Feelin’ Scrappy: How to turn fabric scraps into cloth napkins*

These easy, DIY scrap fabric cloth napkins are a great way to reduce the amount of paper your family uses and help you live a little more frugally!
Since I began sewing things to sell two months ago, I have been quickly accumulating a pile of fabric scraps. I have been pondering ways I could use them; the challenge has been that many of the pieces are too small to use for cloth baby wipes but they are too big to just throw away. I knew I needed to come up with an idea sooner rather than later because I was outgrowing my storage box and space is a premium in our little old house these days. This morning I finally had my “Ah ha!” moment. I could use them for cloth napkins!
DIY scrap fabric napkins
 I’m not referring to the normal, large size cloth napkins you see in restaurants or at fancy dinners. In our house, those are too big for our purpose so we don’t use them every day. The last few years my husband and I use a small piece of paper towel, it may not look pretty but it works and the size is perfect for most meals. 

comparing cloth and paper napkins

Growing up we used store bought paper napkins and threw them out at every meal so our use of a small piece of paper towel is an improvement, but I still wanted to figure out a way to alleviate even that paper usage and save us money at the store. We use cloth diapers and we use small baby size wash rags to wipe our little nugget down after she eats, so why shouldn’t we use cloth for our napkins at daily meals?
pile of cotton, flannel or knit fabric scraps
Dish towels, dish rags, hand towels, or anything terry cloth material in decent shape
Sewing machine (serger or standard machine with a zigzag stitch)
*These require only very basic sewing skills so even a beginner can make them!
I pulled out my bursting box of fabric scraps, grabbed a pile that was on top and began my project. We also have an overflowing rag drawer, so I took out a few of the cloth dish rags I had thrown in there a while back that had begun to unravel after a few washings and set to work.
I took each scrap of fabric and cut it to a rectangular shape.
sewing scrap fabric cloth napkins
I then laid it on top of the dish rag and cut out a matching piece.
easy DIY scrap fabric napkins
For our use, it does not matter if these are all different, odd sizes; if I were to make some to sell they would all be a standard size since I’m a bit of a perfectionist!
Once I had a pile completed, I serged all four edges together (you can zigzag the edges together if you don’t have a serger). The whole project took me less than half an hour and we now have a fun little stash of reusable cloth napkins in the perfect size for our family! 
sewing scrap fabric napkins
And now I can fit the lid back on my box of fabric scraps!

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  1. says

    I wanted to add that this week I made a bunch of reusable baby wipes from my scrap box. Instead of using the terry/towel fabric on one side like I did for the napkins, I used scraps of some birdseye diaper fabric, flannel, knit and cotton twill fabric. They work great and I don’t mind the odd sizes since I can grab a bigger size from the pile for a messy clean up if I need to!

  2. says

    how do you secure the ends of your serging? love the idea of reusable napkins and paper towels. side question – what laundry detergent do you use? i have been using charlie’s soap, but not sure how super clean it gets things…

    • says

      A great question on the laundry soap! We used to be a Charlie’s soap family for our cloth diapers but because we have hard water we learned the hard way (lots of build up and funky smell) that Charlie’s is not a good soap to use with hard water. We now use Rockin’ Green hardrock and have better luck with it. For our regular clothing laundry we actually make our own out of washing soda, borax and shredded fels naptha soap (I’ll be writing a blog post about it one of these days!) As for securing the ends of my serging, I always try to overlap the sewing about an inch and then pull the loose thread ends tight before I cut them off. This seems to knot them up nice and neat and prevent unraveling.

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