Friday, 24 April 2009

Easy Cloth Napkins

IMG_3163, originally uploaded by

I really admire individuals who make every gift for every person in their life, but that's just not me. I'm trying to make more gifts myself and this one is relatively easy and inexpensive.

I wanted an easy, green gift for my mother's day that would be used as much as it was loved and these cloth napkins seemed like the perfect solution. I made six napkins for my mother and six for my mother-in-law using similar patterned fabrics so that I could use the same solid fabric to coordinate with both.

I used:

  • 2 fat quarters of patterned fabric (I chose darker fabrics because stains happen and they'll be less noticeable)

  • 1 yard of Navy Kona Cotton

  • 1 full spool of navy cotton thread


  • Pins

  • Rotary Cutter

  • Cutting Mat

  • Sewing Machine (although it's a small project and could easily be done by hand)

  • Ruler

Step 1:

I made two different sizes of napkins to see which I preferred. The larger napkins are 14 by 14 inches and the smaller are 12 by 12 inches.


I cut three napkins from each of the patterned fabrics and six napkins from the solid. (Each napkin set will ultimately have six napkins, three patterned and three solid)

Step 2:

Sew a line 1/4 inch from the edge of your fabric all the way around the fabric. I prefer continuous lines so you don't have a lot of thread tails to deal with.

Napkins for Mother's Day

Step 3:

On the solid napkins I wanted to add an accent of the patterned to pull the two together. Using the remnants I cut strips 2 inches wide by 14 inches (or 12 inches) long.

I folded the raw edges under 1/4 inch on both sides and the sewed the strips a couple inches up from the bottom of the napkin. I used my 1/4 inch foot as a guide to ensure I got a nice straight line when I said the patterned strip to the solid fabric.


Step 4:

Now you want to iron the raw edge over using the thread as a guide (make the sure the thread is ironed over so it doesn't show.


Then fold it over again and iron it down so the raw edge is completely turned under.

Step 5:

I went ahead and pinned it down all the way around although with ironing it you might be able to get away with skipping this step.


When you pin or iron make sure you create crisp corners when folding over the fabric so that you can sew all the way around the napkin at once.


Step 6:

Using your presser foot as a guide sew 1/4 inch from the edge of your napkin.


When you start and when you go around the corners your sewing machine may struggle a bit with all those layers. I pushed a bit harder on my foot but made sure that I was guiding the fabric through slowly.

In no time at all your napkin will look like this


Step 7:

I don't have one of those fancy machines that knots and cuts the thread for you so I had to do that by hand. By going all the way around your napkins whenever you are stitching you end up with a lot less threads to deal with!

The napkins at the top are for my mother-in law and the ones below are for my mom. Now all I need to do is get these in the mail so I don't forget!


Do you have any beginner sewing projects that would make good gifts? I've got a year of holidays left to plan for and could certainly use the ideas :)


Karen L R said...

check out The Impatient Patchworker, by Jayne Emerson and also, Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. Try your library!

Pat aka Posh said...

Those are very beautiful.. I especially like the way you used the print and solid and accented the solid one with a stripe to match.
How about making some coasters and trivets for gifts. their always appreciated.

Toria said...

Beautiful napkins, I love your fabric selections.

I made a teapot mat for my mother in law last christmas which was pretty easy (& much appreciated by her). It's on my blog, with more details of how I made it in the comments.

susaninfrance/texas said...

I bought some natural linen ($6/yd) and then accented it with scraps similar to what you did here and then made large tea towels. They looked great. one per person was enough.

Toria said...

Some more easy sewing projects that would make nice gifts:

Tracy has a stack of tutorials, just scroll down, the list in on the left hand side.

linda said...

Very nice!I think these gifts will be cherished.
Simple cloth grocery bags are easy enough if you want to make gifts. I don't think you need to purchase a pattern for them either (have seen tuts on how to make a pattern by taking apart paper grocery bags).

Kimmer said...

Tote bags (zilllions of tutes out there), but I'd also like to make coasters.

Annette said...

I love the napkins! And your directions are very concise. Thank you. =) I will try my hand at those this weekend.

jimmycrackedcorn said...

So which size was better? 12 or 14? :)

Laurie said...

I featured you over on Tip Junkie today for your Mother's Day gift idea. Thank you so much for the inspriation.

nicola said...

your napkins are gorgeous! i made felted wool coasters as a gift. i will be posting about it on my own blog early next week. also, a felted wool cup cozy, although you can sew these as well. for a reader, a sewn book mark is always special and useful.

libby said...

Thanks for the instructions. I'm a very new sewer (only had a few lessons) and managed to make these for my Mum for Mothers Day. I was so happy how they turned out.
Guess what everyone will be getting for gifts this year?
Thanks again.


Susan said...

I've made cloth napkins for years, as gifts and for our home--some of the ones we still use regularly are 15 years old! But I love the way you used two different fabrics for each set and accented the solids. Your napkins are beautiful!