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Did you know the paper napkin made its debut in 1887? While that’s quite historical, we still prefer the cloth napkin. And, making your own festive fabric napkins for a party – or just for everyday – is a fun and easy way to spruce up a place setting.

Fabric napkins are super simple to make, and you can mix and match fabrics so each guest has his or her own unique pattern. It takes just ½ yard of 45″ wide fabric to make two napkins!

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric(s) for napkins: ½ yard of 45″ width fabric will yield two napkins (1½ yards of fabric total for six napkins); we originally used Heather Bailey’s Freshcut in Cabbage Rose-brown, Finery-pink and Painted Mum-olive/gold.
  • All purpose thread in matching or contrasting colors for hemming edges
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric marker, pen or tailor’s chalk for drawing on fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. Use your see-through ruler and pencil to draw out two squares that are 18″ x 18″ onto the fabric. See the layout diagram below.
  2. Cut along drawn lines.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Create a ¼” double hem along all four sides of one fabric square. To do this, fold in ¼” and press, then fold another ¼” and press, encasing the raw edge within the fold.
  2. Topstitch along ¼” folded edge along all four edges of napkin, staying close to the inner fold and pivoting at the corners.
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 for each napkin you wish to make. Finished napkin size will be 17″ x 17″ square.

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Hints and Tips

Military corners

Here’s a great tip for making nice sharp corners when topstitching: work with the needle in the down position – through your fabric. Some machines, such as the Janome models we use in our studios, have a needle up/down selector button; that’s really handy because then the machine remembers so you don’t have to. When you get to the corner and are about to turn to topstitch the next edge, stop with the needle down through the fabric, lift the presser foot, and turn the napkin 90˚ to line up the next edge, using the needle as a pivot point.

Want a fancier corner? Take a look at our tutorial for Narrow Hems with Neat Diagonal Corners.

Easy ribbon ties

We used inexpensive grosgrain ribbon in bright coordinated colors to tie up the napkins, but you can also just simply fold the napkins.

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Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation & Instructions: Gregory Dickson

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