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How to Make Mitered Corners With Your Sewing Machine

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Create professional looking napkins, tea towels and more with this easy tutorial for sewing mitered corners!


Sewing with mitered corners supplies
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric, cut to desired size (with seam allowances)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Pins or fabric clips
  • Water-soluble marker (optional)

1. Prepare Your Fabric for Sewing

Step 1

Pre-wash and dry your fabric.

Most fabrics will shrink a little the first time they are washed, so to avoid any issues I always wash and dry my fabrics before completing a project. Once the fabric is dry, iron out any wrinkles. You can cut your fabric to your desired size, or use pre-cut pieces. I like using fat quarters or fat eighths of fabrics, as they are easy to find at most quilting stores and are a great size for napkins, towels and place mats. Also, they come ready to go!

Iron your fabric

Step 2

Fold over and iron your outer seams.

Before you begin to sew your fabric, you will fold and iron your edges. I generally fold over an edge about 1 cm wide and iron down the entire edge of one side of my fabric. This helps to create a guideline without having to mark or cut your fabric. This way if you decide you want a different width seam allowance, you can always just fold a different width and re-iron without damaging your fabric. 

For this project, you will fold over your fabric edge by 1cm and iron the entire edge and then fold a second time (1 cm) and iron again. This will create a clean edge on the backside of your final project.

Fold over and iron the outer seams
Fold a second time and iron again

Step 3

After the seams are ironed on all sides, unfold your first corner.

You will notice that a square has been created, with the outer seam bordering it on two sides. The corner of the square closest to the center of your tea towel will actually become the outer corner of your finished towel.

Unfold your first corner

Step 4

Using a ruler or other straight edge, mark your corner to be trimmed.

You will be cutting off the entire corner of your piece of fabric, so use your straight edge to pass through opposite corners of your inner square. I use a water-soluble marker for this, as it washes out easily after you've finished sewing your towel.

Mark the corner to be trimmed

Step 5

Cut the corner off your fabric on the line you marked.

You will notice I have marked the inner corner with a small blue dot; you can use this as a reference point.

Cut off the corner

2. Sew Your Mitered Corners

Step 1

Fold each corner together so the seams line up.

You should fold your fabric together so the "right side" of your fabric is touching. The corners will be turned out after being sewn.

Fold each corner together so the seams line up

Step 2

Pin or use fabric clips to hold your fabric together straight.

I have drawn a reference line below showing the line you will be sewing in each corner of your napkin or tea towel. Each sewn corner will run from the fold out to your first ironed line, so if you are using 1 cm seams, you should stop sewing 1 cm from the open edge of your fabric. Use pins or fabric clips to hold your fabric together so it doesn't move while you sew each corner.

Pin or use fabric clips to hold your fabric together straight
Use pins or fabric clips

Step 3

Sew your mitered corner stitch into each corner.

Depending on your preference, you can start at the fold and sew toward the edge of your fabric, or start 1 cm from the edge and sew toward the fold.

Sew your mitered corner stitch into each corner
Mitered corner stitch

Step 4

Trim excess fabric from the corner to avoid too much bulk in your final tea towel or napkin.

Be careful not to get too close to your sewn corner, as you do not want it to pull out, but if it is too bulky your corners won't look as neat as they should.

Trim excess fabric from the corner

Step 5

Turn out your corners.

You can use the end of a marker to help poke the corners out so that they have more of a point. Otherwise they may seem a bit rounded. The corners should all match up with your original ironed seam lines.

Turn out the corners

3. Sew Your Outer Seams

Step 1

Refold and iron all of your edges to create a neat final seam edge.

Your pre-ironed edges should easily tuck back under and create a nice clean edge on both the front and back of your towel.

Refold and iron all of your edges

Step 2

Pin or clip around the entire edge of your towel.

I try to space my clips as evenly as possible around the edges.

Pin or clip around the entire edge of your towel

Step 3

Sew around the entire edge of your tea towel or napkin.

Sewing around the edges will create a "top stitch" line on the front of your tea towel or napkin as well as on the back. Make sure to choose thread that coordinates with your fabric, as it will be seen when you are finished.

Sew around the entire edge of your tea towel or napkin
Finished mitered corner

Admire Your Work

Congratulate yourself on a job well done and iron out any extra wrinkles. You can create a whole set of coordinating towels and napkins to give as gifts or keep for yourself. These also make an excellent "canvas" for embroidery patterns.

Sewing mitered corners finished product image
Sewing mitered corners finished product image 2
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