Cloth napkins are one of those things that can class up any meal, plus they’re much more environmentally-friendly than the paper version. (We love our trees out here in the Pacific Northwest.) Often I find myself reaching for cloth napkins when I’m photographing food and drinks, and I was sorely lacking in options. So I decided to sew some of my own, of course. Here’s how to sew your own set of napkins.
Fabric (quilting or lightweight cotton is a good choice; at least 1/2 yard per color)
Chopstick or knitting needle
1. Make sure to pre-wash and dry your fabric first.
2. Measure and cut squares of fabric for your napkins. I’ve seen sizes from 10″-20″ square, so it’s up to you what size you want to make them. I cut mine 16″ square, which means that I was able to get two napkins from each 1/2 yard of my fabric.
3. On the wrong side, fold 1/4″ of each edge of fabric and iron. Then take this edge and fold it over, and iron again. Repeat on all four sides.
4. At this point you could just fold the hems and sew, overlapping the hems at the corners. But I learned how to do a neat mitred hem from this tutorial. There’s a bit of a trick to it, which I found confusing at first, so I’ll attempt to explain it.
Unfold your creased edges and look for the square diagonal to the corner. I marked one corner of it with a red dot. Fold your fabric at the corner, right sides together, so that the point marked by the red dot is on the crease. Then sew a line from the red dot to the crease 1/4″ from the edge, as shown by the red line below. You want this sewn line to be at a 90 degree angle to the fold. Clip the corner as shown.
5. After you’ve sewn all four corners, turn the corners out and use a chopstick or needle needle to help shape them. Fold the hems in and iron flat.
6. Stitch down your hems slightly less than 1/4″ from the edge.
Make them in every color!
Now I have lots of options for styling up my food photos. Expect to see plenty of these guys. In fact, that pink one above might just show up in a cocktail recipe later this week….