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  • Writer's pictureSusan Woodcock

Cloth Napkins with Mitered Hems

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

I love to use cloth napkins for everyday meals at the kitchen table, or as an elegant touch at special dinners with china and crystal on the dining room table. My picnic basket isn’t complete without an assortment of fun, colorful cloth napkins! Cloth napkins make a great gift, and they can be personalized with embroidery or stenciling.

The technique that I am sharing is easy to make because of the template used for the corner stitching. Just draw around the template, sew, turn, press and hem for high-end, double-hemmed napkins. It’s fun to see how the mitered corners turn like magic!

Choose light to medium weight cotton or linen fabrics that can be washed. You can select fabrics from the home decor, quilting or apparel departments or use a flat cotton sheet. I am using white, Irish linen for this project.

The step-by-step below shows how to make the template first, and then how to sew the mitered corners and hems. I am showing both how to finish the hems by hand and machine stitching, so be sure to follow the photos to the end. I have also included a popular folding technique for the finished napkins.

The same hemming technique can be used for square or rectangular table cloths, just be sure to allow 4-inches extra to the finished size when making your cuts.

I hope you have fun making napkins! If you use this method please share photos of your finished cloth napkins on the HomeDecGal facebook page.

With Warmest Regards.


How-to make hemmed napkins with mitered corners:

Begin by making a template. Cut a 3-inch square from cardboard (cereal boxes work great!)

Mark 1-inch from each corner on two opposite sides.

Connect the marks as shown in the photo below.

Cut out the template and label it. You can use the template over and over again.

Now it is time to make the napkins! Cut your napkin fabric into 22-inch squares. Place the template at each corner (on the wrong side) and draw around the edges using a pencil, chalk or an erasable/disappearing marker.

The corners are marked.

Fold over each corner as shown and pin. You are folding the corners on the bias.

Sew ON THE LINE drawn at each corner. Use a stitch length that is a bit smaller than average. Your stitching might not line up perfectly with the line underneath… that is okay and it will be fine!

After the corners are sewn cut away the excess fabric. Add a small clip in the corners.

Turn the mitered corners right sides out.

Tuck under fabric into the corners.

Measure 2-inch hems around the sides and then fold again to make 1-inch doubled hems.

Press in the hems with an iron. You are now ready to sew-in the hem around the edges.

Hand Hemming: For this sample I am using red thread so you can see the detail. Use a fine needle and matching thread. I like to use the Hand Quilting thread from Coats. Start at one corner and stab the needle under the edge of the hem to hide the knot.

Take small stitches to the face and then run the needle into the pressed edge of the hem and out again. Take another little stitch and continue, placing the stitches about 1/4 to 1/2-inches apart.

As you pull the stitches tight they hold the hem nicely.

And from the front you have a beautiful, hand stitched hem.

Machine Hemming: Sew the hems with a straight stitch and matching thread using a medium stitch length. This is the preferred method for napkins that will be washed often.

Or use a decorative stitch for the hem. I love this little scalloped design and it would be very pretty in a color thread. Be creative!

This is the finished hem using a straight stitch.

Now that you have made your napkins let’s fold them for your dining table. Start by folding corner-to-corner, right sides out on the bias.

Fold one corner over, and then fold the other corner over.

Flip it over… and fold over again creating a triangle.

Fold again along the center of the triangle…..

Finished! Place on the table with the closed end, or the open end facing the chair.

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