Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Scrappy Dishtowel Tutorial

Scrappy Dishtowel Tutorial

I've recently decided to add some color into my bland, neutral kitchen.  I also needed new dishtowels.  And that's how this tutorial was born.

Scrappy Dishtowel

My color inspiration came from a few sets of bowls I have.  Colorful, bright, warm, vibrant.  A far cry from my usual muted, cool, safe, soothing colors.  But oh, did I need a dash of spice in my kitchen.  I started sorting through my scraps to find some colors that would play nicely together and with the bowls I had in mind.  Here's what I came up with:

As I set out to make my dishtowels, I decided to take photos of all the steps in case you wanted to make a set for yourself (or as a gift for someone else).  Ready?  Here we go!

Tools & Materials:
Dishtowels - I used a set from Target
Rectangle/Strip Scraps - 2" by at least 3", up to 5"
Self healing mat, rotary cutter, ruler
Sewing machine
Iron & ironing board
Seam guide

Step 1:
Measure the width of your towel.  Add 2 inches to this measurement for seam allowance.  For my towel:  16" + 2" SA = 18"

Step 2:
Lay out all your scraps.  Doing so will help you decide if it's scrappy enough or if you need to add in more colors and prints.  After seeing them all spread out like this, I added in more green and purple.

Step 3:
Grab scraps randomly, and sew together the 2" sides with a HALF INCH seam.  We're using a 1/2" seam because this item is going to get washed A LOT (because you ARE going to use it, right?).  So let's give ourselves some extra wiggle room to prevent fraying and seams coming loose, shall we?  Press all the seams open.  

Keep going until you have three long strips (for each towel) of scraps sewn together that are at least the length of the measurement you calculated in step 1.

**Color placement note:  Though we're trying to be random here, keep in mind that you want a variety of colors in the center third of each strip to get the biggest scrappy impact when the towel is folded.  I learned that the hard way on my first towel.  Learn from my mistakes!

Step 4:
Join the three long strips together, again using a half inch seam.  Press seams to one side.

Step 5:
Trim your new patchwork panel to the measurement you calculated in step 1.

Step 6:
Turn down each long side a quarter inch.  Press.

Step 7:
Sew close to the edge to secure this seam.  It won't be visible in the end so feel free to use a zig-zag stitch here for more fray-protection.

Step 8:
Fold each long edge down a quarter inch again.  Press.  (Don't stitch to secure this time.)

Step 9:
Fold each short edge in by half an inch.  Press.  Stitch to secure with a straight stitch a quarter of an inch from the folded edge (This stitch line will be visible on the back of the finished towel).

Step 10:
Position your patchwork panel toward the bottom edge of your dishtowel, about 2" from the bottom, depending on the finish of your particular towel.  Also note whether your towel is directional.  For example, my towels have this twill tape finish at the bottom edge but not the top.  Important if you're making more than one!  Make sure the panel hangs over each side of the towel by half an inch.

Step 11:
Fold the half inch of the panel that hangs over the side of the towel to the back.  Press, pin, or clip in place and stitch on top of the stitches you created in step 9 to secure the panel to the towel.  You will be going through multiple layers of fabric/seams as well as the thick edge of the towel, so use your judgement for speed and or possible need of walking foot based on your skills and machine.

Step 12:
Secure the center of the panel to the towel by topstitching close to each long edge as well as through each seam line running the length of the panel.  You may want to increase your stitch length a little.

And that's it!  Now repeat for the rest of your towels.  I find that chain piecing the long strips from step 3 makes for a quicker project, plus you can mix and match the strips better when joining them in threes when you have a lot more to choose from.  

Scrappy Dishtowel

If you make some of these towels, I'd love to see them!  Please email me photos or put a link in the comments.  And please don't hesitate to ask questions if I wasn't clear about something!

Scrappy Dishtowel

Linking up to Fabric Tuesday on Quilt Story


  1. Fabulous! I saw someone add hexies to a kitchen towel once and have always wanted to try it, you've made great use of scraps! Thanks for the tutorial and inspiration :D

  2. These are just so cute! Lovely with your beautiful bowls.

  3. Love them! I think I will make some soon. I too need new towels.

  4. Thanks for such a cute and simple idea! What a sweet hostess gift these would be. Think I will make some for me and Christmas presents!!

  5. Thank you for sharing, it will be nice to use your idea for a guild project for seniors at xmastime.

  6. Super cute! They match perfect with your pretty bowls!

  7. I think I will try this on my bathroom towels -- will really add a "pop" of color!

    1. Marcie, they'd look great at bathroom towels. Wonderful idea!

  8. You made this so clear!! Thank you. I'm gonna make a bunch for Xmas gifts!!

  9. I love this idea, especially as I have one complete drawer full of scraps. And I also saw that someone here was going to use this idea for the bath towels - gotta be a copycat on that one. I have very boring bath towels :-) but not for long!

  10. Hi Kristan,
    I found your tutorial today and I am thinking about something similar to match my yellow and green kitchen.
    How are your experiences with the dish towels after a while? How hot do you wash them, and how are the patchwork fabrics looking after some washing that might be hotter than a gentle quilt wash? Would love to hear what you can say after a while of use now. :-)

    PS: those bowls and matching towels are to die for!

  11. I am in the process of repainting my kitchen (all new colors). This will make a pretty finishing touch.
    Thanks for the idea. UPSIEDAISY

  12. I'm waiting for my first sewing machine to arrive on Dec.3. I'm looking for easy projects,as I want to get started the day I get the machine. I love these towels. I'll make them for all my Bible Study ladies.

  13. Thank you!I might try this on some non - tri fold diapers for making burp cloths for a friend.

  14. this Scrappy Dishtowel is so amazing. Vero Beach Tutoring Thanks for this tutorial

  15. This is really informative blog for students, Windermere Tutoring keep up the good work.

  16. Thanks for give me information on this topic. Home school tutor Squirrel Hill North you have sharing very nice post.


I'm so excited that you've decided to join the discussion! I think what you have to say is so interesting and it's valuable to share our thoughts with everyone. I'll reply here on the blog so please check back and keep the conversation going.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...