I'm of the opinion you can never have too many kitchen towels. It's an extra bonus when they are so pretty they actually make you want to clean up! We started with plain white store-bought towels, then added fabric and ribbon strips to build a band of beauty along the bottom. Tie up three or more with a bow and a sweet handmade tag, and you have a bundle of lovely linens for Mom.
We chose Tula Pink's Parisville for all our Happy Mother's Day print fabric with coordinating Designer Linen Solids. Our thanks to our friends at Free Spirit for providing all this wonderful fabric. Tula's Parisville came out late last year, but can still be found at many retail and online outlets, such as Fat Quarter Shop, Fabric.com and Hawthorne Threads. Thanks as well to everyone at The Ribbon Retreat for giving us the cool specialty ribbon. All the beautiful ribbons we used are available online now directly from The Ribbon Retreat in the colors we selected as well as many, many more.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome 2160DC)
- Janome Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set (optional)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies shown are for a set of three towels.
- 3 solid color, store-bought dish towels: we used a basic, waffle weave white dish towel set we found at a local variety store, which measured 20" wide x 29½" high
- 1/8 yard EACH of three 44-45" wide fabric for the center accent strips; we used Parisville Eyedrops in Dusk, Fans in Pomegranate, and French Lace in Sky by Tula Pink for Free Spirit Fabrics
NOTE: Many online and in-store retailers have ¼ - ½ yard minimum cuts. As listed above, you really only need an 1/8 yard cut. In fact, the cut itself (for our towel) for each center accent band is just 2½" x 22", so you might be able to simply use scraps of fabric. Or you could use a jelly roll strip.
- All purpose thread in colors to best match ribbons
- 2 yards of 3/8" ribbon: we used solid grosgrain in Tropic Lilac from The Ribbon Retreat
- 2 yards of 7/8" ribbon; we used Polka Dots in Dark Orchid with White and Mint with White from The Ribbon Retreat
NOTE: If you want to use different ribbons for each towel, you need one narrow length of ribbon and one wide length of ribbon, each the width of your towel plus 2"
- Glue Dots or Steam A Seam (optional)
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil
- Seam gauge
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- From each accent band fabric (Parisville in Eyedrops in Dusk, Fans in Pomegranate, and French Lace in Sky in our samples), fussy cut one 2½" x 22" strip.
NOTE: The 22" length fits our 20" towels. Measure the width of your own towel and add 2".
- Cut one narrow length of ribbon and one wide length of ribbon to match your strip length (22" in our samples).
- Press your towels flat and remove all tags.
- Use your see-through ruler to mark and draw a horizontal line across the front of your towel(s) approximately 2" up from the bottom hem.
NOTE: Determine your best placement based on your own towels. I used the hemline as my guide rather than the bottom of the towel because I found the bottom of the towel to not be a truly straight line on my store-bought towels.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Take the 2½" accent strips and the ribbons to your ironing board.
- On each strip, fold in each end 1" and press.
- On each ribbon, fold in each end 1" and press.
- Take each towel and lay it face up on your work surface so the drawn horizontal line is visible.
- Place a center accent strip, right side facing up, on top of a towel. Line up the bottom edge of the accent strip with the drawn horizontal line. The folded outside edges of your accent strip should be flush with the hemmed sides of the towel. If they aren't perfect, re-press the folds as needed to make an exact match.
- Slip one folded and pressed end of a narrow and a wide ribbon over the folded end of the strip. The narrow ribbon goes on the top of the strip, the wide ribbon on the bottom.
- Center the ribbon over the raw edge of the fabric so the fabric's raw edge is completely covered.
- Stitch a vertical seam as close to the edge as possible, through all layers, to secure the ribbons and the strip.
NOTE: If you are using two colors of ribbon, as we did with two of our three towels, this will mean you will have a visible seam against one of the ribbons. It's okay... keep breathing. This seam is at the very back of the towel. Mine worked out nicely because, as I always say, my Janome machines stitch very precisely even right on the edge of the fabric. Love that!
- Repeat to stitch the opposite ribbon ends in place.
NOTE: You may need to futz with the ribbons' folds in order to adjust it to perfectly fit the edge of your towel and insure the ribbons and the fabric lay nice and flat.
- If you've already finished one towel in your set, before stitching everything in place on your second (and third) towel, take a minute to check the position of everything to make sure the ribbons and fabric will line up horizontally when the towels are hung side by side. This is important, because with ready-made towels, you can't assume the hems are identical from towel to towel
- Using your ruler (and eyeballing it), confirm your ribbons are straight side to side and secure them prior to stitching. You can simply pin the ribbons in place or use an adhesive, such as Glue Dots or Steam A Seam.
- Carefully edgestitch along both sides of each ribbon. I used my optional Janome Clear View Quilting Foot.
- Press well.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Brother CS600-i Sew Advance.