Sewing Cloth Napkins with Mitered Corners Tutorial

Posted by Kate Weiss on

I certainly don’t use cloth napkins at every meal, but I do love them. We generally have a stack to choose from on the kitchen cart in our tiny eating area at home. Having a cloth napkin on your lap can make even blue box macaroni and cheese feel a bit special and worth sitting down at the kitchen table for. At my house, we mix and match colors and don’t worry too much about everyone getting the same kind and size. I’ve found between 18" and 15 ½" to be the right size, but they aren’t clothes and don’t have to fit anyone! If you’re a bit shy on the fabric measurements listed below just make your napkin a bit smaller – nobody will notice, and all the mitered corner measurements will all stay the same.

I have a rope basket (I used this great rope basket purse tutorial from Closet Case Patterns and made it a more flat bottom basket shape) on top of the fridge where the used napkins go after the meal, and I just pop them in the wash with the dish cloths. Don’t worry about ironing them – unless you feel seriously compelled or love ironing – which I’ll be honest, sometimes I like to iron our napkins if I have a quiet moment and the laundry is all done, unfortunately that doesn’t happen all that often.


Linen, cotton types, hemp blends, toweling, lightweight duck


  • ½ yard of fabric (if 56" wide, this will get you 3 napkins with careful cutting)
  • Coordinating thread, fabric shears, pins, marking tool, measuring tape, sewing machine, iron, and ironing surface. 


16" square


Wash, dry, and press your fabric using the same method you will for your finished napkins. If you’re worried about fraying, you can run a seam down the raw edges to keep the fabric from fraying too much in the wash.

Cut your fabric to an 18" square. Having a big quilting ruler, rotary cutter, and cutting mat this easier, but they aren't required.

  1. Using a fabric marker or tailor’s chalk mark a line 1" from the raw edge on all four sides.
  2. Mark a second guideline 1½" from the edge.
  3. Using the guidelines just marked, fold each raw edge in ½" twice. The first fold will meet the first guideline and the second fold will meet the second one. You might have been tempted to skip drawing the guidelines, but don’t! I promise your napkins will come out much squarer if you do the extra prep.
  4. Now for the slightly tricky (but not as tricky as you might think) bit: those tidy mitered corners. Unfold the second fold on all sides. Fold in a corner so two legs of the triangle this makes measure 1". This triangle will neatly line up with your drawn guidelines. Press the fold. Unfold and trace the crease with a fabric marker or tailor’s chalk.
  5. With right sides together, fold the corner to a point, making sure that the drawn lines match. Pin the corner into place.
  6. Sew together along the marked line, backstitching at the beginning and end.
  7. Trim, leaving a 1/8" seam allowance. Repeat from step 4 for remaining three corners.
  8. Now, push out your corners with a point turner or I usually just carefully use my fabric scissors and refold the second fold up to the guideline. Pin the entire way around taking time to smooth those beautiful mitered corners flat. Edgestitch the fold down 1/16" away from edge backstitching at beginning and end. Press your stitching and you’ve done it! Brilliant! You have a super classy, mitered corner napkin.


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