11 April 2013


I've been making hand-towels. I made some originally from a pattern I found in a magazine. The edges were bound, so a bit fiddly. This pattern isn't bound. My original pattern came from Kerryanne English (http://www.woodberrydesigns.com.au/SAB-HangingHandTowel.pdf). I didn't like the square-ness of it, so rounded the shape a little, as you'll see in the photos. Kerryanne's instructions are available from http://shabbyartboutique.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/handmade-gifts-hanging-hand-towels.html, but here's my version - a tutorial in captions.

A pile of finished hand towels.
I prefer dark colours for the towels; they last longer.
But there was a white towel in the pack I bought; what can you do?

Take one ordinary face washer.
Hand towels are a little too large once you add a top to them.

Unpick the hem with the tag in it.
This gives you a thin surface to sew onto, about an inch extra length and gets rid of the tag.

Iron the new area flat.
Mark a line on both sides, about 1/2 inch from the edge. This marks where the towel will be sewn into the top, so you don't want too narrow.

Cut two pattern pieces from fabric and one from interfacing.
The beauty of these is that you can usually find a large enough piece in the scrap box and if you're making them for others, you can make them personal through the fabric choice.

A word about the interfacing. The tab top really does need to be stiffened. I made some towels a while ago without interfacing and they're just not pretty once you wash them a couple of times. The first one I made this time, I used bag wadding. I really like the texture it gives the top, but it's a nuisance to work with. I found the easiest way is to cut it smaller and slide it into the top after you turn it right-side out. The second towel I used a light weight, thin wadding (no idea what it was). I forgot to trim it out of the seam allowance, so it added some annoying bulk. The last couple of I've used an iron-in pellon.

If using iron-in, cut it about 1/4 inch smaller than the fabric all the way around, except for ...

... the bottom edge. Cut that about 1/2 inch smaller.

Standard straight stitch. You don't need a picture, but I want to show off my new machine.

Sew the two pieces together, leaving the bottom edge open.

Start and finish the seam 1/4 inch from the bottom edge


Snip the corners and turns

Pin and iron flat a 1/4 inch allowance on both sides of the bottom edge

Tuck that 1/4 inch to the inside when you iron.

If you skip this step - you will regret it.

Mark the centres of the facewasher and one side of the bottom edge.

Match up the centres,
lining the edge of the top with the line you drew on the facewasher earlier.

Pin the ends of the facewasher inside the top.

Pleat the facewasher so that it fits inside the top.

I use a single pleat either side of centre.

Too many pins is never enough.
I find that the pleats have a habit of 'collapsing'
and falling out of the seam allowance.

If it's easier, pin from the back of the facewasher.
When you've attached the facewasher to the top along one edge,
carefully pin the second edge as well.

Pin and/or iron the entire top flat. I like to pin when I'm topstitching.

I've found a fancy, wide stitch along the bottom,
with a plain single stitch around the rest works well.

Add a buttonhole on the tab, a button on the main section. And you're done.
If you prefer, use velcro.
I suggest sewing the velcro on before you sew the top together.
You can still add a button to the tab, just to be pretty.
You could also add embroidery or appliqué before sewing the top together.

The way I read Kerryanne's instructions, the steps are slightly different. You sew one bottom edge of the top to the towel, then sew the two pieces together, then topstitch the other bottom edge to the towel. I found I just wasn't getting a nice tidy finish, particularly on the corners. Although it's a little fiddly to pin and topstitch both edges to the towel at once, I'm much happier with the finish.

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