March 3, 2017
Handmade, reversible fabric napkins give a colorful touch to any home’s table décor. Even better, they can be used over and over again. Switching from paper to cloth napkins can make a sizable reduction in the amount of garbage that goes from your house to the landfill. A complete set of napkins takes just an hour or two to sew. Use seasonal fabrics to make special table settings for holidays or special occasions.
Sizes for Dinner Napkins, Luncheon Napkins, and Cocktail Napkins
Table napkins are usually made as squares. This makes it easy to fold them into interesting shapes. Dinner napkins are the largest. Luncheon napkins are somewhat smaller, and cocktail napkins are the smallest. Napkin sizes are flexible. Here are some suggested sizes for various types of napkins:
Dinner Napkin: 16”, 18”, 20, or 22” square
Luncheon Napkin: 12” or 14” square
Cocktail Napkin: 6” or 8” square
Supplies and Tools for Making Reversible Fabric Napkins
Here’s what you will need to make decorative table napkins:
(Optional) poster board or template plastic to cut out templates for the napkins.
Two coordinating cotton or linen fabrics. Quilting fabric is available in lots of wonderful colors and patterns. Avoid synthetic fabrics, because they are not as absorbent as natural fabrics.
All-purpose or quilting thread in a coordinating color.
(Optional) decorative thread for top-stitching the napkins.
Rotary cutting ruler.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Sewing Cloth Napkins
See the photos at the bottom of the article for a visual guide to making a cloth table napkin. Click on any of the photos to enlarge it. Here’s how to make a napkin:
(Optional) Cut a poster board or plastic template square for the napkins, adding a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides. (For an 18” x 18” finished napkin size, cut the fabric squares 18½” x 18½”.) Using a template makes it easier to cut out a whole set of napkins at once. A template also makes it easy to estimate if a piece of fabric is large enough to make the number of napkins you would like to make, without fussy calculations or measurements.
Cut out squares of the two fabrics, fabric. Cut the squares 1/2″ larger than the finished size to allow for a 1/4″ seam allowance on all four sides.
Layer two coordinating fabric squares with right sides facing each other.
Stitch all around the outer edge of the squares, using a ¼” seam allowance. Leave an opening on one side large enough to turn the napkin right side out — three or four inches for dinner-sized napkins.
Turn the napkin right side out and press, taking special care to fold under and press the raw edges of the open area.
Top stitch around the whole napkin to secure the layers together. Make sure the stitches catch the opening where the napkin was turned right side out. If your sewing machine has decorative stitches, this is a good time to use them.
The completed fabric napkin is now ready to use to make a special table setting. Why not make a complete set the next time you are invited to a party, or when you throw a party yourself?