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Purge the Paper, Cut the Shirt: DIY Cloth Napkins

Purge the Paper, Cut the Shirt: DIY Cloth Napkins

Before we sing the virtues of using cloth napkins again, let’s get the facts straight. According to the EPA, the U.S. generates approximately 3,430,000 tons of tissue, napkins and paper towels of waste. That’s a lot of trees…all non-recyclable. It’s enough to make you go on a paper purge.

So once again, let’s toast to the eco-friendly cloth napkin:

• Cloth napkins can be used and reused over and over again.
• Cloth napkins dress up your table.
• Cloth napkins help with spills.
• Cloth napkins take up less wash (in cold water) than a bulky tablecloth.
• Cloth napkins are classy and chic.
• Cloth napkins feel good.

Want to save some trees? Here’s a no cost, quick, DIY project inspired by a Martha Stewart, project that you won’t lose your shirt on.

What you need:

Shirts-men’s oxford or flannel shirts work well. Mix and match napkins for an eclectic table or find some similar shirts (blue oxfords are easy to come by).
Ruler or tape measure
Sewing machine (optional)

What to do:

1. Measure the size of the napkin you want. I measured two different sizes. One napkin from Crate and Barrel and one vintage napkin. The vintage napkin was 4 inches smaller. Who knows, maybe there’s a correlation between napkin size and super-sized portions? Here’s my measurements:
Large napkin–18” square.
Small napkin–14” square.

2. Lay the shirt flat and cut a square piece of the shirt.

For a no-sew fringe edge, pull the threads off evenly on each side. Or, with a sewing machine, hem stitch the four sides.

4. Iron.

Place mats can be made using the same method.

Really, at the end of a meal would you rather wipe your face with paper or cloth?

Read more: Blogs, Crafts & Hobbies, EcoNesting DIY, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , , , , , ,

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.


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11:58PM PDT on Mar 29, 2015

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2:48AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013


1:00PM PDT on Mar 20, 2013


5:25AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013


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1:43AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013


5:07AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:52AM PST on Dec 17, 2010

Thanks for the info.

11:36AM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing!

10:08AM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

super cool, great idea! thanks!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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