How to Make Fabric Napkins & 2 simple and Festive Ways to Fold Them

How to Make Fabric Napkins & 2 simple and Festive Ways to Fold Them

I have a confession: I love to plan a tablescape for a holiday or dinner party much more than I enjoy planning or cooking the actual meal. Now that I have my own art of fabric that I can use to make all sorts of things – including fabric napkins.

I’m going to share how simple it is to make reusable fabric napkins and then 2 easy ways to fold them so you can wow your family and friends with your tablescape. Fabric napkins also make great gifts!

Scroll to the bottom to see a quick video of the napkin folds.

How to Sew Your Own Fabric Napkins

  • (2) 16” squares of Fabric per napkin
    • Cotton or Linen are best for napkins because they are the most absorbent – which is important for napkins!
    • You can use fat quarters or buy fabric by the yard.
materials to sew your own napkins

I will admit that I don’t prewash my fabric for every project but it is really important when the end result will be something that gets washed regularly – like napkins. You want any shrinkage to happen BEFORE you have spent time sewing.

When you pre-wash quilting fabric you will have some fraying. To reduce the amount of fabric you lose to fraying you can cut around the fabric with pinking shears or a pinking rotary cutter blade.

Unfold your fabric before putting it in the washing machine. You want it to move freely. Wash on a gentle cycle in cool or lukewarm water to decrease fraying, shrinkage and any dye from running and potentially staining any other fabrics.

Hang up to air dry or put in the dryer on a low heat. Cotton will shrink more if you dry in a high heat.

Once your fabric is dry, iron your fabric and prepare to cut to size.

Each napkin will use two squares of fabric.

To match or not to match – that is the question!

You can have the fabric match or use a different pattern on the front and back.

Using contrasting fabrics can add to the visual interest of your folded napkins and offer options for what pattern becomes the main visible fabric.

Using the same fabric or at least the same color (two blue prints or two white prints for example) will give a more consistent and sophisticated look.

A fabric “Fat Quarter” measures 18” x 22” BEFORE IT IS WASHED. Depending on the shrinkage and fraying you should be able to cut a 16” or 17” square from your pre-washed fabric. (I used 16” squares for my samples and they are a great size for the napkin folds I’ll share.)

CLIP or PIN your fabric squares, right sides together. (figure 1)

SEW around the sides with a ¼” seam, leaving a few inches open on one side for turning (figure 2)

How to Make Fabric Napkins
figure 1
How to Make Fabric Napkins
figure 2

CLIP the corners to reduce bulk.

TURN the napkin right side out.

Use a POINT TURNER to help gently push the corners as well as possible. (figure 3)

PRESS, turning the seam allowance inside of the open space used to turn your fabric.

TOPSTITCH around your napkin ⅛” from the edge to be sure you enclose all of the raw

edge from the opening. For a professional look, match your thread to your fabrics – this might mean using a white bobbin thread and blue or silver main thread, depending on the fabrics used for your napkin. (figure 4)

How to Make Fabric Napkins
figure 3
How to Make Fabric Napkins
figure 4

Napkin Folding Tutorial

For lack of a better name I call this a “Napkin Poof” – it’s similar to the Fleur de Lis but a little less structured.

You can also put this in a napkin ring as well.

Lay your napkin flat on the table with the fabric you want to see the least of facing up. (figure 5)

Bring all four corners up off the table and together – almost like you are making a make-shift bag. (figures 6-8)

Wrap your thumb and pointer finger around the bottom of the napkin in a circle (figure 9) and place into the mason jar (figure 10) (It also works in a wine glass, mug or napkin ring.)

Let go of the four points and let them fall or arrange them so you like how it looks.

Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 5
Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 6
Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 7
Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 8
Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 9
Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 10

Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial

This is a great napkin fold if you want to have silverware, a note, flower, herb or anything else included in your place setting presentation.

Starting with your napkin flat on the table with the fabric you want to see the most of facing up (figure 11), fold up, in half, to create a rectangle. (figure 12)

Fold to the right, creating a square, 1/4 the size of your original napkin. (figure 13)

Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 11
Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 12
Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 13

Grab the top corner on the square and fold down diagonally to the opposite corner. (figure 14)

Fold the next corner down, placing it under the first fold, leaving about an inch showing to create the second pleat. (figure 15)

Fold the third corner down in the same way, creating the third pleat. (figure 16)

Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 14
Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 15
Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 16

Turn upside down and fold each side towards the center so when you flip it back over to see the pleats,the edges of the napkin don’t show. (figure 17)

Add your silverware or other accessories or decorations as desired. (figure 18)

This style works well on top of a plate or to the side, whichever you prefer.

Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 17
Triple French Pleat Napkin Folding Tutorial
figure 18



Be sure to save it to Pinterest and follow me for more ideas and resources for sewing, crafting and creative living.

If you make this or other projects and post on Instagram, be sure to tag me (@artisttarareed). Follow my YouTube channel for new sewing projects and tips every week.

🧵 Tara Reed

P.S. Is there a sewing tutorial you’d love to see? Leave me a comment and I’ll add it to my idea list!


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