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How to Make Your Own Cloth Napkins


When I saw my friend using cloth napkins, in an effort to green her kitchen table, I thought — Why buy? A quick Google-and-glance at a few DIY sites and I was off on a new green adventure!

I tried several designs, from square corners to finished zig zag edges before settling on a simple mitered corner for our family laptops..  Looking through my linen cupboard it was easy to find an old flat sheet that was decidedly too scratchy for sleeping but perfect for my first prototypes.

I decided on two sizes, a petite napkin for everyday use and a larger lap mat for more formal occasions.  I began by making my own napkin pattern template from a section of poster board left over from a school science project.  But you can use cardboard from an old box if that is what you have on hand.  I traced a 14 inch square on the poster board and cut it out carefully with scissors.  Then I used my poster square as a sewing pattern to cut out the napkin swatches from our old (freshly laundered) sheet.

I also made a second tiny template that would serve as my pattern for the mitered corner.  The right angle triangle is 1 1/16th inches across the bottom and ¾” inch on both sides.  Once I cut my squares I used my triangle template to clip off the four corners of each napkin.

A quick press with an iron to make sure the fabric is flat and I can begin ironing down my seams.  Start by folding the edge of the fabric down about 1/3rd of an inch from the edge and use your iron to press down this seam.  Continue to fold and press all four sides.

To make your final mitered corner, carefully fold the side down again by the same amount and press with the iron.  If you have measured well your two edges should fold down to make a perfect angled match in the middle of your corner point.  Press all four edges into perfect mitered corners with your iron and you are ready to sew!

Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine start from the seam of one of your corners and run the stitch down one side until you reach the seam of your next mitered edge.  With the needle still down into your fabric, lift the foot and rotate your napkin 90 degrees and place the foot back in place.  Continue your straight stitch down sides two, three and four in the same fashion.

A final press with the iron and you have your first energy efficient reusable napkin!

Not only are cloth napkins wonderful for everyday use but they make wonderful holiday gifts!

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