Hemmed Napkins: A HomeDecGal “Can-Do” Project

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.


Would you like to make a wedding gift for a special couple?  Cloth napkins make a great gift and they can be personalized with embroidery or stenciling.

The technique that I am sharing here 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 this photo.



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-inch 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 fold the other corner over.



Flip it over…..



and fold over again creating a triangle.



Fold again along the center of the triangle…..



Fold over again…..


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








  1. Jaws at Jul 06, 2013 07:30:22

    Very good demonstration. I wanna go make some right now. :0)

  2. Chrystal at Jul 06, 2013 11:03:13

    Great instructions! And I have a nephew getting married next year, great idea for a gift! Thanks! Pinning it!

  3. Jann Newton at Jul 07, 2013 05:37:44

    Nice tutorial Susan! I will have to try to make some.

  4. Frances Pusch at Jul 07, 2013 08:47:15

    I’ve make tablecloths this way, too.

    To be honest, I’m not the neatest eater. (I like to read during meals… That’s my excuse anyway…) So I made a table cloth and a number of unpadded , rectangular “placemats” of the same fabric with this type of hem.. I don’t really like placemats but these blend in. Then I don’t have to wash (& press!) the whole table cloth very often. And great for when I have last-minute arriving guests.

  5. Cynthia at Nov 17, 2014 02:06:04

    This is a great tutorial for mitered corners! How can I adjust the measurements to make a more narrow hem? Thanks!

  6. Jack Shannon Sr. at Dec 31, 2014 10:05:41

    i just started to learn how to sew. (At 67 years old) and this looks ad if it could be of great help. Thanks and Happy New Years.

  7. Patty at Jun 05, 2015 04:58:45

    Love the directions. Nice way to use the decorative stitches on my machine. My first effort came out great.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Carol Wilcher at Jun 21, 2015 04:35:08

    Many many thanks for sharing your napkin technique. I have been wanting to make napkins and now i can with knowledge about the mitered corners and i also like the idea of a fancy machine hemming stitch.

    Great photos to follow the steps.
    Carol Wilcher

  9. Mary Elliott at Sep 24, 2015 07:30:27

    Thank you for this wonderful tutorial on mitered corners. I can think of some other items to use your technique on!

  10. Debbie Owen at Dec 20, 2015 09:58:25

    If I want to make cocktail napkins can I do this technique as well? The finished size is 4 inches

  11. Susan Woodcock at Dec 22, 2015 02:04:08

    Hello Debbie,
    Yes, you can make cocktail napkins with the mitered hem. If you would like to have 5 inch cocktail napkins, you will make the cardboard template the same and cut the squares 9 inches. This will give you 5 inch square cocktail napkins with 1 inch (doubled) hems.
    Best Wishes,

  12. shagufta at Sep 17, 2016 08:51:02

    perfect corners every time.

  13. Sherri at Dec 13, 2016 12:02:14

    I’ve made mitered corner napkins before but found your template and instructions this time around. Sure speeded up the process and worked perfectly. Thank you!

  14. Corky at Apr 13, 2017 09:26:40

    I like a smaller hem for the napkins I make. I cut my template to 1 3/4″ instead of 2″. I use fat quarters (18″ x 20 or 22″) that I trim to an 18″ square. I make my napkins double-sided, matching up the fabrics with a complimentary design from the fat quarter. I’m careful to square the corners and cut the squares the exact same size. Then, I iron both pieces together before I use the template. It’s not too hard to keep the two fabrics together when marking and pinning the corners. The hems don’t pucker, stay flat, and look nice for a long time.

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