Nine Minute Everyday Napkins Tutorial

Posted by on January 3, 2012 in gift, printable, sewing, tutorial | 40 comments

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.  Don’t get me wrong, that Katy is brilliant!  I also used the same method to make my scrap color baby quilt backing.  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 ruler, cut squares that are 16″ x 16″.  Try to make your squares as “square” as possible!

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.


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.  Napkin12

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!



  1. This is such a nice idea! I know this is an absolutely dorky request, but can you please do a tutorial on how to use all those funky quilting rulers like the one in this tutorial??? Those things make me feel like I’m back in college algebra again. Heeelllp!

  2. Ooh fun, thanks for the great idea!

  3. Fantastic tutorial – thanks for sharing. I see lots of these napkins in my future!

  4. those are adorable and I love the way you did the corners!!! The little tag is so cute too! I know what I’m making for christmas next year (and every hostess gift in between!)!!

  5. Love this! Now, do you have any thoughts on material. Do you just use a quilter cotton, polyester blend? Does it matter? I’ve had this on my to do list for 3 months and now I’m going to try it!

  6. Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I can see myself making tons of these as gifts (and for me!). I’m really excited to try them.

  7. I will definitely use this tip. How handy for great corners. Thanks!

  8. I might give these a try. I just wrote down that we need more cloth napkins around here. I’d like to do some in fun fabric. I’ll let you know how it goes if I do it.

  9. Wow! that is so clever! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. I’m saving this idea for this year’s CHristmas gifts. Hope you won’t mind me pinning it to Pinterest for reference. Many thanks again!

  11. Wow these look awesome! i will definitely have to have a go. Thanks for the tutorial.

  12. I would love to make some in all your beautiful fabrics!!! That would really make the table look nice. Today is Annes b-day. I am doing a penguin party for just the cousins. It is so obnoxious! I love it 🙂

  13. thanks Jen-

  14. I love this tutorial! Thank you for sharing.

  15. I’ve been giving 2 cloth napkins as wedding gifts for the last few years. And I have a stash of about a dozen that I use.

  16. Thanks for posting. I made a set of 8 after dinner one night and plan on making a few more for give-a-ways! It’s a great way to use funky fabrics!

  17. Thanks great idea and what a wonderful hostess gift.

  18. Thanks Jacquie! Hope you get to make some soon 🙂

  19. Great instructions. I love setting a table using cloth napkins when we entertain and have been doing this for years. The idea of making my own makes my color palate endless. Can’t wait to start. Thanks…

  20. HI,

    I’m trying to make these napkins, but I think I’m doing something wrong. I have folded over all the edges and corners and I’m ready to sew. But if I just sew around the square, there is some left unsewn at each corner. Am I supposed to miter the corners? I’d appreciate your help.

  21. What an awesome tutorial! I just wanted to thank you for your time, effort & inspiration. I have some lovely new napkins… WhooHoo!!

  22. Love these! Can’t wait to make a stack for my house. I can’t open the file for the tags, is there another way to access it? I would love to make some as gifts. THANKS!

  23. That technique for the corners is seriously brilliant! I just used it and couldn’t believe how easy it was and how well it worked. Thank you so much!

  24. Thank you for the very helpful tutorial. I am so glad that googled Napkin Tutorials to before I started my napkin project.

    I like your blog. This is the first time that I have read your blog.

  25. Brilliant…I love this trick and I’m going to try this. Cloth napkins have been on my “to-do” list for a while!! Thanks for sharing!

  26. I just bought fabric for a new set of napkins and I was slightly dreading all of the pinning and such. I’m a very novice sewer. I am so excited to make my next set now!! Thank you for a great method and tutorial!

  27. Thanks so much for sharing this. I´m going to try it!

  28. Thanks for this tutorial! I love how easy the napkins were to make. 🙂

  29. I love using cloth napkins and use to make them especially for the holidays, but this is the best method I’ve seen. Thank you so much for the miter corner tutorial. It is so easy and neat! Wish I knew about it years ago when I needed 12 napkins for the holidays.

  30. If you cut them into exact 16″x”16″ squares wont this bring them down some in size?
    I actually need 18′ x 18″ napkins and not sure if I should cut at 18 and 1/2″ or 18 and 1/4″ inch to get the actual 18″ x 18″ I need. Any help?

    • hi Jennifer! The solution for you would be to cut them 18.5” x 18.5”. then you would have an 18” napkin in the end.


  32. Do you wash the fabric before sewing into the napkin? I really love this idea!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  33. What a handy way of hemming these! Thank you!

    Right out of college I lived in Southeast Asia for a couple of years. Paper napkins weren’t so readily available, so we used cloth napkins every meal in the family I stayed with. To cut down on laundering we each had a different napkin ring. That way we always knew which napkin was our own. When the napkin was too soiled we could get a fresh one, but this way we didn’t need to put barely used napkins in the laundry.

  34. Do you prewash the fabric? What type of fabric do you use?

    • yes! prewash the fabric.

  35. thanks you so much for the tutorial. I have been making napkins for a long time and this is the best way I have seen
    I have a dozen to make and this will definitely make the job fast and easy.
    thanks again. I will check your site mor often. Happy days to you and yours
    Gayle Z

  36. Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. I used it to make 200 20 inch muslin napkins for my son’s October 7, 2017 wedding, which was held in an old warehouse. The cost of purchasing/renting “rustic” napkins was unbelievable. It was more cost effective to purchase muslin online, and I used the Quilt in a Day 22″ square up ruler to make the perfectly sized 20″ napkins. It was a labor of love for this total DIY wedding. My husband made pallet wood walls, donut boards, hexagon wall decor, my father made a custom metal cross, rusty and galvanized metal table numbers, and a “whale” shaped brand that we heated and branded whales on some of the wood items….the couple collect whales. We all worked closely with the brides family to bring the rustic yet romantic wedding together. Imagine my dismay when the wedding coordinator put all the napkins in a black trash bag and they were accidentally thrown in the trash!!!! Thankfully my husband made the hour drive the next day and retrieved them!!!! Love this tutorial! Thanks again!!

  37. Yay, been wanting to make “tea towels” from some 1950s tablecloths, but the corners made me hesitate. This is great, thank you.

  38. Thank you!!!
    I’ve been searching high and low for a tutorial showing how to make these without all the precision ironing prep work all the others seem to need!
    I was ready to give up and make them 2 layers when I finally stumbled onto your video on YouTube!
    Thank you!!!

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