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We finally have some cloth napkins that work and absorb really well. We’ve had some store bought cloth napkins for a few years now. While they have done their job, I am ready to move on. They hardly absorb anything…and they just aren’t, well, too cute. Not that being cute matters, but a little extra color in the kitchen is always welcome.

I made a new set of napkins. I used a cotton cloth fabric on front and terrycloth on back. These turned out great! The terrycloth was priced at $9.00 a yard at our local Jo Ann’s Fabrics. I used about a half of a yard to complete this project. Terrycloth is made of little tiny loops that is made for absorbing liquid. That’s what this messy family needed!


The fabrics I used in this project are:

  • the red fabric: Amy Butler’s Wallflower in Cherry
  • the blue fabric: Michael Miller’s Stitch Circle in Navy
  • the green fabric: Bonnie Christine’s Sweet Nostalgia in Vintage

Getting a little creative.

What started out as a simple project of making some simple napkins soon turned into a sewing endeavor of creativity. I guess I forgot I was sewing napkins at one point and started in on making some quilt blocks. Either way, you can make your napkins as simple or as ornate as you choose.

The most simple way to make a terrycloth napkins is to use a solid square of fabric on one side and terrycloth on the back.

Basic Napkin

To create your most basic napkin, pick one kind of fabric for the front. I wanted my napkins to measure about ten inches square.

  • Cut a piece of fabric measuring 10 1/2 inches square.
  • Lay the fabric you just cut face down on top of your terrycloth.
  • Using your fabric as a template, cut the terrycloth to the exact same size as your fabric.

Leave your fabric stacked on top of the terrycloth. With your fabric facing down, pin your fabric and terrycloth together. Stitch around the perimeter of both fabrics LEAVING A THREE INCH GAP. I used a quarter of an inch seam allowance. You need to leave a hole so you can turn your napkin right side out. Remember, this is not a competition to see who can leave the smallest gap and still turn your napkin right side out. 🙂 Shoving and pulling fabric through little tiny gaps can become quite tedious very quickly.

Trim your corners before turning your napkin right side out. Cutting a blunt corner will make for a sharper corner once you are finished. Be sure not to cut through your stitching at the corners!

Once your napkin is turned right side out, iron the natural crease that formed where you left your gap. Stitch border around you napkin to sew the gap shut. I sew a border about an eighth of an inch in from the edge.

Flying Geese Napkin

This is where my quilting brain started taking over. I’ve been eyeing a flying geese style quilt for quite some time. I decided making a flying geese napkin was good practice for a possible future quilt.

Feel free to follow these instructions if you are up for a small challenge in your cloth napkin creating.

Part 1: Flying Geese Napkin

Find a fabric that you want to use for the triangle or ‘goose’ portion of your block (Fabric #1). You can use my measurements if you want an approximate ten inch napkin.

Cut 3 inch strips of fabric. Cut those strips into 3 inch by 5 1/2 inch rectangles. you will need six of these these rectangles.

Choose a different fabric (Fabric #2) for the smaller triangle portion of the block. Cut three inch strips out of that fabric as well. Cut those strips down into 3 inch by 3 inch squares. You will need 12 of these 3 inch by 3 inch squares.

In summary, you need six rectangles measuring 5 1/2 by 3 inches of Fabric #1. You need twelve squares measuring 3 inches by 3 inches out of Fabric #2.

Part 2: Flying Geese Napkin

Take all your 3 inch squares cut out of your Fabric #2. On the backs of your squares, draw one diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner on each of the blocks.

Take one rectangle made out of Fabric #1 and lay it face up. Take one of your three inch blocks made out of Fabric #2 and lay it face down on top of the rectangle. Line it up accurately with the left side of the rectangle. Lay Fabric #2 down so the diagonal line goes from the bottom outside of the rectangle up to the middle. (Please refer to my pictures if anything is confusing.)

Sew along the diagonal line.

Using a sewing ruler and rotary cutter, cut a quarter inch away from the line you just sewed. Cut the top left corner off…as displayed in the picture.

Fabric #2 should fold up and out. Iron the seams.

Repeat these steps on the opposite side of the rectangle made of Fabric #1.

Take another 3 inch square and line it up on the same rectangle. Line it up with the right side. Be sure your 3 inch square is facing down. Ensure the diagonal line is going from the bottom right to the middle of the top of the rectangle.

Sew along the diagonal line.

Cut away the top right had corner of the rectangle using a quarter of an inch seam allowance. You should be able to fold this triangle up and out now. Iron the seams.

You should now have your first flying geese block.

Half Square Triangle Cloth Napkin

Here’s another simple yet fun pattern to create when quilting (or when making cloth napkins). Half square triangles come together quickly.

Half square triangles can be arranged any way you choose. You can see the pattern I chose on the right.

Hopefully the following instructions can help you create a small half square triangle napkin.

Part 1: Half Square Triangle Cloth Napkin

In order to create the half square triangle pattern I used, you will need to cut ten squares. Each of them needs to be 4 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches. You can see I used three different kinds of fabrics in my napkin.

Once all of your squares are cut, arrange them into pairs. On the back of one square of each pair, draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other.

Part 2: Half Square Triangle Cloth Napkin

Now that you have a diagonal line drawn on one square from each pair, take one pair of squares and put them together with the right sides of the fabric facing in.

Using your sewing machine, stitch down either side of the diagonal line using a quarter of an inch seam allowance.

Once you have finished sewing down each side of the diagonal line, cut your square in half right on your diagonal line. You should have two triangles until you unfold your fabric.

Unfold your fabric, iron your seams, and you should have a new square made out of two triangles.

Sew your new squares together however you choose and you have a half square triangle napkin.

A little tip about sizing your napkins.

All my napkins are approximately ten inches square, but once I made my first napkin, I used it as a template to keep my size consistent.

In other words:

  • I made my first napkin and finished it.
  • I sewed my blocks together to create the front of my flying geese napkin.
  • I laid my first napkin on top of my the pieced flying geese front.
  • I used the first napkin as a template and cut around it with a half inch seam allowance.
  • Then I finished the napkins with the terrycloth as I explained above.

This process kept my napkins all the same size.

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