Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dish Towel Tutorial - May Edition: Ribbon and Ruffles - 12 Months of Pretty Kitchen Towels

Recently I updated my kitchen by making some lovely new Kitchen Curtains.  They look so pretty!  In fact, they are much too attractive to be seen with our sad old mismatched collection of dish towels.  So, I made some fresh new kitchen towels to coordinate with the new curtains.   The desire was to have decorative towels that were inexpensive to make, so I chose muslin instead of the blank flour sack towels that were available.  Muslin is not as absorbent as flour sack towels, but it is so much more affordable! JoAnn's has lovely 44" width muslin fabric in bleached (white) and unbleached (natural) shades.  I got two yards of bleached muslin and two yards of unbleached muslin.  This is enough fabric to make a dozen dish towels.

I will be posting one new kitchen towel each month for the next 12 months.  Since we're already well into May, let's start with the May edition. The design for May is very simple.  This unbleached muslin kitchen towel is trimmed with red grosgrain ribbon, machine embroidery, and a blue broadcloth ruffle at the bottom.  PUMPKIN says it's too pretty to be a kitchen towel.  She thinks it looks more like a curtain.  It matches my Kitchen Curtains quite nicely.


Want to make some for yourself? I'm sharing the tutorial for this one.  It is very simple.


2/3 yard of 44" width muslin
Measuring tape
Sewing Machine


Step 1

Wash, dry, and iron muslin fabric.  (Trust me, it shrinks!)

NOTE:  Step 2 is for people making more than two dish towels.  If you are making only two towels, skip Step 2 and go to Step 3.

Step 2

Rip fabric horizontally at 23" intervals from selvage to selvage.  New to Ripping Cotton?  It is easy and fun.  Click on the link for a brief tutorial.

2/3 yard = 2 dish towels

1 and 1/3 yard = 4 dish towels

2 yards = 6 dish towels

NOTE: My muslin was 44" wide and 72" long before laundering.  After being machine washed and dried, it shrunk to 69" x 43". If a miracle happens and you have NO shrinkage after the muslin is machine washed and dried, you should rip fabric at 24" intervals.

NOTE:  Now you will have 2 or 3 pieces of fabric that are approximately 23" inches wide and 43" long.

Step 3

 Fold fabric once across the center so that it is half as long as it was before folding.  With an iron, press the fold, making a crease directly on the center of the fabric. This is your cutting guideline.

Step 4

Make one cut all the way down the crease.  Now you will have equal sections of muslin that are (approximately) 22" x 23".  If you're making two dish towels, you now have two equal pieces of fabric that are the correct size for dish towels. If you are making more than two dish towels, repeat Step 4 for each strip of fabric.

Step 5

Serge all the way around four edges of the fabric (or machine stitch close to the edges all the way around the fabric.  Use your stitches as a pressing line, and press under all the way around the fabric.)

Step 6

Press under machine serged edges just enough to make a narrow hem as shown. If you are using a traditional sewing machine, you've already straight stitched and pressed in Step 5.  Fold under once more the same width as before and press.

Step 7

Clip corners.

Step 8

With traditional sewing machine, straight stitch through the center of the fold, going all the way around the four sides to create your hem.

NOTE: Repeat these steps for each dish towel you make up to this point.  Experienced sewers may want to skip hemming until it is time to attach trim and do embroidery. Starting with Step 9, we are just adding embellishments.  You can trim your towels any way you wish.  If you'd like to know how I trimmed this one, read on!

 Step 9

Pin grosgrain ribbon along the hem on top edge as shown in the photo.

Step 10 

Machine stitch the edge of the ribbon nearest the edge of the towel.

NOTE:  I waited until I pinned on the ribbon to hem this edge.


Step 11

Machine stitch straight down the other edge of the ribbon.

Step 12

Machine stitch ribbon vertically near left and right edge of towel and clip the end of the ribbon off close to edge.

Step 13

Pin ruffle to bottom edge of towel, right sides together, and serge (or machine stitch with 1/4 seam allowance).

Step 14

Machine (or hand) embroider left and right edges.  For this towel, the left and right sides have identical embroidery.  I added the word "MAY" with some fanciful flower stitches using gold thread.  Have fun with it!

I hope you enjoy making some fun and fanciful new kitchen towels.  If you follow this tutorial and make your own new towels, please share some photos of them with me.  I might be able to include some in an upcoming post.

This post is shared at:

Diana Rambles: Pin Me Linky Party #34
Threading My Way: Threading Your Way Link Party

Sincerely, Paula: NO RULES Weekend Blog Party #48 



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  2. Would love for you to join my link up where we pin all those who join to our party board

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