Monday, November 21, 2011

A Tutorial for Quick Decorative Towels

Marny here...
Recently the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild met.  Although I'd known there was to be an exchange of some sort of holiday item for weeks, I was caught with overly ambitious plans and too little time to complete them.  This simple little idea popped into my head.  I had the adorable Riley Blake precut 5" squares already and a quick trip into Target supplied me with the "finger tip" towels. 

They turned out so cute I thought I would share the steps I took.   
Start with 5" (Charm) squares.  Seven squares make four bands.
For my three towels (I made another they were so much fun) I used fourteen
charm squares.  No fabrics were repeated on any towel.
Or at least that was my intention.  I have some leftover bands to play with later.

Cut each 5" square in half.  You can stack them and cut them very efficiently.
Perfection is not required.  

Create two piles, each with one half of every charm.
This will give your strip sets a nice variety and keep like fabrics from
ending up too close to one another.

Chain sew pairs together.  Press the seams.  I press them open.

Then seam pairs together.  I really only needed seven fabrics across.
I got a bit ambitious and had to "unsew" a few because my towel
was only so wide.  So measure your towel relative to your strip sets.
You'll need a slightly longer strip set than the width of the towel so that you
are able to fold the ends in using the method described below.
Two additional inches should do it.
Cut the strip set in half lengthwise.  It will be 2 1/2" by the
length of your strip set.
I used one half on one towel and the other half on another towel.  

Next, press this unit in half lenghtwise.

Then, open it up again and press each edge in towards the center pressed line.

Line up the nicely pressed unit on the towel to see how much
the ends need to be folded under.  Press under that amount.
Next, fold the outer most corners towards the center to form a point.

Press again and no raw edges will escape while you are sewing.
The band you have created is probably an 1" to 1 1/4" or so wide.
My towels worked perfectly since they had bands to accommodate
the pieced units.  How did I get so lucky?
I increased my stitch length to a 3.0 (on my machine 2.5 is the default) and
stitched all the way around a bit more than an 1/8" from the edge.
To be truthful I used my trusty edgestitching foot with my needle in
position 6 (as far to the right as it goes).
This is a picture of the edgestitching foot ready for action.  It is hard to see here,
but it has a gate to the right that the fabric slides against.  This keeps the stitching
consistent and straight.  It is very handy for all sorts of sewing, especially for my 1/4" seam.

Each towel got two bands, each from a different strip set.

All ready for the gift exchange!  Very cute and lots of fun to create.
This technique could be expanded for larger towels.  You can cut your own 5" squares from your stash or purchase fabrics for your decor and cut those.   More importantly, use this idea to provide a happy excuse to purchase those wonderful Charm Packs of all sorts of holiday collections!  I'm going to be hunting for Charms appropriate for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.  

Do any of you have simple holiday gift ideas you'd care to share?   Any tutorials you know of for fun items to link our readers to?  Can't wait to hear about them.  Thanks in advance for sharing.  Notice the Handmade with Love little bird on the top right portion of our blog.  Lots to explore there.

Speaking of sharing, feel free to share a link to this tutorial.

Till Tuesday...


  1. So cute! Could you make me a couple while you are at it? You are so good at it. :)

  2. Clever use of charm squares! Good job! It will be fun to work with seasonal colors all year long.

  3. My mom, Penny Adam, emailed me a link to your blog-- this is the first update I have read and I love it! I am just getting into quilting, and I love to see what can be done and how quilting can have a modern spin. Looking forward to reading more!

  4. Hi Katie! Thanks for the kind words. Hope you enjoy your new quilting endeavors! Marny (as in Lindy's Mom)

  5. v cute towels!!

    Karen Hoiberg


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