Years ago I attended a seminar by Emilie Barnes and I learned so much from her. I had been reading her books for quite a while but I was just so excited to meet her and hear her story, she's been through a terrible form of cancer and other obstacles, and I was so happy to see her in person :O)
On of the things she taught us was to make simple handmade napkins. She loves things to be pretty and was using the florals etc., but once I learned the simple concept I realized that you could use anything you have around the house. I've made them with old sheets, pillowcases, fabric remnants, tablecloths, curtains...there are so many ways you can make them and you're recycling at the same time.
I simply cut out a square of the fabric, if you want smaller napkins for tea or dessert you can make them as small as you wish, just cut out a 9" square of fabric and then double your seam over and sew, in the end you have an appr. 8" square napkin. If you want larger ones you can cut a 13" square and will end up with a 12" napkin. These are very simple and you can use a variety of fabrics, I always like to use cotton or linen because they wash so well.
Of course with the cotton and sometimes with the linen you may have to iron but we don't mind that and love having our nice pretty stack of handmade washed and ironed napkins at the ready! This is an excellent beginner project for our daughters, a simple straight seam either by hand or on a sewing machine and it's all finished!
We haven't bought paper napkins in years and never will again!
I even think you can take this as far as using them for parties or even for your DIY wedding receptions etc.
The joy of making it yourself is wonderful enough, but the savings on our environment makes it even better and these will last for years and years!