We have used cloth napkins for a long time but most of that time we have also used paper napkins some of the time too because either I didn't have enough napkins (or perhaps I didn't do laundry often enough!) or the ones we had did not pass the "Ken test" as he wants the ones he uses to be large and very absorbent. So generally we would use cloth but paper was still being used too. Also I tended to take paper napkins with us on picnics or places like that.
I think we have gotten to the place where I can say I don't buy them. That is not to say that I won't ever again for some situation but for normal home use we don't need them anymore. I actually had bought a package of napkins several months back (at the time I had been having trouble keeping up with laundry) but then we never opened them. Yesterday I took the package to the church building so they could be used there as I didn't need them taking up space in my house.
-Cloth napkins could be expensive if you went out and bought them (though over time I would guess even that investment would be worth it) but they are super easy to make! Ours are homemade. You do want to choose a material that absorbs well. Since I like to recycle things what has worked best for us is making them out of old cotton t-shirts or thick cotton work shirts. When you upcycle it makes the fabric free too! Simply cut them out the size you desire - I am personally happy with ones that are 8 inches square but Ken prefers them about a foot square. They don't all have to be the same size (and they aren't at our house). As far as sewing just a straight seam hem on the sides does the trick.
-We have them in a basket on the middle of our table and you take one if you need one.
- They get laundered with our other laundry. They are simple for even little kids to fold (those and washcloths are what I have always started my kids out with when they help fold cloths).
-They are easy to take on picnics and trips too. If I am packing food that means I am also going to have some dishes or containers. I simply keep the napkins with them and everything gets washed upon our return.
-I solved some of the issues I had mentioned simply by making more napkins that Ken liked- so now we don't run out very fast at all. My Mom also made and gave me some for my birthday so that helped our stash out. Those were nicer so some of them I set aside for "company" napkins. :-) I haven't actually counted but I would guess we have over 60 napkins now.
I don't know how much money we save every year by using cloth instead of paper but it is something. I also really like the fact that we aren't creating more garbage (though if you do use paper- remember that you can compost them).
I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.