Cloth Napkins: The Ultimate Guide To Cotton Napkins

Saffron Marigold - Updated: July 21, 2021

Set your table with cloth napkins any time you’re hosting a special meal–or simply any time you want to make an ordinary meal feel special! Even though cotton napkins have been around for ages, these kinds of dinner napkins always seems to elevate a table setting. Learn all about our block printed cloth napkins and find ideas for how to fold napkins in this post.

set of orange cotton napkins with text that reads All About Cloth Napkins

How many cloth napkins do I need?

Keeping a few sets of cloth napkins on hand is a wise idea for the hostess. However, if you’re planning to use cloth napkins every day, then you’ll want to have at least seven sets of cotton napkins available. (That translates into one cloth napkin per person for each day of the week.) Our block print napkins come in sets of six, so if you’re planning to host a dinner for more than six people, you’d want to have 2 sets of the same printed napkins on hand.

grey cloth napkins with Art Deco pattern

Is it better to use cloth napkins?

Cloth napkins are are more eco-friendly than paper napkins. When you choose cloth dinner napkins over paper napkins, you create less waste. And after all, a cloth napkin always looks so much more beautiful and refined than a paper napkin-especially our dinner napkins that are block printed by hand!

orange cloth napkins with block print flower pattern

What fabric is best for cloth napkins?

Because of its absorbance, cotton makes the best fabric for cloth napkins, which is why we block print our cloth napkins on high quality cotton.  Cotton is a unique fabric since it’s both soft and durable at the same time. And don’t forget–cotton napkins are easy to launder! (All of our block print napkins are machine washable except for those collections that have gold paste embellishments.  Vanilla Glace and Memories of Shalimar are dry-clean only.)

purple cloth napkins with white block print

What is a good size for cloth napkins?

A cloth napkin should be large enough to fold prettily at a place setting, cover your lap during a meal, and wipe away at inevitable dabs and dribbles. With that, our cotton napkins are 20 x 20 inches in size–a perfect square for all of your napkin folding whims and table setting needs.

white and yellow cloth napkin with starfish
photo: Ciao Newport Beach Blog

Saffron Marigold’s block print napkins

Each one of our napkins coordinates with our table runners and tablecloths, and most mix and match easily with other Saffron Marigold travel-inspired collections. Our dinner napkins are block printed by hand at our artisans’ studio in Rajasthan, India. Not only do they look great on your table, but they’re also great to use a home decor or to give as gifts–especially as a set with a table runner, placemats, or even new napkin rings! Here are just a few of our offerings to give you an idea of what we have in store for you.

Red cloth napkins

Set a festive table with red cloth napkins! They’re the napkins to reach for when you’re setting a fall table, a romantic dinner table, or a festive holiday table.

Yellow cloth napkins

Sunny and cheerful, yellow cotton napkins brighten up your table setting. They’re especially gorgeous on spring table, an Easter table or at a table setting for Mother’s Day brunch–or any time you want a little zip of sunshine at your table to toast the day! In fact, you can make yellow napkins your everyday go-to for a dose of happiness at the table.

Blue cloth napkins

We love a blue cloth napkin at the dinner table–or on any table, for that matter. It’s the most colorful neutral there is, but it definitely doesn’t have to be neutral! Decorating with blue invites creativity in table setting. Versatile blue can stand alone as a bright spot of color or it can blend in with other colors easily.

White cloth napkins

Ah, is there anything that indicates elegance and finery more than the sight of a crisp white cotton napkin at a place setting? Unlike a regular white linen napkin, our white dinner napkins carry chic block prints. Indeed, our white napkins exude exquisite sophistication with their white on white prints and patterns.

Floral cloth napkins

Celebrate the seasons with a set of floral cotton napkins gracing the dinner table. From fields of lilac to charming English gardens to sultry tropical locales, dinner napkins block printed with floral designs are just the thing for a traditional brunch, tea, or dinner party. Of course, you can use them any time you wish. We love floral prints, and we’re sure to have the right floral pattern to go with your dinnerware or even carry out the theme of your celebration.

French cotton napkins

While our dinner napkins are block printed in India–not France–several carry intricate, French-inspired designs and patterns. From the palace of Versailles to the stunning, vibrant colors of the French countryside, these cloth napkins add that sense of je nais se quoi to your table settings.

Napkin Folding 101: How To Fold Cloth Napkins

You’re already ahead of the game by using Saffron Marigold table linens in your tablescapes and table settings. However, if you’re ready to take your table setting to the next level, then consider a few new ways to fold your napkins. We’re starting out with a few easy folds and then progressing to more advanced napkin folding skills. Check it out!

The Elegant Triangle

We used our Orange Blossom napkin for this napkin fold.

cloth napkin with floral pattern folded over green plate

To fold a napkin into an elegant triangle like the kind pictured above, simply follow these easy steps:

  1. Flatten your dinner napkin into a square–block printed side down. The reverse side of the napkin should be facing you.
  2. Fold the napkin in half verticallly.
  3. Next, fold the napkin in half horizontally.
  4. At this point, simply fold and tuck the left and right corners of behind the napkin. That’s it!

The Modified Shirt Tie

We created this white and gold festive table setting for New Year’s Eve with linens from our Vanilla Glace collection.

  1. Lay your napkin flat, with the printed side facing down.
  2. Fold your napkin on a diagonal to make a triangle.
  3. Turn the bottom corners up to meet the top corners–this should result in a square shape.
  4. Fold the bottom point up towards the center.
  5. Fold and flatten the left and right points in towards the middle.
  6. Carefully turn your napkin over and voila!
  7. Optional: wrap the napkin in a ribbon for a festive look.

The Bishop’s Hat Napkin Fold

Suzanne from Salt Lake City, Utah purchased our Starry Nights napkins and used them with her Pacific Blue tablecloth. (Don’t you just love the pattern mixing going on right there? Perfect!)

She wrote to us, and this is what she had to say: “My daughter and I looked up videos on fancy napkin folding, and we spent an hour practicing with the Starry Night dinner napkins. They look very pretty! Thank you for your lovely linens, we really enjoy them!”

Suzanne was able to use her cotton napkins as table decor by wrapping her cups in the fold known as The Bishop’s Hat. Here’s how to do it:

More Napkin Folding Ideas

Claudia at Ciao Newport Beach Blog used our Orange Blossom napkins to create a few different (and gorgeous) napkin folds for a fall table setting.

cloth napkin folded into fan shape
photo: Ciao Newport Beach Blog
cloth napkin folded into envelop fold at place setting
photo: Ciao Newport Beach Blog
You can see all the different ways she folded napkins in this post. 
cloth napkin folded into cutlery pocket
photo: Ciao Newport Beach Blog

Of course, if napkin origami isn’t your think, you can always slip a napkin ring over your cotton napkins.

Feeling inspired? Great! Start building your collection of cloth napkins today.

Find More Table Linens