Sewing napkins is one of those easy sewing projects for beginners I’d recommend to anyone who wants to master different types of stitches and experiment with various fabrics.
The simplicity of napkins opens endless choices for your creativity and expression. You might want to try out different patterns and stitches, but also different fabrics.
The fabric of choice will depend on the budget you’re willing to allocate for the napkins and the look and style you’d like to achieve on the dining table.
In this article, I’ll present to you some of the best fabrics to pick for your napkins.
What to Look for in a Fabric for Napkins?
While you can use any material to make napkins that will look good, if you want them to serve their purpose too, you should rely on certain criteria.
Here’s what you want to look for in fabric for napkins.
The Fabric Should Be Absorbent
One of the main reasons why we use napkins in the first place is to mop up spills, such as drinks or sauces.
It Should Be Appealing
If it’s meant to enrich your dining table, it should have an attractive and effective design.
It Should Be Easy To Sew
Sewing napkins usually means making several pieces. You don’t want to get stuck with a piece of fabric that’s difficult to maneuver. So, a good napkin fabric should be easy to manipulate with hands and machines alike.
It Should Be Durable
The whole point of sewing cloth napkins is to be able to reuse them. So, the material shouldn’t rip easily, especially not when it comes into contact with liquid or when being washed.
Best Fabrics For Napkins
Now I’ll list the best types of fabrics to use for napkins. I will explain the pros and cons for each type of fabric and also explain for which occasion it works best. Let’s dig in.
When it comes to fabrics intended to touch your face, my personal favorite is pure cotton. It’s the most natural type of fabric and the safest one to wash, as you can put it your machine on a hot wash cycle at 194 degrees F, and rest assured that no germs will remain.
Also, cotton is also highly absorbent, making it the perfect choice for cloth napkins, and you can pull off practically any kind of pattern with it. It’s just as good for hand and machine sewing alike.
However, cotton does come with certain problems. First, like many other natural fabrics it can shrink when you wash it, so as a precaution, it’s recommended to wash it with cold water for the first time. Second, it can be a bit more expensive especially if we’re talking organic cotton.
Where To Buy Cotton Online?
Here are some of my recommendations for purchasing cotton fabric on Amazon:
- Mybecca: this is plain white cotton muslin fabric. It works well for the entire napkin, or as a base to be combined with other pieces of fabric to make a nice pattern.
- ZGXY: this seller sells fabric in bundles. It’s mostly nicely designed quilting cotton pre-cut in 20” x 20” squares.
- Aubliss sells cotton squares in even bigger bundles – 50 pieces of patchwork 9.8” x 9.8” cotton squares, well-designed. This might be the perfect choice for your napkins, or excellent to combine with plain white cotton muslin.
Another natural material, very common for napkins, towels, bedsheets, and other products designed to be gentle to our skin.
Since linen takes a longer time to harvest, and the final product is sometimes even softer than cotton, it can be even more expensive.
On the other hand, this material is a good choice if you want to make some classy napkins, as it’s very smooth on the surface, and any pattern will look good on it.
Another pro for linen is that it’s highly absorbent, yet, it dries very quickly.
Where To Buy Linen Online?
If you want to order linen fabric online right now, here are some of my recommendations:
- Lovous: this is plain white linen that needs to be cut and sewn. You can use it as a base, or the entire napkin.
- Caydo: Caydo offers three pieces of linen cloth in grayish and brownish color, to break the monotony of white, yet maintain elegance and simplicity. This fabric too can be used to make the whole napkin, or as a base to combine with other pieces of cloth.
- Quality Linen: this is a 100% organic piece of linen cloth in oatmeal color. Perfect for everyday napkins.
Bamboo is an excellent choice of fabric if you’re searching for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Producing bamboo is a complete environmental win compared to cotton, as it requires less water, costs less, and doesn’t require any types of pesticides. The end product is not only recyclable but compostable, meaning that once it has served its purpose, and you’re ready to throw it, you can actually use it to feed your plants (after composting it).
The downside to bamboo napkins is that you need to wash them at lower temperatures – they will very likely get damaged if washed at 194 degrees F.
Also, bamboo is not the most durable material you can find, but it has the advantage of being cheap, soft, and organic. Also, it is highly absorbent, almost like cotton.
Bamboo napkins are good for use on any occasion – from cocktail parties to dinners and lunches.
Where To Buy Bamboo Fabric Online?
While you may think that bamboo fabric is difficult to find to buy, you can actually get some pretty good deals on Amazon:
- Lavitex sells solid white bamboo cloth perfect for napkins, as they sell per yard.
- Telio, which also sells bamboo fabric per yard, offers some amazing designs on their cloth.
Blended fabrics are not the greenest solution you can use, but they are wallet-friendly, easy to find, and look good. Cotton-polyester fabric blend is one of the most common blends you can find on the market. I bet there’s at least one item of clothes you’re wearing right now that is made of this blend!
This blend usually comes in 50/50 and 65/35 combinations. It’s easier to wash than cotton alone because polyester doesn’t shrink nor change its shape, and it also dries faster than cotton. However, cotton makes this fabric softer for the skin and more “breathable” than it would be if it was polyester alone.
Also, polyester gives the fabric an elegant shine, so if you’re getting ready for some classy dining, this might be a good option. The fabric is easy to sew by hand and sewing machine alike, and you will be able to use the same napkins for years – this blend is highly durable.
Although it’s not as absorbent as cotton alone, it still can contain some level of fluids, so it satisfies this parameter as well.
Where To Buy Cotton-Polyester Blend Fabric Online?
- New Star Fabric: this 35/65 combination is an excellent material for home crafts. It’s not expensive, and it comes in plain white color, which can be suitable for both practice and classy events.
- Creative Chameleon: if you were looking for some fun design on your napkin cloth, look no further, Creative Chameleon offers this fun pattern on their 90/10 poly/cotton blend.
- Ben Textiles: this seller sells fabrics by the yard and I found this black polyester-cotton blend particularly suitable for many of my sewing projects.
Finally, polyester, especially the synthetic type, is the least green solution for your napkins. It’s easy to sew, wash, and dry, and it won’t hurt your wallet. It can also be very soft and silky, but it’s not sensitive-skin friendly, as the material is not breathable.
There are many pros to using polyester alone as the fabric for your napkins: it’s highly durable, hard to tear, it doesn’t fade easily (in case you wanted to have some kind of print on it), and it doesn’t wrinkle.
Polyester is a fully synthetic fabric, made of petroleum-based products.
Polyester shouldn’t be washed at high temperatures, as it can deform and change its color. The upside is that you can wash it many, many times before it begins to lose its shine, and it’s not easy to tear.
It’s very lightweight, so it dries easily, but not as absorbent as cotton or bamboo. That’s why polyester fabric napkins are best used as decorations or as cocktail napkins.
Where To Buy Polyester Online?
- Tatuo: plain white polyester available per yard. You may need it for other sewing projects too, so you might want to get a larger amount, and then cut a few squared pieces for your napkin project.
- Master Fab: this brown polyester cloth is great for any sewing project and comes at a very affordable price.
- : Dupioni is a great choice if you’re looking for a fabric that will resemble fake silk. It’s not particularly absorbent, so I’d recommend it only for decorative purposes, as it looks good. They have a range of colors available.
While there are other types of fabrics to try for napkins, these are my personal favorites and the most logical choices. They are all relatively easy on the skin, more or less durable, and absorbent, you can experiment with stitches and patterns with most of these materials, and finally, they can look very good on your dining table.
Depending on your priorities and needs, you might pick bamboo over polyester, or vice versa, but in the end, whichever type of fabric you pick from these five, you won’t make a mistake.
Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API