DIY Reusable Cloth Napkins

Cloth Napkins are Reusable & Cost Effective

Those two reasons alone are great reasons to use them.

Unlike disposable paper napkins, cloth napkins are washable, reusable, and available in more designs which means you can match them to your personal decor, event, or holiday!

They look & feel nicer, and they can spruce up your dining table with a little added visual interest. Paper napkins don’t offer any of that. They are simply… boooooring & wasteful.

Being washable and reusable means you’ll save money in the long run (but not that long) while helping out the environment. They might cost a little more initially but they’re still affordable, and even more so if you make them yourself.

Think of them as investments because they really are, so let’s say goodbye to paper napkins since I’m going to walk you through how to make your own 8 x 8 inch cloth napkins quickly and easily.

I’ll be using my Spoonflower fill-a-yard 8×8 inch swatch sampler (cotton or linen) but if you don’t have a Spoonflower account don’t worry. You’ll just need some cotton or linen fabric & you’ll have the option to make larger napkins if you’d like.

If you also have some 8×8 inch swatch samplers stashed away in a closet pull them out & let’s make them into more than dust collectors!

What You’ll Need:

  • 8×8 inch Spoonflower swatch samples OR 1 yard (36 x 54 in) of cotton or linen fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Something long and thin like a pen or paint brush
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sewing clips or pins
  • Iron & ironing board

Steps for Sewing Your Cloth Napkins

Step 1

First, wash & iron your fabric. You can tumble dry on low heat or air dry. This will reduce the amount of any warping that may occur later.

Keep in mind that if you throw them in the dryer you’ll have some shrinkage. The instructions below will still apply but the size of your fabric might be a little smaller.

Step 2

If you’re using Spoonflower fabric add 1/4 inch around each sample and cut out each square. Once cut they should measure approximately 8.5 x 8.5 inches.

If you’re using a yard of your own fabric:

  • Just fold your fabric in half so it measures 36 x 27 inches and lay it flat.
  • Draw a grid that covers the entire half of your fabric with each section measuring 8.5 x 8.5 inches. You’ll end up with 12 sections.
  • Then cut out an 8×8 inch template and trace it around the center of each grid. This will be where you’ll eventually sew the pieces together.
Using your own fabric and not an 8 x 8 test swatch? Use this example to lay out how to cut your fabric for your cloth napkins.

Now pin each 8.5 x 8.5 inch section to the other half of the fabric which is behind it. Cut out each section.

You’re now ready to sew so you can skip to step 4.

Step 3

The next few steps are for Spoonflower test swatches…

Your napkins will be double-sided so grab your cut fabric and pair up your designs facing each other. You can also use solid color fabric cut to the same size if you prefer.

Then clip the pairs of fabric together. Hold them up to the light if you want to make sure you’re lining the designs up, otherwise you may end up with a little bit of white around the edges where you may not want them.

Step 4

It’s now time to sew the pieces together! Use a straight stitch to sew 3 sides together. Sew the 4th side in the same manner but leave a gap about 2 inches long. If you’re comfortable leaving the 4th side open to be folded in & sewn later that is fine too.

I made this cloth napkin below from a solid cotton fabric from Joanne’s & you can see that I drew in my lines to see where I needed to sew & left a little gap:

When you’re sewing your Spoonflower test swatches together btw, be mindful of white border. If you want to be sure it doesn’t show when you flip your fabric inside out, sewing just a bit over your design, which you should be able to see, will help.

Step 5

Once you’ve sewn all of your napkins together, trim the corners to get rid of a little bulk.

Step 6

Turn your napkins inside-out and use your pencil or paint brush with a thin handle to poke the corners into shape.

I left the 4th side open but you may find sewing all but 2″ will be easier for you.

Step 7

Next, iron your napkins so they’re flat for the next step. Fold the openings of your cloth napkins towards the inside and iron those down as well & clip them closed.

Step 8

You’re almost done! Sew the gap closed using a simple straight stitch then continue all the way around your napkin about 1/4″ or so from the edge.

…and now, your napkins are good to go!

Now you have some cute washable and reusable cloth napkins that you can keep for yourself, gift to a friend or neighbor, or sell on Etsy!

As I mentioned earlier, these are 8×8 inches, and they’re perfect for me since I don’t get too messy when eating… at least I don’t think I’m messy 😊. Give me a plate of ribs however and I’ll be in dire need of the largest napkin available!

If you’d rather use your cloth napkins for other things you can fold them into quarters and set your glass on it, use them for simple clean ups, set a small dish on top of it, or cover a small dish of pastries or bread. You could also fold them into a triangle and hold your sandwich or burrito in them. You can really get creative with ideas!

If you’ve used your Spoonflower test swatches to create your napkins it will feel great to turn them into something cute and useful. Mine were literally collecting dust but now they have a new purpose in life, lol.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tutorial & if you want to make a matching tea towel to go with your new cloth napkins hop on over to my diy tea towel post!

❤️ Happy sewing!

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Sewing Tutorial for Reusable Cloth Napkins using Spoonflower Test Swatches text and a photo of the swatches.
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