About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

kitchen towels ~ tutorial

weekend greetings to all ~ gosh, i think i've done about 30 of these towels now!  ... and i've so enjoyed it!

it's really a simple, straight-forward process, but here are tips and hints {as promised}, that {i think} make for a more relaxing process, and... a more professional finished look.

i begin with a purchased towel, but of course, you can buy your own cotton linen fabric and finish the edges yourself.  that type of fabric can be found by the bolt/yardage in quilt shops, too. 

first, choose  a 90/14 titanium topstitch needle, as this will pierce cleanly through all the thicknesses of towel, especially those thick hems on the sides, as well as the extra fabric and embellishments.  it also suits the thread i'm using, which is magnifico 40 wt by superior threads.  it produces beautiful looking stitches! and for the bobbin thread, i love a basic white color in superior's masterpiece cotton; a 50 wt thread.  

i also engage the dual feed on the bernina 830, but a walking foot would work well, or an open toe #20 foot {by bernina}.  i chose to use my patchwork #37... see why below.

then ~ one of the best tips:  press fabrics using mary ellen's "best press" starch.  by far, it's a top notch starch product, and so easily available.

 i buy it in the gallon size as it is more economical, and although it's a alot of money to spend, it's such a better value, as i use it in all  my quilting, pressing, and sewing. it just gives such a nice crisp edge, and you don't need alot of it. 
 after pressing, i cut my fabric in 3.5" strips.  usually, i can embellish two towels with this length, cut cross-grain.  this measurement is entirely arbitrary, though!  

nice, neat pressed edges make for easier placement on the towel.  generally, i turn the long edges up one quarter inch, and the short ends, about an half inch: 
and i add crochet trim, by turning under the short ends about one-half inch:
 my placement tip for aligning fabric, ribbons or any trim, is pretty simple.  line it up with the horizontal edge of the printed line or in this case, the checkered print/weave of this towel.  i also do my best to ensure the bottom edge of the trim, is parallel and aligned with the hemmed bottom edge of the towel.  generally, my rule of thumb is to put the bottom edge of the trim, right on the stitching line where the hem is.  

one thing i learned about crocheted-type trims... they tend to stretch quite a bit during sewing, so be on the look out to shorten, and tuck edges under, as you approach the towel edge. 
 auditioning the total look of this combo ~ and i love it! this combination of color and style on this checkered towel creates a romantic, classy country look!
 and to achieve flawless placement? my go-to, all-time favorite notion is 1/4" "steam-a-seam" tape.
i have it on hand in 1/4" and 1/2" sizes.
 one of my favorite tips to share for keeping the tape in place is making sure the fabric is warm... {recently pressed}, which helps it to stay in place. and once it's laid down, i burnish it with my finger.  i peel the paper back gently. i've found that if i rip off the paper backing too fast, the fusible tends to pull off as well, as it's a very thin layer of glue, and somewhat delicate and flimsy.  burnishing helps the fusible to stay in place when i flip the fabric over, until it's time to press for the permanent bond.   
 {peel the paper back gently... }
 before a final pressing, check to align the trim and secure with pins, making sure the overall placement looks good. {above}

i align trims such as rick rack by placing the lower edge of it right along the long edge of the printed weave, using the lines of the towel as a guide. in the photo below, you can see where i placed the fabric along the horizontal stripes of the weave of the towel, too:
the pin marks the stitch of the hemline of the towel for placement of the rick rack
and my favorite choice for topstitching?  the bernina #37 patchwork foot.  i keep my eye aligned with the inside edge of the right-side toe of the foot, even with the folded {and fused} edge of the fabric.  this makes it so easy to get perfectly pleasing  placement!  

another tip? use the straight-stitch plate, too. *{if you do, engage the safety feature on the machine so you don't accidentally break a needle, because you forgot the straight-stitch plate was on!} this combo of tools really makes achieving a beautiful look... effortless!
 i took the time to switch thread color to match the ecru colored crocheted trim... i just think it looks better.

another vip tip?  lengthen your stitch length!  the default length of a straight stitch on my machine is 2.5, and i adjust it up to a 3.0, but you could go a bit longer, too.  that choice is yours! but it does really make a big difference in how the stitches lay on the top, and... it just looks so good!

and one very important technique, that makes all the difference in finishing? before you start stitching, remember to... pull... that bobbin thread to the top when you begin!  that way you won't have any ugly thread nests on the bottom!
tying off when you start, makes it's much smoother to finish up the "loose ends" when making the final connection to the beginning line of stitching. i'm cautious about how much i reverse stitch, too, so i backstitch only about 2-3 stitches, then stitch in place about 2-3 times, {or use the knotting function if you have one}, and after clipping threads... all is well!
an extra securing function i like to do, is to stitch down the edge of the rick rack trim, too.  this keeps it all nice and tidy, and will prevent any unravelling, as i like to fold the raw edge under the trim itself.  and i also take a couple extra stitches in reverse, on each of the corners, just to reinforce them.

when i attach rick rack {and this is the super-giant size!} {so fun}, i tuck the bottom half of the trim under the fabric, and generally, i don't fuse this, but i do make sure to pin, and stop often when sewing to make sure everything is "on course!"

one of the other things to keep in mind, is that depending on the weight of your fabric banding... some fabrics stretch more than others, so while sewing, it can inch forward, to be prepared to adjust the length of the fabric banding towards the towel edges, and you may have to shorten it a bit to make it align with the edge of the towel.  you could wrap it around the back, too... but i felt it was easier and more professional to turn it under and have it meet the edges, the best i could!

 and the back... look at how nice and tidy it looks when you take the time to pull up the bobbin thread before beginning to stitch!  {and the reverse stitches are in the same place as the beginning stitches}  no need to overdo it with backstitching!
 here's a bit of the rick rack raw edge showing underneath so you can see what it looks like.  if you want, just trim it down a little more, so when it's washed, it doesn't leave a bunch of threads unravelling.
and of course, i lightly press everything again when i'm finished!

and how much time do these take?  well, barring time choosing fabric and trims, {ahem!} ... i can usually get one done in about 30 minutes, give or take.  they really make nice christmas gifts, and so lovely to have on hand for weddings, hostess gifts, and house warmings, too!

and the most important tip?

keep the main thing... the main thing!  

and that is simply... to have fun! i love pulling fabrics and trims, and get alot of enjoyment mixing and matching all the different styles.

sure hope you found my process a little bit helpful!

xo

leslie

5 comments:

Southern Gal said...

I love you shared your favorite products and the tips! This is on my project list now. Thanks!

Corrine at sparkledaysstudio.com said...

Just adorable....I can see why you are addicted, they are quite charming....Happy and Blessed Easter to you. xox

elle said...

Definitely a fun project for any event and even 'just because'! :)

treadlemusic said...

Your photos document the process beautifully. Those, truly, are very special gifts and lucky are the recipients!!!! I get so involved in quilting that I forget some of the fun things I used to do!!!!! Thanks so much!!!!!

BlissfulSandy said...

Beautiful Gifts Leslie, I love your tutorial of embellishing, so fun and full of sunshine. Gosh everyone needs kitchen or hand towels! Great ideas! I love your work!

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