How to Make Table Napkins

Debbie Williams

Things You'll Need

  • 1 1/4 yard fabric, 45 inches wide
  • Pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board

Cloth napkins can add a lot of character to your table. They can be made in a small amount of time with little investment in materials. In addition to being much nicer to use, cloth napkins are the ultimate in recycling -- they never seem to wear out! Cloth napkins vary in size from 14 inches square to 20 inches square; not surprisingly, the larger typically cost more when purchased in a store.

How to Make Table Napkins

Basic materials needed to make napkins.
Debbie Williams

Choose your fabric while keeping in mind which colors and patterns will help you achieve the style you want. Cotton is always a good choice, consider polyester and other synthetics for more formal occasions. Please see the last slide for a complete list of materials.

Square the fabric.
Debbie Williams

Wash and press the fabric before beginning construction. Line the selvage edge along the bottom straight edge of a cutting mat and trim the open edge along a vertical rule line to square the fabric.

Trim the selvages.
Debbie Williams

Trim the selvages from the fabric. Cut four 18-inch squares, checking with the rule lines of the cutting mat to insure accuracy.

Press in the hems.
Debbie Williams

Turn up a 1/2-inch hem on each side of the square and press. Fold 1/4-inch of the rough edge under to the fold, press, and pin in place.

Sew the hems.
Debbie Williams

Sew the hems close to the edge of the fold, running off at the end of the side.

Form the corners.
Debbie Williams

Work in a clockwise manner, starting each side again and folding the previous hem into the fold of this side.

You should have square corners.
Debbie Williams

Trim the excess threads from the corners and press the hems again.

Perfectly square!
Debbie Williams

Check your work to be sure the napkin is square.


  • When using cotton, always purchase a little extra fabric to allow for shrinking.

    A clear quilting ruler can be invaluable in cutting smaller pieces of fabric accurately.