Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cloth Napkins with Mitered Hem: A Tutorial


 We've been invited to visit some  friends at their North Carolina beach house. A hostess gift is in order, and along with a nice bottle of wine and candles, I thought some seersucker napkins might be a perfect beach house offering. 

We never use paper napkins in our house, unless we are eating crabs or ribs, in which case a roll of paper towels on the table is ok with me. I have collected several sets of four over the years, but our favorites are a big set of seersucker ones that I made at least eight years ago and are still used daily. They are soft, yet sturdy and naturally a little wrinkly, so they feel right at home with pizza or burgers, but step up just fine for Sunday's roast chicken. I even pack them in my lunch- a desk lunch feels so much more dignified with a nice big cloth napkin in your lap!  Linen, chambray, twill or gingham are also good choices.  Printed quilting cottons will work, but you will have a definite wrong side. 

Good cloth napkins can be on the pricey side, but they are so easy to make, it doesn't make sense not to sew your own. Plus, they make an awesome gift.

Now, you could just cut a big square and double turn the hem all the way around, but that can lead to lumpy, uneven corners that scream home-made. Here's an easy, fool proof way to make cloth napkins with a nice mitered hem that look pro and will wear forever. 

Materials needed: Cotton Fabric- yardage to cut out as many 20" squares as you desire
                             Water soluble fabric marker
                             Pins (optional) & thread

Begin with pre-washed cotton fabric. Cut into 20" squares.  I use a rotary cutter and self healing mat to get nice and precise. 

Press a narrow 1/4" hem around all four sides.

 Fold a corner of the fabric, right sides together, lining up the pressed edges.

Using your ruler, eyeball a nice right triangle ( two short sides are equal) using 3/4" for the measurement of the short sides. The pressed hem will be the longer side .

This will be your stitching line, so draw a line with the water soluble marker to mark it.

Sorry for the blurry picture. Repeat with the other three corners, then sew all four corner along the marked seam line, being careful to make sure the hemmed edges line up exactly. I didn't pin mine, but you certainly can if it helps. 


Trim off the corners leaving about a 1/4" seam allowance. Then turn the hem right side out.

Use a point turner if necessary and marvel at your beautiful mitered corners! Press all four sides-

Then stitch close to the pressed edge all the way around.

Voila! A quick press and you're done! 

If you have questions, please email me.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. Thanks for a great tutorial. I went straight to my sewing room and whipped up two of these. Why did I not realize that seersucker is the perfect fabric for napkins?!

    1. I'm so glad you made some! Aren't they fun?

  2. Brilliant, Pam! And I just happen to have a lot of seersucker left over from a dress I recently finished. Thanks for this great idea and welcome hostess gift.

  3. I hope you make some with your extra fabric. This is the perfect time of year to grab some seersucker or linen remnants at great prices. 😊