Quickly and easily upcycle stained tablecloths into no-sew napkins.
I LOVE tablecloths. I honestly have over 40 tablecloths, so it’s probably more than “love”. It’s an obsession.
So when a tablecloth gets stained ~ which it will at some point. Let’s be honest. The only way to 100% protect your tablecloth is to cover it with that clear vinyl. Yuck!
I never want to throw away a stained tablecloth. That’s a ton of great fabric being tossed due to a few stains.
This is why I like to upcycle my stained tablecloths and make them into cloth napkins.
Upcycling old stained tablecloths into napkins is a great way to give them a new life! It’s easy to do, and you’ll end up with a set of stylish napkins that you can use for your next meal or dinner party.
Check out how easy it is to make diy no-sew napkins out of a tablecloth…
Supplies for Upcycling Old Tablecloths Into Napkins
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How to Upcycle Stained Tablecloths into No-Sew Napkins
Below I use a vintage tablecloth that was gifted to me with a bunch of other tablecloths. There were lots of holes and many stains, so I wasn’t about to use it on my table. This made it perfect for a diy upcycle project.
Step 1: Prep your tablecloth
Before transforming your stained tablecloth into a set of napkins, run it through the wash. This will enable you to identify permanent stains and/or tears.
Next, find and identify all the stains and tears. You can put a piece of scotch tape next to them, so they’re easier to locate for step 2.
Step 2: Removing your tablecloth’s stained areas
If your stains are by the edges of the tablecloth, you’ll want to remove those sections first.
If your tablecloth is cotton, all you will need to do is make a small cut just past the stain or tear.
Then pull on each side of the cut to tear the tablecloth the rest of the way down the fabric.
If your tablecloth is polyester, it won’t tear. Where you made the small cut, pull away a thread from the side. Then gently pull that thread toward you and away from the tablecloth. You’ll notice that the fabric puckers as you pull. Gently push those puckers away from you, thereby pulling the thread out.
Try to do this all the way down the tablecloth.
If the thread breaks, that’s okay. Pull out the broken thread. Then use the space left by the thread as a cutting guide and cut the fabric to where there is no space (that’s where the thread broke).
Now separate a new thread and pull that thread through the tablecloth. Use the space where the thread was as a cutting guide.
Now do the same thing on both sides of the stains or holes in the middle of your tablecloth.
You should be left with large pieces of your original tablecloth.
Step 3: Cutting your tablecloth into diy no sew napkins
Before cutting up your damaged tablecloth, determine what size napkins you want. Dinner napkins are typically 18 to 20 inches square. The location of the stains, tears, or holes might determine the size of your napkins, once they’ve been removed.
Now take the large pieces of tablecloth remnants and measure the smallest one. How many napkin squares are you able to get out of that piece?
Because my tablecloth had so many tears and holes, my napkins couldn’t be larger than 17 inches square.
Ideally, you want a minimum of 4 to 6 napkins from your tablecloth.
Once you have determined the size of your napkins, measure from one edge and make a cut at that mark. Then do the fabric tear, or thread pulling method, mentioned above, all the way down the fabric.
You will have strips of tablecloth fabric the width of your upcycled napkins.
Now do the same with the strips. Measure and cut/tear to create squares.
*If your tablecloth has a hemstitched edge, you can use that as a guide for cutting. Especially if the edges are frayed like mine.
Most of the stains on this tablecloth were in the middle, so I kept the bottom edge in place for a nice clean look.
Step 4: Fraying the diy napkin edges
Once your stained tablecloth is cut into multiple squares, they can then be used as napkins. Yay!
If your tablecloth fabric is cotton, you can easily fray the edges to give them a soft finished look.
Just pull a few threads away from the edges at a time. All the way down the edge, and along all four sides, until you have the fray the desired length.
Step 5: Putting your new upcycled napkins to use
After you’ve finished making your upcycled cloth napkins, you can either run them through a quick wash cycle or iron them to get out any wrinkles.
Then start using them! Depending on the fabric, use them as your everyday napkins, or pull them out when you’re entertaining guests.
Talk about a great way to upcycle stained tablecloths into no-sew napkins and give them a new life!
A Few Other Upcycle Ideas to Make Out of Tablecloths
If you have a lot of stains or tears on your tablecloth, and not enough undamaged areas to make at least four dinner napkins, here a are few other options to upcycle old stained tablecloths:
- Make cocktail napkins that are smaller ~ 10 inches square
- Make a few kitchen towels that are rectangular in shape ~ 15 x 25 inches
- If your tablecloth has pretty designs, cut out the shapes and frame them in an embroidery hoop to display on your wall