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Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love washable products that substitute disposables. I know that cloth menstrual pads and cloth toilet paper aren’t for everyone, but some reusable items are really simple to use and take care of. Which is why today I’m showing you how to make incredibly easy DIY fringe cloth napkins!
This project is perfect for beginners because you just have to cut squares and sew four straight lines. No ironing and sewing hems, nor fussy mitered corners like most other cloth napkin tutorials!
These DIY fringe cloth napkins are so easy to make, you’ll want to make a bunch for you, and then a bunch more to give away to your friends. And paired up with these simple DIY beaded napkin rings, they make the perfect handmade gift!
I love a rainbow theme, but you can do any color scheme you like!
Or another option is to sew matching napkins and DIY placemats!
Want to learn how to make these cute and easy DIY fringe cloth napkins? Watch the video or continue reading below for the step-by-step tutorial!
- Any loose-weave fabric of a natural fiber. I love reusing old bedsheets (the white fabric above), but today I’m using colorful linen* to show up better in the photos. You will need about 16 x 16” (40 x 40 cm) per napkin.
- Thread* matching the fabric
- Something to cut with. If you have a rotary cutter*, quilting ruler* and cutting mat*, those make cutting really easy. If not, just use your sharp fabric shears*.
- Size 80/12 sewing machine needle*
- Tweezers* (not shown)
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Sewing DIY fringe cloth napkins:
1. Iron your fabric (the fabric in this picture isn’t ironed, but I did iron it before cutting!) and lay it out flat. Cut 16 x 16” (40 x 40 cm) squares with whatever cutting method you prefer. Discard the selvages and washed/frayed fabric edges.
The most “correct” way to do this is to make a small cut in the edge of the fabric so that you can grasp one thread and pull it out, which will leave a line going perfectly along the grain. You can then cut along that. But I honestly don’t have the patience to do this.
Another way to “cut” perfectly along the grain is to, again, make a small cut in the edge of the fabric, grasp each side of the cut and pull, ripping the fabric. My linen was pretty lightweight, though, and this pulled the edges out of shape.
In the end, I preferred folding the fabric in half twice and using my rotary cutter*, quilting ruler* and cutting mat* to cut a 40 cm strip going across, then reopen the fabric strip and cut that every 40 cm. Doing it this way will make for uneven fringe later on, but there’s an easy way to get around it, which I’ll show you.
You can also use a regular ruler to mark off 40 cm squares with a pen and then cut along those lines with your sharpest scissors. Do whatever works best for you!
You can see above that my squares are far from perfect, but I am not a perfectionist!
2. Sew 1 cm (3/8″) just inside the edges, making sure to turn crisp corners and NOT touching the fabric edges. Use a zigzag stitch with stitch width 2 and stitch length 1.5. (Learn all about the zigzag stitch and stitch width and length in this sewing lesson of mine!)
I’ll show you the easiest way to do this:
- Position the corner of the square under the presser foot as shown in A. Notice that the corner lines up with both of the 10 mm guides on the needle plate (shown by the arrows).
- Lower the needle. (B)
- Lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric. (C)
- Position the fabric edge along the 10 mm guide and lower the presser foot. (D)
- Start sewing with the zig zag stitch. Again, I prefer stitch width 2 and stitch length 1.5. (E)
- Stop sewing when the fabric corner lines up with both 10 mm guides on the needle plate. Make sure that you stop when then needle is lowered and on the right side of the zig zag stitch. (F)
- Lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric so that the edge lines up with the 10 mm guide, and lower the presser foot again. (G)
- Continue sewing. (H)
Continue around all four sides until you get back to where you started. Stop when you hit the first stitches that you made before. The fabric corner should once again line up with the two 10 mm guides.
Backstitch a few stitches to make sure that the stitches won’t come out. Then take the fabric out of the sewing machine.
Creating the fringe:
Now you will notice some threads of the fabric sticking out at the edges. (I) Normally we wouldn’t want that, but in this case it’s a good thing!
Gently pull a thread (here I pulled the one marked with the red arrow) and you’ll see that it starts pulling out along the edge. You can use your tweezers to help you grasp it, if you’d like. (J)
Pull one or maximum two threads at a time, making sure to start with the ones closest to the cut fabric edge. (K) You’ll know if they’re not the ones closest to the edge if, after you start pulling them, they get stuck beneath other threads. If that happens, just let go of them and pull out those other threads first. Then you can proceed with the other ones beneath them.
Once you’ve pulled out a few threads in one direction, you’ll see the threads going in the other direction start to come lose at the corner. You can then start pulling those out. (L)
Sometimes a thread will get stuck, probably because you tried to pull too many out at once, or because the ones going in the other direction have gotten a little tangled. Just use your tweezers to help pull the thread out.
It’s virtually impossible to cut the squares perfectly along the grain, so you will probably end up with something like M above at some point, when the pulled threads are uneven and end up into the stitching. No problem! Just trim them off and you’ll never notice anything!
Continue pulling the threads along the edges until you reach the stitching (shown by the arrow above in N).
If your edges are very uneven, you might want to continue pulling threads from one end and trimming them off when they reach the stitching. Otherwise one end might have only a little bit of fringe.
When you’re done, the corners will look like this.
Pull out all the edge threads along all four edges of all your napkins, and you’re done!
Don’t those look so pretty with that fringe?! I love this look, and they are so much easier and faster to make than their counterparts with mitered corners!
Make a bunch for your family! I suggest at least three per person so that you have extras to use between loads of laundry.
Speaking of laundry, cloth napkins are really easy to care for. I just throw them in the washing machine with sheets, towels, and other items that I wash with a long, hot washing cycle. You can dry them in the drier or hang them up to dry. (Added bonus: sunlight kills germs!) You can iron your napkins, but I’m honestly way too lazy for that!
Then you can make a napkin ring in a different color for each family member. This way you can fold the napkins up between meals and make sure that you’re using your own napkin at the next one!
You can even use this same method with a longer rectangle of fabric to make matching placemats!
If you enjoyed making these DIY fringe cloth napkins, make sure you go make some of these easy DIY beaded napkin rings with elastic cording to go with them! A full set is a wonderful handmade gift for a housewarming or any other time!
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6 thoughts on “DIY Fringe Cloth Napkins (beginner’s sewing, no mitered corners!)”
Brilliant, I love cloth napkins instead of paper.
I love how you go through some real basic tips for getting good results when cutting out and starting stitching.
Thanks, Julie! I like to make things as simple and clear as possible for beginners!
Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just made 12 fringe cloth napkins out of some 5 point dot indigo chambray fabric, and they turned out great, thanks to you! I ended up using my seam ripper instead of tweezers for the fraying, but otherwise followed your directions exactly!
I learned how to sew 25+ years ago (mostly self taught, with some help from my grandmother). And even though I’ve been sewing for a long time, I still have much to learn. Your tutorials have helped me become better sewist! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!
Oh, Carrie, that makes me so happy to hear! Could you show me your napkins? I would really love to see them! You can share in the brand new Cucicucicoo Creations Facebook group! (https://www.facebook.com/groups/cucicucicoocreations/) Also, if you’re interested in learning to sew, I invite you to join my Newsletter so that you won’t miss the news of a really fun sewing challenge that I’m almost done creating! (You can join here: https://www.cucicucicoo.com/sign-up-cucicucicoo-newsletter/)
Hope to hear from you soon! 🙂