Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tutorial: sweet kitchen towels...

It's easy to fall out of love with your home when you have grown so accustomed to it that you cannot see beyond what is already there. Kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees. Does that make sense? It becomes so commonplace that you miss seeing the little things  - for me, that includes dust.

In this year of gentle domesticity I intend to 'open my eyes' and honestly explore each room of this house; in fact any house  we may eventually call home. 

I don't think I'm much of a details kind of gal because when we've gone house-hunting for a new rental in the past it's Mr E who can describe the colours of walls, patterns on embossed tin ceilings, or the chipped paint along the architraves - whilst I on the other hand can tell you how I felt  in the house, the atmosphere of the environment, how pretty the garden is or is not, and whether or not it had a white picket fence (I look hopefully for one as soon as we round the corner into the street but so far have not been rewarded).

This year I'm going to turn down my emotional response, just a little,  and turn up my visual appreciation. I'm going to truly look at each room, every nook and cranny, and make notes about what I like, what I don't, and what I can do to care for it and make it welcoming again - not just welcoming to visitors, but welcome to me.

So at the moment I'm taking notes and making plans for projects I can put my hands to which will bring this home to life. As we only have a very small income now that Mr E is unemployed I need to be super resourceful and make use of what I already have on hand, or choose very wisely and frugally what needs to be purchased.

The past few days I've been looking over our little kitchen, and I realise we own way too many plastic storage containers, dessert bowls and coffee mugs for just the two of us, and my tea towel drawer is rather ugly.

These are easy things to attend to as I can overhaul the cupboards and donate the excess, plus I had a few sets of new tea towels stored away that I bought on sale last year which can replace the drawer full of old ones.

But then there's the 'crafters touch' which comes into play, right? 

One night after dinner I made these three trimmed tea towels with scraps of fabric and ric rac from my stash...

They only took about 15 minutes each, and as I toddled off to bed that night I decided I'd make some more and share the simple tutorial with you. 

You'll need new tea towels.
The ones I have are nice and sturdy and don't tend to shrink after washing, but if you intend using waffle-weave towels or woven fabric towels it would be best if you wash them first as they do  shrink. 
You'll also need some scraps of fabric about 1-2 inches wider than your tea towels, and some ric rac braid...

Begin by trimming away the hemmed edge from one narrow end of your tea towel...

Cut a piece of contrast  fabric that is at least 5 inches high, by the width of the tea towel + 2 inches.
If the fabric has a repeat pattern or fussy cut section you'd like to display on your towel trim then you can cut the fabric 6 or 7 inches high, but don't go more than that if possible...

Turn the towel over so that the wrong side is facing up. 
Lay the right side of the feature fabric down onto the wrong side of the towel, raw edges together...

Sew the two pieces together along the raw edge with a 1/4 inch seam.
Fold in the sides of the fabric to make a hem which sits flush with the side of the tea towel and press it with your iron...

Press the seam between the towel and fabric open...

Fold down a 1/2" hem along the remaining raw edge of the fabric and press with your iron...

Fold the fabric section up onto the towel, press the bottom seam line flat, and pin the fabric trim in place...

Cut a piece of ric rac braid the same width as the tea towel, trimming the ends so that they are on the 'down' side of the curve...

Place the ric rac just under the hem of the fabric trim, and pin to the tea towel...

 Machine sew just inside the edge of the fabric...

Sew the sides of the fabric trim to the tea towel just inside the outside edge...
 All done!

 Now if you want to use a fussy cut piece of fabric to decorate your kitchen towels here's a simple way to make sure the fabric is facing in the right direction after it's attached to the towel.

Lay the wrong side of the towel in front of you.
Lay the right side of the fabric along the top of the towel edge so that the direction of the print is exactly as you want it to look on the finished tea towel...

Fold the fabric down onto the towel, pin, and continue on using the same steps as the tutorial.

These towels are not just lovely for livening up your kitchen, but make wonderful gifts too!

They are so quick, simple, and inexpensive - perfect for housewarmings, fetes, a kitchen tea, swaps, or simply as gifts of love for no special reason at all.
Bake a batch of scones or muffins, wrap in a newly trimmed kitchen towel, and drop by a friend's house to bless her with afternoon tea and the crafty work of your hands. 

We can tend to over think gift giving can't we?
Yet I would blessed to my toes if someone gave me one of these!

 I'm loving how A Year of Gentle Domesticity has begun.
My notebook is filling with simple, sweet, or useful ideas to share with you as the months roll by.
Hope you enjoy them.

Do you think you'll be making some pretty trimmed tea towels soon?



  1. Those tea-towels look too gorgeous to use! You are an inspiration! Getting out the new tea-towels after this!

  2. What a simple way to transform some ordinary tea towels into something extraordinary. Thanks for sharing x

  3. LOVE these! Will definitely be making some of my own. Thanks so much for sharing the "how-to"

  4. Hi Jenny,wow these tea towels look awesome,thankyou for sharing,what wonderful gifts they will make,enjoy your day my friend.xx

  5. Sweet! And yes, I'll be making some of these. Thanks very much, Jenny.

  6. I have tea towels on my to-do list for holiday gift giving next Christmas. I agree, they would make a lovely gift. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for sharing! I will try this one day! I would love to get one as a gift so I think you are right my friends would also.

  8. How cute those are! They are good projects for Christmas gifts, too. Thanks so much for this great tutorial.

  9. Absolutely gorgeous Jenny, thanks for the great tutorial. I love all your colour combinations. One of the things I used to tuck away for a special occasion & never use was nice teatowels & nice soaps. Now I use them & enjoy them & remind myself that "being alive is a special occasion". Hugs, Julie x0x0

  10. I absolutely love your embellished tea towels. Thank you for sharing how easy it is to create these. Sadly I just ruined a perfectly brand new kitchen explanations at this time. LOL My own stupidity but I had spent hours on preparing it. OOPS!!!

  11. I love the fabrics you have chosen for your tea towels and such a wonderful clear and comprehensive tutorial. I will definitely add some of these to my present basket.

  12. I am sorry, but I have a stupid question. What is fussy cut?

  13. Hi Jenny,
    You have made a beautiful apron and gorgeous tea towels.

    Now you have to knit some cotton/bamboo dishcloths.
    When I was in the States lots of crafty homemakers knitted their own. I love them. Just don't know why they are not popular here.

    I also have the 'Knit Vintage' book and made the Greta wrist warmers on page 130 for my son's girlfriend and she just loves them. I also bought the wool for the cover pic jumper from 'Morris and son's to knit. Love the 'Doris shell top' page 24 too. Happy knitting!!!

    Love how your home is a reflection of your wonderful talents. I get so much pleasure and inspiration from your beautiful blog...

  14. They are gorgeous Jenny!!! It's little touches like these that I'd like to do when I eventually have my own home. In fact, I will probably make some up sometime later this year and put them aside in my 'glory box' of linen-y items :) Not worth making them for here as my mother is a lot more practical and less focussed on things being 'pretty'. She's more concerned that everything looks clean than pretty.

  15. It is lovely to have nice things out to use! Such pretty tea-towels.

    I think you are right - I get complacent about the look of the house and then make some nice things like this and it all looks great again.

  16. Karen, not a stupid question at all. It's when you cut a section of fabric to make it a feature - here is where I show how it's done on a tutorial from last year:

  17. I love the tea towels! I might want to try a crochet trim on them....there are so many fun possibilities :)

    On theinspired she has a great printable worksheet for home goals. You might enjoy it this year. So far I am adoring the gentle domesticity posts, looking forward to the rest of the year even more after seeing a few of your posts!

  18. They are all beautiful...Love them....

  19. Sweet is the prefect description. So much nicer than the terry cloth ones, we see.

  20. You bet I will, great idea! Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

  21. Thanks so much for a great tutorial...can I ask where you got those nice towels? I can't seem to find anything but the fuzzy and fluffy ones!

  22. Jenny,
    These are just beautiful. What a simple, clever idea. It is certainly a lot quicker than embroidering one, though I don't think I'll stop doing that. I usually have a redwork towel going as it is so easy to take to appointments. I need to make some of these up just to have on hand.

  23. Those tea towels are so bright and cheery! The fabrics and ric rac are so colorful and would definitely brighten up my kitchen during this cold winter here in the States. I, too, would be pleased as punch to receive this as a gift.

  24. So pretty . . . love the fussy cut borders. And the towels themselves are pretty to begin with. I'll be on the lookout for such nice towels . . . as soon as it gets warm enough here to go out looking! Brrrrrrr - 3 degrees fahrenheit here this evening!

  25. Oh they are so beautiful Jenny, I can see these going into a few pressies this year!

  26. These are just gorgeous! And I love the idea of wrapping some scones in one as a gift! I am definitely in the lookout for cute tea towels and Ric rac.

  27. I love these and will absolutely be making some of them.

  28. How pretty and how fun!! Think I will do the same, my dishcloth cupboard is awful, I always think of new fresh dishtowels for my girls, but by gosh, I need some.

  29. Love these Jenny. I'm going to check out the tea towels at Woolies tonight. Thank you, as always, lovely xx

  30. Where did you buy your cute tea towels?

  31. jkcampbells, I got them at our local Woolworths supermarket.

  32. oh these are so very pretty. They would make lovely gifts.... Gail xx

  33. Lindos!
    Amei o tutorial.
    Obrigada por compartilhar

  34. I came here by surching good ideas and I found them!!!
    I'm learning this technique (patchwork) and here I found many inspiring and very beautiful works.
    I am already one portuguese follower.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas!
    Have a pleasant weekend.

  35. Thank you Jenni.....great tutorial.....I have put my towel up for OPAM this month!

  36. Thanks for sharing this great idea. I will definitely make some for my next market.

  37. Thank you for sharing this great idea. I will definitely make some for my next market.

  38. Gorgeous! Thank you for the tutorial.

  39. I love this kind of stuff. Im just not that crafty and i dont even own a sewing machine so I would have to do it by hand if u know anyone that wants to sell them, I'd be first in line to purchase them

  40. These are really cute! Where did you find your festive tea towels?

  41. At the local supermarket, Lisa. (Woolworths here in Australia)

  42. This would be perfect neighbor gifts for Christmas or any holiday! Thank you for the easy directions!

  43. These are darling. But where did you find such cute towels?

  44. Thanks for such a great tutorial and inspiration to dress up my kitchen towels. Should be a fun project!!
    Bless you for taking the time to share


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