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Can you bring me a napkin?

Sound familiar? I hear it all the time. Good news is we use napkins, but bad news is we go through a lot of them (even when they’re just paper towels torn in half). Since there’s no shortage of fabric in my stash, I thought I’d get some done for us, and maybe gifts for a too-s00n-to-be-mentioned holiday coming up in a few months.

There’s plenty of tutorials for napkins, but I do have some hints that make it easier to get napkins you’ll use when the in-laws are visiting.

#1: Prewash your fabric, please. Even if you never do it normally, now is the exception. We want flat, square napkins that will stay looking neat and tidy. Prewashing is critical.

#2: Napkins can be made from either yardage or fat quarters. Whichever you choose, layer and cut the fronts & backs at the same time. Why? Unless you have a 20″ square ruler, you’re going to be using the measurements and/or gridlines on a cutting mat to cut. That’s a problem if you want to sew together pieces that are EXACTLY the same size. No matter how careful you are, cutting to the lines on the mat is going to introduce variation.

I cut my squares 17″, and then sewed right sides together with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. I started on one edge of the opening (for turning), backstitched and then stitched OFF THE EDGE. No pivoting.

Remove from the machine, cut the thread, and turn 90 degrees to start stitching the 2nd side.

#3: Fold the seam allowance down (along the stitching line) and sew the next side.

Repeat sewing off the edge, then folding and sewing the seam allowances down for all 4 sides, leaving the opening on the fourth side for turning.

Don’t clip corners. Slide your finger into the corner, and using your thumb on the outside, fold and pinch press the 2nd seam allowance over while flipping the corner right side out. It may take a little practice, but it’ll give you perfect square corners.

Turn, working each corner, and then smoothing the sides. Press, including the opening. Don’t hesitate to use a little starch to get cooperation.

#4: I prefer two rows of top stitching. I think it makes a napkin that washes better and stays flat. The first is 1/8″ from the edge, and the 2nd is about 1/2″ from the edge (or 3/8″ from the first line).

Enjoy!

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. thanks for the great tutorial, sandie! i’ve been meaning to make some napkins and figured it would be super simple, but i love your little tricks to making them nice and neat. yay!

    July 8, 2013
  2. these are wonderful, thanks for sharing your little corner trick. I’m so giving it a try.

    July 8, 2013
  3. Grace #

    Thank you for the tutorial! A great way to use stash fabrics that I don ‘t want to usefor patchwork.

    July 8, 2013
  4. Wonderful napkin tutorial! Clear and concise. Will definitely adding napkins to the list. Great pressies. Thanks so much for sharing.

    July 9, 2013
  5. This is such a super tutorial, and not a method I’ve used or heard of before. I can’t wait to give it a go! Thank you!

    January 30, 2014
    • Thanks, Letty! Looking forward to hearing how it works for you. 😉

      And welcome to the Seattle MQG, too!

      January 31, 2014
  6. Thanks for these tips! I’ve been thinking about making napkins and these seem so much neater than trying to roll a hem, serging or plain hemming, It seems like these would remain square and not pull out at the corners from the other hemming methods. Thanks again!

    April 7, 2015
    • You’re very welcome. We love ours, and they get daily use which other methods I’ve used don’t seem to hold up to. Thanks for visiting!

      April 7, 2015
  7. HardestyMom01 #

    You do beautiful work! Thank you for the tips. My family has been using cloth napkins since we were a family of 4 (2009). Now we are a family of 7. You have inspired me to make more. This time I will sew doubled sided napkins also, but will use terry on one side.

    November 10, 2015

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