Hooray for my very first guest post for “Make Things Monday”! I am so excited that my lovely friend Erin has agreed to share this amazing tutorial. Want to share your own ideas? Give me a shout!
Hi! I’m Erin, from Resolute Woot. Brenna invited me to take part in her Make Things Monday, and I jumped at the chance. I’ve never been a guest blogger, so I am just giddy about this.
I’d like to share with you a project that I think is fabulous for many reasons. The most obvious being the fact that you’re making something new from something old- aka, recycling! Using an old towel that might have been otherwise delegated to the rag bag because of its tattered ends feels surprisingly great. You can breathe new life into it using just a few supplies! I think this would make a really nice (and inexpensive) baby shower gift for any mom-to-be who appreciates recycling. And if she doesn’t, why not show her how fabulous it can be? Also, this is the perfect opportunity to work with bias tape, if you haven’t before. With just a few rounded curves, this is an easy introduction. Just be sure to try out some practice scraps on your sewing machine to get the right stitch length for the layers, and to get the hang of it. You might even need to switch needles to accommodate, but that’s no biggie, right? Let’s get started!
- old bath towel, at least 26″ wide, and at least 36″ long, not including any trim
- cotton fabric remnant at least 18″ long and 10″ wide
- 2 packs (3 yards each) extra wide double fold bias tape, 1/2″ wide
- measuring device (a yard stick or clear grid ruler will help you make straight lines)
- washable pen or chalk (optional)
- straight pins
- coordinating thread
- scissors (a rotary cutter and mat are nice too if you have them)
- sewing machine
- iron and board
Prewash towel and fabric. The bias tape package might tell you to prewash that too, but I never have, for fear of losing its folds. Press the bias tape. When using bias tape, be sure not to pull on it or stretch it. If your remnant has any wrinkles or creases, press those out too.
Cut a square from your old towel- 26″ minimum. My towel was 28″ wide, so I just went with a 28″ square. Be sure to trim off any fray that you might have on the edge of your towel. I used my measuring stick as a straight edge for my guide to cut along, but if you’d prefer, knock yourself out and use that pen or chalk to make straight lines before you cut.
With the remaining scrap of towel, cut out a square for the hood- 10″ on each side. Cut that square in half from one corner to the opposite corner to make a right triangle. Use the remainder of the towel scrap to make a washcloth, if you desire. I cut out an 8″ square.
Round the edges of the large square, the washcloth, and the right angle on the triangle, which will end up being the top point of the hood. (I just eyeballed this; if it makes you feel better about it, you can make a pattern by folding a piece of scratch paper in half diagonally to form a triangle and cut the point off into a curve, open it out, and use that as a guide. I’m too impatient for stuff like that, so I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating in my old age.) Be sure to leave the points on the sides of the long edge of your triangle!
Using the triangle shaped towel piece as a pattern, pin it to the remnant to cut a triangle out of the remnant. Do the same for the washcloth. Pin each remnant, right side of fabric facing up, to its corresponding towel shape.
Baste all around the edges of these two pieces, close to the edges.
Cut a length of bias tape to match the long edge of the triangle. Tuck that long triangle edge all the way in to the fold of the bias tape (as if you’re making a little fabric taco, and the bias tape is the shell). Pin through all of the layers. Topstitch through the bias tape close to the edge closest to the center of the hood. Backstitch at both ends. Trim the tape ends to follow the edge of the triangle.
Pin, and then baste, the triangle to the towel, lining up the rounded edges. Trim the hood triangle’s edge(s) to match the towel edge, or the towel’s edge to match the hood edge, if necessary. You don’t want any of the towel toppings to fall out of the bias tape taco shell!
Pin bias tape all around the perimeter of the towel. Start 6 to 8″ from the corner opposite the hood, so that you aren’t finishing the ends of the tape on the curve of the towel’s corner. When pinning bias tape, I like to use LOTS of pins, especially at the corners, to be sure that it doesn’t slip off of the towel or bunch up. It might take a few tries to round the corners- pin and re-pin if necessary to get things as clean looking and wrinkle-free as possible. It might not be perfect, but it’s worth a try!
When you get to the end of the first piece of tape, grab the start of the second one. Open up the new piece of bias tape so that it is flat and a single layer. Fold about 1/2″ of the end under (in to the bias tape), and then fold the bias tape in half lengthwise, so it appears to have a finished edge, but is still relatively open. Now tuck the outside quarters of the tape underneath the first piece of bias tape, covering the last half inch or so. Sometimes it helps to pin the second piece down an inch or two from the end of the first, and work backwards from there. This will take some manipulation, and perhaps a few tries. Be patient! Basically you don’t want any unfinished edge of the bias tape exposed; tucking it under cleanly will prevent fray after washings.
Pin the tape around the rest of the towel’s edge until you meet up with the beginning point of the first piece of tape. Treat those ends the same way you did the last ones. You might double check around the towel again to make sure that no towel has slipped out of the bias tape.
Topstitch the bias tape as you did along the hood’s edge. Start near to, but not directly on one of the folded ends of tape. As you stitch, stay close to the edge of the tape that is toward the center of the towel, and be sure that you are catching all of the layers. Go slowly! Backstitch when you start, and again when you come around to the starting spot.
Remember, don’t stretch the bias tape, or pull on the towel as you sew. Pulling or bunching up the towel can cause wrinkles in the tape.
Now, make the washcloth. You already basted the remnant to the towel, right? Just pin, then topstitch, bias tape around the perimeter of the washcloth, treating the ends of the tape just as you did with the towel.
And you’re done! Run it through the wash to get out any of the nasty chemicals that were used to treat the bias tape (unless you were a goody-goody and heeded the package instructions to pre-wash), and hang it up for all to admire!