Monday, 14 November 2016

How to Make Serviettes from Fabric

... also known as Cloth Table Napkins

It's not hard to find lovely paper serviettes (napkins) to compliment your table decor. Problem is, they are single use only, and, small as they are, don't help the environment. I'm down to half a packet of paper serviettes and once they're gone, it'll be be serviettes from fabric for my guests. Today's tutorial will show you just how easy they are to make.

How to make cloth table napkins ~ Tutorial by Threading My Way


Normally a square shape, serviettes can be any size that suits. I cut mine to 17" x 17", with the serviettes finishing up at 15½" x 15½".

  • Press over ⅜" (10mm) on each edge. It's easy enough to eyeball. I turn the steam off on my iron to avoid burnt fingers
  • Fold over the first edge on itself - (ie; fold over the pressed edge another ⅜").
  • Sew right to the end of the first side and backstitch.
  • Cut threads.
  • Work around the serviette and repeat on all four sides.

If your machine has trouble starting off at each edge, begin stitching a little way in, instead of at the edge. Do one or two stitches, backstitch, and continue.


Pressing the edges first enables each serviette to be sewn without using any pins, and makes for nice straight edges.


This technique is fast and easy to do, and I find I get lovely neat corners every time. I have sewn serviettes with mitred corners (there's a couple of different methods), but I always come back to the way I've shown you. For me, it's faster, more consistent and produces neat corners every single time.

Mr TMW and I recently spent a couple of days in Sydney, eating out a lovely restaurant. Knowing I'd be making serviettes, I of course had to check out how theirs were made. They looked exactly the same as mine. If it's good enough for a fancy restaurant, it's good enough for me.

If you've made serviettes, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what technique works best for you.

Reusable serviettes made from fabric ~ Tutorial by Threading My Way

Six of my serviettes are in the same fabric, with the other six deliberately mismatched. All are made with quilting cottons. Scroll down to the first two comments to see my thoughts on different fabrics that may be suitable for serviettes. 

Thanks to Glenda for asking the question that prompted me to add this information to the post. It gives me great satisfaction when interaction such as this occurs. That's why I love blogging!

How to make reusable cloth table napkins that can be used over and over. Serviettes made from fabric tutorial at ~ Threading My Way

Out of curiosity, what terms do you use for both paper and cloth serviettes in your corner of the world?

This is the first of my tutorials for the 12 Days of Christmas DIY Challenges. I've started with the last one, challenge #12 - Christmas Table Decor made from fabric stash. Head on over and check out what everyone else has made. Add your own table decor (past and present).

I'll also be adding my serviettes to the ongoing Kitchen Accessories link party, here at Threading My Way, and also to Ho Ho Ho and on We Sew when it opens on the 18th November.

... Pam





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25 comments:

  1. Here in the US we just call them napkins. I love the idea of making my own fabric napkins because they can be pricey and you can never find the color you want. We gave up paper napkins a long time ago & just recently stopped using paper towels except for wiping grease out of my cast iron skillets. I can't find anything to use for the skillets that don't leave lint & fabric pieces in the skillets. I love the size you made your napkins too. I have one question though. What fabric did you use to make them? I read the post twice but didn't see where you said the kind of fabric used. These are great Pam. I read every post & you have great ideas & tutorials. Thank you for giving us great ideas & projects! Have a super week ahead. God bless.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Glenda. You've made my day! I used quilting cottons for my serviettes. At some stage I'd like to make some with a linen or cotton damask - they'd be more upmarket and I imagine would last longer. They'd probably be more absorbent, too, being thicker, but hey, we're not really all that messy... LOL!!! Having said that, quilting cottons allow for more fun prints. I think any cotton fabric would be OK. I've made them with cotton duck in the past. I also have some store bought cotton serviettes in plain colours - not linen, but thicker than quilting cottons, and not cotton duck - no idea of the type of cotton.

      Thanks for asking the question, Glenda. I'll add the info to the post.

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    2. I made some from green coton damask about 10 years ago and they are still going strong. I feel they are more absorbant than quilting cotton. However, the next time I make napkins, I will use a soft flannel because I found that to be even more absorbant.

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    3. My favourite table cloth is green cotton damask - love that fabric and if ever I find some to buy, I'll make some serviettes. Have never thought of flannel, but it would make lovely, soft serviettes.

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    4. Glenda, I use "unpaper towels". I buy the inexpensive flour sack towels. I cut them into fourths and hem the cut edges. I keep them on my counter in a fabric "box" I made. I use them anytime I would normally use a pager towel. And throw them in the wash with my whites. If they get too stained, I either throw them away or put them in my rag bin. Never use paper towels, paper napkins or paper plates.

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    5. Great idea to have the 'unpaper towels' at hand on the bench, Erma.

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  2. Cloth napkins (as opposed to paper napkins). I usually miter the corners when I make mine. I may have to get off my high horse and try your method for the corners.

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  3. I make cloth napkins quite often, and have a tutorial for using a serger to do the edges quickly and neatly. Have I linked it to one of your link ups?

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  4. I have used cloth napkins for more than 35 years. I have done the method you have used; sewn two layers (right sides together, turn, then top stitch) when using light weight cottons, serged edges, and mitered corners. They all have worked well. Laundering is easy and these napkins have served us well over the years. We use personalized napkin rings. changing napkins every few days.

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    1. Good to hear how your napkins have stood the test of time. Personalised napkin rings are a great idea!

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    2. I like the idea of using two diffent fabrics together, that way you won't see a wrong side of the fabric. Also, makes them more durable. I like the idea of mitered corners but for me I think it makes them a little more difficult to do. I have used serger edges when my serger was working but also the hemming method. Love to do the special fold Christmas tree napkins. The ones that are a half circle. I make mine 9 X 18 inches, that way I get 8 out of one yard. I try to make 24 for gifts because there are families that get together for Christmas. Fun to make. Great gift. Made a table cloth and matching color napkins for Grand daughter. Only one thickness in napkins, just square ones. Kona cotton works great, also Connectingthreads.com has great solid colors and good weight cotton fabric. Comparable to Kona cottons I think and good prices.

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    3. I must try making them with two different fabrics. As you said, there'd be no wrong side. I have never heard of the special fold Christmas tree napkins - sounds fun. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Betty.

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  5. *whispers* We don't use napkins unless we're having a big dinner at someone else's house. I used to use them when the kids were little (made my own, IIRC), then got out of the habit. Now at most, we use paper serviettes, which get composted. True Confession of the Day!

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  6. Lovely idea and you can have so many to go with your mood

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  7. I love the fabrics you have used. My mother always insists on a napkin when she visits.

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    1. Thanks. Definitely going to make some more.

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  8. What a great way to co-ordinate with your table setting by making your own serviettes!

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me

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  9. You are so right, these are much better than paper, I have so mach fabric in my stash, a lovely heap of mix and match serviettes would be lovely for parties.
    We call them serviettes where I'm from, in the middle of the UK. A napkin would be a very posh starched damask version, the kind of thing you would find when having tea at the Ritz or on the set of Downton Abbey!

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  10. Lovely as always:) I used your technique this weekend, adding in a slip pocket for cutlery:)

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  11. Thanks so much for linking up Pam! Your serviettes look great, and I am totally in agreement with projects that are multi-functional and reusable. I might have to make a few of these in different patterns for my table in the near future. Here in the USA we do call them napkins, but the term serviette is also used (especially down in some areas of Louisianan and South Eastern Texas. The term serviette is almost always used to describe a cloth napkin.

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  12. So fun and such a great scrap buster project too! Thanks for your submission to DIY Crush! I just published it. (and I took your long image which is perfect for PInterest!) :-)

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  13. I'm making a set for my daughter using the self-bordering method that everyone is using to make receiving blankets. They turn out so well, but you might want to select lighter weight fabrics since they are double layers. The miter is built-in. I used a fabric for the back that had lots of colors that I could match with solids on the front, or you could stash bust to your heart's content!

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    1. I'll really have to try using double fabrics, Dianne. Anything to help with the stash busting... LOL!!!

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  14. What a practical idea for stash busting!

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    1. There'll be more serviette sewing in 2017 for me, Julie. So much stash to use up.

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