Friday, April 30, 2010

Cloth Napkins

We love our cloth napkins! Not only do they save us money because we're not constantly buying the disposable variety (although I do have a cheap pack of paper napkins on hand for hosting large groups), but they are also just so much nicer to use! Not to mention not generating so much trash.

I had several comments on the cloth napkins in last week's  green and frugal post so I thought I'd devote a whole post to the subject of cloth napkins today!

But don't they require so much care?

Not in my experience. We don't wash ours after every meal but instead use the same ones for several meals or days or until they are noticeably dirty. This may gross some people out, but it works for us! Some families use napkin rings to keep everyone's napkins separate. I throw them in the wash with a load of towels so they don't really create any extra laundry.

I iron napkins for special occasions, otherwise I don't bother with ironing. Linen napkins really look and feel much better if ironed and/or starched.  So I don't use those kind. :-) Plain cotton works well and is very low-maintenance.

What about cost?

At regular department store prices, cloth napkins can sometimes be a little on the pricey side. But they don't have to be! Every napkin in my collection has either been purchased on clearance, at yard sales and thrift stores, given as gifts or handmade.

After several uses, the napkins will begin to pay for themselves because you will no longer be buying paper ones.

How do I go about making my own cloth napkins? 

Napkins are one of the simplest items to sew, even for a beginner seamstress. I've used small pieces of leftover fabric to make ours. You can also make napkins out of a sheet from the thrift store or an extra sheet that you have around the house. Pretty much any cotton fabric will do!

They are so easy to make! Basically, you cut a square of fabric then hem the edges or you can make cute no-sew napkins like these.

My homemade napkins that you see at the top of the basket are reversible. These would be really cute to make with a stylish "adult" fabric on one side and a kid-friendly print on the other. I was going to do a tutorial on how to make reversible napkins but ran out of time so I found these instructions for you.

--Reversible napkins with matching napkin rings.
--Reversible napkins with adorable rick rack edging.

Some other cute cloth napkins I've found:
-- Five different styles of cloth napkins. I love all of these. The retro prints! The rick rack! The embroidery! The applique!

Alright, I may like cloth napkins a bit too much.

But they are fun! And cheap! And easy to use! Try it!

**This post is part of Frugal Fridays.


Bevy said...

You may have seen my post on using cloth it is:

Although mine are white...they look rather dirty, pretty quickly - depending on the meal and don't forget that we have kids.;) So, I would over time throw them into a bucket of bleach water and then just dump the whole thing into a load of whites. Worked great - until I started to notice how harsh bleach can be to the fabrics. I'm still okay with us using them for dinner's and stuff... but I desperately wanted to crawl under the table when I noticed that my darling hubby (who helped to set the table for company one evening) gave a "holy napkin" to one of our guests. IT WAS too late to "take it back" and I was "so embarressed". Since then- that napkin has made it to his greasy garage (a.k.a. trunk of the car) for any car maintanence he might have to do.

ahh, memories. All in the name of being "green and frugal".

The Prudent Homemaker said...

There are other ways to get inexpensive cloth napkins--garage sales and thrift stores re two way. I mentioned that I was wanting some and low and behold, my friends (grandmother-aged friends) had lots of cloth napkins that were sitting unused in their housesthat they said I could HAVE! they were dark red (just what I wanted!) and some dark blue ones.

Because of the dark colors, I don't stain treat them. Sometimes a little oil leaves behind a small stain, but everyday use, it's ot a problem. My children are home all day (because we homeschool), so they eat three meals a day at home. We often go through one napkin at a meal (oatmeal is especially messy) as my children are small (aka messy eaters).

Mine are poly/cotton broadcloth. They rarely need ironing, and the children are in charge of folding them when they come out of the laundry.

Mary Ann said...


I hadn't seen that post before. Thanks for sharing the link!

We don't have kids and I prefer to not use white napkins. We're very messy and they end up getting very stained very quickly.:-) I tend to go for dark or vibrant colors or prints that don't show the stains as much. :-)

I have some that are pretty worn- they do get that way after a while- that I would rather not use for guests. :-) I love how you referred to the "holy napkin". That's exactly what I would say! When something is old and worn, I'll say it's more holy than righteous. LOL!!!

Mary Ann said...

Prudent Homemaker-

That's great that you had some given to you! Many people have napkins and tablecloths that they don't use and would be happy to pass them along to someone who would use them.

I don't generally stain treat mine either although I do soak them with my towels overnight and that seems to help.

Nikki said...

I love your cloth napkin picture! All those different colors are so fun. We have cloth napkins as well. But we don't have enough to use them exclusively. Now I know what to do with a holey sheet I have!

Your blog is so fun and definitely my type. I'm following you now!

thehomespunheart said...

Cloth napkins are usually all we ever even have in our house! I've been using them for so long I forgot there was any other way! :)

I love cloth napkins - who wants to rub that scratchy paper napkin across their mouth! And, I don't find it tedious at all to wash and fold the napkins.

Love them!

Katie said...

Thanks so much for posting more details on these napkins and linking to the tutorials...I definitely have to get on this project!! So neat and resourceful!!

Ann Minard said...

That's it I'm switching! I do not sew so i am going to try the no sew gingham ones, thanks!

personalized napkins said...

I always prefer napkins that are not white since white can be very messy.