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Easy how to sew a napkin is a beginners project with a professional look!
Environmentally paper napkins really are not a good thing. They might be pretty and they might be convenient but cloth napkins are in the long run much less expensive and less harmful to the environment.
Nice napkins can be pricey!
And besides, cloth napkins are so much more chic! There are times that you want something a bit more special to commemorate an occasion or just to dress things up a bit. It might be blush pink napkins to complete the decor of a bridal luncheon or it might be patterned turkey napkins that would be fun at Thanksgiving.
What ever the reason or the occasion it is very easy to make table napkins with just a few sewing skills. If you have a stash of cotton fabric then the cost of these is only the thread and the time that they take to make!
What ever fabric you chose to use you must pre-treat it by washing it and drying it. This will shrink it so there will be no unexpected surprises the first time they are washed. Dinner napkins tend to be 18 to 20 inches square. Everyday napkins usually are no smaller than 12 inches.
Start by cutting out all of your fabric using a ruler and pencil to measure well. You could squeeze three napkins across out of a 42 -44 inch wide fabric (they will be 14 inches square without hems). Or two large dinner napkins of 20 inches and you will have a scrap of fabric left over.
If you are lucky enough to have some 100% cotton upholstery fabric that is 54 inches wide you can make 3 napkins across of 17 or 18 inches. (This is what I am going to be using. I was fortunate enough to get several yards of this at a thrift store for a few dollars! I thought it would look great on the table when we had brunch on the boat...well, if we had a boat.)
You will be turning an edge over 1/2 an inch on all sides and ironing it well.
It is the ironing that is the trick to making this look professional. You will need crisp edges for your folds.
You are going to unfold your 1/2 inch fold and make a 1/4 inch fold from the edge and tuck the 1/4 inch fold inside of the 1/2 inch fold and iron. (If you try to first do a 1/4 inch fold and turn it for another 1/4 fold you will find that it will not come out straight.)
The first 1/2 inch fold is very important to get your finished edge.
To make a lovely mitered corner, unfold your sides. I drew with pencil along the fold lines so you could see them better. The corner tip of the napkin gets folded to the inner most fold (the 1/2 inch fold you started with.)
Fold this fold over itself so the inner most tip of the corner is tucked inside.
Fold over the 1/4 inch fold on both sides of the corner.
Fold over the 1/2 inch side fold of both edges of the napkin. This will make a nice mitered corner and you can pin it from the back as you do the other three corners.
Turn the napkin over to the back side and place it on the sewing machine.Depending on the effect that you want you can either usesewing thread that is a contrasting colour or something that matches the fabric. The choice is up to you. Here I used white thread to blend in.
I start in the corners as close to the edge of the fold as I can go and start sewing all around the napkin.
When I get to a corner I sew right up to the miter, keep the machine needle in the fabric I lift the sewing foot and turn the napkin to the next direction.
I then put the sewing foot down and continue sewing around the napkin.
Here is the finished napkin showing the mitered corners from both the front and the back.
If you are using thicker fabric you might have to make deeper folds than 1/2 inch to handle the bulk of the fabric or you could make a square fold instead.
With very young children you might want to consider making your everyday napkins from dish towels that have a waffle weave to them. This is the same type of texture you would get in a dish cloth but the dish towels have slightly softer feel to it. They are ideal for very messy meals such as spaghetti or pizza. You can throw them into the wash with a bit of non chlorine bleach to keep them looking good
You can buy these dish clothes at the dollar store and they come in a 20 inch by 28 inch size that can be cut down into 4 napkins that will be 9 inches by 13 inches when hemmed and finished (mine were slightly smaller because I folded along the edge of the pattern). So 8 everyday napkins could cost you as little as $2 plus tax. The dish towels come with a finished hem so when you cut them into quarters there will be only two sides to hem.
These were folded 1 inch and ironed well. This was unfolded and folded 1/2 inch from the edge and this fold was tucked into the 1 inch fold to make a finished fold of 1/2 inch. Iron this down very well and sew this edge down.
Do the same on the other unfinished edge and make sure that you line up the corners so they are square on top of each other.
These really are ideal for children's birthday parties or large family meals where there is a children's table. When slightly dampened with water they can wipe up a dirty kids hands and mouth in a instant unlike paper napkins that never seem to do the job.
(They are also really good for big kids that like eating chicken wings and pizza).
Deciding to make a mitered edge napkin or a square edged napkin depends on the fabric that you are working with. Regardless what you chose your fabric should always be mostly cotton as these will last longer and wash better than any synthetics. For family meals your napkins don't all have to match but can be more fun if they are an assortment that the kids can chose from.
Once you start sewing up your own napkins you'll be surprised how easy it is to do and besides being oh so chic you will also be happy that you are doing your part to help the environment!