Early this year I posted about a towel pattern I was using for some wedding gifts (here). There were three weddings this summer, but with the loss of Hancocks, I also lost my source of some sweet pre-hemmed cotton toweling fabric. In trying to come up with an alternative that would truly dry glassware and crystal, I contacted my friend Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home, because she had mentioned that in a box of vintage linens she had acquired there were plenty that were worn or had holes, etc. that she couldn’t use. She sent me a cast off table cloth, and I have now cut it up into usable pieces to create some dish towels suitable for china, crystal and everyday use too.
I started by slicing the tablecloth in half, and then cutting out chunks that I could use for the towels. When I could, I just cut off unusable portions, rehemmed and voila! In a few other instances, there was a hole or a worn place, which I covered with embellishment, in this case some hexies in coordinating prints.
I opted for mitered corners on the towel portion. This was simplified by a very generous starching, before applying the iron. I did a double turn, then unfolded the corners, cut on the diagonal, folded the corner first, then refolded the sides and the miter nearly made itself. Another good press, and it was ready for the hem.
For the towel tops, I cut coordinating fabrics (online wedding registries are very handy), used some midweight interfacing, and sewed the pieces together. See the photo below to see how I clip my corners, and the resulting turn.
I have a wonderful corner tool that I’ve had for 30 years or more, and it does a great job. None of the photos above have been pressed! Amazing how a decent clip and a marvelous tool make you look so good!
Now it’s time to attach the towels. First I press under 1/2 inch on the print, then either fold or gather the towel. In some I did pleats (starting with 2 inches and adjusting as necessary) and in others I did a simple gather. Pleats are a little easier to work with, I think.
I set the towel into the top, re-pin it, and then top stitch the entire print section, taking care to make sure the towel is well set inside.
The final step is to mark the button hole on the back of the towel, so that it is front side up when buttoned, and choose a matching button to complete the project.
This has been a great way to breathe some more life into vintage linens. By cutting around the stains and holes or placing embellishment on top of them, they can be used by another generation!