Sewing 101: Mitered Napkins


Hello again everyone, it’s Theresa from the Sewing 101 class! If you’re just starting out, a simple cloth napkin is a great first project for new sewers. I’ve given these as housewarming gifts and they never disappoint. The mitered technique gives them a nice, clean edge and you can opt for contrasting colored thread for an extra design detail.

What You Need (Makes 4)

* 1-1/3 yd. cotton fabric
* Coordinating thread
* Flat 18″ ruler
* Marking pen
* Fabric scissors and/or rotary cutter
* Iron/ironing board
* Sewing machine
* Sewing gauge (optional)



1. Make sure to prewash/preshrink your fabric before sewing so you can wash it after sewing without it puckering and losing shape. Test that your marking tool washes away by marking a corner of your fabric before washing. Once dry, press your fabric flat.

2. Using your marking tool and ruler, measure four 20×20 inch squares (two across the width of your fabric and two along the length) on the Wrong side of the fabric. Cut out squares.

3. Press all four corners of one square 1-1/2″ toward the Wrong side.


4. Snip 1/2″ from each corner.


5. Fold 1/2″ along all sides toward Wrong side and press flat. Fold over 1/2″ again toward Wrong side, so that the corners meet. Press flat.


6. Pin in place and top-stitch 1/8″ along all four sides. When you top-stitch, you want to make sure the Right side is facing up when feeding the fabric into the machine. The bobbin thread will show on the Wrong side (where the folded edges are).




7. Make sure to pivot at the corners, keeping the needle pierced into the fabric as you turn and making sure the edge continues to line up at the 1/8″ mark.


8. Top-stitch again at the 3/8″ mark (if your machine does not have measurements near the needle, use your marking tool and ruler to mark these points from the edge). Approach the corners at a slow speed and pivot at the 3/8″ mark.


9. Clip any extra threads and press napkin flat. Repeat on other 3 squares.


For more sewing tips and techniques, sign up for my next session of Sewing 101 starting in August!

  1. 1

    I absolutely love this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to make napkins for some time now and this tutorial is so easy to follow. Now I just need to pick a fabric!

  2. 2

    This is by far the easiest and best-explained tutorial that I have seen on mitering corners on napkins. I have a whole stack of napkins ready for sewing!

    Thanks so much!

  3. 3
    Pat Obrien

    i loved your tutorial on mitered corners. really precise and easy to understand. i would like to participate in your learning tutorials. thank you.

  4. 4

    This was the easiest pattern to follow and the easiest one to make the corners as well. Thanks for sharing I know the people I give these to as holiday gifts will love them!!

  5. 5

    I just wanted to say thanks for the tutorial! I never figured out how to do those perfect corners until now :)

  6. 6

    This is the perfect project for the new year. I made stockings this Christmas, after having my sewing machine for only a year. They turned out well, but they were challenging. I’d like more practice with the basics of sewing for this coming year, and napkins are perfect: environmentally friendly, excellent gifts, and great practice with the basics. Thanks!

  7. 7

    I just used your tutorial to make my daughter in law 10 cloth napkins to go with placemats I bought her. This will be a birthday gift. They came out great and thanks to your easy to follow step by step tutorial my project was not only enjoyable but the outcome was pretty! Had never made mitered corners before! The trick is measuring everything correctly to begin with! Again, thanks!

  8. 8

    Wow, these instructions are incredibly easier and more straightforward than the ones I was following when I started this project, almost a year ago. Can’t wait to finish it up; thank you!!!

  9. 9

    Awesome tutorial for the corners! I know you said cotton fabric but is there any type specifically to use? I feel like just a plain cotton wouldn’t be thick enough?

  10. 10
    janeen Lafreniere

    I am confused I guess wondering why you start out by pressing all sides 1 1/2″. Then you say to fold and press another 1/2″ and then fold and press another 1/2″ ….that is a total of 2 1/2″. Is there something I am missing? Thanks!

  11. 11
    janeen Lafreniere

    OMG….am I stupid……I thought it was all four SIDES 1 1/2″….it is just the corners! Sorry!

  12. 12

    I would love to know where you got that ruler from! I’ve been on the hunt for a similar one, but am having no luck. Thanks for the tutorial :)

  13. 13
    Laura Brown

    Great instructions, thank you! One question: IIn #6, why sew on the right side? Why does it matter whether the bobbin the thread is on the top or bottom? It seems so much easier to sew with the wrong side up at the corner folds and when piviting.

  14. 14
    Dani H

    Great technique!

  15. 15

    Great tutorial – I’ve made napkins twice before and this, by far, was the best result. Feel like I can finally make them pretty enough to give as gifts!

  16. 16
    Judi Soderstrom

    This is by far the best tutorial I’ve come across for mite ring corners and it is the most “finished” result. One question: could this technique be used for other square dimensions (for example, 24″) and, if so, are the measurements for the corners and hem the same? or is there a formula for calculating the ratio? Thanks so much!

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