On one of my trips to the Southwest I bought a beautiful piece of fabric I really love it! You know how when you really love a piece of fabric no project seems good enough for it? This has been my problem. It has been in my stash almost a year and every time I’ve thought of using it I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I finally decided this was silly. The fabric wasn’t doing anyone any good setting on a shelf in my sewing room. So after my little pep talk I decided to sew a couple of sets of tea towels. These would make the perfect gifts for my daughter-in-law in New Mexico and a dear, long-time friend living in Arizona. The Kokopelli figure is a symbol of joy and that’s what I wanted to give them. Why tea towels? Who doesn’t need a new tea towel for their kitchen?
The technique for these towels is a bit different than my normal banded towels. It’s not difficult and I think it is a bit nicer. The seams are opened and the fabric is resewn into the seams inside of sitting on the top of the towel.
Here’s what you will need:
Fabric of choice
Scissors, pins, seam ripper, coordinating thread
Step one Wash the fabric and the towels to minimize shrinkage. The 100% cotton tea towels will shrink more than the 100% cotton fabric and cause the finish project to look bad the first time it is washed unless you pre-shrink everything. . Press the towels and the fabric. I use Mary Ellen’s Best Press to put the size in back into the towels and the fabric.
When I washed my pieces for this project I threw the tea towels in the washer with another load of towels (California is in a drought so why waste water) but I was not the one who changed the load to the dryer. My son was and he did not shake out the twists and turns that happen to a towel in the washer. The heat of the dryer set those horrendous wrinkles. No amount of steam ironing would get them out.
I had to resorted to an old trick – I re-dampened the towels, rolled them up, put them in a zip lock bag, and put them in the freezer overnight. I let them defrost a little bit and then I ironed them. They looked pretty good. When the entire project was finished I gave them another good pressing and used Mary Ellen’s Best Press and they looked great.
Step two Determine the amount of band you want along the bottom of the towel. Be generous with the fabric at this point. We’ll cut it to size later.
Step three Tea towels have a definite top and bottom. Be sure you’re working with the bottom of the towel. Use the seam ripper to pick out the hem along the bottom and side. On the side seam rip an inch and a half or two inches more of the hem than you need for the band. Press out the seams to make them easier to work with.
Step four Measure out the length and width of the band you will be using. Turn the top of the fabric down about 1/2 inch and press. Do the same for the bottom of the band. You should still be able to see the fold line for the bottom hem. Line up your bottom hem with this fold line. Pin the band in place.
Step five Let the bottom hem allowance down and flip the towel over. Trim the fabric to fit the towel.
Step six Sew the top of the band down to the towel. I like to match the stitch length I use to the stitch length of the stitching already used on the towel. (This was 4.0 on my machine.) It is also important to match the thread as closely as possible to what has been used.
Step seven Using the old fold lines turn up the bottom hem and stitch in place. Do the same with the side hems. I match the allowance I use to what is already used for the seams.
As you see in the picture above I start sewing the side seam at the top rather than the corner. It is too difficult to start a seam on the corner because of all the layers of fabric coming together there.
I have about half a yard of the beautiful fabric left. It can sit in my stash for awhile longer. I am very happy with the end result and happy to gift them.