Sunday, May 5, 2013

Decorative Towels

Any one who has ever priced the decorative hand towels in the stores knows that they can be quite expensive. A few years ago we were throwing a party and I wanted a decorative hand towel for our Powder Room. I needed a Williamsburg Blue towel with lace trim to match my decor. After searching several stores I realized that this towel simply didn't exist, at least not in the market place. I ended buying blue hand towels and headed over to the fabric store to buy lace trim, fabric and embroidery thread.

I went about designing the hand towel. The process wasn't as simple as I had envisioned because the towel had two 1/2 wide chevrons (the same color as the towel) stitched 4 1/2 inches from the towel's hem.  Hmm, how can I work around this? The lace trim covered the chevrons but it's placement so far from the hem line looked out of place. I decided to use the fat quarter of fabric that I purchased for the heart design as a border. Next I made a heart template and drew the hearts on Heat and Bond. After fusing Heat and Bond to the wrong side of the fabric I cut out the hearts and then fused them to the towel.

I hung the hand towel in my Powder Room on the day of the party and forgot about it. Later, several guests approached me asking where I had purchased the towel? My mother-in law said "I know you made that towel and I want one for my bathroom." So on Mother's Day she got two towels to match her bathroom decor.

These towels make great Mother's Day, shower or hostess gifts and they are easy to make. 

Finished hand towel.

Close-up of hearts.

Directions for Decorative Towel:

Hand Towel
Fat Quarter or 1/4 yard of fabric to match towel: 100% cotton fabric
1 yard of lace trim
Heat and Bond for fusing fabric
Rayon machine embroidery thread to match the fabric
Natural color thread

1,  Pre-wash the cotton fabric and put in the dryer. This will pre-shrink the fabric so that your ruffle and hearts won't pucker when the towel is washed.

2.  Cut the fabric approximately 12 inches wide by 18 inches long. Fold the fabric in half so that it measures 6 inches wide. Fold under almost 3/8 inches on side edges of the fabric and the upper ends of the fabric and press (set the iron to cotton). These will become the finished edges of the ruffle. Sew the side edges of the fabric, using a 1/4 inch seam, with the natural thread, but don't sew the top edges yet.

3.  Use a long gathering stitch on the sewing machine to gather the fabric 1/2 inch from the upper folded edge. Pull the threads to slightly gather the fabric to make a ruffle. Pin the ruffle to the towel 4 1/2 inches from the bottom edge, covering the chevrons. Sew the ruffle in place using the natural thread, using a 1/4 inch seam.

4. Pin the lace trim approximately 1/4 inch from the top of ruffle and sew in place, using the natural thread.

5.  Make a heart template by drawing a heart at 1 1/2 inches on plain white paper and carefully cut it out. Use the template to draw two hearts onto the paper side of the Heat and Bond. Fuse the Heat and Bond to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the fused hearts. You can also use the Cricut to cut the hearts out of the fused fabric. 

6.  Pin the first heart approximately 5 inches from the side edge of the towel and 1 1/4 inches from the top edge of the ruffle. Pin the second heart slightly to the right of the first heart. The edge of this heart should touch the edge of the first heart and be 1 inch from the top edge of the ruffle. Carefully remove the pins, trying not to disturb the design and fuse according to Heat and Bond package directions.

7.  Wind a bobbin with the natural color thread and thread the rayon embroidery thread through the sewing machine. Set the sewing machine to satin stitch and carefully stitch around the edges of both hearts. You will need to stitch very slowly because of the towel thickness and the temperamental nature of the rayon thread. This thread has a tendency to break easily.