November 24, 2009

A playful dishtowel tutorial

I’m a huge fan of this store’s artsy dishtowels. I figured it was about time I made a few myself. After all, when you break it down it’s just a fabric rectangle with trim and applique, right? The Totally Tutorials supplies/tutorial exchange with Ruby Jane’s Retro fabric was another spark that led to this project idea. If you were here yesterday, you read about that and my final piece of inspiration…a newly acquired, 1944 children’s dictionary.

These fabric ink jet sheets have been waiting ever so patiently on my shelf for some time. Finally, they had their day. I loved the entries from my new (old) book and how they “played” off the fabric swatch from Ruby Jane. Here was the perfect opportunity to combine her fabric, a bit of the dictionary and experiment with the fabric sheets.

First, I scanned in the definition of play from that charming dictionary. I followed the fabric sheet directions by loading a single sheet into the printer and printing. I then did the colorfast treatment according to the package. The entire process went smoothly with no ink bleedage or distortion. I really can’t believe I haven’t tried this until now.

other supplies needed include:
fabric swatches (click here for Ruby Jane’s shop)
fusible web
21″ x 29″ piece of heavier fabric (main body of dishtowel)
sewing machine
coordinating thread

First, iron the edges up and under approx 1/4 inch in on all sides of the dishtowel fabric. Then pin and sew close to the inner edge.

Iron fusible web to the back of all fabric swatches. Peel off paper backing. Arrange and pin fabric pieces on the dishtowel. Iron fabric swatches to the towel.

With contrasting thread, zigzag-stitch around the various fabric pieces.

Here’s a peek at what my machine was set at for this part.

After the applique pieces are stitched, pin ruffle trim to the bottom and top edges of the dish towel. Next, sew the trim to the front edges of the dishtowel.

Finally, attach red trim on top…reminiscent of the fancy borders from the original children’s dictionary (note the right edge of the “play” definition fabric snippet.)

And there you have it…a playful, retro dishtowel whipped up in under two hours to add a bit of whimsy to your kitchen or to gift. I can hardly wait to make more dishtowels integrating initials, recipes, photos…all kinds of personal touches turned to fabric as easy as clicking “print.” And make sure you visit Ruby Jane’s shop for Anthro-like retro fabrics. You know what they say about all work and no play… ; )
Filed Under: projects, sewing


  1. So adorable June!

    Dotty — November 25, 2009 @ 12:23 am
  2. OK these are SUPER CUTE! I think I will have to make a New Years resolution: feel the fear of using a sewing machine and DO IT ANYWAY!

    Josey's mom — November 27, 2009 @ 8:19 pm
  3. I love the idea of adding a recipe. You can make these as gifts and use old family recipes.

    Robin (rsislandcrafts) — November 28, 2009 @ 6:20 pm
  4. June,

    Can you send me the html for this tutorial, or some pictures, so I can cross-post it on my blog?

    Barbara (Ruby Jane)

    Ruby Jane — November 29, 2009 @ 12:17 am
  5. That is SO cute! What a great idea, especially the recipe idea, I love it. Thanks so much for the great tutorial. I'll be linking. — December 7, 2009 @ 12:05 am
  6. Thanks for the dishtowel love! I'm in the process of making some Christmasy ones with our fav holiday recipes : )

    June Pfaff Daley — December 7, 2009 @ 4:26 pm
  7. Your dishtowels are every bit as sweet as Anthropology! You rock!!

    MB Shaw — December 23, 2009 @ 6:27 am

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