Works For Me: Cloth Napkins


Before I get started, let me point you in this direction if you missed it earlier. 

Moving right along….

Here’s a fun little thing I’ve done for years.  Instead of barreling through paper napkins (since goodness knows this family generates enough trash already), I made these simple little cloth napkins out of gingham.  There’s no sewing involved–just cut 11×11 squares of gingham (available anywhere you can buy fabric, and it’s usually very inexpensive).  Fringe the edges by Napkinunfolded_1pulling out horizontal strands starting at the top of the cloth; you only need to pull out 5-6 strands.  That’s it! 

I was even able to find a cheap little basket at Hobby Lobby to store them in on our table’s center.  We use them for regular, everyday napkin needs–when they become stained with spaghetti saNapkinsinbasketuce they are cheap and easy to replace.  It saves a few trees and makes regular meals seem a little more special.

If you have a tip you’d like to share with all of Bloggityville, please leave your tip below.  Instructions for participation in WFMW can be found here.  Please remember to link back to this post so that your readers can find all the other tips. 

Oh, and one more thing–I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback that the "themed" WFMWs (like last week’s) are a real hit.  Would you like to see these more often?  Or do you prefer doing your own thing?  Please answer the poll below so I can get a feel for your preferences.

67 thoughts on “Works For Me: Cloth Napkins

  1. Pam says:

    What a great idea. At one time when the kids were little we got those value packs of washcloths and used those instead of napkins. we liked them so much better than regular napkins! I like your idea even better as it looks classier!

  2. An Ordinary Mom says:

    As usual, thanks for hosting, Shannon.
    I like your napkin idea. My daughter is a napkin freak. I bet I could find some fun material for her to use.
    I wish the best for Kelli. It warms your heart to know that so many blogging friends have raised that much money to help her get her kidney transplant. Her situation hits kind of close to home for me since I, too, have some kidney issues.
    Hope your ice is starting to melt!

  3. Laura says:

    Shannon that is a great idea. Now that we are a family of five here I can see how that would be really helpful. I especially love the no sewing part but pulling the horizontal strands sounds like it could be complicated…so not crafty here but I might give it a shot. Laura

  4. Jane says:

    I got a lot of cloth napkins as shower gifts. They are out of sight out of mind. I should just fold them up and put them in a basket and actually use them!

  5. Jessica says:

    That’s a great idea – right now we’re using bibs for mopping up faces, but I’ll have to remember that and try cloth napkins when the kids grow past bib-age.
    Thanks for hosting – it’s so much fun to read everyone’s ideas each week!
    peace of Christ to you,

  6. Julie says:

    We have used cloth napkins here for quite awhile. My mother made quite a few for me by serging the edges, she could make a set of 8 in less than 30 minutes. Now I am not so quick, but even I can make them.
    It does help to have individual napkin rings so that you could use the napkin for more than one meal. I found my urchins using several napkins a day when really not necessary and I didn’t want to add unduly to our laundry.

  7. Allison says:

    Love it πŸ™‚ I wonder if the edges will get “funny” after washing them though…maybe I would spray my edges with that stuff to prevent freying? Thanks again for doing this! πŸ™‚ God bless!

  8. Michelle says:

    I suppose I don’t follow the theme that often when you have one and worry that I’m breaking sacred rules when I do that. Often I just don’t pay attention to what the theme is and don’t notice until I’m ready to post. Nice napkins!

  9. HolyMama! says:

    i love the napkin idea! never would have guessed they were no sew.
    hmm. and the basket? i love that too…
    did you say hobby lobby, cause i kinda love THAT part, too…

  10. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    My mil is a big cloth napkin person. My tip along those lines is for babies/toddlers. I buy those cheap thin 6-packs of baby washcloths and keep one of those in the kitchen for cleanups after each meal.
    I voted (thanks for asking!). The organizer (of people, not of things) in me says that in order to plan or think, if you announced the theme or the lack thereof each Wednesday for the next week, that would allow us to think and brainstorm.

  11. Nancy says:

    We use cloth napkins too, but I bought them.
    Each person has a different color. Our mats match and are multicolored. That way, when we want to use the table to do a craft or play a game I can scoop up all the mats and napkins and put them back into the correct place.
    I have two complete sets and if both are dirty, then I use paper, but it is much less often.

  12. jen says:

    I really enjoyed the poll…I voted…thanks for doing this as always and the napkin idea is great….have a great week Shannon.

  13. Kelly says:

    I love the cloth napkins idea. Now if only I can get my hubby to go along with it. . . Seriously, though, I am going to have to make some this weekend. Every little bit counts when you are trying to be frugal.

  14. Barbara H. says:

    That’s a great idea. My main objection to cloth napkins was that, being rather germophobic, I would feel a need to wash them after each use and it would take too many to keep us supplied. But these would be inexpensive enough to have several of.
    I like the voting box, too. I like the themed versions occasionally but I wouldn’t want them all the time.
    And I just want to thank you again for hosting WFMW every week. I really enjoy it and find it helpful.

  15. Elisa says:

    Thanks for the “improved” napkin idea. I’ve tried using some of my older cloth napkins this way, to save money and save trees, but got sidetracked over the holidays and started using paper.
    You’ve inspired to begin again, and to make some fresher looking ones with fabric I have laying around. I just didn’t want to bother with sewing, so thanks especially for that part of your tip!

  16. Amy Jane says:

    Oops, first time playing And I mess up the linky title. Will be re-trying πŸ˜›
    Anyway: love the napkin idea– I’ve been trying to figure out a simple way use cloth and here it is.

  17. amblin says:

    Great napkin idea! I can’t stand paper napkins so I’m going to remember this one!
    Thanks for hosting! I love reading everyone’s ideas. πŸ™‚

  18. Just Jana says:

    I’m thrilled with the napkin idea. I bought cloth napkins last year to eliminate the paper ones, but they were so expensive, I only bought one set and they look HORRIBLE! I’m gonna try your idea.
    I posted a fantastic idea for kids independant play. They love it. I love it. No mess. Easy. Keeps ’em busy for a long time.

  19. Heather L. says:

    I’m off to get some gingham! What a great idea. We use paper and I’m always running out. I wouldn’t splurge on expensive cloth ones for everyday, either. I thought about sewing them, but then I’d have to actually sit down and sew them. Thanks for sharing and hosting!

  20. Caroline says:

    Great idea! I actually got the idea to make my own napkins from another WFMW a few months ago. I don’t remember who it was but they hemmed the napkin. I did it and we enjoy using cloth napkins.
    I am going to try this idea. I bet I can get my kids to help!

  21. Kristy says:

    Oh, I love cloth napkins! I got my stash of them by ruthlessly tearing through my quilting stash and grabbing all the material that has been used on more than two quilts and will likely not be used again as a result! Then I did it the hard way of ironing a hem in and stitching them!
    I like your idea much more!

  22. Rebecca says:

    I really like that idea!! Thanks for sharing. On a funny side note, I read #1 on the WFMW too fast and thought it said “cutting kid w/ scissors”. LOL! I had to read it twice.

  23. J. Fergie says:

    Great napkin idea! We use SO many paper towels, it’s not right. To make it even more simple (I’m sooo not crafty) I might use pinking shears to make the pretty edges.

  24. Rebecca says:

    We only use cloth napkins, and I whip them out fast with the serger. Takes no skill whatsoever. But it’s wonderful that there is a good no-sew alternative!

  25. qtpies7 says:

    I would love to save the money, but I’d be forever doing more and more laundry, lol. I’d have to change my blog to “24/7 laundry duty” or something, lol.
    Actually, we hardly ever use napkins. I’m not sure if we are just that neat, or if their pants are really grubby, hehe. We just pull out the paper towels with messy foods, like ribs,which I would never allow fabric napkins to be used for because they would stain. Its a great tip, and very cute to have in a basket! Love the look!

  26. So Many Joys says:

    My first WFMW! We use cloth napkins. Before switching, I had three sets that I’d pull out for special occasions. That is more than enough for us since I do laundry daily. We also use washcloths instead of papertowels for other wipe-ups. I bought a 12-pack of jewel-toned washcloths at Kohls for $4. The cloth napkins are in a wrought-iron napkins thing (hopefully someone can picture it) on the table. The washcloths are in one by the sink. Of course, I use cloth diapers so extra laundry doesn’t phase me. πŸ™‚

  27. Emily says:

    I like the napkin idea. Do you launder them after every meal, or use one a day per person? I guess either way it wouldn’t add too much to your laundry load. I’ll have to see if I can find some pretty material.

  28. Nikki says:

    You know, I’ve used cloth baby wipes and cloth diapers. I even have (and use on special occasions) cloth napkins. But it never occured to me to use them on a daily basis. You are brilliant!

  29. jeana says:

    we use cloth napkins too. It’s just as easy to toss them in the hamper as it is to toss them in the trash.
    I like the theme because it gives me inspiration, but I wouldn’t want it every week. Maybe every other or once a month?

  30. Kim says:

    I am going to have to try your idea. I have a very earth-friendly 8 year old who would love not throwing napkins away. Thanks for such a wonderful tip!

  31. katherine @raisingfive says:

    I’m in a napkin/placemat rut. You inspire me, and gingham is my favorite. Even I could do this. (I’m also in a tip rut, but I’m working my way out of it – by reading everyone else’s!)
    BTW, we got your ice today! Brr!

  32. Kahri says:

    I love your idea! I hate paper napkins and I never want to shell out the money for the nice expensive ones! I am definitely going to do this! Thanks!!!

  33. Jen says:

    I love this idea! I really think I’m going to try this. I’m not sure I totally understand about the fringing, but I’m a visual learner, so maybe I need to buy the fabric and do a little experimenting. Thanks for sharing your idea.

  34. Kristen says:

    My sister has always used cloth napkins at their house and after seeing her do it, I started doing it. I found a bunch of napkins at an estate sale and use those, but I love your idea of just using simple cotton cloth sewed up. Great idea!

  35. Megan says:

    I didn’t read through all 66 comments, so this might already be addressed – we already use cloth napkins, but the thing I HATE about them is that they get all wrinkly in the wash/dry. Now if you could see the size of the ironing pile of just Craig’s clothes alone I need to do, you can imagine how often I iron napkins: NEVER.
    Do these get terribly wrinkly when they wash up?

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