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Simple Sewing Projects for Beginners

Lesson 17 of 23

Creating Unique Cloth Napkins

Susan Beal

Simple Sewing Projects for Beginners

Susan Beal

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Lesson Info

17. Creating Unique Cloth Napkins

Lesson Info

Creating Unique Cloth Napkins

So now that we've soon ah, lunch tote we need something to put in it and I, uh would love to show you how to make a very simple, very cute reusable cloth napkin that tux right inside this, I found some really huge fabrics I like a lot at at fabric depot, the fabric store in portland the's air made by cloud nine, which is organic cotton, which is so nice for using with kids anything for kids, but especially things that go near food. And one thing I'll mention with oilcloth is you can check with the manufacturer at your fabric store you buy it, but it's not recommended to what I have learned tohave rate by a children's food, so you won't want to put just like a loose sandwich in here, so something like a cloth napkin that's organic, washable cotton is perfect for these bags because you can put it great in like this and then tuck the food inside. So when the child pulse anakin out it's ready to eat and it also is just one more layer between the treated oilcloth and the bags or containers ...

that you've securely put your food into. So the binding tape that we made for the capes and the skirt is very similar to the binding tape will be making for the's napkins the difference is primarily that we're going to be using a slightly narrower one, I made some of these napkins, and this is a kind of a child size napkin rather than one you might use for your own dinner party or something with a larger one that adults will be using. But I used a fifteen inch square of a break colorful fund cotton, and then I use a binding tape that's actually one and a half inches instead of two inches, fabric strips and that's folded into three quarters and finding tape, so it makes slightly narrower edge for something smaller like this, you could definitely use if you would just have one biting tape maker and it's the same size we've been using in the other projects you're welcome to use that, just cut your strips at two inches for what we'll be doing. We'll cut our strips at one and a half inches, and we'll need to the width of the fabric salvage to salvage that are each one and a half inches wide. I went ahead and propped my fabrics for both of these six I just couldn't decide which one to dio, and so you guys have some in front of you as well to choose from, and if you'd like to find these same ones, as I said before, they're organic cotton firm called nine it's an ad m burley collection I love his work really like bright colors for kids everybody's got their favorites, and certainly if you want to go to the fabric store with your child that's a lot of fun, because then they could pick out exactly what they wanted, and you could end up doing a nice collaboration. My daughter loves going to the fabric store, and I remember going with my grandmother when I was little, so it's fun seeing how excited she gets now, so for these napkins, you're going to start with a fifteen inch square fabric. I think I'll go with the fox is it's just execute one, but the letters are great, too, and I'll use this orange it's kind of a scribble like a non directional, which ever one you you here in the studio would like to go with. You will have the fifteen inch square of your napkin fabric and then cut two one and a half inch strips off finding so now that I am safely done with oilcloth, it actually is the iron again. I'm just going to use my best press here to give this a nice, crisp, neatly pressed appearance, and one thing I like about this one and a half inch finding tape is that even that very subtle size difference makes a very delicate, cute, noticeably narrower finished tape you'll see I'll just show the two biting teammate makers next to each other, so this is the one you'd use with an inch and a half wide strip, and this is the one you use with a two inch strip, and they're both made by clover. There are other brands to buy, but I love there's a very nice quality to work with some of the best press, both the strips of fabric, and then I want to join them together the quarter inch seam allowance, just like I did with my binding tape that was two inches wide it's the same exact process you're just using a different dimension in a different finding take maker to start with. Yeah, I'm a binding tape when wouldn't have just yes, and you'll need two of them a salvage salvage. So after you cut your two strips, here's the fabric for this particular napkin when I mean staining is presumably something you have to take into account when you're choosing a fact. Yes, excuse something that's washable, definitely washable, and I loved that these were just really lighthearted and fun, and as much as you know, my kids have all their own favorite colors. I just really like these kind of great oranges and greens and yellows, that air just justice fund for a boy or a girl. So I kind of I had already chosen my oilcloth apple was the very first one I chose and walking on fabric depot I saw these bolts and just thought this is adorable picture and immediately is an afghan so I went with it that way but yeah, something with a busy pattern that's not a ton of white is ideal I really like how just patterns if there is a spiller stain just conceals it so much better that's a great point and then for the binding what's nice about this one is with finding I mean precision binding can look beautiful with a very, very specific pattern but I really like thomas lighthearted kind of hand drawn when looks when it's cut narrower it's got a lot of light heartedness and fun so you'll trim were salvage is just as we did yesterday and stitch it together with a quarter inch seam allowance in this finding projects nice because it's about gosh let's see just under half the size of the cape may be less quite about probably a third or a quarter of the size of the kate come to think of it so I'm going to go ahead and I'll take my nonstick foot off since we're gonna boil cough for now and I'm going to heaven I'm just going to use my son in such books will be doing more is exact so uh did you attach these two strips together like just about to do that right now exactly um so yeah and just like the earlier session with the segment we're going to join it with a quarter inch seam essentially see you know that one ended up little off so honestly with finding tape joins if you get a messy one or something's a little out of a lineman I would just touch it again rather than try to press it out and just kind of keep going it's just not worth having one that isn't as neat if you can have one that's flatter and lies more smoothly I fear a finished product so if you're beginning so you should feel right at home as you watch me every thread further second or third time he's so remember and my best friend taught me how to sew she went back after visiting me for a week and teaching me on a nineteen sixties singer and it was so fun learning with her and having her right next to me and just helping me out with everything showing me how to do it and then she was leaving and I thought oh how will I ever remember how to thread this machine so that's one good thing about being a beginner you got lots of practice starting the machine so no for finding joint and now justice we did with our wider binding tape we're going to start out with an angle cut and we're going to guide it through the fighting tape maker the same way that we did before it's just a little thinner and a little different construction using a straight pen or your seam ripper is a great way to guide it just kind of can nudge it forward for you once it's getting closer you can kind of ease it through the top so once you've got nick aligned like this I'll just show both sides I haven't pressed yet you'll see how the two raw edges will be aligned in the center just like it was with a wider one let's give this a general press just to give it a nice start and you'll want to make sure their fabric speeding and pretty evenly you don't want it to close to one under too close to the other edger won't work as well, so the way I make finding tape which I can't mention in the segment for skirts and capes as well is I press or iron with my right hand I'm right handed so you'll see how you end up with the raw just together I'm going to go ahead and cut starting section off because it's got the diagonal pointed edge we aren't going to use so these raw edges will land right in the middle of your finished tate it's kind of a magical way to have a really clean, neat edge and then you pull you the biting take maker away with your other hand it's sometimes easier with a larger ernie ward this one works fine, but if you have more of a surface you can reach you can do sort of a longer stretch at once every now and then check the back and make sure like this that it's pretty aligned and minds doing well so if it does get out of alignment you can just tweak it a little bit or smooth that back down and it'll flow more smoothly again I do one that corresponds with my fabric switches cotton and then always make sure speaking of ironing that with your join for your biting tape if you're using more than one strip that you press that area well and press it open and flat um quoting cotton is ideal for finding tape it's really nice you can use other materials to definitely but it's kind of a unease e one tio work with and it just lends itself really well to this type of project. So speaking of joints as I go over my join, I'm going to kind of ease it through because it can pull differently and that's one place I always check the back of because since you've sown there and there's multiple layers of fabric it's screaming a little thicker handled a little differently so no you can her sad again it's flowing pretty well you added a pocket your lunch tote super cute and you could use that for pencils? Absolutely. Thank you jenny it's great yeah I love seeing what people make because there's such simple basic little projects but you can just really make them your own with your choice of an embellishment or contrast fabric or saw the same with us some of those applications for what people were working on with stars or initials or which fabrics they picked so firm and finding tape I'm at the end of my first press so now you can see that this is gone from being an inch and a half wide to three quarters of an inch wide it's half its half of its folded under so now just like yesterday in our earlier segment just gonna use my best press or spilled water also works really well for this but quoting cotton and other fabrics remain it is sometimes just a little water or a little light spray starch does a nice job and shaping it or pressing it more neatly so instead of just pressing it dry with a hot iron I liked her give it a little help how's everything going with spreading teeth good no I saw projects the other day where somebody made shiu li says out of this style of oh that would be very threatening tape isn't that cute you could do that just fasten the end so they're just mason secured and then you could have really huge fabrics would be a great back to school project how we doing with our binding ladies? Looks like you've got there. Yeah, yeah pro after yesterday yeah yesterday got some major big crash course in finding so the napkins are very similar to the cape projects in terms of just edging a single layer of fabric just nice lightweight project but we're going to turn four corners instead of two. So it's just a little bit it's a smaller project with a little bit more of a definite framing but I like how certain skills just really translate into more than one project. So now that we have are binding tape if you're not going to use it right away I just recommend wrapping it around like a piece of card stock like a postcard or a paper towel roll anything like that so that it stays nice and folded sir for my napkin I'm just going to give my fifteen by fifteen inch square really good press so it's nice and crisp and ready to work for us and as you can see here just a little thread got caught but it's going to disappear right into the binding so if anything like this happens where you have a little bit of our very narrow raw ads like that, it will go underneath the binding tapes so that's absolutely no worries there the one thing I always try to do when it comes to things like quilts or napkins, anything that's got a corner is I just want to avoid getting my binding joined right on the corner, because you'll do a simple, folded corner that adds bulk just in that one area. And if you have the joint land right there, too, it's just going to end up being very tight. So one thing I'm going to do now, this kind of hold my binding together and bring it around just to get a sense of what's gonna land and, sure enough, this's within, like, a half an inch of this corner, so I'm going to go ahead, and since I know I have extra binding, I want to go ahead and cut six inches off the end and start with a shorter piece. So now when I hold it around the perimeter, because my first story is going to be here on one side, and then I'm gonna go around the perimeter of the napkin, no, my join will land safely in the middle of a side, and this is really one of those things where you know it's, not the end of the world, if you end up with the biting tape joined right on the corner, you can either. Cut it and change the joint to an earlier spot that works fine you can just go ahead and make the corner with the binding tape join but it's nice to avoid it if you can so I'm gonna start near one corner not right at the corner but say a few inches over and penn this in place and I'm just like yesterday going to try to sandwich the spine ing tape around the streets smooth edge of the napkin and this is why with cutting it is so nice to have a really straight clean edge because so it can get wavy and binding concetta change but just one of those things actually this gives me an idea I think I'm gonna see how aligned the says spreadem justice just going to show you how I'm not going to try to do it now because that I'll just take a minute extra and I just want to show you the corners and everything else but if you want to make a reversible napkin I just love to mention that now is when you would just take the two pieces and you would align them together wrong sides facing so each side is super huge and has the right sides facing and then you would stitch around the perimeter of the whole thing so just a normal straight such normal length with trim any raw edges away if there's a little out of alignment and then just find the double layer so that's how you'd make a reversible napkin instead of a single cited. So if you choose to do that, I would love to see a picture, so please add it to the creative live website we'd love to do that. Absolutely. If you go to the course page for this particular course you can click on, share my work and then you can upload or if your images to the galleries and we'd really love to see that any of these projects you've been following along with susan, we'd love to see your images or indeed you can share them on twitter out at creative lives are handle or at west coast crafty, his susan's handle, and she has the same handle on instagram. We'd love to see a word I have some pictures on my instagram I'll just mention that I tagged with creative live and susan be alive from some of my progress shots for making all these projects and fabric shopping and everything in between. So if you'd like to share yours as well, I would love to see them, so feel free to add them and tag those that would be wonderful, all right, so just a zay did in the earlier segment, I've got my finding tape here. Pend all along one edge as I did with the skirt, I'm not going to start at the very beginning of my penning, I'm going to do it here just a little ways in. I've recorded my preferred with intention and length I'm going to set, and this is again my preference on this singer heavy duty. You should just tests and see what you like for years, but I'm setting my with two five since I'm doing his exact I'm setting it to regulars exact with five length is, too, and I set my tension at five when I served with this machine at home. But the nice thing is, now that I've cut this little piece of binding tape off and when to use it as my test, and do a very quick steps, because it's so worth not starting to, so you're really projects and realizing that something's a little wider nearer than you wanted, see yes, I like how that stitching it's very even on the back. So one thing that's nice with this is that I can later I can or no, I can just easily staple this right into my book and have just a recollection of just what that within link intention just actually looks like hi, yes, I'd be happy to, I said, my tension at five I sent my wit that five also and the width is the one on the top of the machine and then I set my link that to which is a nice wides exact that's not too teo it's still got a little closeness, so I'm going to give myself about an inch excuse me about three inches of open space there and I'm just going to drop my needle first and this is just going to be a standards exact I'm using just white thread because my prince looks great with either orange or wait it's just a really versatile one and I want to start stitching forward I do not need to back such your I'm just going keep going on to just a quarter inch before the corner so I'm stopping just before the corner and I'll check the back of my finding tape that looks great. I mention this in the other binding tapes segments where we made capes and skirts but I really like to do is exact binding especially for beginning sewers because it's very durable and it's also a little more forgiving than a straight such what you might use on a different machine binding application but is also a little a little more challenging to keep perfectly aligned with back in the front those exact is just a broader stitch that covers more sewing territory so it's just going to be a nice thirty edge now for a corner one thing I loved about the bonus material that I know I've mentioned before but to me a picture is worth a thousand words and I was able to includes from really beautiful illustrations of biting tape corners and how to align your projects that are included in that download pack so if you have that handy or if you get it from purchasing the course later you can have that as a refresher and I've written on some step by step details as well but here's how I do this I make a need folded corner front and back so that this is a very simple folded it's not as formal is a really beautiful perfect miter corner it's much faster for something simple like this you're welcome to use any having method that you like just speaking of my dark corners those are absolutely lovely could do one with your own fabric you could do a rolled him which is also lovely and very simple it's creates a very neat very clean folded edge I'm with just a single roof stretching all the way around you could also use a searcher and over lock the edge that's very fast and if you're making quite a few napkins at once like for example of for a whole party or just making a household's worth of napkins or school yearsworth of napkins at the same time though verloc would be the fastest way to go. And you can duplicate that on a home sewing machine by doing a roll kind of rolled him edge with the tights. Exactly. And that would work. Find tio that just really like how even already, just a simple little project is starting to look so cute with the contrast edge that really speaks to it. So non gonna drop my needle again moved my pen out of the way, so don't stitch over it, but I want to make sure that my fold stays flat and I mentioned this with the other biting tape, but sometimes on corners, I like to just advance my flywheel rather than start stitching because sometimes with soft fabrics like this, it can get caught up. And then I'll reverse actually, just for this particular area gonna change my length so longer so it's, a little more territory covered and a little was pulled it a little to further a little more territory covered and a little less likely to get caught up in stitch over itself. So no she's going to do a couple more by hand and then just stitch up full speed. Once I'm on the the other part of the napkin erica, change my length back to where I had it now, just explorer. You can always left your presser fed and smooth your fabric down if you especially if you're approaching a pen and you want to just stop rather than keep going at the same speed and, you know, maybe go off track or get too close to the pen it's almost my second quarter once again, I'm going to stop just before sure, my threat I've got my first and second side done I'm going to do the same type of folded corner just ahead and just to show you a different angle of this one thing you khun d'oh is almost like you're biting tape lie flat and then press it with your iron over like it's hugging the napkin and then guide it so that it's really got a good neat corner so one take it the corners, of course, the really good part to get nice and even on the front and the back and then after that, the book of the scientists just a neat, easy straight line and uh just one more thing to clarify you can also use sore, but it, uh, bias or binding tape for this project that is wonderful bias tape actually uses a slightly different approach where it's cut on the diagonal in fabric and it's perfect for curves like on, say, the facings, our findings of a dress or another a apparel application where you'd like to have a curve but it's also perfectly find shuster street it just like this oh, that looks so cute with the letters I love it looking good actually yeah I see a very huge nothing over there so I'm just using the flywheel in my corner again just to try to avoid that thread traffic jam that I mentioned and now I'm going to just touched down my side and then one thing that I would mention too just so over a little more carefully is the joint of your binding so right up to it and then I'm going to just use my flywheel too to one such a time over it so you just it's not like running over a speed bump it top speed on your machine so now just to show you the front and back of the napkin just the back is just just as neatly aligned is the front zigzag is just a really great way to have a very sturdy good join and I've concealed my binding join away from my corner which is exactly just about where it was going to land initially so no, we will stitch our final full side do the same pressing I did before I like to just get my corner really neat and perfect in terms of just easy quick fold and then if it needs a little adjustment I'll tweak it after eh initially pen it I also I have a full instructions on this in the bonus materials, but I for something thicker or something, I really want a perfect precision corner I'll actually hand based it with a very high contrast color thread and huge stitches instead of pending the corner so that it's absolutely perfect and then a soon as I finish sewing it by machine, I'll take the basing stitches out right away and it's just easier than having a pen that can shift or speed around a few hands such as work very well for that so almost done with this napkin, so I'm reversing my flywheel it's such a cool thing, you can have this option for just really slowing down your sewing this few places that you want to make sure you get right uh, what that are a little thicker, a little more challenging it's nice to do it that way and then I'll just my length back to normal wants him through that little passage and I'll stop that quarters before the corner other times. So this is where we're going to join our corner just been a precedent, a place and on something like a quote, you'll have a larger longer area to work with, but here I'm going tio penan in place and if you happen to remember from yesterday or from the earlier segment rather we want to overlap are binding tape I'm trimming just one edge down here so that it works better we want to overlap are brining tape by half in inch so you can use the measuring tape or you can use grab my fabric marker since that's easiest way to market we'll put this down so my bottom binding tape is need and flat and then my top training tape there six tending just over it it doesn't have to be also aligned gonna see exactly where that half inch marquez so you can see there's just that half inch overlap which is crucial for joining binding tape and a tremor running their open it out you can press it flat sir quick little press will do it and make it easier to so and then a lining the raw at just just as we did with the skirt you'll remember we did not need to do this with a cape because the raw edges of the finding disappeared into the collar but for the skirt like this we're doing a continuous finding in that case sort of a tube the hem of the skirt and in this case is square for the napkin you'll just want to make sure that maybe even though this is a tiny tiny with you have a neat join put a couple pens in there and then I'm just going to change this to a straight sets just for this one little section when I drop my beetle in, take my pins out now that it's all lined and such forward without back sitting just because it will just end up creating a thicker, knottier kind of situation. So now we're this close to finish that I love this part because you're so close to the cute finished projects you're just a couple stitches and a couple of loose threads away from going from getting to see the cubist part of the whole thing. So I press that back a flat, open seam and then tuck it in justus we did before when we joined our binding tape. This is a little more philly because it's already sown and then tucking it under and using a little best press, I'll add one last pen in this little section that's loose shall see this exact section. All I need to do is move from the corner just have the other time to meet my initial searching. Rice started just a few minutes earlier, and then this napkin is completely ready to go, so I put my machine back on this exact stitch since I just did a straight stretch for that moment of joining binding tape, adjust the corner if need be if things have shifted, why you did the binding to join now that I've reversed, I'm ready to go forward a couple were such a pse and then and then where my original searching is, I'll just go just over it reverse and I'm done. Here we go. We've got just this very simple ad snap kin once I turned the threads away it's ready to go tuck right into a lunch it's easy to machine wash, easy to clean and just this nice repeating pattern is jake pointed out, is good for concealing any kind of stains or smears or anything else that comes home with your lunch on what I love about this is again taking some, you know, twenty minutes ago we had just like what looked like just scraps of fabric and hearing it was something so beautifully done. Now, is there a reason why you would always start your binding along the edge and not at the corner? Is the corner, like, become use that we started here? We'll show you on this one, and I'm incidentally, I just wanted to show with a nice pattern like this one that has so much going on, you can see I used orange threat on this and wait on this one was right, but it's just really blends and merges, which is another nice thing about a really beautiful kind of vivid pattern, but the stitching itself is really pretty, isn't it? So to use the contrast, you can actually see that I do like it, but this one, wouldn't you? If you started at the corner, you just couldn't quite make a neat joining right in the center. It would be a little different, but if all kids, yeah, but if you were over locking or general rolled him, you would started a corner. So that's, a good way to think about it, I believe deficits on plastics, and caroline is using the letters with the line. We asked. Everybody is so and that they really had no genius using the foxes as well. But I like the boxes with the green room, though. It's, very cute.

Class Description

Are you intimidated by your sewing machine? Don't be! Join experienced sewist Susan Beal as she guides you through the basics of sewing, including using straight stitches, zigzag stitches, simple appliqué, and easy binding.

Using simple projects in kid's sizes, Susan will teach you to customize t-shirts, create simple tote bags, reusable napkins, and more! You'll learn tricks that the experts use to create their own contrasting binding tape, how to sew on a variety of fabrics, and how to incorporate snaps and eyelets into your projects.

If you're a beginning sewer this course will give you clear, easy-to-follow ideas and inspiration for projects that tap into your family’s creative spirit.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Susan Beal Back to School Craft Ideas and Projects.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Amanda Siska

Susan's projects were the best introduction to sewing I could have hoped for! I wasn't able to watch every project, but the ones I saw were simple, VERY clearly explained, and perfect for a beginning seamstress like myself. I'd never used binding tape before, or elastic, but now I'm confident about making my own binding tape and adding elastic waistbands to pretty much anything. I was immediately inspired to make a few skirts for myself after watching the simple children's skirt in this course, and I'm planning to make cloth napkins and an oilcloth lunch sack as well. I wish I'd gotten to see the applique portion, so I think I'll have to purchase the course in order to see that part. I'm positive that it will be just what I need to learn the process! I see that the previous reviewer was disappointed by the lack of diversity of crafts for this course, but I find that the name "Simple Sewing Projects for Beginners" was completely accurate for what it was. Perhaps it was categorized in a craft category, which would still seem applicable. I think it was advertised as having back to school projects to make for your kids, which is an even more detailed description of the course, since it includes clothing for boys and girls, as well as a lunch tote, cloth napkin, cape, and maybe more things I missed. Overall, this was my first Creative Live experience, and I was blown away by how informative and fun it was to watch!


What a great class! Susan does a fabulous job explaining each project and is great at giving you a heads up on what issues you might face with each project. I've now made two applique projects with another in the works. I've also made two of the girls skirts. Susan gave me the confidence to try and I am really happy with the results. Hope to try the binding tape soon. Thanks for offering this video.


Fun projects to make for your little one. Susan explains things so clearly. Very nice that she also offers patterns and written instructions for free