How to Make Your Own Cloth Napkins

Cloth Napkins D

This is a guest post from Nicki at Domestic Cents. Nicki writes about all things domestic, frugal and crafty.

Our family used to use a LOT of paper napkins and paper towels. We used them at every meal time and we used them generously. I don’t like greasy fingers and I especially don’t like those fingers wiped on clothing. The rate that we went through paper towels and napkins was beginning to be ridiculous. I was purchasing large packages of them far too frequently.

Paper napkins bothered me for two reasons:

1. Using them was very wasteful.
2. Purchasing them constantly was cutting into my food budget.

We’re pretty casual people so cloth napkins hadn’t really crossed my mind for our home. They felt too formal for us. I decided to give them a try anyway because they seemed like a good solution to me. After using them for a couple years now I can confidently tell you that I was wrong. They work great for us and they don’t have to be formal at all. In fact, I have a set with polka dots on them – very fun.

I’ve never purchased any because they are simple to sew yourself, even without a sewing machine. I picked up some remnant fabric to make the set I’m about to show you but you can really think outside the box with these. Do you have sheets or pillowcases that you no longer use? How about a men’s collared shirt? Do you have old curtains shoved into a linen closet? Any of these things could be washed, cut and sewn into cloth napkins. Get creative. To avoid using napkin rings, each person could have a different-looking napkin. Maybe you could make one with a funny pattern for your younger kids and help your hubby feel more manly by choosing something with a cool logo on it. It’s completely up to you.

Here’s what you need:

* (1) 18″ square of fabric for each napkin
* Thread, to match the fabric if you like
* Needle or sewing machine
* scissors
* pins
* iron
* ironing board

Here’s what you do:

1. Cut however many napkins you’d like to make.

2. Iron out any wrinkles then iron each corner over half an inch, then half an inch again. Like this:
Cloth Napkins 1
3. Stay at the iron and iron over each side half an inch, then half an inch again, just like you did with the corners.
Cloth Napkins 2
This should make the corners form a pointy triangle.
Cloth Napkins 3
4. Pin around each side to secure.

5. Sew it. Use either a sewing machine or sew by hand. Be sure to secure each corner and back stitch at the beginning and end so they will hold up well when they’re washed.

6. Iron your final product and voila!

Cloth Napkins E

Thing to note:
*You can make these any size you like. Your beginning square just needs to be 2″ larger than the size you’d like your final product.
*Are you good at embroidery? (No? Neither am I.) If you are, consider embroidering each person’s initial in the corner of their own napkin.

For more fun and easy projects, check out Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures, by Amanda Blake Soule.



  1. Wonderful! I’ve been hesitant about sewing my own napkins because I always thought they should have a rolled hem — which isn’t hard, but it certainly was a barrier. This was looks much more approachable.

    These can also be used as handkerchiefs, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  2. Nicki,

    This is great! I love to sew but I’m NOT a sewer! I’ve wanted to make cloth napkins as gifts but still haven’t. Your instructions are great and I LOVE how you make the corners pointy by folding them over so obvious once you point it out! I know what some people are getting for Christmas this year. Thanks! 🙂

  3. I love this! We use cloth wipes for our kids, but my husband and I need something to wipe our fingers on, too. And I have a couple collared shirts that have been waiting to be repurposed…

  4. I really like how Nikki showed how to do the corners – it makes them look very professional. Great idea to monogram a little initial for each family member.

  5. Oh, man! I just took some men’s shirts to Good Will and they would have been perfect for this. I like the way you did the corners. I’m not a very comfortable sewer, so this looks like a great project. If I get good at these I might buy some bamboo terry and make Christmas presents. Thanks!

  6. Hello
    I see from looking on the internet, there are other ways of doing a mitered corner, but yours is the easiest. Thank you.

  7. Hello
    Is your finished size 16 inches ?
    I love having and using fabric napkins.

  8. Hi there, this weekend is fastidious in favor of me, as
    this moment i am reading this great informative article here at my residence.

  9. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you
    hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got this from.



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