Nine Minute Everyday Napkins Tutorial

January 3, 2012

For a while I have been using cloth napkins that I made using this mitered corner tutorial. I love using them- not only for the nice feeling they have or how much prettier my table looks, but because I know I am doing a small thing to help reduce waste.  A wise friend once told me that every little thing you do adds up to make a difference.  So although I could be doing MUCH more, here is small thing that helps and makes your table look prettier every night too!  I admit that I get pretty psyched about a nice looking table at dinner even when I am serving kid stuff all the time.

The napkins I made last year are great except making them was kinda a pain in the neck with all the ironing and looking for little folds, etc.  When I decided to give these as gifts for Christmas this year, I discovered an even faster way to do the corners which makes the whole project a snap!


UPDATE!  I have a youtube video I made to show clearly how to make these napkins.  If you prefer a video format for learning, this will work great for you!

Let’s begin by choosing our fabric and how much to use.   To switch your family over to fabric napkins you need to make at least 8 napkins and 12 is even better.  We have 5 in our family and 12 works great so that I wash every few days.  To make 12 you need 2.7 yards of 100% cotton fabric.  I like to make my napkins 16″ x 16″.  This is a good size for grown ups and kids.  If you have only grown ups and teenagers using the napkins, then you could go up to 18″ x 18″.  That is too big for the little hands in our house right now.

Using a rotary cutter, self healing mat, and a large clear plexiglass ruler, cut squares that are 16″ x 16″.  Try to make your squares as “square” as possible!

Love this idea? How about another?

Check out my design for a case that will hold your jewelry and make-up!


Next you will mark off a 45 degree angle on each corner of the fabric piece. Do this on the wrong side of the fabric. Most self healing mats will have markings to guide you. I just use a pencil to make this mark 1 inch down from the corner tip. I don’t like how chalk rubs off and you need to be able to see this line in several steps.


Make this mark on all 4 corners.

Fold the corner edge together (to make a right triangle) and put a pin through to mark the middle and hold it in place.


Below is the other side view of that pinned corner. See how the line is on both sides?


Now over to your sewing machine. Sew a short line from the fabric fold edge to the pin you placed in the middle of the line you made in the last step. Make sure you do a backstitch at the beginning and end of this small stitched line. It will only be about 1/2″.

Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 10.32.49 PM

You need to repeat this on all 4 corners. Instead of stopping and clipping my threads after each small corner stitch, I just give my piece a pull, make the thread long enough and move to the next corner. Then I just do all my thread cuts in the next step! Easy and time saving. See the picture below.


Next, with your scissors, clip off each corner about 3/16″ above your corner guide line. In this step, also clip off those threads from the stitches of the last step. Clip all 4 corners.


Looking for another napkin tutorial?

Here’s a fun twist with some “Mind Your Manners” napkins!

Use a chopstick or some type of blunt tip to poke each corner right side out like in the picture below.


Poke out all four corners and and napkin should look like the picture below. You are still working on the wrong side of the fabric.


Next over to your ironing board. You can see in the picture above how the corners make the edges of the napkin roll in. Use your fingers to pull it a little taunt and then iron that edge flat like in the picture below. The corners will not iron perfectly flat but that will work out in the next step.


Now that you have ironed all 4 sides, go back and fold that edge under again to make a hem that is about 3/8″ wide. Take advantage of how the edge naturally folds under from when you made the corner.


Iron the hem nice an flat. The corners should lay flat too. It there is a slight imperfection, don’t fuss too much since it works out nicely in the end.


See slight imperfection below? A bump after it has been ironed. But it will sew flat in the next step.


Now, if you feel like you can’t live without pins here, go ahead and use some, but i think it is easier to not use pins and let the fabric make natural adjustments as you sew around your edges. Begin a couple inches above one of your corners (starting at a corner usually ends up badly!), and sew around all four sides of your napkin until you overlap where you began. Clip your threads and move on the next napkin!


I made this batch of napkins as gifts for friends and family this year. I ironed them really well and then made some clip art which you are welcome to use for personal gifts too!

Download 6everyday napkins


I printed out the page on cardstock and then cut out the shapes. I then used a small hole punch and strung some bakers twine (yes! I am now officially a user of bakers twine. I don’t really get what the big deal is but since i bought so much, you’ll be seeing lots of it here!) through to make this cute presentation.


I actually did time myself and the napkin took only 9 minutes to make!! That will take a little practice but you will probably have it down by your 3rd napkin. If you make them assembly line style it could take even less time! 6 napkins in less than an hour is pretty awesome.

You may use this method to sell all the handmade napkins you would like. The clip art is for personal use only please! I hope this may be the final push to make those napkins you have been putting off making for yourself. Say goodbye to buying all those paper napkins and hello to pretty fabric and less waste!

Happy New Year friends!

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