Monday, April 7, 2014

DIY Kids Napkins from Torn or Stained Clothing

What Do You Do When Your Clothes Get Too Worn Out?

Repurpose them, of course! Here's one way to do it.

Reusable Napkins via

Here's how the cycle of clothes works in our house:
  • "New" Clothes (which may very well start out second-hand): Those to be worn to school, outings, normal daily wear. New clothes that remain in good condition will be passed down, consigned, or given to Goodwill when they get too small. 
  • Play Clothes: Once an item has become stained beyond repair, it goes into a "play clothes" drawer--these clothes are worn for painting, digging in the mud... really, any messy endeavor. They can get worn again and again until they no longer fit or get torn.

DIY Cloth Napkins for Kids

So, this project solved two issues for me: 

  • I was getting sick of how quickly my kids were going through paper napkins, so I finally just stopped making the accessible and told them to use our cloth napkins instead. But the more they used those (and they used them a lot--they're major mess-makers), the more two things happened: (1) they got stained, and I don't have enough time in my day to be pre-treating every napkin that goes into the wash, and (2) they grabbed a napkin for every tiny little spill and ended up filling up the laundry basket much faster than I could keep up with (not that I'm any sort of expert in keeping up with laundry anyway).
  • I never knew what to do with the worn out clothing that isn't decent enough to sell or donate, and often it seemed like the only solution was to throw it out, and that bugged me.

Upcycling tutorial via

Creating Reusable Kids Napkins from Worn-out Clothing

And basically, that was my thought process when I decided to make the kids their own set of reusable napkins. No rocket science on this one--I just cut out the usable portions of fabric from their old clothing (I used the rotary cutter on some and pinking shears on others). The sizes vary, which is fine with me. They're smaller than traditional napkins (some are around 8x8", some are bigger). I just fold them up and keep them in a basket so they can grab them when they need 'em.

Alternatives to paper napkins for kids

Repurposing old clothes via

And after this project, I have totally eliminated the need for paper napkins in our house! Would I bring these out for our next party? Probably not, but they're more than sufficient for daily use, and as an added bonus, they take up much less space in the laundry basket!

What do you do with your clothes when they get too worn out?

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  1. I was just cringing at the dinner table over how many napkins my 3 children were using. What a great idea to recycle worn out clothes into napkins!

    1. Thanks, Ashley! Hope it works for you! I've got 3 of those napkin-crazy kiddos, too :) They still use more than they need, but at least they're not going in the trash anymore!

  2. This is such a great idea!! We go through far too many paper napkins as well, so I'm totally stealing this idea!

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Just yesterday I noticed I have a totally unused pack of paper napkins in the pantry, and I was so excited! Just the fact of hiding them made everyone forget they existed (but it took a week or so)!

  3. This is a fabulous idea and one I will be using. Thank you!

  4. Awesome idea! We just use kitchen wash cloths as napkins but these are so much more cute! I've been using our old clothes to turn into cloth diaper inserts for when our new little one arrives.

  5. No sewing???? I am all over this!!!! I don't have a functional sewing machine so I never thought I could make my own napkins. These would be great to keep in my reptile room as well to clean up with!

    1. That's a really good idea! I was also thinking they'd make good dusting cloths--and pretty ones, too :)

  6. What a fantastic idea! I have a ton of old tee shirts I can upcycle. Those old flannel baby blankies would be great too. And the No-sew is such a timesaver!

  7. Oh how fun! These look adorable, too!

  8. That's a great idea! I was just thinking we needed some more cloth napkins.

  9. We use cloth napkins at home and I even keep one on my desk at work. My mom made many of them from swathes of cloth.

    1. That's great! I'm sure they were prettier than mine :)


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