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Baby Gifts: Pretty Bird Hooded Towel With Matching Washcloth

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This is absolutely one of the best baby gifts ever! Bundling up baby after bath time with a hooded towel is easier and cozier. The hood doesn't just help dry those clean mop tops, it actually acts as a little anchor, allowing mom or dad to more quickly wrap the rest of the towel around squirming, slippery baby-boo. Ours is made with Michael Miller Fabrics' great new organic terry cloth and features a matching bound washcloth. Free patterns are included.

Our simplified instructions keep the hood of the towel as plain fabric. If you are more advanced when it comes to your bias binding prowess, see our Hints & Tips below for notes on how to add a terry cloth lining.


Our thanks to our pals at Michael Miller Fabrics for providing us with this absolutely wonderful fabric for our series of seven Baby Gift projects. It's called Pretty Bird from Pillow & Maxfield. There are three vibrant colorways from which to choose. We selected the fabrics for our Baby collection from the Aqua colorway with its incredible hot pinks, limes and bright blues. Pretty Bird comes out this month, so check your favorite local or online fabric retailer soon for availability.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for front of hood: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Aqua Bloomies
  • 1¼ yard of 44-45" wide terry cloth for body of towel and wash cloth: we used Michael Miller's new organic terry cloth in natural
  • Two packages of ½" double-fold bias tape: we used Wrights extra wide, double-fold bias tape in Lemon Ice
  • All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match bias tape binding
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Baby Washcloth pattern and the Hooded Towel Corner Piece pattern.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern consists of ONE 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the patterns along the solid lines.
  3. Using the washcloth pattern (as noted on the pattern piece, you cut along the fold), cut ONE piece from the terry cloth fabric.
  4. Also from the terry cloth, cut ONE 30" x 30" square.
  5. Using the Hooded Towel Corner Piece pattern as a template, round all four corners of the 30" x 30" piece.
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  6. Cut the print fabric (Aqua Bloomies in our sample) into a 15" x width of fabric (WOF) strip.
  7. Measure 15" from the corner along the WOF side and make a mark.
  8. Align your see-through ruler at a diagonal from the WOF mark to the opposite corner to form a triangle. Cut along the ruler.
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  9. Round off the top point of the triangle using the Hooded Towel Corner Piece pattern as a template as you did with the towel body.
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At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Cut a length of bias tape to match the long bottom edge of your hood piece. It will be approximately 20".
  2. Encase the raw edge of the hood piece with the bias binding and pin in place.
    NOTE: Simply encasing the raw edges with the double-fold bias tape is the faster way to attach binding. It is the method we used for our recent Retro Fun: Toddler's Laminated Project Apron. The more 'traditional' option is to unfold one half of the binding, stitch it in place on the front, then re-fold and wrap the binding over the raw edge to the back, and stitch in place to finish. We used this more traditional method on our Retro Fun: Quilted Mitt Pot Holders. If you're brand new to bias tap binding, take a look at our tutorial: Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It .
  3. Topstitch using a zig zag stitch. We set the swing of our zig zag stitch to run right along the very edge of the bias binding.
    NOTE: A zig zag is more 'forgiving' than a straight stitch; in other words, your seam line can wobble a little without it being noticeable on the finished piece.
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  4. Pin the hood piece onto one corner of the towel body piece.
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  5. Machine baste the hood into place ¼" from the edge.
  6. Stitch the two pieces of seam binding together (the remaining piece you already used and the new piece from the second package) using a 3/8" seam allowance and press the seam open. You need a nice, long piece to go all the way around the towel.
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  7. Pin the seam binding around the entire outer edge of the towel. The terry cloth can be stretchy, so don't be afraid to use plenty of pins - especially around the corners.
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  8. When you get back around where you started, trim the binding so it overlaps approximately 1".
  9. Press  this trimmed end under ¼" and pin in place over the top of the beginning.
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  10. Top stitch the binding, using the same zig zag stitch as above.
    NOTE: Nice, neat binding is really all about practice, and going slowly and evenly. Don't expect to just wrap, pin and stitch. Going too quickly or assuming everything stays put and never moves is where disappointment lurks: you pull it out of the machine and there's a big chunk of fabric that's slipped out and isn't captured within the binding. Go nice and slow, especially around the corners, easing the fabric into the binding as you go. To keep 'on track', stop periodically, with your needle in the down position, and pivot your fabric slightly.
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  11. Repeat the process to bind the matching washcloth. You should have more than enough bias tape left over from the towel.
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  12. Press both pieces with steam for a finished look. Since the terry cloth is quite stretchy this step is very important!
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Hints and Tips

Extra steps to line the hood with terry cloth

If you want some extra absorbency, you could line the back of the hood with terry cloth. We opted not to do this because it added bulk and made the binding process more complex. However, if you're an old hand at binding, a terry cloth lining does add some softness to the hood.

  1. Simply cut a matching hood triangle out of the terry cloth (you'd need to buy a little extra terry cloth, probably a 1½ yards instead of 1¼ yards).
  2. Machine baste the terry cloth and fabric triangles wrong sides together so you can treat the two pieces as one.
  3. Trim the terry cloth back close to the machine basting to reduce the bulk.
  4. Finish the towel as described above. I would suggest using the 'traditional' two-step bias binding method, which gives you a bit more control when wrapping a thicker edge.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Julia Chapman

Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 240 and the Husqvarna Emerald 183.



Comments (15)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Crafty Denise - the corner is 6" across. It's basically a 6" rounded square. Have fun!
Crafty Denise said:
Crafty Denise's picture
I love this project! But I'm not sure if my printer is printing the hooded towel corner piece at the correct scale. How many inches across should it be? Thanks for your help!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Suzanne M - you are right - that is a typo; smilies/angry.gif it should be 1/2 yard so you can cut a 15" strip. I'm so sorry. I fixed it above. If you already have your 12" cut, it will still work - the hood part will just be a little narrower.
Suzanne M said:
I love this idea and recently bought some terry to try this on. Could you clarify how to cut the fabric hood? If I'm only buying 1/3 yard (12 in.) how do I then measure 15in along the selvage edge? Thanks.
Allie said:
Allie's picture

Thanks for getting back to me with the info for selling the items made. I cannot tell you how excited I am that I stumbled upon this website! I love to sew and love the challenge of making it look "store bought" but unique. The further I go thru this site, the more my jaw drops with the wonderful ideas, but more importantly the step by step instructions and pictures so that my efforts can look good!

Question, how do you think flannel material would do for the hooded towels? When my kids were babies, I would use extra flannel receiving blankets.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Allie - thanks so much for your kind comments! smilies/cheesy.gif

Flannel could be an alternative to the terry. It isn't as absorbent, but it is an easier fabric to work with. I think my first choice would be a terry.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Allie -- So glad you like our site and our project designs. Yes, all our patterns and tutorials are original and copyrighted. However, we do give permission to people to use them to make items for sale. All we ask is that you place a credit on the tag somewhere, as well as within the description on Etsy or Artfile, that shows Sew4Home.com as the originator of the pattern and the design.

The only thing we do not allow is to actually copy and/or sell the patterns or instructions themselves. They cannot be copied or printed and sold or transferred in any way.

Thank you for being careful and asking permission.
Allie said:
Allie's picture
I love the adorable baby hooded towel and matching cloth! Is there a license fee that I could buy to be able to sell these on Etsy or Artfire? I would never presume to sell it without permission. Please let me know!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
how cute, Tawny. Thanks for sharing the pix.
cristina-crazypatchwork.blogspot.com said:
cristina-crazypatchwork.blogspot.com's picture
Very beautiful, and the colors is so preaty.
Kharliebug said:
Kharliebug's picture
WOW, thanks for the instructions. I remember having these as a kid they are awesome and a great shower gift!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Holly -- The MMF organic terry is pretty new and so is still a bit hard to find. There are several Etsy sellers that are offering it -- your best bet there is to just search etsy.com for \"Michael Miller Organic Terry.\" We also found it at these two sites:



And -- fabric.com carries an alternative organic terry:

http://www.fabric.com/SearchResults2.aspx?Source=Header&SearchText=organic terry cloth cloth&CategoryID=1d5f47dc-9991-4088-93f3-26a376046a5e
Holly said:
Holly's picture
This is really cute! I've never heard of Michael Miller's new organic terry cloth. Where can I find it online?
Colonialquilts said:
Colonialquilts's picture
smilies/cheesy.gif This is a delightful project! On your Bernina you can use some of those fabulous stitches and varigated thread for a decorative touch to the binding attachment! If you embroider you can put initials or a name! Beautiful!

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