A case for textile napkins + a tutorial

When we moved the new house, one of the things I wanted to do was to replace the paper napkins we were using everyday with nice, hand-painted, mitered corners ones. I like the idea of just washing these and so reusing an item for a longer period of time. We still use paper napkins at home, but try to do it as little as possible.

There’s something quite elegant about using nicely pressed fabric napkins, and they look so good on the table. The problem is, if you’re going to make white ones like I did, you are going to have to commit to putting them in soapy water after each use or else you’d get unsightly stains on them and that elegant feeling will turn into an “ew, is this clean?”.

In retrospect, next time I make fabric napkins (and I will make more) I will make them in a darker fabric. If you don’t mind the texture, you could make them in a cotton and polyester mix. I found one that looks just like linen, it doesn’t stain and you don’t need to press it. But it doesn’t feel like cotton or linen, or any other natural fibre either.

hand painted avocado cotton napkins

colour pallette for painting avocado

I painted these with tiny avocados and I used acrylic fabric with a fabric medium. At first I though these were going to wash away quickly, but I even boiled them (in an effort to make them pristine white again – it works, don’t judge!) and the paint didn’t run or wash off. So I pretty happy about that part. I just used half fabric medium and half acrylic paints.

how to paint your own textile napkins part 1

To make sure the avocados were even I made a little stencil, reusing an “offers” magazine. I first painted the green, creamy, flesh of the avocados, then the brown pit and finally I traced the outer shell with a darker green.

how to paint your own textile napkins part 2

For the mitered corners I used this beautiful tutorial from Coletterie. I wasn’t sure about them first, but they look so much more elegant than my usual folded corners.

What about you? Do you use fabric napkins in your house? Did you mother use to? How do you feel about them on a scale from “eew” to “never paper napkins”?

Here’s a little pin bookmark, if you want to keep this for later!

how to make painted textile napkins