Posted on 14 Comments

Lunch Box Napkins

A few of you asked for more information about how I make my napkins, so I decided now was as good a time as any to whip up a few for the boys’ lunch boxes and photograph the process.

This tutorial makes three small napkins, which when folded in half, are approximately the size of a regular paper napkin.



  • 1/4 yard of fabric (not a fat quarter – a long skinny cut)
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • iron
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • computer (optional)
  • printer (optional)
  • t-shirt transfer paper (optional)



  1. Cut the fabric into thirds.  You should have three pieces, roughly 9″x14″.
  2. You want to have a nice folded edge all the way around each napkin, and you want the rough edges to be completely hidden.  Start by folding over one side about 1/2-inch and ironing it down.
  3. Fold that same side over again, another 1/2-inch and press.  This nicely-folded edge is what you will want to see on every side.
  4. Turn the fabric clockwise, and repeat the folding process on the next side.  Do the same for the remaining two sides, until the entire napkin has folded and pressed edges.
  5. You will be sewing around the entire perimeter of the napkin in order to hold down those folded edges.  The easiest way to do this, so that your sewing machine foot doesn’t get caught on the folds at the corners is to start sewing on the left corner of the last side you folded.  Sew this side until you are about 1/4-inch from the end.
  6. With the needle still inside the fabric, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric 90 degrees so that the foot is now positioned to sew down the next side.  Lower the foot, sew to 1/4-inch from the end, and repeat the pivoting process until you have sewn the whole napkin.
  7. Trim the threads, and the sewing is complete.
  8. If you or your kids will be taking this napkin on the road, you can add a personalized touch and save it from getting lost.  Simply make up a label in your word processing software and print it onto t-shirt transfer paper.
  9. Follow the paper manufacturer’s instructions and apply the transfer to an inconspicuous spot on the back of the napkin.



  • I used two quarter-yards to make six napkins here, one set for each boy.
  • These napkins are smaller than those I usually make for my family’s use at home.  When making a dinner napkin, I start with a fat quarter, cut it down to 18″x13″ and proceed through the same steps as above.  The leftover pieces from doing it that way make nice components for patchwork table mats.  Or, divide a full yard into six sections and avoid any leftovers at all.


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Posted on 14 Comments

14 thoughts on “Lunch Box Napkins

  1. I so need to learn to make these! Thanks for sharing RT @polkadotcreatio: New tutorial: Lunch Box Napkins

  2. RT @polkadotcreatio: New tutorial: Lunch Box Napkins, totally cool idea for my kids

  3. New tutorial: Lunch Box Napkins

  4. thank you so much for taking the time to write this up…i will definitely try your method. thanks again! 🙂

  5. Thanks for the inspiration. I have a lovely cotton sheet that my dog ripped while making a nest on my bed. It’s been taking up space because I hated to throw away all that good fabric around the hole. It will make the coziest napkins ever and they will be beautiful after a nice long soak in a tub of dye.

  6. Bandanas also make great cloth napkins/sandwich wraps/picnic placemats. My son is only 4, but I’ve already got plans for his lunchbox 😉

  7. I love the little labels you made. Great idea!
    .-= See Addie’s latest blog post: Initial T-Shirts =-.

  8. Love it!! Such a clever size…
    .-= See Aunt LoLo’s latest blog post: Going GREEN (and a deal alert) =-.

  9. So cute! I just might have to do this for my girlies. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= See cindy’s latest blog post: upcycling shipping materials. =-.

  10. I am inspired! I like the smaller size for lunch boxes and adding the name.
    .-= See Cynthia’s latest blog post: Pink Applique Quilt Problem =-.

  11. I have to admit, I’ve never used my sewing machine. I really want to use it, but I’ve been waiting for a small and simple project…I think I’ve found it….thank you for the sharing this project!

  12. These are so cute and clever; love them! I’ve been on a sewing kick, maybe I’ll have to whip some up!
    .-= See Amy of Progressive Pioneer’s latest blog post: Reusable Cloth Ziplocs =-.

  13. […] reduce the waste involved in lunching away from home.  First thing I did was make myself a set of Lunch Box Napkins like I have for my kids.  Theirs are lemons, but I made mine cherries – to match the bag, […]

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