At our house, we've been exclusively using cloth napkins for a while now. I typically use quilting cotton for our "regular" napkins, so when I received the cotton and linen yardage from Britex, I almost felt guilty for using such incredible, beautiful fabric essentially for wiping dirty hands and mouths. But as I worked with the linen in particular, I came to the realization that I wasn't making a throw-away, disposable item; well-made table linens, from high-quality fabrics are the type of item one might inherit. That thought made me especially happy since I chose the linen fabric to coordinate with a set of German breakfast dishes handed down to me from my grandmother. How fitting!
Napkins come in all shapes and sizes, for all occasions. For more "casual" napkins, I sew a narrow hem and little miter corners. For formal, special occasion linen napkins, I use a wider hem and the traditional sewn miter corner. This tutorial shows you how to make both!
- rotary cutter, straight edge, and self-healing mat
- clear quilter's ruler
- fabric marking pencil
- seam gauge
- tiny crochet hook or point turner
- spray starch
First up, the casual napkin. I usually make these out of medium-weight cottons, that can be happily machine washed and dried. For these napkins, I used cherry red oxford shirting from Britex. The size of the napkins you want obviously determines how much fabric to buy, but to maximize the fabric usage, I typically make my dinner napkins around 17" square. This way, I can get 4 napkins out of a single yard of fabric. Fat quarter bundles work great for this size. For today's tutorial, I made cocktail-size napkins at 9" square, and could cut 8 napkins out of 3/4 yard (58" width).
For the casual napkin, if you want it X inch square, you must cut your fabric X+1 inch square to allow for 1/2" hem allowances on all sides. Iron the fabric carefully and cut the fabric precisely square.
Formal miter-corner napkins
pale wheat-colored fabric. For the size of square to cut, there are a couple of decisions to make: the size of your final napkin and the desired width of the edge hem. For my napkin, the final size is 15" (luncheon size) and the edge width is 1". So, add 15" + 2" + 1/2" (for 1/4" double hem on both sides) and the final length of each side should be 17 1/2". Measure and cut carefully.
As with the casual napkin, start off by pressing 1/4" around all four sides of the square. With linen, which has a more open weave, I found that spray starch is a necessity for keeping the fabric from distorting. Use liberally, following the directions, of course!
Britex Fabrics for supplying the lovely cotton and linen fabrics!