Scrap Buster Project ~ SMS Cloth Napkin Tutorial by Ashley

on October 21 | in Sewing Inspiration | by | with 75 Comments

Ashley from Film in the Fridge shows you how to use your scraps to create two beautiful styles of these cloth napkins in today’s tutorial. Don’t these gorgeous photos make you want to have a crisp, fall picnic with your new cloth napkins? Have fun, and be sure to share your versions (early holiday gifts?!) with us!

From Ashley: I tend to save all my scraps, and they seem to multiply, so I’m always looking for new ways to use them. This is a quick and easy project, which you could adapt to any size scraps you happen to have.

I love using cloth napkins. Not only is it a great way to go green, but being a huge fabric lover like I am, I love to have another chance to admire my favorite fabrics! Usually I just make them out of one fabric, but I was thinking about it recently and thought that it would be fun if I added in some of my scraps to add some color and interest. I’ll show you two variations here, and like I said, you could certainly use this same method and simply change up the measurements to account for any size scraps you have on hand.

Fabric requirements (for 6 napkins, approximately 16″ square):

  • A variety of scraps
  • 1 yard solid fabric
  • 1.5 yards solid white fabric for backing

Patchwork Napkins, version 1

In this first variation, you’ll need to pull out scraps that are at least 2 1/2″ square (I used 2 1/2″ squares I had left over from my recent 9 patch quilt, but if they’re not already cut to size, trim them to 2 1/2″ square). You will need 8 squares for each napkin.

Arrange your squares in the order you like.

Sew together into one strip, using a 1/4″ seam allowance. I press my seams open so it lays nice and flat.

Once ironed, it should measure 2 1/2″ x 16 1/2″.

Next, cut 2 strips of a solid white fabric each measuring 1 1/2″ x 16 1/2″. Sew one white strip to each long side of the patchwork strip.

This resulting strip should now measure 4 1/2″ x 16 1/2″.

Now cut two pieces of your favorite solid color, each measuring 6 1/2″ x 16 1/2″. I love this Kona Coal, and I selected it primarily for its dark color (it’ll hide those stains!), but you could pick whatever solid you like best – or even a corresponding print would be fun.

I use a white solid for the back of the napkins. On this set, I used a Robert Kaufman bleached muslin. It’s fairly inexpensive and it comes in a variety of widths. (If you plan on using this type of fabric, I recommend prewashing it as I’ve found it tends to shrink more than other fabrics).

Cut one 16 1/2″ white square for each napkin.

Place the front and back of the napkin together, right sides together. Pin and sew.

Leave an opening of approximately 4″ to allow you to turn the napkin right side out. Snip the corners and turn right side out.

Use a point turner, or some other gently pointed object (I opted for a chop stick) to get your corners nice and pointed, then iron flat, ironing in the section you left open. Topstitch around the perimeter, 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the edge. This provides a nice finished edge and closes the turning opening. I used a decorative stitch on mine, but a straight stitch would work just as well.

I fold them in thirds and then in half. This way your patchwork strip ends up right in the center of the napkin.

And now onto the second version! I designed this so both napkin variations would work well together — the width of the center section is the same on both, so they can be perfectly matched, yet not!

Patchwork Napkins, version 2
This variation uses scraps of a slightly different size. This is good for those skinnier strips, pieces that aren’t square, or even slightly larger scraps — whatever look you’re going for!

To start, select scrap pieces that are at least 4″ in length. Any width is fine, providing it can hold a seam. And if you don’t mind crooked and wonky, then you don’t even have to make sure the edges are perfectly straight.

Again, arrange them in the order you like and then sew together into a strip. Iron the seams and trim to 3 1/2″ x 16 1/2″.

Cut two strips of solid white at 1″ x 16 1/2″. Sew one strip to each long side of the patchwork strip and iron. Your resulting strip will be 4 1/2″ x 16 1/2″.

Cut two pieces of your solid fabric measuring 6 1/2″ x 16 1/2″. Repeat the steps from the first variation to complete the napkin.

And now set the table and admire your lovely new napkins!

These make wonderful everyday napkins, or they also make perfect gifts! Don’t need napkins? You could use this same technique to make some stunning pillow covers!

Pin It

Related Posts

75 Responses to Scrap Buster Project ~ SMS Cloth Napkin Tutorial by Ashley

  1. Donna says:

    Oh my! They are beautiful! And, please, tell me how I can get my hands on the dishes! I was given some dishes like this but I need more pieces and have never seen any like this until now! Please let me know and I’ll pair with the great tutorial napkins here.

  2. katie jean says:

    love this! I am definately going to use version #2. thanks so much 😀

  3. Kristen says:

    What a great idea, thank you for sharing. I see a patchwork project in my future!

  4. Kathy says:

    I love this idea. I was also thinking of making napkins and maybe a table runner for Thanksgiving…I’ll have to try this! Thanks!

  5. michelle says:

    love love love this idea!

  6. Tove says:

    I love the napkins I was thinking of making some myself. I think I will sty this idea. very cool! thanks for sharing.

  7. rosie says:

    these are gorgeous…love them!

  8. Nadia says:

    I was amazed when I saw the fabrics used in the first example – I happen to have scrap pieces of nearly all of them so the picture looked like it was of my scrap stash at home! Awesome.

  9. Kelly says:

    I love these! Thanks for the tutorial, I am going to feature it on my blog:

  10. Katie says:

    Wow. These are great. One of my favorite scrap buster entries so far. I just bought my Kona Coal fabric the other day. You’re right, it’s a great color. Your photos are great. I just love the one of the napkins hanging on the clothesline. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Cricket says:

    I wouldn’t have thought to make patchwork napkins, but those are really fun. And who can’t use as few more cloth napkins? I feel like no matter how many we have, we always need more.

  12. Tara says:

    These are so beautiful! I’m bookmarking this to make later, thank-you!

  13. jaya says:

    beautiful pictures..makes me wish i had some grey in my stash ..for cushion covers, totebags, placemats, napkins. wow, those fabric scraps look amazing together!

  14. Sabra says:

    uh.. i typed in my link wrong for my above comment. What a difference a little transposition of B and P makes!

  15. Sabra says:

    Love! We use cloth napkins, too, and I was just thinking today that I needed to make some more. I absolutly love this idea! Thanks!

  16. Chrissy Brooker says:

    We use cloth napkins every day and this would be a wonderful addition to my napkin stash while helping get my fabric stash down a little. Thanks!

  17. Betsy M says:

    Oh, so perfect!

  18. Chelsye says:

    LOVE this! I make my own cloth napkins anyway. This just takes it to another level. Can’t wait to try.

  19. nikkapotamus says:

    These are so great! I made a table runner like this out of charm packs for my table and had a bunch left over. I can make matching napkins! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

  20. JSB says:

    I love them! Beautiful.

  21. Billie says:

    Wow, these are beautiful! Scrap busters month has me so excited about making stuff, wish there was enough hours in a day!!

  22. Jamie says:

    Love it!

  23. ktquilts4fun says:

    I have been doing this awhile now! It is so fun! Blogged about it here:
    And here:


  24. Karen says:

    YAY! I just made some of the rick rack napkins and scrap flour sack towels from Ashley’s sit. It just makes sense to now make some scrap napkins! Thanks!!

  25. Kristin says:

    This is my favorite tutorial so far. Thanks for the wonderful gift ideas.

  26. Mary says:

    I think if I made these, I would cringe anytime someone actually wiped their dirty hands/mouth on them!

  27. Caley says:

    Ooooh, these will be my next project for sure! So cute AND practical!

  28. Lana Dunkerley says:

    Never disappointed…Thank you Ashley! (and the photos are beautiful!!!)

  29. jackie says:

    those are so pretty and classic looking!

  30. Jodi says:

    Wonderful idea!

  31. Tara says:

    Now I just need fabric scraps to make these!

  32. Anu says:


  33. donna says:

    Beyond fabulous idea. LOVE these.

  34. Heather B says:

    I see these as Christmas presents for the kids teachers!! Thank you for the lovely tutorial!

  35. Aparna says:

    This is such a neat idea. A perfect project for scraps.

  36. Christine says:

    Very nice Tute! We always used cloth napkins when I was a kid (over 40 years ago!) and I use and make them now, but just a simple plain square. It’s nice to see an idea jiggler in making a more colorful napkin. thanks!

  37. Mindy says:

    Very lovely!

  38. Tricia L. says:

    Great use of scraps! I’ll have to dig into my scrap pile and make some of these!

  39. ktrn says:

    i really really love em!

  40. katie says:

    These look so great and actually look easy to make. Thanks!

  41. Marcia says:

    Great idea!

  42. Em says:

    I love these napkins! I will have to make a TON of them for Christmas presents – stash scrap buster!!! WOOOOOOO HOOOOO!

  43. juliecache says:

    perfect use for my old sheet.

  44. Megan says:

    Those are some seriously cute napkins! Now I’m needing some more fabric from which to produce more great scraps!

  45. Tina Mackey says:

    Gorgeous! I can’t wait to try it myself!

  46. Sarahe4e says:

    I have been serching for an unusual napkin pattern to go with a table runner. With this tutorial I have hit the jackpot. Just what I want. Thanks a million!

  47. Ramona says:

    I wanted to make some new napkins for Thanksgiving. I think these will fit the bill perfectly.

  48. Lynne in NC says:

    Wow! these are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

  49. Jody says:

    Wonderful idea!!! It would make a lovely gift.

  50. Tracy says:

    ooohhhhh, I just love this girl and all her beautiful quilts and lovely ideas!

  51. Amy Grant says:

    Wow I love these! Definately going on my “make for christmas” list!!! Santa might even need to bring some for me!! 😀

  52. Elizabeth says:

    This is just what I was looking for! I’ve been wanting to make napkins out of my Good Folks fat quarters but I have so many other things that I wanted to make with them too. This will solve my dilemma perfectly. Thank You.

  53. Kate says:

    A fantastic tutorial and my kind of project – stash busting as well as quick!

    On my Christmas ‘to make’ list!

  54. LisaCorrie says:

    These are so beautiful! I’m gonna look thru my stash to see what combinations I can come up with! Thanks!

  55. Jen says:

    I’ve had your ric rack napkins bookmarked for ages.
    Now I can add these to my growing list as well!

  56. Myra says:

    Great idea, you could also design a tablecloth to match.

  57. Katie Bowlby says:

    These are beautiful! Thanks for the idea.

  58. Suzanne says:

    I love these! This scrap buster month has been wonderful!

  59. Nikki says:

    These are the best cloth napkins I’ve seen! I’ve made a lot for my son to use at school this year and was just thinking that we need more at home. I’m going to give this version a try – so cute! I’ll be happy using them every day. 🙂

  60. mel says:


    I’ve been going over and over in my head about how I wanted to make napkins for 2 sets of housewarming gifts!

    Thanks so much!!

  61. Lorrie says:

    What a great idea – love all the colour.


  62. alison says:

    Absolutely love these napkins!

  63. lauradodson says:

    i adore her quilting style and all the solids she uses to compliment her stunnng colors and patchwork. i’ll be putting these napa-quums on my list. i’m not sure Why? my highshool bff and i called napkins napa-quums but we did and we thought we were very clever. now, i’m not so sure. :o)

  64. Kelly K says:

    Very cute!

  65. susanintexas says:


  66. Kerry says:

    Love these napkins!

  67. Sherrie Smith says:

    I love this idea!

  68. Linda says:

    Really love this one! Thanks!

  69. andrea says:

    Oh how fun. I might try and get some done in Thanksgiving colors 🙂

  70. Jenny says:

    How beautiful! I instantly knew these were Ashley’s work. I love her style! Her blog is SO inspiring! Thanks!

  71. Kaye Prince says:

    Ashley is just so talented (I follow her blog). I love using scraps for patchwork; I’ve made napkins like these before, but I love the colours that Ashley chose.

  72. Fantastic idea! My favourite scrap buster project yet.

  73. Tong says:

    These are beautiful! I don’t think I can use them and risk getting them dirty because they are just stunning!

  74. Michele says:

    So cute! And the perfect scrap buster project!

  75. Alice S says:

    Lovely! I just might have to make a set of these. I’ve thought about going to all cloth napkins (instead of just for “nice” meals), but I’ve always been afraid that they would look stained after a few uses. The gray color and the patchwork might keep that from happening.

« »

Subscribe to the newsletter

Sewing inspiration, projects, events and offers delivered conveniently to your email.


Get the latest news via