To make these napkins with mitered corners, see our How to Sew Cloth Napkins tutorial. They’re made with a quilting cotton and have a broadcloth back.
We also have a tutorial with 3 ways to make linen napkins.
You want to make sure you can wash whatever fabric you choose. The manufacturers of fabrics like linen, canvas, and drapery fabrics will recommend dry cleaning, but it’s sometimes fine to machine wash them. See Can I Wash Decor Fabric? for more information. The fabric will probably shrink, so always pre-wash whatever fabric you use.
To make your placemats stiffer, you can use a fusible stabilizer between 2 layers of fabric.
Wipeable placemats can be made with oilcloth or vinyl, which do not have to be hemmed because the fabric doesn’t fray. Simply cut it to the size desired. Use decorative scissors to give the placemats a scalloped or zigzag edge. Oilcloth and vinyl are easily wiped clean with a soapy cloth. (They shouldn’t be machine washed.) Oilcloth fabric comes in wonderful array of designs.
Gingham is a traditional fabric for tablecloths, and it is also a good weight for napkins. Gingham’s nostalgic look brings cozy style to the table. Decorate the breakfast nook with gingham curtains to match the tablecloth or napkins. If you have a breakfast area with a window seat, a gingham cushion and pillows can add charm. Gingham now comes in many colors besides the traditional red and white. Checks can also be large or small.