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Cloth Napkin Tutorial

This DIY cloth napkin tutorial takes the absolute beginner through a simple sewing tutorial and will teach you how to sew corners perfectly! These make great hostess gifts with or without monograms.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial - How to Sew a Dinner Napkin

Cloth Napkin Tutorial – Dinner Napkin DIY

One of the things I’ve always purchased but never made were cloth dinner napkins and table runners. Silly, right? Silly because they are easy to make if you know a few shortcuts.

How to Sew Dinner Napkins by Ruffles and Rain Boots

How to Make Cloth Napkins (and Who Wants Them)

This dinner napkin gift is for those people who love having a coordinated table. It is for the aunt, sister, mother or friend who loves hosting people for any dinner, but who becomes ecstatic when they get to host a big family get together.

And we all have the friend who loves anything monogrammed. Help each of them expand their table linens with customized DIY dinner napkins.

RELATED READING: Make The Easiest Throw Pillow Covers EVER

If you are a sewing beginner, do this project. You will get such a rush from delivering a project with straight hems and wonderfully pointy corners. Do this to get a boost that will keep you inspired and sewing. Trust me – just do this one. Can you tell I’m still kind of riding the high here?

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A Word About Fabric

Obviously, you can purchase any type of fabric for this cloth napkin tutorial, but let me offer a word of caution: although it might look great in your photos or on Pinterest, no one likes wiping their face with burlap, ya’ll.

barbed wire shot from picjumbo

There are blends that will work, but stick to woven and relatively soft fabrics unless you’re just setting up a photo shoot. If you want to bring working fabrics like burlap into your table (or to coordinate with a gift recipient’s table), here are a few ideas:

  1. adding handmade burlap napkin rings.
  2. gifting your cotton napkins wrapped up with a working fabric collar (stack flat-folded napkins and secure with a thick swatch of your desired fabric).
  3. create a wrap with your working fabric for the bottle of wine you’re bringing along with your handmade cloth napkins.

Supplies for Cloth Dinner Napkin Sewing Tutorial

  • 1.5 yards fabric – I purchased a nice, thick 100% cotton home decor weight fabric. You can go the simple route and get white or go bold and get a pattern you think your recipient would like.
  • sewing machine and supplies, iron
  • fabric paint or fabric markers, optional – I use Tulip Fabric Paint in Metallic Black and Tulip Fabric Markers Fine Tip

Instructions – Simple Cloth Napkin Tutorial

Yield: cloth napkins

Cloth Napkin Tutorial

DIY Dinner Napkin Tutorial

This DIY cloth napkin tutorial takes the absolute beginner through a simple sewing tutorial and will teach you how to sew corners perfectly! These make great hostess gifts with or without monograms.

Active Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Materials

  • 1.5 yards fabric - I purchased a nice, thick 100% cotton home decor weight fabric. You can go the simple route and get white or go bold and get a pattern you think your recipient would like
  • fabric paint or fabric markers, optional - I use Tulip Fabric Paint in Metallic Black and Tulip Fabric Markers Fine Tip

Tools

  • sewing machine and supplies, iron

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry fabric per instructions for the material, but skip any fabric softener.
  2. Cut squares of fabric at 20.5 inches, but don't put the iron away just yet.
  3. Once you have all squares cut, fold over all edges a half inch and iron. Then fold them over another half inch and iron. You are hiding the raw edge of the fabric with this to prevent fraying.
  4. You can either do a full mitered corneror what I call tuck-and-fold corners. The difference between the two methods is that the tuck-and-fold method does not remove the fabricin the corners. I have commercially-made linens that have both, so I really think it's your preference. The tuck and fold and mitered methods both use the creases you just made by ironing the 1/2 inch hems. This method to sew corners is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy though, and you don't have to worry about cutting fabric incorrectly. Here's how: leaving all other hems intact, unfold your hem completely on one side of the napkin - you should have two crease lines. Fold up the corner to the 2nd hemline (from the edge). Fold up the hem twice and iron. Pin in place until sewn. Repeat on the other end (of the same side).
  5. Repeat all ironing and pinning for the rest of your napkins. Take it to the machine and stitch at the inner edge of the hem (not the outside edge of the napkin). I stitch down the folded corner, too.
  6. Voilà! You're done making the cloth napkins and you're awesome.
  7. How to Paint a Monogram Dinner Napkin
  8. If you are painting your DIY cloth napkins, after they've been painted and the paint has cured, give them a wash followed by an ironing. Use full mitered corneror a full mitered cornerwith acrylic paint.

Did you make this?

Please leave a comment or share a photo and tag me @rufflesandrain

Wash and dry fabric per instructions for the material, but skip any fabric softener.

Get out your iron. Don’t run away! Listen, I know ironing stinks. But when you make gifts for people and it calls for ironing, just do like I do and pretend you’re Donna Reed (donning pearls is optional, but makes it sooooo much more fun).

So set up that ironing board in front of the television after the little ones have gone to bed and iron your little heart out. You will thank me for it, I promise. Not only does it make the sewing part of this project fly by – think Top Gun fast, folks – but it also makes for a professional-looking end result. Swanky cloth napkins? Yes, please.

RELATED READING: Whip Up These Easy Lavender Sachets to WOW! Everyone

Fabric Cuts

Cut squares of fabric at 20.5 inches, but don’t put the iron away just yet.

Once you have all squares cut, fold over all edges a half inch and iron. Then fold them over another half inch and iron. You are hiding the raw edge of the fabric with this to prevent fraying.

How to Make Dinner Napkins by Ruffles and Rain Boots

How to Sew a Perfect Corner

Corners. Tricky sometimes, yes, but not for these cloth napkins. You can either do a full mitered corner or what I call tuck-and-fold corners. I’m sure there’s a real name out there somewhere, I just don’t know what it is. The difference between the two methods is that the tuck-and-fold method does not remove the fabric in the corners. I have commercially-made linens that have both, so I really think it’s your preference.

The tuck and fold and mitered methods both use the creases you just made by ironing the 1/2 inch hems. This method to sew corners is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy though, and you don’t have to worry about cutting fabric incorrectly. Here’s how:

  • Leaving all other hems intact, unfold your hem completely on one side of the napkin – you should have two crease lines.
  • Fold up the corner to the 2nd hemline (from the edge).
  • Fold up the hem twice and iron. Pin in place until sewn. Repeat on the other end (of the same side).

How to Sew Neat Corners by Ruffles and Rain Boots

How to Sew a Dinner Napkin

Repeat all ironing and pinning for the rest of your napkins. Take it to the machine and stitch at the inner edge of the hem (not the outside edge of the napkin). IStitch down the folded corner, too. I like to make sure it’s not going anywhere. See? Isn’t this a simple cloth napkin tutorial? You’re almost done!

Stitch down the corners

Voilà! You’re done making the cloth napkins and you’re awesome.

If you are not painting the napkins, go ahead and give them another iron before wrapping them up. You should also think about running a lint brush over them.

How to Paint a Monogram Dinner Napkin

If you are painting your DIY cloth napkins, after they’ve been painted and the paint has cured, give them a wash followed by ironing. Use full mitered corner or a full mitered corner with acrylic paint,

I think it’s good to include a small card that details washing instructions if you paint the fabric. Or you could opt to launder them after every use, you wonderful friend, you. If you offer that with your gift, let’s be friends. I have some laundry you should meet.

Speaking of being friends: are we friends on Pinterest yet? If you’d like, go ahead and Pin the photo below to share it with your friends and followers.

collage of handmade monogram napkin with text which reads beginner tutorial for how to sew cloth napkins with perfect corners

 

Winnie

Monday 31st of August 2015

Thank you for this tutorial!! Our holiday-season is already here and we have some big family-dinners coming up, and I'd just loooooooove to have these cloth-napkins. Very elegant

Aimee - ItsOverflowing.com

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

I totally love monograms -- perfect! Featuring you tomorrow. XO, Aimee

Sarah Nenni-Daher

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Thank you so much, Aimee! See you at the party.

Rebecca

Monday 15th of December 2014

Even though I'm really late in the game and JUST saw this post (catching up :[) I am so glad I popped in because that Leo meme is everything I've ever needed in my life and more lol

Sarah Nenni-Daher

Monday 15th of December 2014

It's amazing to me how many people are digging that Leo meme! :) Thanks for coming by, Rebecca. I know you're super busy and have your hands full of that little cutie!

Susan @ 2 cats & chloe

Thursday 4th of December 2014

I needed this tutorial so badly last month for Thanksgiving! Love this look for a festive holiday dinner! :) You should join me on Tuesdays for the Celebrate Southern link up I host over at www.2catsandchloe.com for some southern-inspired posts. You don't have to be a southern blogger to join, this post would be a perfect fit! :)

Sarah Nenni-Daher

Thursday 4th of December 2014

Thanks, Susan. I'll be sure to check out your party!

Kathy

Wednesday 3rd of December 2014

I'm pretty sure I already left a message - but, just in case! I love your tutorial - this is a great gift idea - I will be featuring your post in this week's Home and Garden Thursday! :) Kathy

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