exactly as you said and my napkins were perfect!
  26. Katherine
    Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
    How long does it take to make one?
  27. rachel
    Sunday, July 10th, 2011
    how big do the napkins need to be? i'm trying to make his and her napkins for my hopechest and great tuterial
  28. Whitney
    Friday, June 24th, 2011
    Where did you get that fabric? What brand/store?
  29. Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
    Thanks for the tutorial!! Used it for the baby shower I'm throwing this weekend!!~
  30. Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
    Thanks so much for this easy to understand tutorial. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find instructions on the Internet for making cloth napkins with mitered corners! I found so many videos and tutorials that were so complicated, hard to understand, or not applicable to napkins...this is perfect!
  31. Cake Phillington
    Sunday, June 5th, 2011
    Thank you so much for this, I've been frustrated with my corners on my last two projects.
  32. bluebird
    Friday, April 29th, 2011
    great tutorial. I was worried about how to mitre the corners on napkins I was making but it was easy after I found your instructions. The pictures really helped.
  33. Thursday, April 14th, 2011
    genial tu es douee bises
  34. Friday, February 25th, 2011
    Making variations of these right now! Thanks for the directions! :)
  35. Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
    love this simple sewing method.
  36. Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
    Looks like 1/2 inch rather than 1/4 - 1/2 inch is standard. They are pretty! Very nice images.
  37. Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
    I have beenmaking napkins 40 years. I just ran across the first onesI evr made. It brought back wonderful memories.
    Can use cloth napkins to tie up goodies for children. Use as gifts wraps around goodies for friends, family or that special someone. Eat , clean up and wash.
    Great gifts!
    Good tutorial pictures for mittered cornors.
  38. Tracy
    Monday, December 20th, 2010
    Just made napkins and placemats to match my two daughter's dishes from fabric given to me. The placemats were from two diff. patterns - one on each side and I made 2 sets of napkins to match them. They were tickled when I included several mixes I make myself,and a holiday plate and napkin rings I found at a thrift store. Your napkins are a great gift giving and money saving idea! Thank you!
  39. Whitney
    Monday, December 6th, 2010
    I have to say that this tutorial gave me the MOST PERFECT mitered corners EVER!! I ran the serger around the edge of the napkin, which gave me a 1/4 inch turn-under point and made the hemming of the edges much easier and neater --> but the miter is perfect every single time ... amazing! thanks so much!!
  40. Jessica
    Monday, September 27th, 2010
    I was thinking about Christmas gifts and thought about doing this and did a quick search on line and found this! Totally made me make up my mind...it's Sept. now....I think I can do it by December!
  41. Christina
    Monday, September 20th, 2010
    These napkins are so cute. You make this project look so easy. It makes me want to make some napkins, and I don't even sew.
  42. Diana
    Thursday, September 16th, 2010
    The fabric is so FUN! And thank you for the patterns too. I am feeling inspired to start making some Christmas gifts!
  43. Thursday, August 5th, 2010
    Just what I was looking to see today! I really hope you know how much this means to me. I'm thrilled someone took the time to write about it. Any chance I could contribute to this? I really hope so. I've bookmarked your page here and will be back. Also visited some of your sponsors, good stuff. I hope you visit my site about Christmas sometime soon and return the favor. Have a sunshine and roses day.
  44. Elise
    Saturday, April 17th, 2010
    Hi. I just made 9 napkins out a $1 tablecloth I got at a yardsale. I made the mitered corners and they came out pretty good. Thanks for all the tips and good pictures of each step.
  45. Kristina
    Thursday, December 31st, 2009
    I found this tutorial a number of weeks ago and bookmarked it with the idea of making napkins as Christmas presents. I'm still very new to sewing, but I got a Singer for my birthday, so I knew that I wanted to make handmade gifts this year. I followed your instructions (the photos were a big help too!) and I just finished my first batch! I am so pleased with them, and will definitely be making more now. Thank you so much!
  46. Gargi
    Monday, December 28th, 2009
    Awesome! I just love the way you describe about the corners. I'm going to make a set of 6 and will gift it to my mom on new year eve. Thanks for a wonderful tutorial.
  47. Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
    I inherited a stack of well laundered feedsacks - really looking forward to 'returning' them to my in-laws as napkin sets to keep them in the family - thanks so much for the really clear tips!
  48. Juanita
    Saturday, November 21st, 2009
    Thanks for the tutorial, I plan on making some napkins for Christmas presents.
  49. Monday, November 9th, 2009
    Thanks for the very clear directions on how to make mitered corners. It was a big help!
  50. Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
    I linked these! Thanks for the great idea.
  51. Monday, November 2nd, 2009
    I loved your napkins. I linked them on myskinnypurse so that I could share it!
  52. Saturday, September 19th, 2009
    These are very cute napkins and a great tutorial! I am going to work on some soon. I have run into your site several times during my searches. Keep up the good work!
  53. sarah barnette
    Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
    Thanks for the tutorial. I have used cloth napkins for many many many years. Never made them before. I searched the web for a good method. Yours is the best I've found.
  54. Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
    Great tutorial! I'm looking early for holiday gift ideas and this is top on my list. Thanks for sharing.
  55. Monday, May 18th, 2009
    Great idea! I had been thinking about making some place mats. Napkins would go great with them. :)
  56. Monday, May 4th, 2009
    Thanks for the great tutorial! I made some blue and white checkered cloth napkins a year ago or so, but I've been wanting to make several more batches. You've reminded me of a great project for this week!
  57. Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
    Thanks so much for sharing the instructional! My current cloth napkins are getting old, and this will be a great project for me tonight.
  58. Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
    Thank you -- a million times thank you! I've been meaning to make hand-sewn cloth napkins and your tutorial has given me the push I needed.
  59. Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
    thank you thank you thank you! Every time i read the instructions for mitered corners in books i get reconfused. You made it so easy. Gonna go practice now!
  60. Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
    Those are lovely! The fabric is beautiful! I've made my cloth napkins in the past with a rolled hem from the serger as it was quick to do, but I love the look of the mitred corner! Will have to give that a try.
    For those wondering about fabric choice, I used a linen blend for our everyday napkins, and navy for the colour, so no stains show even after a year of daily use!
  61. Barbara
    Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
    Thank you for the tutorial on mitered corners. I always enjoy all your tips.
  62. Betty
    Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Thanks so much for your lesson on how to make lovely napkins!! I was never sure on the mitered corner ones even after stitching for years!!
  63. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Thanks for the post. I just sewed for the first time this last weekend. I made an activity bag for my oldest for this summer.

    I love the napkins. They seems simple to make and very cute.

    I will be linking to your site.

    Thanks again for sharing.
  64. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Hah! Perfect! I always love your tips. Thanks for such an easy project that requires very little sewing skill (perfect for me). I added your craft to the end of today's post on my blog - been trying to blog a different Earth-friendly tip every day.

    Thanks again!
  65. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    I have to put together a picnic basket for a auction and will now be busy making cloth napkins! Thanks for the tutorial!
  66. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    This is great! What do you think is the best kind of fabric for napkins?
  67. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Cute! What type fabric did you use? What do you think will work best?
  68. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Are you using regular woven fabric for this or a heaver weight? I've thought about making cloth napkins, but wasn't sure what sort of material to use.
    • Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
      The fabric I used for the napkins was a lightweight cotton. I really think almost anything would work. These napkins are thin, but I don't think it matters. I will say that fabric did stretch slightly on some of the mitered corners. It doesn't bother me but maybe a heavier cotton would prevent that. Do take into consideration that the fabric gets turned two times--- that is some bulk to sew through. So too heavy of fabric might make it difficult to sew.
  69. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Very nice! I had started making a few cloth napkins some time ago but never finished enough to make the switch from paper to cloth. This was the post I needed to inspire me to finish that project up. Thanks!
  70. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    Love 'em!
  71. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    This would make a great addition to your quick gift pattern card set. ;o) Thanks for the tute!
  72. Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
    These are gorgeous! Thanks for the tutorial on mitered corners - I can never figure those out!
  73. Monday, April 20th, 2009
    Thanks for the tutorial. I've got some Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric that I've been wanting to make into napkins. Thanks for the inspiration I needed.