Best Fabric For Cloth Napkins (20 Options + How Much You Need)

Endless choice is what you have when you want to make cloth napkins. That actually is a good thing as you can experiment, be creative and push the envelope with your cloth choices. This is a very safe project to attempt all three.

Linen is always a great choice for cloth napkins. They can be soft and durable while looking stunning on your formal table. Plus, you only need about 1 1/4 yards of material to make 4- 21 by 21-inch napkins. That measurement goes for both the 45 and 60 inch wide fabrics.

To learn more about which fabrics you need for a good cloth napkin, just continue to read our article. It has that information and more. You do not need a lot of material to make cloth napkins if there are just the two of you.

What Fabric to Use for Cloth Napkins


As we have already stated, linen is probably the best and most popular choice for cloth napkins. They look good and clean up easily. But there are a lot of choices available to you and this is the time to use your scrap stash and experiment before doing the real project.

Other fabrics include gingham, cotton, polyester, rayon, bamboo, wool, and even silk. What we are saying is that it almost doesn’t matter which fabric you choose as most will be a good fit for the project.

One person has suggested using quilting charm packs as the material included in those packs provide the right size for many napkin styles. Plus, they provide a wide assortment of colors and designs. You could also use a soft denim material if you want to have a casual-looking table.

These are just suggestions but do not go out too far. Some fabrics are just not suited for being made into napkins. Use a little common sense here as well.

Table Napkin Cloth Type

The cloth type you should be using, and will help narrow your selection, should include the following criteria:

  • 1. Be very absorbent - picking up spilled liquids or sauces is a must, which is why it is first on the list.
  • 2. Look good - appearance is half the battle and if the napkins complement the table setting then you will impress your guests.
  • 3. Be durable - while there are lots of fabrics you can use, not all will hold up to use, cleaning, and other duties the napkin must perform. Also, they need to handle their own cleaning process well.
  • 4. Be strong - the material used should not rip very easily especially when wet.
  • 5. Be easy to make - you should not use fabrics that are hard to control and maneuver as you work. This is a simple project that even beginners can do well.

These key points should help direct your creative energies and guide you to select the right fabric for this project.

Best Material for Cloth Napkins

Cotton is one of the best fabrics you can use and we already know that this list will not be perfect or have everyone agree with it. This material is strong, holds up well, and is very decorative no matter the occasion. Plus, it comes in many variations to fit your need.

Then, linen is also a top choice especially when you want to have a sophisticated and elegant-looking table to impress the boss or your husband’s boss. Or you can keep up with the current trend and go with bamboo fabrics. This material is eco-friendly as well as durable, hypoallergenic, and absorbs well.

A good poly-cotton blend should be at the top of your list. Not only do you get lots of colors and designs to choose from, but you get the sturdiness of polyester and the softness of cotton.

Some synthetic materials are also good for this project. The key that will guide your fabric selection will be the purpose. Will the napkins be used on a daily casual basis or for formal entertaining? When you know the purpose, you'll find the best fabric to use.

Fabric Napkins Types


The napkin sewing project is not always as simple as it may look. The reason for that is that there are different types of napkins and different sizes you can make. For example, a formal table napkin is usually nice and large as well as made out of very fine material.

But a beverage napkin is small, can be decorative, and needs a lot of absorbing power. Not a lot of material is needed to make one out of cloth. Then there is the dinner napkin. This option is a little larger than the beverage type and maybe a little smaller than the formal napkin.

It can be decorative but a solid color is probably best. Then napkins can come in different shapes. Some are octagonal, triangular, rectangular, or square. You do have a lot of freedom in designing the size, color, and shape of the napkin type you want.

Also, you can make a round napkin or design one to fit the holiday season.

Best Fabric for Dinner Napkins

As we have said at the start, you actually have a lot of choices when you want to make a dinner fabric. Linen is a good choice as is bamboo, polyester, and cotton as these fabrics can all look good and fit the decor of your dinner table.

If you are going for looks only, then silk or sateen may be the best fabrics. Durability is a key factor and that may limit your choice to more robust fabrics that can look good and handle a large mess.

Keep in mind that a cloth material that works for a picnic will not normally work for the dining room table and the dinner hour. While you have a lot of choices, some fabrics are just not appropriate for the more traditional dinner time.

The fabric has to have the look that shows it belongs on the dining room table at the dining hour.

Best Fabric for Everyday Napkins

Casual cottons are good and that is one reason cotton is one of the best fabrics to use when making napkins. It is very versatile and it comes in a wide variety of colors and designs. You should be able to find a good cotton fabric that fits your everyday need.

Then you can go with bamboo as it is durable and should be able to handle daily use as well as cleaning. Bamboo is a healthy option and a very sustainable fabric. Polyester is another choice as it does not fade nor shrink and like cotton has a lot of different colors and designs to choose from.

For durability and good looks, etc., you can use a good cotton-poly blend or even a nice bamboo cotton blend. Both options will be durable and hold up to daily use. These fabrics are meant to get your creative juices going as you are not limited to just these few selections.

Fabric Napkins for Christmas

Fabric-Napkins- for-Christmas

The purpose of the napkin will help determine the type of fabric you will use. The ingredients of the evening will also play a role in which fabric you will choose. If the napkins are for a celebratory party with lots of drinking, then certain fabrics like linen may not be appropriate.

If it is a Christmas meal with friends and family, then linen, top cotton, bamboo, poly-cotton, and other synthetic materials would work well. We do not mention color or design as the time of year already dictates those aspects.

For casual Christmas affairs, a good gingham fabric would work along with other casual fabrics. Synthetics would also do wonders at this time as they are decorative, festive, and very durable. Plus, their colors will last throughout the Christmas season.

Natural fiber fabrics may start to fade on you if you need to wash them more frequently. Synthetics will hold that color and brightness even after frequent laundry times.

Fabric for Cocktail Napkins

Some people prefer linen and cotton or a blend of the two materials for their cocktail napkins. They like the absorbing power as well as the easy cleaning nature both fabrics have.

Polyester and other synthetic materials are great because they do not lose their color nor do they wrinkle. But some people do not like the fact that those options stain easily and it is hard to get the stains out.

But you want a fabric that is decorative, colorful, durable, and able to absorb any spilled liquids. As long as the color and decorative touch fit the occasion. As we have said previously, this is a project where you can experiment with different fabrics till you find the best one for you and your parties.

There is just too much freedom here and you have lots of room to push the envelope or think outside the box. Of course, your guests may not always like your creation so that will be a guiding factor in your fabric choice.

Finding Napkin Fabric by the Yard

Not hard at all and if you are a regular reader of our website, you already know the answers we will be putting here. Start with your own fabric stash to see what will work for your special or everyday occasions.

If you do not have any good material on hand, your locally owned fabric stores will be glad to help you find the right material. Or you can go to one of the many big box stores in your local area to see what they have in stock.

Your mall department store or the mall itself may have smaller stores that sell fabrics by the yard, and you can spend a little time at the mall looking as well as treat yourself to a nice lunch at one of the many restaurants.

If you do not feel like driving to those locations, power up your computer as Amazon, Etsy, and many other online outlets that sell fabrics by the yard may have the right material at the right price.

There are more than enough fabrics by the yard outlets on the internet so your search can be done at your own pace and while having another cup of coffee.

How Much Fabric do I Need for Napkins?


This is going to be determined by the number of napkins you are going to make and the size you are going to make them. When you know those two key elements, then you will know how much fabric you are going to need.

If you are not sure, continue down to our fabric chart and those figures will guide your purchase. Suffice it to say that you are not going to be using a lot of material unless you are going to make a lot of large napkins

Do the figuring before you get to the fabric store in order to avoid buying more fabric than you need. Also, the amount of fabric you buy will depend on if you are going to make several sets of napkins at different times. Save time and money by buying all the fabric at the same time.

Fabric Napkins Size Chart

Here is a set of handy fabric size charts that will guide you in your work. We cannot produce a chart for every size of napkin so you will have to make adaptions to the figures provided in the following charts.

The measurements in these charts are for a 45-inch wide fabric and for the most part those measurements work for the 60 inch wide fabrics

#1. 21 by 21-inch dinner napkins

Number of napkins fabric by the yard
two 5/8
four 1 1/4
six 1 3/4
eight 2 1/3
ten 3
twelve 3 1/2
fourteen 4 1/8
sixteen 4 2/3
eighteen 5 1/4
twenty 5 7/8

#2. 14 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches lunch napkins

two 1/2
four 7/8
six 7/8
eight 1 1/4
ten 1 5/8
twelve 1 5/8
fourteen 2 1/4
sixteen 2 1/2
eighteen 2 1/2
twenty 2 7/8

#3 11 by 11 cocktail napkins

two 1/3
four 1/3
six 5/8
eight 5/8
ten 1
twelve 1
fourteen 1 1/4
sixteen 1 1/4
eighteen 1 5/8
twenty 1 5/8

How Much Fabric for 8 Dinner Napkins


As you can see by the chart, you will not need a lot of material, only 2 1/3 yards. Of course, you will probably end up buying 3 yards of materials unless the store allows you to buy in fraction sizes.

That is something you have to factor into your budget. The rounding up policy most stores have may add a little more cost than you were planning on. But that policy is a good thing as you should add in about 10% for material amounts due to mistakes, and distractions, or other sewing problems.

Having a little more than you need protects you from running short in case of a miscalculation and you never know when a mistake will appear. The extra amount saves your project and keeps you from running out to the store again.

How to Cut Fabric for Napkins

Making napkins is a simple project and is a great one for beginners to build their sewing confidence. One of the key elements in making napkins needs a steady hand. beginners can do this so it should not be a problem.

The first step in cutting the material is to decide how big you want them to be in their finished state. If you want 21-inch dinner napkins, then you are going to have to cut the fabric at 22 1/2s in each direction.

The extra 1 1/2 inches is for your seam allowance on all four sides. Once you have measured the fabric, use a cutting mat if you have one or a good flat surface that can handle the sharp edge of a rotary cutter.

You can mark the fabric and use scissors but the rotary cutter should provide you with a clean edge. Make sure to use a good straight edge to help guide your cut if you are using the rotary cutter.

After you have cut the material fold 1/2 inch under all the way around, and press. Then fold another 1/2 inch under and press a second time. Then go on from there.

Some Final Words

There are over 20 different fabrics you can use for making napkins. The one you use will depend on your creativity, the purpose, and the characteristics of the material. But If you want the best, stick with the tried and tested fabrics like cotton, linen, synthetics, and possibly bamboo. However, it is all up to you and when it comes to napkins you have a lot of freedom to create a special look.

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