Introduction: DIY Self Binding Cloth Napkins

About: I'm an American ex-pat living in Greece, I enjoy cooking, sewing and all crafts.

Talk about a Utilitarian Sew Tough project, it can't get more Utilitarian than a Cloth Napkin, you use them every day, throw them in the wash when dirty, do a quick line dry and they are ready for the next day! Tough!

But these quick and easy Self Binding Cloth Napkins, do EXTRA DUTY as a Baby Sitter! That's right you have heard it hear first these cloth napkins will quiet your wild children while cooking, so you won't hear any nagging voices asking when is dinner going to be ready or the all unequivocal punctuation remark "I'm Hungry" whine....

By using fabric the kids can color on while you get the food on the table is very useful and practical and since they will also use it to wipe their hands or mouths while eating is a bonus and then you can wash it and use them again another day!

These easy Self Binding napkins are an easy to sew project perfect even for kids to sew up with help from an adult, the self binding part comes in from using a larger piece of darker fabric and a smaller piece of light fabric, when sewn edge to edge, it creates it's own binding.

Note: I did make a video and I am in the process of getting it uploaded, this is the first time I have ever made a video, so I am excited to share it, if you have any sewing questions to do not hesitate to ask :)


Sewing Machine


Ruler/Cutting Mat/Rotary Cutter


Disappearing Ink Pen (easy to find Frixion pen from Pilot is my favorite)



Clover Clips

Step 1: Preparation


Since these are items that will be washed on a frequent basis, please pre-wash to be sure they will not shrink and or bled colors.

Fabric choices can be yours I used a charcoal grey linen for the darker fabric and the Color Me fabric is from Michael Miller fabric company. It is preferable to use a dark color for the binding/backing fabric, just in case markers bleed.

If you are in Europe or better yet Greek (lol since they don't have a translate button on their website) you can order some really awesome Colour Me Fabrics from Ραφταδικο


Again the choice is yours, what size would you like your napkin to be?

A traditional cloth napkin ranges from 16" to 20"

Decide on a size or base it off of what size fabric you have, Here are the common size cuts below

  1. 16" square napkins: 18" dark binding background fabric and 15" of Color Me fabric
  2. 18" square napkins; 20" dark binding background fabric and 17" of Color Me fabric
  3. 20" square napkins: 22" dark binding background fabric and 19" of Color Me fabric

If you want a different size, figure out the size, add 2" inches to the binding background fabric then deduct 3" from that number to get your Color Me fabric size.

Cut your fabric to size! For every napkin you will need 1 binding background fabric and 1 white Color Me fabric.

Step 2: Let's Sew

  • First let's mark the fabrics, fold the larger background square in half, mark the middle, repeat the process on all four sides. Repeat the process with the smaller white square piece.
  • Now mark the corners at a quarter inch in a 45degree angle, use a ruler to do this, this helps mark where you need to start and stop when sewing to the corner. (see first picture)
  • Place the dark square facing up with the white square on top, right sides facing each other (you will see the back side of your Color Me print)
  • Pin at the middle, where you marked the middle then use Clover Clips to clip to the corners, only pin the top and bottom, the sides won’t be the same length. and it will look strange at first. (see second picture)
  • Straight stitch on the 2 sides of the white square fabric edges with 1/4″ seam allowance .
  • After stitching the top and bottom, pin the middle on both sides and use clover clips to help, leave about 4″ for the opening and easy turning. (see third picture)
  • Mark a line in each overhang corners to the stitch, then sew it use a ruler to determine the line by putting the ruler it at a 90° angle. (see 4th and 5th picture)
  • Trim off the extra "ear" fabric

Step 3: Iron, Turn Inside Out and Sew the Binding

I have never done a video before, so that is why I am hiding it here in the back ;) anxious face, tell me what you think, thanks.

The ironing is an important part, iron the white fabric towards the dark, in that 1/4 " seam allowance, (see the first picture) so when you turn the fabric inside out, the seam allowance will be underneath the darker fabric making it raise a little bit above the white fabric, use a wooden turner to tuck the mitered edge out. (see second picture)

Iron it again and then sew around the perimeter an 1/8" on the dark fabric away from the white, this will enclose the turning hole at the same time (see 3rd and 4th picture)

Step 4: Now Use!

Now the next time your kids are waiting for dinner to be served, put this out and let them do a little drawing, trust me it gets nice and quiet!

Tip: You will want to test run your markers to be sure they are washable and also some colors are harder to get out than others, always use cold water when washing the cloth napkins and do not iron them until the marker color is out, otherwise you will "set" the color in.

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