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fabric napkins stacked neatly

Lunchbox Napkins for Back-to-School

By Ellen Luckett Baker

Each year I make my kids new napkins for their lunchboxes.

4 different patterned fabric napkins on a table

In addition to being more eco-friendly, I have to admit that I love to make cute patterned napkins to add something special to their lunch away from home.

a stack of fabric napkins in a variety of patterns

This is an incredibly simple project and a great one for beginning sewers.

A fork on top of an orange folded fabric napkin next to a white plate

My napkins keep getting bigger every year as the kids grow, so this year I made 12″ squares for my 6-year-old and 8-year-old, but you can make them any size. These have simple folded corners, but as you become more advanced in your sewing, you can learn to make mitered corners for a professional finish. You could make these extra fun by hand embroidering or stamping the days of the week, initials, or a name.

Supplies (for six napkins):

  • 1 yard cotton fabric
  • iron
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • sewing machine
  • matching thread

Instructions on how to make hand-sewn napkin:

Step 1. Cut the fabric into 13″ squares.

Step 2. Next, fold and press opposite edges of the square by 1/4″ towards the wrong side of the fabric. Fold and press again again by 1/2″ and sew a straight stitch 3/8″ from the edge of the fold on the right side of the fabric on each of the opposite sides of the fabric square, sewing from edge to edge.

Step 3. Once you have sewn down two opposite sides, take the fabric back to the ironing board and press and fold again on the two remaining raw edges. Sew along these sides as well, forming folded corners on the back side.

For more fun and simple sewing projects, check out Ellen’s new instructional book 1, 2, 3 Sew.

More Back-to-School Ideas from Alpha Mom:

  1. Back-to-School Labels and Stickers for Organization
  2. Free Printable Personalized Bookplates for Back-to-School
  3. Fun Paper and Pencil Snack for Back-to-School
About the Author

Ellen Luckett Baker

Ellen Luckett Baker is the author of the long thread, a blog about handmade goods. She has always enjoyed making things, but the flexibility of staying a...

Ellen Luckett Baker is the author of the long thread, a blog about handmade goods. She has always enjoyed making things, but the flexibility of staying at home with her two daughters along with the creative inspiration they provide has led her to craft on a daily basis. Combining her love of graphic design and sewing, she has created an Etsy shop selling machine embroidery designs and sewing patterns.

Ellen lives in Atlanta with her husband and two young daughters. She holds a B.A. in Art History and a Master’s of Public Administration with a focus in Non-Profit Management.

Ellen recently wrote 1, 2, 3 Sew: Build Your Skills with 33 Simple Sewing Projects her crafting book. She is crazy talented!

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[…] lunchbox napkins are adorable and eco-friendly (@ […]


Love your fabric choices and their dainty patterns! Thanks for the clear directions for sewing novices like me.

Question: love the octagonal plate with 2 birds in your bottom photo. What line is that?


These are lovely!


Do you need to wash fabric before you see the napkins ?


[…] SOURCE: HERE […]


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[…] DIY lunchbox napkins: Tutorial at Alpha Mom […]


[…] side benefit to this little obsession of mine. So pack one of these ideas, throw in a note and a nice cloth napkin (which earns you green points!) and your kid might just eat his lunch. How […]