For those of you who didn’t shudder at the title of this post, welcome and thank you for clicking through to read! Can you believe that Christmas is a mere five months away? Believe it or not, this unbearable heat-wave provides the perfect opportunity to start thinking about Christmas crafts. If you like an easy (once you learn) and inexpen$ive project that can become a future heirloom for any member of your family or posse, you have come to the right place.
This simple kitchen towel
can be made for about $5 plus your labor, not including other supplies you might not have on hand. Not bad, but I suggest starting now so you don’t become a frustrated elf come December.
My mother’s 50-year-old kitchen towel,
which serves as a dust cover for her stand mixer,
and my vintage Christmas stocking
that used an embroidery chain-stitch to make my names served as the inspiration for this project. With a little trial-and-error, I had my concept down and several Christmas presents for the 2015 holiday.
If you might be interested in doing the same, here is my tutorial for how to craft this simple and inexpensive heirloom.
Supplies You Will Need
- Kitchen Towel. I have tested on various towels and found inexpensive absorbent, high quality towels at TJ Maxx work best. Etsy also has numerous ticking stripe choices. Wherever you source yours, the weave needs to be tight, not too open or waffle-y. The towels at TJ Maxx are sold in 2- or 3-packs and aren’t always stocked, so repeat visits might be necessary.
- Embroidery thread, Pearl Size 5. I use DMC brand. This is a single strand thread, not the kind you separate.
- Embroidery needle, size 20
- Embroidery hoop, 3″ or 4″ works best
- Needle threader
- Rubber eraser
- Washable marker to match your thread color. I use a Crayola fine line marker.
- Design stencil or tracing paper, depending on your design transfer method (step 2).
Step 1 – Design
What will you say on your towel? My sample today says Merry Christmas, but you can get creative.
Step 2 – Transfer Design to Towel
Probably the trickiest part of this project is transferring your message onto the towel for a stitching guide. I have three methods:
This works well if you have cool penmanship. Just make sure your message is centered, use a washable marker and write directly on the towel.
I use my vinyl cutter to make a stencil. If you don’t have a vinyl cutter, or a friend with a vinyl cutter, you can purchase a stencil from The Gracious Posse (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org) for $10.
- Fold towel lengthwise and crease to form center line.
- Fold stencil in half to crease center.
- After making sure your stencil is level horizontally, mark corners of stencil with pencil or marker.
- Peel back of stencil off to expose sticky side of vinyl, turn over and align centers and corners.
- Place sticky side of vinyl on towel, press with your hand.
- Peel off transfer tape.
- Use marker to trace your design.
Tracing Paper Method
Start with Saral Transfer Paper (graphite color for white towels, yellow for dark towels).
You will also need
- large binder clips
- a firm, thin book
- masking tape
- a stylus (a ball point pen tip will work).
- Fold towel in half lengthwise.
- Crease with your hand to mark the horizontal center.
- Print out your design on paper. (Alex Brush font, size 25 for this towel).
- Fold design in half lengthwise and crease.
- Center the towel at the center of the book.
- Use binder clips to stretch and hold towel in place.
- Cut a piece of transfer paper and place it DARK SIDE DOWN on the towel.
- Put your design on top of it, lining up the center line of the design and towel.
- Tape the design in place.
- Use your stylus to trace over your design SEVERAL TIMES bearing down hard on the paper without puncturing it.
- Then use a marker to trace the design. You can even-out or correct anything at this point because the marker will wash clean.
Now comes the fun!
Step 3 – Stitch Design
First, attach embroidery hoop top and bottom, centered over the left side of design, and tighten the hoop to draw the towel taught.
From left to right:
- Insert the needle threader through the eye of the needle.
- Put thread through the small hoop.
- Pull threader back out, pulling thread through the eye.
- Tie a knot at the end of the thread.
Third, start the chain stitch.
- Hold the thread with your thumb and insert needle back into the original hole
- Gently pull the thread until it forms a loop
- From underside, insert needle through loop along the stitching line, about 1/16 to 1/8″ from the original hole.
- Pull thread through. You have completed one chain stitch.
- Next insert needle into second hole to form second loop.
Continue chain-stitching along the pattern line of your design, leaving enough thread at the end of your strand to knot it on the back-side.
After you have completed the stitching, remove hoop. Use rubber eraser to buff off pencil marks. Launder the towel along with your other white towels, and dry. Use a stain remover on the pencil marks and graphite transfer residue if desired. The washable marker will disappear as advertised. Turn over your towel and inspect the knots, ensuring they have held through the wash.
After inspecting, trim any frayed ends.
Iron towel from the back side so as to not mash down the stitching.
Other Helpful Hints
- Pre-cutting 36″ lengths (I used 8.5 cuts for this project) saves time.
- If you are traveling by air and want to stitch, get one of these gizmos from your local stitching shop (this one is from Jermie’s). It has sharp edges between the slits. To cut your thread, simply
slide the thread on either side of the slit and pull firmly.
Now, with a sense of accomplishment, you have a handmade heirloom that my posse swear they love.
Merry Christmas in July!
July 21, 2016
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