Organize & Clean

How To: Make Your Own No-Sew Cloth Napkins

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Awhile back we promised a post on how to make your own cloth napkins (even if you have zero sewing skills). Well, here it is! These beauties take a little cutting, ironing, minor sewing, and voila! No more paper napkins for us…

You don’t need many materials for this project and the directions are simple; however, if anything seems confusing, please let us know in the comments and we’ll update the post!


  • Scissors or a rotary fabric cutter (preferable for straight edges)
  • Fabric. Remember, you can always repurpose an old table cloth or other bits of household fabric.
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Heavy duty right angle ruler
  • Needle and thread (or Heat and Bond Hem Tape)
  • Chalk (but a pencil will do)

Step 1: If your fabric is new, launder it. You don’t want these napkins shrinking later.

Step 2: Iron your fabric well — get all those creases out! They’ll mess with the measuring and cutting you’re going to do next.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Step 3: Now that your fabric is laundered and ironed, you need to decide what size napkins you want. We went with16in squares. Once you decide on your size, add a half inch for the hem (i.e., we cut 16.5×16.5 squares). Now, using your ruler you can either a) if you’re using a fabric cutter, start in one corner and cut right along your ruler (like we did) or b) if you’re using scissors, measure and mark your fabric (with a pencil or preferably chalk), then cut out your squares.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Step 4: Your hem. Here’s how you’re going to make these napkins look nice. First, on the underside of the fabric, measure a 1/4 inch in from the edge and mark a line there. (It will run parallel to the edge of the fabric). Now you’re going to fold your fabric on that line and iron it. You want a nice straight edge.

Step 5: Now you have a 1/4 inch of fabric folded in. Fold that 1/4 inch in one more time and iron again. Now you have a nice finished edge.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Step 6: This is the fun/easy part. If you feel OK about a little needle and thread action — you’ll now run a slip stitch all along the hem of your napkin. It looks like the photo below. Knotting off the thread at every corner. If you don’t want to deal with a needle and thread, take your Heat n Bond tape and place it just under your finished hem (just as pictured above) and iron it down. Easy!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Now. Eat something messy. Maybe something with a lot of BBQ sauce?

Image via Design*Sponge

Originally published 2008-09-10 – CB