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Weekend Wonders with Fabric.com: Crabtastic Kitchen Towels

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Welcome to the newest series with our friends at Fabric.com: Weekend Wonders. Pretty projects you can whip out in a weekend. Ours have a casual summer theme – perfect for a sunny weekend. Make them all to gussy-up your own outdoor living space or create some great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or barbecue get-togethers. We start off today with a trio of thirsty, 100% cotton towels. Sure... you can buy bundles of towels at the store, but they'll never be as cute as these or as well made. The monogrammed accent ribbon across the center gives you the power of personalization. I believe that's the secret weapon of one of the lesser-known Marvel Super Heroes.While browsing Fabric.com, we spotted the Crabtastic fabric collection by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics; it caught our eye because of its whimsical picnic theme. We love the bold graphics and slighted faded palette. Follow our lead or use your own super powers to personalize a set: soften the mood with florals, go tropical, or mix and match color block solids. Fabric.com has 500,000+ yards of fabric in inventory! You're sure to find one or two (or a dozen) choices to love. And remember, shipping from Fabric.com is always free on US orders of $35 or more.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Ingredients shown below are for one towel, however, you can cut two identical towels from the yardage indicated if your motif allows two vertical cuts (two cuts parallel to the selvedge) for the main fabric and two horizontal cuts side by side for the border fabric. The only other step would be to simply double the amount of twill tape/ribbon.

  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide natural linen or cotton fabric for the main body of the towel
  • ⅓ yard of 44-45" wide natural linen or cotton fabric for the border of the towel

NOTE: we used Crabastic by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics from Fabric.com in the following combinations. By keeping the border fabric consistent, it ties the three together into a nice set.

Towel One

Towel Two

Towel Three

Additional Supplies

  • ⅔ yard of 1" wide twill tape to match accent fabrics
    NOTE: The soft twill tape was a great choice to match our Crabtastic fabrics and it is very easy to stitch on should you choose to add the optional decorative monogramming. You could also use a cotton or grosgrain ribbon. You should pre-shrink your trim as well as your fabric prior to construction. 
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics and twill (or ribbon)
  • Optional contrasting thread for decorative stitching
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main body of the towel, cut ONE 21" wide x 25" high rectangle.
  2. From the fabric for the accent band, cut the following:
    ONE 21" wide x 7" high rectangle 
    ONE 1" x 5" strip for the hanging loop 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the accent band and main body WRONG sides together, aligning the raw edges of each piece. Pin in place. 
  2. Stitch together with a ½" seam allowance.
    NOTE: Yes, this means your seam will show on the RIGHT side of the towel. That's okay. We're going to cover it up with the twill tape and then the back will have a nice, clean finish.
  3. Press the seam open. 
  4. Trim back the main body portion of the seam allowance to ¼".  
  5. Re-press the seam allowance towards the main body.
  6. Create a narrow ¼" double-turn hem along all the towel sides. To do this fold the raw edge of the fabric under ¼" along all four sides and press. Fold under another ¼" and press again. Pin in place, but don't stitch yet
    NOTE: If you are new to hemming, read our tutorial: How to Make a Simple HemFor super neat corners like ours, read our tutorials: How to Sew a Corner (aka Mitered) Hem and Clean Corners on Narrow Hems.

Create the hanging loop

  1. Find the 1" x 5" strip.
  2. Fold the strip in half lengthwise (½" x 5"), wrong sides together, and press.
  3. Unfold so you can see the center crease. Fold both long raw edges in to meet at the center crease. Then re-fold along the original crease, encasing the raw edges to the inside. 
  4. Stitch through all the layers, staying close to the folded edges. We used our Janome Quarter Inch foot to keep a nice, straight line.  
  5. Find the hemmed/pinned towel. Fold it in half to find the center of the top edge.
  6. Measure 1" to the left of the center fold and 1" to the right of the center fold. Mark both points with a fabric pen/pencil or pins.  
  7. Unfold the towel so it is wrong wide up on your work surface.
  8. Insert the hanging loop, feeding one raw end under the folded hem at each marked point.
  9. NOW... you can stitch your narrow hem in place, running your seam around all four sides ¼" from the folded edge. Again, we used our Quarter Inch foot to keep the seam line consistent. 
  10. Press the hemmed edge all around. 

Covering the seam allowance with the twill tape 

  1. Find the center of the twill tape and mark with a fabric pen/pencil or pin. 
  2. Find the center of the towel along the seam line, and mark with a fabric pen/pencil or pin. 
  3. The stitching along the twill tape is optional, but really cute! It's a great way to play with the decorative stitch and monogramming functions on your sewing machine. We chose three "Crabtastic" messages: Surf and Turf, Under The Sea and Ahoy Matey! If your machine doesn't have an alphabet, you could run a line of decorative stitches, such as little sailboats in a row.
  4. You need to follow the steps in your machine's instruction manual to set up your machine for decorative stitching. We used our Janome Memory Craft 11000 Special Edition, so all we had to do was select the "font" tab on the touchscreen and enter our message letter-by-letter. It was immediately ready to stitch out. 
  5. We recommend testing your message on a scrap fabric to make sure you are happy with the size and the color contrast. This is also a good way to test that the length of the message will properly fit. Stitch the message in the middle of the strip, using the center mark you made above as a guide. 
  6. Once the message is stitched, again using the center point as a guide, trim the twill tape to 22" in length. Measure twice, cut once... be extra careful to make sure your stitching is centered end to end. 
  7. If you choose not to stitch on the tape, simply cut a 22" length.
  8. Place the twill tape over the seam, matching the center point mark on the tape with the center point mark on the towel. You should have about 1" extending beyond both sides. The bottom of the tape should lay directly on top of the towel seam. Pin in place.
  9. Bring the ends of the twill tape around to the back of the towel. 
  10. Fold under each end of twice so it is flush with the hem and has a clean, folded edge. Pin in place.

    NOTE: Our twill tape was thin enough for this double fold. If your tape or ribbon is thicker, you may only be able to fold under one time. 
  11. Edgestitch the ribbon in place along both the top and bottom.
  12. Press well. We folded our towels into thirds and pressed hard creases the length of the towel so they would be easy to fold and hang.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild




Comments (18)

Elizabeth Barnett said:
Elizabeth Barnett's picture

love the idea, does it matter that the pictures show Lobsters, not Crabs??

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Elizabeth Barnett - Ha! We can't control what the designers call their collections :-))... I guess they thought "lobstertastic" just didn't sound as cool

Jean Adams said:
Jean Adams's picture

Is there another fabric that will work they r very cuteee just need another fabric choice...Thanks

Banderson said:
Banderson's picture

Wow!  These are about the cutest thing I have seen in a long time!!  I love the addition of the twill tape and the hanging hook.  Brilliant!

Lawana said:
Lawana's picture

I love these towels for gifts!  They would be great for birthdays, house warming, Christmas, any occasion!
Can't wait to make them! 

mizrae13 said:
mizrae13's picture

It's time to learn how to use the lettering feature on my new machine.  This looks like the perfect thing to try it out on.  Love these fabrics, too.

cathrynj said:
cathrynj's picture

Super cute towels!  I have been considering a project to make for christmas gifts for a family that has everything- this is perfect! Everyone needs cute dish towels!  I was wondering about the absorbancy of the fabric used- is it as absorbant as a waffle weave or terry towel?  Would you know if I could but waffle weaves and where?  Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ cathrynj - we recommend 100% cotton or linen in our supply list - both of these are great for absorbancy. Terry is a different animal and really apples to oranges in terms of look and feel. You would need to experiment with the reverse seam on this design to figure out how wide and thick of a tape or ribbon you'd need to cover the thicker seam of terry. Fabric.com has a great selection of terry cloth. You'd have to do a little Google searching to source the waffle weave.

TimelessKreations said:

These are kool!! I love this site, learn something new with every project. I did not know we could make kitchen towels with just cotton fabric. I always thought needed a special material. Thank you for sharing. They are just too cute!!

kittyklaws65 said:
kittyklaws65's picture

What a wonderful summer-y project!!!! Since I don't have an alphabet on my machine I can use an alphabet stamp kit and stamp on the twill tape! Thanks to the wonderful world of crafts we have endless options!!  Thank you S4H for the project!!!! 

Boosmith said:
Boosmith's picture

I had already ordered this fabric because I couldn't resist it!!  Now I have something to make with it!! So cute!!

rsmallen said:
rsmallen's picture

Way too cute not to make these asap!  I've already ordered the fabric.  Nice pattern to use for towels for all holidays using appropriate print coordinates.  THANKS!

katsewnsew said:
katsewnsew's picture

These are adorable, will make great gifts for Christmas!  Thanks for your great site and wonderful projects!!!