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ScrapBusters: Washcloths with Pretty Patchwork Binding

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It's time to bust out some scraps! This super cute project targets some of the smaller pieces in your bag of favorite fabric bits. Our project takes an ordinary washcloth to the next level by adding a very pretty patchwork bound edge. We created a standard single fold bias binding and attached it in the traditional two-step method to a soft terry cloth center. There are links within the article below to full tutorials on both making and attaching bias binding. The extra-special part is how the binding is created from a patchworked panel. Pull out some of your favorite skinny scraps, piece them together side by side, then cut the bias strips from this assembled fabric panel. 

For our samples, we dove into five different collections and mixed and matched our strips from within each collection. You could also mix and match between collections, choose a rainbow of solids, or different shades of just one color. The idea is to be random. By using varying widths, colors and/or motifs, you'll end up with a wonderful blast of color around the edge of each washcloth. A pattern is offered below to help you evenly round all four corners of the terry cloth square. Precise and even curves make binding easier and result in a smoother finish.

This is a super easy project; you could make stacks of cute cloths in a single afternoon. Roll and bundle a coordinated group into a fancy wicker basket, toss in a few specialty lotions or soaps, and you have an adorable gift for any occasion. They'd be a wonderful option in "kid print fabrics" for a baby shower.

Use the leftover binding strips to tie a perfectly matching bow. 

Each washcloth uses approximately 56" of ½" bias binding. If you are making a number of washcloths, you can use a manual bias tape maker to speed up the process. 

Each washcloth finishes at approximately 13½" x 13½".

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies shown are for ONE washcloth

  • SIX strips of scrap fabric in coordinating colors/patterns. The width of the strips can vary from about 1½" to 5". The length should be 22"+. We used a range of scraps from our Sew4Home stash including bits from BasicGrey, Vanessa Christenson, Bonnie & Camille, Tula Pink, and Sandy Gervais
  • Scrap or ½ yard of plush terry cloth or a store-bought terry towel from which you can cut a 13½" x 13½" square. We cut from a store-bought towel.
    NOTE: This would also be a good opportunity to re-use/recycle a bath towel that may have become frayed along its edges but which still contains good terry in the center.
  • ½" manual bias tape maker; optional, you can fold by hand
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started and Pattern Download

  1. Download and print out our one template sheet: Washcloth Corner Template.
    IMPORTANT: This pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out the template along the solid line. 
  3. From the terry cloth, cut ONE 13½" x 13½" square.
  4. Using the template, round each corner of the square.
  5. Cut six strips of varying widths and approximately 22"+ in length. We cut the following:
    ONE 5" width
    ONE 4½" width
    ONE 4" width
    TWO 3½" widths
    ONE 2½" width
  6. Lay out your strips side by side until you have a color and pattern blend that strikes your fancy. Alternate patterns and colors to keep things interesting. The widths should be mixed randomly as well.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the fabric panel, and from it, the binding

  1. Working in order, we chose from bottom to top, assemble the strips to build your fabric panel. To do this, start with the first two strips in the sequence. Place these strips right sides together and pin in place along one long edge.
  2. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch these first two pieces together. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot for all the seams. 
  3. Place the next strip in the sequence right sides together with the two-strip piece. 
  4. Pin in place and then stitch in place. 
  5. Continue in this manner until all the strips are sewn together as one unit. 
  6. Press all the seam allowances open then press flat from the front. If working with the same approximate dimensions as we used, your finished fabric panel should be roughly the same dimensions as a Fat Quarter (18" x 22").
  7. Place the fabric panel right side up and flat on your cutting surfacing with the strips running horizontally.
  8. Using a clear ruler and rotary cutter, slice enough 2" strips at a 45˚ angle to equal a finished length of approximately 56". We cut THREE 2" strips from our panel. 

    NOTE: A rotary cutter is really best for this project, but if you don't have one, you can use your ruler to draw lines across the panel at the 2" width and 45˚ angle, then cut along the drawn lines with standard scissors.
  9. Stitch together the strips of bias binding end to end to make one continuous length. As with all bias strips your are assembling for binding, you will criss-cross the angled ends of the strips and pin in place.
  10. Then stitch with a ¼" seam allowance.
  11. Press the finished length of binding tape, pressing open all the tiny diagonal seams. 

    NOTE: If you are new to working with bias binding, take a look at our detailed tutorial, Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching.

Binding

  1. Using your favorite method, turn the length of bias tape into ½" bias binding. 
    NOTE: We used our Simplicity Automatic Bias Tape Maker., which is no longer readily available at retail but which we've had in our S4H studios for years and love. You can still find it from some third-party sellers through Amazon or similar. The link above takes you to Amazon. 
  2. You could use a manual bias tape maker or even fold the by hand. To fold with just an iron, first fold your strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Open your strip wrong side up so the center crease line is visible. Fold each side towards the center crease and press. 
  3. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the terry in the bobbin and the bias tape in the top. 
  4. Open one side of the pressed edge of the single fold bias tape. If you used a bias tape maker, the two folded edges will be ever so slightly different in width. You are unfolding the slightly narrower side.
  5. Place the terry cloth right side up on your work surface. If cut from a towel, your terry in likely to be double-sided so it won't really matter.
  6. Leaving about a 1" tail at the beginning, line up the raw edge of the bias tape with the raw edge of the terry cloth square. Your bias tape and your fabric should be right sides together. At the head of the bias tape, fold back the angled end ½” and pin in place. 
  7. Continue to pin around the washcloth until you come back around to the beginning. Ease around the corners to maintain a smooth fit. You can clip into the raw edge of the binding just a bit to help it curve.
  8. Overlap the folded head of the bias tape with the tail a few inches. Trim away any excess length from the tail and add a few final pins to secure. 
  9. Using a straight stitch, sew the bias binding to the raw edge, using the crease line as your stitching guide.
  10. Sew slowly, and continue to guide and shape the bias binding along the edge and around the curved corners.
  11. Wrap the unsewn folded edge of the binding over the raw edge of the fabric from the front to the back. 
  12. The fold should wrap around so it sits just past the first stitching line. It's very important that the wrapped edge is truly beyond that first stitch line. If it's not, you won't catch it in the final seam. You can adjust the fold if need be.
  13. Secure in place with pins. The overlapped head/tail should lay flat and fold nicely with the rest of the binding. 
  14. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the terry in the top and the bias tape in the bobbin. Working with the washcloth right side up, stitch the binding in place "in-the-ditch" of the seam (right along the edge of the binding in the first seam line). As you sew, you will catch the folded edge on the back.  

    NOTE: As mentioned above, if you are new to working with bias binding, take a look at one or both of our tutorials, Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching and A Complete Step-by-Step For Binding Quilts & Throws.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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