Nesting: Mismatched Cloth Napkins

DIY Cloth NapkinsDIY Cloth NapkinsSo, you probably already knew this but… matching isn't really my thing. I love patterns. Too many patterns. Give me all of the patterns, I say! 

We have a set of matching, simple white cloth napkins that I bought one time for a dinner party. They're ok, but I wanted a fun set. And they're SO easy to make. So I started fabric shopping and this quickly became my favorite nesting project ever.Cloth NapkinsChoosing fabric was my favorite part. I love picking out random textiles. But since I don't quilt (yet) I usually don't get to pick out a whole bunch of patterns for one project. I decided to go with mismatched napkins, so I could add to my stash over time. They will be useful for foodie photos we take for the blog too. Plus, who needs to match anyway? 

I ordered all the patterns I liked from an Etsy shop (Stash Modern Fabric). I bought a half yard of each one. I used a large square from each pattern and still have leftovers for more future projects.Cloth Napkins To sew each napkin, just cut a square and stitch a double hem all the way around. For the record, this was the first sewing project we learned in Jr. High Home Ec class. Still using that education. 😉Cloth Napkins  Done and done. Easiest project ever! I can't wait to add to my collection of mismatched napkins over time. If you know any Etsy shops with an amazing (vintage or new) cotton fabric collection, let me know! Have you ever made your own napkins? xo. Elsie 

  • Another benefit to having different fabrics for your napkins is that each family member can have his or her own distinct napkin. That way napkins can be reused several times between washings. For readers who aren’t up for sewing their own, I just listed “family napkins” on my Etsy site! There are several listings and over 30 fabrics to choose from. Here is a discount code–intro20– for readers to get a 20% discount on their order!
    Here is just one of the listings for Family Napkins:

  • There are actually membership sites that provide instruction is activities such as how to play your guitar. The lessons are available only to members from the site, although those who are not members can view what subjects are being taught in the instruction.

  • I love the fabrics you chose! I especially like the white one with ships on it 😉

  • I’ve bought plain material to make napkins and embroidered a little fruit or cake on each one. But they’re just so pretty that I only want to use them on special occasions! This would be a great idea for the day-to-day, and with patterns stains don’t show up so much. Brill. x

  • LOVE these. I love mixing and matching prints especially in a way like this. So lovely.

    Allie @

  • These are the coolest napkins ever.

    Best thing to do with those too small fabric lots you find right?

  • This is such an interesting idea! Seems cheap, easy to do, and exactly my style. One day when I have my own house…

  • I did a post a while back on making dinner napkins with metered corners 🙂 I thought it would be fun to do sets with fancy border stitching.

  • So cute!! Love that ship print fabric <3

  • Chrysta-
    I recommend cotton for cloth napkins. It’s easy to clean and care for. These are meant to be table napkins and not kitchen towels, though… because cotton is not absorbant.


  • I love your fabric choices – while making cloth napkins is a little more expensive up front, your post got me thinking that I would save a lot of money overall if I wasn’t buying paper napkins.

    What kind of fabric do you recommend? Linen? A heavier textile, like for curtains? Quilting material? I’m looking for something that will hold up okay after many uses/washes.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Hrm, I might have to make some napkins with leftover fabric I have….thanks for the idea!

  • Great idea! I bought some cloth napkins from Crate and Barrel a year ago, and I love them (and we use them everyday) but we need more and they cost an arm and a leg.

  • Some of my very favorite quilting cotton fabrics lately are from Julia Rothman’s new(ish)line Type. She’s got paper clips and vintage typewriters, nerd glasses and a really cute turquoise with vintage typewriter keys on it. I made a dress for my daughters 4th birthday from that one. She also has a new line coming out in May with bikes on it. So cute! I also love Lizzy House’s new line Constellations. It’s amazing! Stars and constellations (duh), phases of the moon and other pretty things. Those are my recent favorites for sure. Hawthorne threads has all three it looks like. Here’s Julia Rothman’s stuff and here is Constellations

  • This is a great DIY. I love the idea of the mixmatch!!
    I almost want to go home and see what random textiles I have laying around.


  • My son’s bar mitzvah is this Septeber and it is a Hawiian theme. I have been making mismatched napkins for the occasion out of theme fabric, some of it obviously a luau print and others with coconuts or pineapples or tikis on them. Lots of fun. Keep up the good ideas!

  • This is the best idea EVER. I love cloth napkins and I always find vintage cloth at thrift stores and never have any idea what to do with them. Genius. Thanks so much!


  • I love this etsy store:

    Hope you find something fun!

  • Question, where did you get your silverware engraved like that?

    Love the napkins too!

  • I love this idea. I only have boring white ones in my home. Time to mix it up I think!

  • You guys are constantly giving me great ideas for my future home!

  • We use cloth napkins at our house too. Another advantage of using mismatched fabrics is that everyone can keep track of which napkin belongs to who, so we each can use them a few times before washing!

  • This looks so easy and fun! Right up my alley in regards to DIY projects haha

  • Great idea! You know what’s extra good about these is that when you have week-end guests, you can each have your ‘own’ easily identifiable napkin to use for more than one meal, because who wants to do all the laundry associated with fresh napkins each for every meal you eat?! It would be unappealing to reuse if you weren’t sure it was ‘your’ napkin but totally fine if you were certain it was.

    I think I’ll be following your lead on this one and making myself a mismatched batch!


  • The boat and anchor fabric are jus precious for the spring/summer! I am feeling inspired to go to the store today!

  • Awesome post–the only thing I love more than mismatched napkins are mismatched teacups.

    We kicked the paper towel habit almost a year ago in favor of cloth napkins. I’ve done similar projects for cocktail napkins. Thrift stores are also great sources for cool fabric in cool retro patterns. With a table cloth or bed linen even, you can re-purpose into table linen for next to nothing.

  • I love choosing fabrics tooo.. Used to do that for making scarves back in my home country where fabrics are definitely cheap and of good quality.. I’ve never tried to make my own napkins before, but i think it’s very interesting to try considering that my husband and I always take photographs of new recipes we tried 🙂

  • I love this! It’s such a lovely and easy way of creating a whole new look for the dinner table!

  • I often use scrap fabric from other projects to make napkins, even if I can only make one or two 🙂

  • You picked such adorable fabrics! We actually did a similar post on our blog, here –
    but we added little embroidered sayings to each of them 🙂

    I love your blog, thanks for always being around to give inspiration!


  • It would never occur to me to make mismatched napkins-thanks for the idea. I know I have tons of scrap fabric lying around and this would be the perfect solution!

  • Oh my goodness! This is genuineness! And way cheaper and more personal than going and buying a bunch of different cloth napkins! I am going to HAVE to do this soon!

  • Love the fabrics you used for your napkins! I love everything vintage and the shop I like to get some unique prints and vintage fabrics from on etsy is sewdeerlyloved. They have excellent service, pretty good prices, and very cute prints 🙂

  • I have seriously been wanting to make my own clothe napkins for so long. I love the mismatching, too. I’ve made simple place-mats, but they shrank. Are you just using basic cotton fabric for you napkins? If not, what kind of fabric are you using?

  • absolutely adore. I am a fan of loads of patterns as well. I, sigh, never had the home ec class (sih?) but would be willing to learn just to make napkins (and curtains and easy duvet covers)!

  • The Etsy shop Owl & Drum has alot of cute patterns you may like! Love this idea too! Can’t wait to start buying fabric!!!

  • So crazy because I have been thinking about this lately… and we only purchase napkins when we are expecting guests. We are not paper towel/napkin people at all! I will have to try this!! xo

  • how fun! home ec was already phased out by the time i got to jr./high school 😛 so i never learned how to sew. at 25 (almost 26) i am making it my goal this year to purchase a sewing machine and learn how to use it! i love cloth napkins and i always end up buying mismatched sets from flea markets. it would be so much fun to make my own! 😀 i cant wait!

  • Crazy, I have never thought of sewing my own. I have searched for ages, vintage and new, to find napkins and placemats I like but can never find any to suit. Being a sewer you would think I would have thought of this. Have you made placemats as well? If so do you line them with fussing?

  • I love the cute fabrics! What a great idea.

    But more importantly – look at that awesome fork!

  • Oh I love the fabric patterns! Such a fab idea!

  • The polka dots, anchors, and boats are AWESOME! Love this idea!
    xo Heather

  • I love this idea! Reminds me of my favorite diner with their mismatched coffee mugs…absolutely charming!

  • LOVE this! it makes me want to go home an merchidise all my sewinf stuff 🙂

  • Sparkle Power on Etsy! She has some made from vintage cloth that I love!

    I especially love your fabric choices.

  • I have these on my make list. I might have to just bite the bullet and make them this week.

    I first discovered cloth napkins from JAQS Studio.

  • adorable! i love those fabrics! you’ve definitely inspired me to sew some for myself 🙂 how big did you make the squares?

  • This couldn’t get any better. DIY at its best.. So simple yet so head turning.. Love love love all those fabrics.. I’d say reading this was my fav part of the day! Gals u just made my day and gave me a project for the weekend..

  • i am moving soon, and am TOTALLY going to whip some of these up when i arrive safe and sound (and am jobless – perfect daytime activity!).

    i can also see myself extending this into (mis) matching table cloth and dishtowels…. oooohhh looks like i have to find a fabric store soon!


  • Very nice materials and I like that one with flowers. Have a nice day,

  • That is a great idea! Yet soooo not working with my annoying dysfunctional need for every darn thing to match… uff! =)

  • Beautiful! The colours provide a great first taste of spring. Also love the numbers, letters and flowers!

  • love this! i also love mismatched fabrics but i don’t quilt, so this is the perfect, easiest project! i love the fabrics you chose… what fabric store did you go to?

    xo, gabrielle

  • The sailboat napkin is the perfect touch of whimsy (I adore all things whimsy) and the way you displayed them in the basket is so simple and practical yet stunning with the pops of color. Nicely done!

  • oh i can’t wait to use this idea when i get a dining room table :).

  • I don’t know why I never thought of making my own napkins! I love all of the fabrics you chose, especially the bright floral and polka dots.


    Kristina does the Internets

  • Love the napkins! I was wondering where you got the metal bin that you have your fabric stored in? Thanks!

  • Must make these for our home. I made vintage fabric coasters for friends Christmas presents and it’s so great to see them on the table when we pop over for tea!

  • I have to admit, I always think that you are going to announce that you are expecting when I see a post title with the word ‘nesting’ in it! T It’s my default mama brain : ) (But that will be so exciting to see someday : )

    Anywho, I’ve never made my own napkins and I have absolutely no idea why– but I love these fabrics and quickly visited the Etsy shop the other day when I saw them on another post of yours.

    ps. I love that your silverware is engraved.

  • so happy you posted this! I’ve been thinking over the last month of making cloth napkins, so this post is the little extra push I needed to make it happen! Beautiful patterns you’ve chosen!

  • We did a similar one post over on our blog but we added embroidery! Aren’t napkins so fun?

  • What a cute project! I don’t usually use napkins but I might have to make myself a mini-set! I love the fabrics you’ve chosen 🙂
    Rachelle x

  • These are so lovely! If you made several in one color family, they could make great housewarming gifts. Thanks for the inspiration Elsie!

  • Hi Jane- The link is in the post, but the shop is called Stash Modern Fabric (on Etsy) 🙂 Yes, all the fabrics I chose are cotton. I think cotton is best for napkins. 🙂

  • I made a bunch of these last year, but they aren’t absorbent at all. This year’s batch will have a floursack side and a cotton side.

  • Love these! I used to have a stack of handmade cloth napkins but my husband thinks they are too fancy so he doesn’t use them. (I ended up giving them to my mom.) You’ve inspired me to make more and try again!

  • I love all the prints. Do you mind telling me where you got such great prints? Are they all cotton only?

    Thank you 🙂

    ~Jane B.

  • Smart idea ! will definitely try this in my new home…

  • I’m SO with you on not matching, especially when it comes to the thought of having to replace something that gets broken/damaged/stained/etc when the rest of the set is perfectly fine. This was our attitude when we decided to have mismatched dishes! It’s a little crazy looking, but I think our guests “get it”.

    I love the patterns you picked… that shop on Etsy immediately went into my favorites!

  • There is a local restaurant here that only uses old mismatched cloth napkins. I think it is so neat!


  • I love that fabric! I was actually planning on making some napkins for our house, but we got some for a wedding present. I guess I can still make more and add to the collection 🙂

  • My favorite Esty fabric shops (I have may have a slight fabric addiction ;p):
    In Color Order – great colorful fabric, also has vintage
    Kimem – mainly does bags and quilts, but also sells hand dyed fabric scraps (very pretty!)
    Skinny Laminx – also sells wonderful fabric scraps (her fabric patterns are simple and beautiful)
    Home Grown Pillows – beautiful selection of fabrics
    Nauvoo Quilt Company – huge selection of fabrics, vintage, reproductions, lots of choices

  • Love the patterns! My husband (then fiance) and I cut and sewed over 250 napkins for our wedding last year. It was definitely one of the most intense DIY projects we undertook for that day, but definitely worth it in the end. There is certainly nothing like late night bonding over napkin-making. 🙂

  • These napkins are adorable. I recently bought this great mix of fabrics on Etsy so I can make a Kindle cover out of the horse and polka dot fabrics:

    For my wedding, I cut 100 napkins out of purple floral fabrics using a scalloped blade on a rotary cutter and didn’t even bother to hem them. They turned out great, and still look good even after a couple of washes. I was able to cut 100 napkins in two evenings!

  • Love these! The Needle Shop based in Chicago has a great selection of fabrics for sale:

  • So simple but I love it! I don’t know why this had never even occurred to me!

  • All these nesting posts make me want to have a home of my own. Unfortunately with dorm life it’s a bit hard.
    xo Deanna |

  • This is such a great idea! I collected some napkins to make a mismatched collection, but never thought of making them by myself.

  • Oh how I ADORE cloth napkins! I made some a few months ago and now that I’m married I use them all the time! 🙂

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

  • do your forks say mrs. larson?! 😮 if so, that is too cute!

    love the proj and these fabrics, ah! 🙂

  • Im in love with the anchor print and the floral pattern fabric! Great idea for napkins 🙂

    Lulu xx

  • Such a good idea! I don’t know why but I never though of making my own cloth napkins. Love it.

  • Mismatched napkins is such a beautiful idea! The prints are gorgeous!

  • Ohhhh I love the idea!
    Napkins are sooo sad and conventional!
    These make me smile 🙂
    A Fashion & DIY Blog…

  • cute idea!
    and so many fabric stores have “scrap” piles that are fairly inexpensive & still cute!!

    xo – heather

  • So pretty! I am copying this, I love the quirkiness of the different textured napkins on the table, it makes it for a fun time at the table!

  • So very cute and smart! I’ve never made napkins of my own, but I sure want to give it a try now. 🙂

  • Lovely lovely! That wire basket is amazing by the way!


  • I was wondering what you were going to use all that gorgeous fabric for! Looks great!

  • I exactly understand what you mean! I have plenty of fabric scraps, that I want to use in one project. The napkins seem to be a great idea:) I was thinking about making a quilt or add some more pattern to some of my tote bags.

  • The boat napkin is so cute. I’m nautical obsessed and love finding unique items to fit the genre. I’m also having a “Bon voyage to mid-twenties” birthday party tonight wish I has that napkins right now!

  • Yay! This reminds me of Spring and eating on the patio outside. Thanks for sharing <3

  • Pretty! This brings all the charm of the fabric store varying pattern rows to your dining room table.

  • I love this project!! I actually made a ton of mismatched cloth napkins for my wedding this year using floral vintage fabric from a few different Etsy stores. I was able to crank out over a hundred of these if that’s any testament to how easy they are to make. 🙂 I absolutely love the mix of patterns you’ve put together! So whimsical but dramatic.

  • Cloth napkins are a great way to add fun to a table! I made pink chevron ones for Valentine’s day this year and it was so easy, I’m planning on making a bunch more!

  • So cute!! We don’t have cloth napkins yet but I’m thinking we need some now 😉

  • I love this idea! Now, if I only knew how to sew! I think I need to learn, pronto!

  • I love the idea of bringing color and pattern to the table with mismatched cloth napkins. My problem is you get, with certain foods/wines, some nasty stains that are hard to get rid of. White linens are the easiest to wash. To me, nothing beats the clean, fresh feeling of white linens. It makes the food stand out! I may have to change my opinion though, because I love those patterns you chose.

  • Ugh I still have nightmares about making over 100 napkins for my sisters wedding in one sitting. I may have to get over that though because these are so adorable! I have a slight (ahem huge) fabric obsession so it would be nice to use my scraps for something to add to our apartment 🙂

  • Oooohhh, I bought a pack of 26 fat quarters on etsy on Friday. I’m waiting for it to arrive but HELLO PROJECT!!

  • This the best collection of fabric – I cant wait to check out this shop! Great idea 🙂

    xx Ashleigh

  • these are so pretty! can’t wait to have some of these in my home. thanks for informing about them p.s. congrats on those pages in the foam magazine really cool now I want one so I can check out the diy project had never heard of them. xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @

  • I love having a basket of cloth napkins on the counter. I have made my own, but I am also fond of using the bandanas/handkerchiefs that they sell at the craft stores for less than a buck each. They are bigger than a standard napkin and way cheaper than making your own.

  • What a fabulous idea! And a great exercise for perfectionists like me who get stuck in everything-needs-to-match mode 🙂

  • We only use cloth napkins at our house! I started making them years ago because I love buying little bits of fun fabrics— I double side mine… a different fabric on each side.. double the fun! We have quite a collection now! They get better with age… they become softer with each wash. Now I make mismatched sets for family & friends.

  • What a fantastic idea!:) My bf recently picked up sewing as a hobby (hahaha) and I think I might be able to sell him this idea pretty easy, he would definitely love it!

    Needless to say, I love the fabrics and prints you have chosen.

  • I love using cloth napkins for dinners to cut back on paper towel use. Plus, mismatched towels like this are so fun! Makes it harder to get bored with just one pattern.

  • these fabric patterns are soooooo adorable. love them all, but especially the pink anchors, notebook paper/math equations and the polka dots…. beautiful. dinners would be so fun with these mismatching napkins

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