So speaking of simple, satisfying projects, here’s one I whipped up recently that only took about half an hour to complete. I was inspired to make patchwork tea towels the moment I saw toweling at gather here. Funny coincidence that – Matt and I had been talking about no longer using paper towels in our home, and lo! I walk into gather here, and see they now carry toweling. Perfect! (So really, these are intended to be used as hand towels. Whatever.) I bought a few yards and set to work. I had all these leftover scraps of Outfoxed from another project and wanted to use every last bit of it. I combined those with some Castle Peeps I had cut a while ago for a demo and some other matchy-matchy scraps. They work so well together:
So here’s how you do it. First, if you want to add a strip of patchwork as your design element, piece that together now. I used 2 strips composed of 9 2 1/2 inch squares pieced together. Next, score each strip on the wrong side (using a hera marker) 1/4 inch from the top. Now cut your tea towels to size. As these were already 17 inches wide and hemmed, I only had to concern myself with the length. I cut them to 24 inches using a rotary cutter. Also, you should cut 2 strips of fabric 2 inches wide. Cut from selvage to selvage (the width of your fabric) that way you get 2 pieces at about 20 inches or so from each strip.
Iron your toweling and set aside. Take your 2 inch strips and make tape out of them – iron them with both sides folded toward the middle:
Let’s sew these onto the ends of the toweling. First, align the center of the tape with the edge of the toweling. You want to see only one half of the tape. Make sure you have overhang on each side. Cut away most of the overhang so you have about 1/2 an inch peeking out on each side, like so:
Fold that overhang twice and press the hell out of it. Now fold the other half of the tape over the edge of the toweling and press the hell out of that:
Now stitch that sucker up about a scant 1/8 inch away from the top edge of the tape:
Use your hand to guide you because it’s easier and less fussy than using a million pins to hold the tape in place:
Repeat for the other end of the toweling. Look at that edge. Aw yeah!
Now position your patchwork strip. In this case, I wanted it to be 3 inches from the bottom, so I marked the toweling at 3 1/4 inches to indicate where the patchwork should line up (remember, we’re using a 1/4 inch allowance when sewing, so that 1/4 inch I added there disappears). Pin it right side down pointing toward the bottom of the toweling and sew up that bottom edge:
Once it’s sewn down, flip that sucker right side up and press the bejesus out of it. You remember how we scored it earlier? That makes it easy to fold that top edge down 1/4 inch and press it nice and flat:
Now topstitch about a scant 1/8 inch away from the bottom edge of the patchwork:
Do the same for the top edge:
Take your overhang, fold it in twice, press it, and sew:
When sewing that, lock your stitches a little before and slightly after the width of the strip to really secure it:
Hooray! You have tea towels! Go forth and prettify your kitchen. Or just wipe stuff up with ’em. Because they’re useful like that.
Thanks for the great tutorial! I've been meaning to learn to do some patchwork and maybe this will be my first project.
Maritza, these are SO awesome! These would much such nice holiday gifts! Thanks for the tutorial, I can't wait to whip some up!
This looks like a good idea with napkins too. I bet the toweling could be used for simple napkins, and while we have 12 it is amazing how fast they go in the week between laundry loads.
these are SO perfect!!!! I need to find some toweling now!!!
Hello– We'd like to feature your tutorial in our Handmade Holidays series, and would like permission to use one photo (to give readers an idea of what they'll find when they click over to your site). I can't find your contact info anywhere… Would you mind emailing me for details? Thanks so much!–Beth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Love them. Great idea.
Just came over from Sew Mama Sew. Love your tutorial! I moved from Cambridge last summer so say hi to Virginia for me! I do miss Gather Here.
Simple and so wonderful! These are in my to do list now. Thanks!