The Easiest Cloth Napkins

Up until a few years ago, I was adamantly against using cloth napkins. To me, cloth napkins were formal, uptight, and they didn’t feel good. They were just too stiff and perfect to actually clean your hands. A far cry from my beloved paper towels that we used at every meal. (Classy, I know) Plus, I didn’t need another thing to wash.

While trying to “green up” every other area of my life, this had me feeling pretty guilty.  But I just couldn’t make the switch to cloth.

Then I found a napkin (well, actually a towel) that changed my mind. Easy to use, easy to wash, absorbant and feels so good!

Disclaimer: These are so simple to make, you don’t even need this tutorial. And if you already know how to sew, you really don’t need this tutorial. I can sew in straight lines, but thats about it. I don’t know technical terms, and I pretty much make everything up as I go. So basically, read at your own risk.  :)

You will need:

  • a pack of Elly Dishtowels from Ikea
  • scissors
  • an iron
  • a sewing machine or needle & thread

1.  Unroll the dishtowels. Using the crease already in the middle of each towel, cut each in half.

2.  Cut off the tag.

3.  On the edge that you just cut, fold it over twice and iron it down.

4.  Sew a straight line along the ironed hem.

That’s it! In about an hour (probably more like 30 minutes if you are actually good at ironing and sewing) you will have 8 nice little cloth napkins. But feeling them at this point might make you think that I am a little crazy. Because they don’t feel so soft and crumply and perfect yet.

Run them through the washer two or three times, and then you will see their true beauty emerge. They will look perfectly ready to use. Even if you are the OCD type, please resist the urge to iron these napkins. They are supposed to look like this!

These napkins are so easy to make, they make the perfect gift. Wrap them up in a cute little Anthro Farmers Market Basket or other decorative bowl or pot, and they are ready to be gifted!

If you are like me (or how I used to be), resistant to cloth napkins because they seem to formal or precious, try these.  They are every bit as casual and easy as a paper napkin, but so much more absorbent and eco friendly!

I would love to hear about your napkin habits! Do you prefer cloth or paper? Or do you do without napkins altogether and wipe your hands on your shirt if you need to?

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  • kati - cute! i still haven’t switched over from my 1/2 size paper towels… i know, i know :pReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - The half size paper towels! That is exactly what we used! :)ReplyCancel

  • Morgan - We are cloth napkin users big time BUT with that said I have a huge stack of ones that are made from cotton (so they aren’t fancy) but they don’t absorb well at all. I like the idea of using kitchen towels instead. I have learned to stop using cotton (quilting type fabric) for anything that needs to be absorbent (bibs included!) because they just can’t meet those demands. Glad you are enjoying your napkins!


    • kaleyann - It is so funny that you say that, Morgan, because the main reason I used to resist cloth napkins is because they were the cotton that doesn’t absorb anything! What a difference a nice towel fabric makes.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - I love these. I have been wanting to switch but we are pretty bad about using paper napkins. They are just so easy. :(ReplyCancel

  • Nikki - We have been using the flour sack tea towels. I love that they are white… For now

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  • Amanda - These are great I think I will be making some right away. We are big cloth napkin users at my house. We use cheapy washcloths for our napkins. A stack of them is pretty inexpensive from the big box store. They’re wonderful because they’re completely absorbent and when dinners over we just wet one of them and wipe down the table. They’re also handy for all forty of those tiny little sticky fingers that congregate around my table at meal times (mommy and husband fingers are not included in that total)! Thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - How do you wash them?? I have this set, but I use them as dish towels, I am a bit afraid to try your awesome idea because there are so many stains in mine that wont come out no matter how many washes they go through! Perhaps you have some tips on keeping them clean and lovely looking??ReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - Jenny – mine are definitely not stain-free! But with a 4 year old and a baby, nothing I own is stain-free. :) I just wash them with the rest of the kitchen linens and call it good.ReplyCancel

  • Jane Rotton - So simple I wonder why I didn’t think of it.ReplyCancel

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  • Linda - I’ve been using cloth napkins for years – I have NO paper products in my home. BUT the napkins I use are finger towels – they are absorbent, wash and dry nicely and I always buy them on sale…often for 50 cents. No formality here, any color will do and they often have embroidery on them. I love your idea tho!ReplyCancel

    • Kaley - Finger towels sound great! Where do you find them?ReplyCancel

  • Theresa - I use tons of paper towel, when my dog throws up for unknown reasons to using it for toast/sandwiches etc…not sure I could bring myself to use them on the vomit and then wash….hard decisions….lolReplyCancel

    • Kaley - oh yes, i may draw the line at dog vomit, too! :)ReplyCancel

  • Connie - Do these t-towels have a loop on one end and do you just leave it on one of the napkinsReplyCancel

    • Kaley - Yes, there is a loop on one side, and I just leave it there. After they are washed, the loop isn’t even noticeable.ReplyCancel

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