My Best Cloth Napkins


I was inspired by Tasia’s post at Sewaholic about making cloth napkins and decided to make some for our family. We go through an ungodly amount of paper napkins. Well, my son does. My husband usually skips me when handing out napkins because he says I “never get messy”. I went to Ribfest last weekend and did not use a napkin. Naturally, saying this will ensure that I will ruin my favorite blouse tonight with red wine.

Anywho, where were we? Oh yes, making cloth napkins. I am, by nature, a cheapskate and a die-hard environmentalist. Anywhere I can do my part to keep a tree rooted, I’m all over it. I have cloth napkins, but they are pricey, so we only have a few, and then they are constantly in the wash. Enter Sewaholic. [Slaps forehead] I have loads of fabric in my craft room, I can make my own napkins.

Tasia is right, you don’t need a big napkin to get the job done. The store-bought napkins I have are, not kidding, 25″ squares. I could practically make a skirt out of one. In fact, that’s why I bought them — to use as fabric. The reality is, a 10″ napkin does a perfectly serviceable job. And as much as I’d like to think otherwise, napkin fabric looks like, well, napkins.

I tried three methods of making my napkin hems.

First, I tried using my narrow hem foot because I was temporarily blinded by Gertie’s joy on finally figuring out how to use hers. I dutifully watched the tutorial done by BrianSews on Youtube. However, after sitting at my own machine, I remembered why I stopped using this *%^$ foot. Whereas Gertie’s hem looks amazing and smooth, mine looks like hell. It’s all great in the middle, but getting the starting edge is awful, and in napkins, there’s a lot of starting edges.  Here’s the results after several washings.

Narrow Hem Foot Strikes Again

I’m so glad I was reminded of why I hate my narrow hem foot before I decided to make a silk chiffon scarf with it.

Second, I tried Tasia’s method, which is very good. I am not as neat a sewist as she, and I found that starting and stopping for each of the 4 sides left some less than professional results for me. Again, the photo was taken after the napkin was washed a few times.

Multiply x 4 corners

Lastly, I investigated my store-bought napkins. They have simple mitered corners and are sewn in one go. Aha! For me, this was the best method. You start at the first corner, pivot at each corner with the needle in your fabric, and cross the first stitches when you get to the last side. Even after several times through the wash, they look darn good.

Start & Stop point

I noticed after washing that the corner started to fray and stick out under the stitching.

Clip the corner first before turning hem

So, I clipped the corner off of the fabric square (just a touch!), then pressed up the hems two times (to hide the raw edges), then sewed down the hem. Piece of cake. (Yes, please!)


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