Earlier this year, I wrote down my thoughts on making cloth napkins seem less formal and more, well, everyday. (Find those tips here). Since then, I've been going down the rabbit hole of lovely cloth napkins, and wanted to share where I've looked for additions to my current small stack.
You can find cloth napkins most places, from the most utilitarian homewares store to small shops on the internet to big-box stores like Target. When buying something I want to use and love for years to come, I try to spend some time making sure said item is something well-made, something I love, something made by a smaller business that merits my support.
As you can tell from reading this blog, I like neutral, rumply, gray-blue-brown-cream things, and most of the napkins featured below will be thus. You might like riotously flowered things or bright geometric prints: your table is almost assuredly more colorful and fun than mine, if so. Hopefully the sources below are diverse enough that you can find something that speaks to you, too.
Below, a few places to look for cloth napkins, including where I've purchased my favorites, and some notes on making your own (a few links are affiliate links):
-Fog Linen: "Iron only if you feel compelled to iron," the care instructions say. The cloth napkins I've had the longest are by Fog Linen, which makes hard-wearing linen napkins in simple, yarn-dyed patterns. I purchased a set of these gray-blue ones with stripes when I ran across them on sale in Seattle a few years ago, but I especially love these homey, cozy checked ones.
-The Everyday Co: Handmade in Boston from deadstock fabrics, so much thought and care goes into these. Kathryn sent me a set of their 7-inch napkins to try, pictured here, and they're beautifully weighty and thick. They feel timeless, but the contrasting edges give them an indisputably modern touch. Someday I'd like to purchase another set, and will probably choose the slightly larger dinner napkins. (I love this one, and this one).
-Etsy: Right now, Etsy is full of shops selling really beautiful linen goods, like the beautiful clothing lines Linenfox and Not Perfect Linen. This extends to the home, too: Magic Linen makes linen napkins a wide range of colors (I like this gray-blue set), Not Perfect Linen has ones with subtle stripes and checks reminiscent of Fog Linen, and Lakeshore Linen makes a perfect rumply fringed version (and others) in Minneapolis. Of course, there are many other shops and fabrics available too, so if those aren't your jam, plunge into the search bar to find what is.
-Secondhand, of course: I've never had good luck finding cloth napkins at secondhand stores near me. I look for natural fibers, like cotton or linen, but almost all I ever see are either synthetic polyester napkins or napkins with some sort of garish holiday print. Maybe you'll get lucky at a local store, though! Otherwise, searching for vintage ware on Etsy, choosing a brand you love to stalk on eBay, and other traditional sources of online secondhand can bring good things to those who wait.
-Make your own: For beginner and experienced sewists alike, napkins are some of the easier projects out there because, well, they're just rectangles. Purl Soho's many handmade napkin tutorials are a good place to browse for inspiration. I've made these and can attest to their ease (if you or a friend owns a sewing machine and can sew a single straight line, you can make these). If you don't have a sewing machine, you can hand-sew the hems a la these.
Make or Buy is a series that acknowledges that sometimes we want to make things ourselves, and sometimes we want to buy them in compostable or recyclable containers. Other zero waste gear to make or buy, here.