Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kitchen Towel Re-Post

Nevermind me.  I'm just sneaking in here to re-post my updated kitchen towel entry. 

I first posted this tutorial on making a dressy oven door kitchen towel more than two years ago. Since then I have made many of them, and they just get easier! This is by far my most visited page, so I have updated the photos and added a video to demonstrate sewing the underarm seams.  Yesterday I looked at to see what these towels are selling for.  Wow!  Some crafty ladies are asking $20 for them!  I could do ten hours' work for $100... if they'd sell for that. Would you spend $20 for a kitchen towel??


These cute kitchen towels are relatively inexpensive gifts, especially if you have a stash of buttons and a bunch of extra trim lying around. And once you get the hang of it they don't take very long to whip up.

First of all, pick out a kitchen towel that you like, and find a coordinating fabric.  You will need a piece about 14" x 28".  Wash and dry your fabric. If it is a wrinkled mess, iron it. Fold your fabric in half, right sides together, so that when you cut out your pattern you will be cutting two identical pieces.

Here is the bodice pattern that I made. Sorry you can't read my notes very well. It is 12"x13", with the corners cut out so that the bodice is 8" across the front, and the sleeve side is 6" wide. You don't have to use these exact dimensions.  I used a canning jar lid as a pattern for the head hole, and off-set the circle about 1/2" from the center so that the finished "dress" looks like there is a front and a back. (I did not offset the neck hole for the towel/dress in the above photo.)


Cut out your bodice through both layers, and remember to cut out the circle for a neck hole.

Next, cut your towel in half and set it aside.  I found several of these nice quality Laura Ashley towels at Big!Lots! for $2.50 each.

Now take your bodice pieces and pin them together around the neck hole, matching all the sides and corners.  Sew around the neck hole using a 1/4" seam.

Clip into the seam about every 1/2", or less, so that when you turn it right side out, the circle will be nice and even and not shaped like a multi-faceted polygon.  Be careful not to cut into the stitching.

Take one of the layers, either one, and stuff it through the neck hole.

 Now lay the two pieces together nice and flat, matching the sides, and press the neck seam.

The next part is easier to show than it is to explain. Watch. 

Oops, I meant to say that the seam should be trimmed to 1/4" or 3/8". Be sure to clip into the curve, close to the stitching, just like you did with the neck seam.  Lay the bodice flat and press each seam nice and flat.

Turn up a 5/8" hem on the sleeves, turning both the bodice piece and the lining piece to the inside of the fabric, matching the edges at the fold.  Press, then top-stitch close to the edge. 


Set the bodice aside.

Now for the towel/skirt. Using your longest stitch length (basting), make a row of stitching 5/8" from the cut edge of both towel pieces, leaving several inches of both spool and bobbin thread at both ends.  Do this again 1/4" inside the first stitching line. 

You are going to gather the towel so that its width will match the width of the bodice. Anchor the bobbin threads down at one end by inserting a pin and then wrapping both threads around the pin in a figure eight. At the other end of the stitching, pull both bobbin threads together with one hand, and with the other hand slide the fabric along the thread so that the towel edge gathers.  When the towel width matches the bodice width, anchor this end of the thread the same way you did the other.

Adjust the gathers so that they are even across the top of the "skirt".  Now pin the towel to the outside front piece of the bodice, right sides together, keeping the lining clear. Set your stitch length back to normal and sew from one side seam to the other, backstitching at each end. This is easier if you have the gathers on the underside. Repeat these steps with the back pieces.

Lay the "dress" out flat so the the inside is face up. Trim the seam to 3/8" (don't cut the facing) and press it towards the bodice.  Your facing should be loose. Turn up the bottom edge of the facing 5/8" so that the pressed fold lies on the stitching line, and hand-sew it down across the bodice on the inside of the seam.



Here is how your "dress" should look now.  Sorry, I got tricky and added some eyelet to the bodice/skirt seam, and I didn't tell you how to do that.  But you can figure it out.  I have confidence in you.  

You're almost done!  Now you can decorate with trim around the neck edge, sleeves, and/or bottom of bodice.  Just stitch the trim on over the fabric, wrapping the trim ends around the back side.

The final step is to cut four pieces of 1/4" or 3/8" cross-grain ribbon to about 8", and tack one piece to each side of the front and back of the bodice. I use a bit of FrayCheck on the raw edges of the ribbon to keep it from raveling.  Snaps would be good, too, or Velcro. Use your imagination.

Hang the dress over your oven door handle and tie both sides. Voila!

Happy sewing and giving!


  1. The last one looks familiar :)


  2. $20? Yep, for some. I'd certainly pay $15 (plus shipping) for anything of the quality you've shown. At 69, I'm just now learning how to sew. Of course, I'm going to try this -- but I may be writing later with a specific order.

  3. InChristsGreatCauseDecember 24, 2009 at 4:42 AM

    I would do those any day if i thought I could do them in the time you mentioned, and get paid!! :) Could you get one of your computer savvy family to post a link to a pattern that could be printed?? (just half the pattern for a regular sheet of paper, it can be doubled.) Now I need towels... where's the craft show?? ;)

  4. You make it look so simple Sally. I'd like to try one sometime, I guess I'll add it to the bottom of my to-do list - perhaps I get to get when I'm 70, but the Lord will return before then I'm sure, so never mind. :)

  5. I stopped by last night to respond to you and looked at these quickly; I thought they were dresses, and then thought, how very beautiful! Then I came back today and actually read the post to see that they were kitchen towels, they are even more striking!

    I am always blessed when you come by my blog; you give me lots to think about. I never think of your posts as "wind." Regarding your comment on my GED post, I, too, would be in a place of uncertainty based upon what you shared. On one hand, not many women are groomed to see being a good wife and mother as goals in today's society; I applaud your daughter for prioritizing those areas of her life. On the other hand, it takes a level of faith to believe that any of us will never be called to work in a traditional environment where other education is required. Of course, with skills like those she has and is working to build, she could always start her own business. This is a place of prayer, for sure, as what matters most is that she is in line with God's plan for her. I speak over you and me both Proverbs 3:3-6, and God bless you, Sally.

  6. These are soooo cute!

    I agree with one of your commenters - is there a pattern we could download? I would love to make these, but doubt my ability to cut out the fabric without a pattern.


  7. Oh that sample one looks just like mine! And I love it! I get so many compliments on it.

  8. I found your blog when I have finished to do one for my sister, accordingly to my few sewing notions. But I had so much trouble to make the bodice.
    Anyway, it will help me to do the bodice as easy as it seems to be in your blog. The video is awesome!
    Practice makes master!
    Thank you very much for sharing!.

  9. I love your hanging dress towels :-) Is there a way to download this pattern?

    1. I'm sorry, Susan, I don't have a way for you to download the pattern. Just try to follow the pattern instructions -- it's easy, and it can't hurt to try, even if you mess it up a few times. ♥


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