. . . and now . . . HOW to throw in the towel

So, I’m still throwin’ in the towels, only this time I’m throwin’ ’em in our own kitchen. And since they were so much fun to make, I wanted to do a mini-tutorial to share the fun. Every towel I did was a little different, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ve only included a couple of styles here. Once you get the basics down, you can just do what I did – improvise!

I first washed everything, to make sure it was all finished shrunking – er . . . shrinking. Then I ironed everything really well.

I cut the towels in half width-wise, making a set of two from each original towel. On one set, I folded each panel in half and pressed a crease, then folded the sides towards the back, up to that crease, and pressed again. On the other set, I ran a basting stitch and gathered them up to about 1/2 the original width.

Next, I had to decide on rectangular or triangular topping. Being the (in)decisive person that I am, I made both! I used two matching washcloths for each set of towels.

These cloths had netting sewn in, so I didn’t use interfacing (I did use it on all the other towels, though. Follow mfg. instructions if you use it). I actually cut the netting out of one towel to cut down on bulk, leaving it in the other for some shaping. The cut-out netting was then used for another set of towels (yup, the ol’ REmissionary thing never goes completely away).

I lay the two washcloths together, right sides facing. For the rectangles, I first drew a line at the center of one cloth, and sewed up each side of that mark, 1/4-inch away. Then I sewed around three sides of the two cloths, leaving the bottom open. I cut along that center line, making two rectangular pieces. I then trimmed the corners at the top, leaving the bottom corners uncut, and turned the rectangles right side out. Since these were finished on the edges, I used that as a decorative accent. This wasn’t laziness, I promise!! But it did save that extra step of folding a seam allowance under on that edge.

For the triangular tops, I sewed all the way around the outer edges, and then drew a line from one corner to the opposite corner, forming two triangles. I cut along that line, leaving the cut edges open. I folded and pressed the triangles to get the exact center of the top point, and laid the towel on top of the ironed-in crease. I marked where the towel fit, and drew my seam lines. After sewing the lines in, I tried the fit to make sure the points came out where they were supposed to. As you may notice in the photos, I wasn’t too terribly concerned that they weren’t perfect – but close enough to hang fairly straight when finished. Close DOESN’T only count in horseshoes and hand grenades, folks!! These were close enough for government work (a saying my government-employee friend used to detest).

those corners were cut off after sewing side seams

those corners were cut off after sewing side seams

After getting the side seams to my satisfaction, I trimmed the excess corners off, trimmed the seam at the top point, and turned right side out. I pulled the corners out as pointy as I could get them, and then turned under a 1/2-inch seam on the open end and pressed it down really well. I slipped the top of the towel into this open end and stitched across as close to the edge as I could (about 1/8-inch), then up from the edge about 1/2-inch. That enclosed the towel inside the topping.

Next was the top-stitching. I went all the way around the outer edge, starting and stopping at the first line of stitching on the bottom encasing edge.

After topstitching, I folded the top in half and pressed a crease into the fold (the tops measured about 4 inches at this point). After that came the buttonhole and button. My oven door handle is about 1 inch around, so I measured down about two inches from the fold, to leave plenty of room. Handles come in all sizes, so I tried to plan for the biggest one that might be used. About two inches should be enough – I mean, who has stove handles bigger than that???

My sewing machine has a handy little gauge for buttons, so I measured them and set the buttonholer to the right size, and marked my starting point on the flap. Then W H I Z went that wonderful little buttonholer gizmo. Be careful cutting the holes open, not to cut through the top of the buttonhole. After the buttonholes were in, I lined up the button and marked the spot, sewed the button on, and rushed lickety-split to the kitchen to try it out. Whaddya know – it worked!!!

Here is how each top looked after finishing. I don’t know if I like the gathered look or the smooth folded look better. What do you think??

13 thoughts on “. . . and now . . . HOW to throw in the towel

  1. Nice tute. I’ve never made these but have bought some at craft shows. Looks like I have no excuse to avoid making some myself. Would make nice stocking stuffers too. In answer to your question about gathered or not…I’d have to say I like the gathered ones better.


    • Thanks so much – I’m still torn between the two looks. I did find that I liked the gathered better on the plain woven towels. It looked too bulky to me on the terry cloth ones. And they are amazingly easy to make – even the more involved ones (like the ‘dress’ looking one in the last post).


  2. Whew, the pictures bring back some wonderful memories. This might sound really strange, but I think that I had a terry-cloth swimsuit cover-up made out of that same polka dot fabric when I was a teen.


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