The birth of a napkin

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how to make cloth napkins

Do you know where cloth napkins grow? 

At TSHU, they are born after twelve steps that involve a lot of attention to detail and love! We take you behind the scenes to discover them all.

Step 1: Choosing the fabric

The first step is to choose the right materials to make the cloth napkin. At TSHU, we have several napkin designs, with different properties:

Organic cotton sateen napkins 

  • 100% certified organic cotton sateen
  • Solid colours only
  • Light and supple
  • Very soft to the touch

Cotton cretonne napkins

  • 100% oeko-tex certified cotton cretonne
  • Variety of patterns and colours
  • Thick and durable
  • Does not wrinkle easily

Linen and cotton napkins

  • 100% Italian linen lined with oeko-tex cotton
  • Solid colours, with a play of textures
  • Very elegant in appearance
  • Beautiful structure, thanks to the cotton lining

Of course, the choice of fabric is made to meet the qualities that we want to give to each model of cloth napkin. In any case, our goal is always to achieve a quality result, that is beautiful and always super practical so that the napkin becomes an essential part of your daily life.

how to make cloth napkins

Step 2: Pre-wash, so it lasts for a long, long time

At the first wash, most fabrics shrink a little… Some up to 10% in one direction! So, to ensure that our cloth napkins stay beautiful after their first wash in your home, we pre-wash them before we make them. This prevents the seams from tightening and creating unattractive wrinkles. It also prevents the napkin from getting a little distorted after its first bath. TSHU cloth napkins will stay looking great once you wash them—that is, if you follow the care instructions on the nylon label!

By the way, if you’ve removed the label and are unsure of the washing instructions, feel free to send us a message! We’re always happy to answer your questions, especially when it comes to caring for our textile creations!

Step 3: Cutting

Once the fabric is washed and dried, it’s time to cut! To ensure consistency in our napkins, we use patterns to trace the silhouette of your future cloth napkin onto the fabric.

Making sure the fabric is positioned properly—either in the right direction for the design or in line with the fabric—we cut a rectangle or square around the pattern using a rotary cutter, making sure to leave a small margin around it, just in case!

how to make cloth napkins

Step 4: Moistening and ironing

Next, we moisten each piece of fabric and iron it when it’s wet, before air drying it on a drying rack. This is an important step, as it ensures that the fabric is perfectly smooth before we cut it again. Sure, it takes a little longer, but that’s why the edges of our towels are straight! In sewing, it’s the prep work that determines the quality of the finish!

how to make cloth napkins

Step 5: Tracing and Trimming

When the ironed pieces of fabric are dry, we go back to the cutting table to trace the pattern. Once the pattern is traced, we use the guides on our cutting board to make sure each side is perfectly perpendicular or parallel and we cut one side at a time.

Step 6: Fold and Iron

Once the napkin is cut out, we start by folding two opposite sides (the left and right), ironing as we fold, so that the fabric stays in place. This step is repeated twice, so that the folded edges are ready to be sewn in place.

how to make cloth napkins

Step 7: Sew both sides

It’s time to hop on to the sewing machine! Once the machine is threaded with the right colour of thread, we set the stitch type and width and begin sewing, each side, making sure to follow the side of the folded fabric to sew as straight as possible.

Step 8: Fold and iron the other two sides

We can then fold and iron the top and bottom sides, to finish assembling the napkin! It’s the same principle as step 6—except it’s a little more complicated because the corners are a thicker!

Step 9: Pin and sew these two sides

Before we sew the top and bottom sides, we take the time to pin in place each of the four corners. This is a little trick we developed—admittedly, it takes a little more time than sewing right away—but it’s what ensures that the corners will arrive perfectly in place when the sides are assembled.

how to make cloth napkins

Step 10: Cutting the threads

Next comes the time to cut the small threads at the four corners of the napkin. To do this, we take our small gold embroidery scissors, which allows us to cut really flush with the fabric for a neater finish. This operation must be done with care, since cutting too much can weaken (or even destroy) the seams!

Step 11: Apply the labels

Each cloth napkin has two labels: the first one, a red woven label, features our brand: TSHU and is sewn with very fine stitches in the lower right corner of the napkin—unless it is to be personalized with embroidery. The other label contains care instructions for the towel and is affixed to the opposite corner—top right. This nylon label is sewn on with large stitches, so you can easily remove it with small scissors or a seam ripper if you don’t want to keep it.

how to make cloth napkins

Step 12: And the final touch: folding and ironing

Finally, before we ship your beautiful napkins—we fold them in thirds, then in half—so that they form a nice, clean rectangle, which we iron so that the napkin stays neatly folded during its journey towards your home. 

Now you know the whole process of creating your beautiful napkin! Did you ever think there were so many steps involved in making a simple cloth napkin? 

Marion Poirier
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