Cheap Cooking and Cheap Eating – Making Cloth Napkins

I grew up with cloth napkins at the dinner table, despite the fact that my dad worked for a paper company.  I admit that I have given into the paper napkin routine periodically (but I do compost many of them at least).  But I prefer cloth napkins still. I’ve had some given to me and bought others, but the other day I decided I wanted to refresh my sewing skills (which are nearly non-existent but I did learn the basics). I went to the fabric store because I wanted to make some cloth napkins as a means of relearning the sewing basics  and I picked up two bits of remnant material for about $4 each. Both were 100% cotton.

I was all excited last night to start on these and then remembered I should wash the material first so started that. And then I remembered that we had an old pillowcase in the charity bag and I thought I could just as easily start on that to relearn my basic sewing.

Napkins from pillowcase

I made these a bit small but I am loving them anyway.  And the sewing was not perfect by a long shot. I actually just bought a new sewing machine because my 20 year old no-name one finally failed after many years of intermittent use.  I bought this  SINGER 7258 Stylist Computerized Sewing Machine after reading many reviews. (That’s an affiliate link so I’ll make a few bucks if you buy something from Amazon after clicking on it).

I haven’t done much other than these napkins with it yet so this isn’t a full review. I did find it easy to set up and once I figured it out I LOVE LOVE LOVE the needle threader because I’m 50 and threading needles is one of those things that becomes harder as you age!

So the remnants were washed and I hung them up to dry, then ironed them tonight after dinner.  I pulled out one of my older napkins that was more the size I wanted and cut out fabric pieces 1/2″ larger than the finished napkins.  I ironed 1/4″ in on each edge, then did it again for a nicer finished inside.

Then I sewed them up. Oh, the other thing I like about this sewing machine is the option to have it end with the needle IN the fabric (rather than having to manually turn the wheel to place the needle in. I may be showing how long it’s been since I bought a sewing machine! Maybe that’s a common option now!  But it’s very cool for stuff like this, when you want to sew around corners.

The napkins I made tonight (just 2 from the remnant so $2 each) are these:

I have to say that it was quite fun wandering around the fabric store.

I’m also trying to revive my pitiful knitting skills and want to knit some cotton dishcloths.  The first ones will NOT be rectangular I’m sure!




  1. My parents started using cloth napkins at home in the 80s. About 8 years ago they moved from that house to a new one and gave up on their green ways. But they gave me the old cloth napkins and I was pleased as punch to start using them at home again. It just feels so elegant to use a napkin to clean your chin after a dribble.


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