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Valentine's Day: Hoopla Pre-Cuts: Be-ribboned Guest Bath Towels

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Here's another super fast project that turns out super cute with very little effort on your part. Our gussied-up guest towels with their bright bows would look very cool on your own towel bar, but better still, they are the perfect quick and easy gift. We've put them into our Valentine's Day project mix, but with the right fabric trim, they would be excellent as a hostess gift, or for a wedding shower or house warming.

We made three towels, blending our fabric selections so they looked great on their own or hung together. We actually used three different brands of hand towels, purchasing whatever we found on sale. I mention this because 1) it proves the size of the ribbon ties should work with the majority of the towels you'll find in your neck of the words, and 2) it means this idea is fast and easy and inexpensive .

We used Jelly Roll strips to make our ribbon ties. Thanks to our friends at Moda Fabrics for providing us with their Hoopla Moda Bake Shop.

One technical note: This project requires a lot of stitching and pivoting through multiple layers very close to the edge. Not a problem with my Janome machines because they have an awesome feeding system. If you've had trouble with edgestiting like this on your machine in the past, you'll want to test the technique first... perhaps with some fabric scraps on an old towel.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies listed are for ONE towel

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  • Jelly roll strips – each towel uses just two of the forty 2½" x 44" strips that come in a standard pack; if you don't have any or choose not to use Jelly Roll strips, you'll need to cut TWO 2½" x 44" strips: we used a variety of Jelly Roll strips in Hoopla by Moda Fabrics
  • One standard hand towel (apx. 16½" x 30"): we used snow white so our bright ribbon colors would pop
  • All-purpose thread in colors to match and/or contrast with your fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Remove all tags from the towel, both price tags and care tags.
  2. Pre-wash and dry your towel and your fabric. We always recommend pre-washing your fabric, but I'm mentioning it here because it is especially important when your finished item is something with the potential for frequent laundering.
  3. Select the Jelly Roll strips (or other fabric strips) that will become the front and back layers of your ribbon ties.
  4. Trim off any selvedges.
  5. Fold each strip in half to find the middle, then cut each strip in half. You now have two sets of two strips, each approximately 2½" x 22" (the final length is dependent on whether or not you had to trim selvedges).

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

    1. Place each pair of strips right sides together, aligning all raw edges. Pin in place.
    2. Draw a diagonal line across one end of each pinned pair.
      NOTE: Remember, these ribbons are similar to a sash on a dress; your diagonal lines should be on opposite ends and be mirror images of one another.
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    3. Stitch each pair together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Pivot at each corner, stitching one end square and one end along your drawn diagonal line. Leave a 2-3" opening along one long edge for turning.
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      NOTE: I used my Clear View Quilting foot to help keep my seam, angles and corners straight and true.
    4. Clip all the corners and trim the diagonal seam to 1/8".
    5. Turn each tie right side out through the opening. Use a blunt-end tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick to push out the corners so they are nice and sharp.
      NOTE: With little corners like these, I also like to gently 'pick and pull' my corners with a straight pin from the right side of the fabric. I push the pin into the corner then GENTLY flick it out, which pulls additional fabric out and sharpens the corner.
    6. Press the ties, turning in the opening ¼" so it is flush with the sewn seam.
    7. Lengthen your stitch a bit. For example, I went from a 2.5 to a 3.1,
      NOTE: You can also change your thread color at this time if you want your topstitching to stand out. I stuck with matching thread for mine.
    8. Edgestitch around all four sides of each tie. I used my
    9. Fold your towel to find the middle and mark with a fabric pencil or pins.
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    10. The ribbons are designed to cover the towel's bottom band.
    11. Align one tie so its square end is flush with the edge of the towel. Pin from this point to 1½" from the towel's center. The ribbon should be right side up and centered over the towel band.
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    12. Repeat to pin the opposite tie in place. Check to make sure your diagonal ends are correctly matched.
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    13. Topstitch each tie in place. Start at the 1½"-from-the-middle point. Stitch down across the tie, pivot, then follow exactly along the previous line of edgestitching back to your starting point, pivoting at each corner. Go slowly, smoothing often to keep all your layers nice and flat.
      NOTE: For this topstitching as well as the original edgestitching, I used a

  • You will have made a large rectangle that secures the tie in place. Repeat to attach the opposite tie.
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  • Press the ties. Tie a pretty bow.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson

Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Melody.



Comments (25)

Natália Di Bello said:
Natália Di Bello 's picture


tudo com muito carinho, adorei

acabei fazendo para a minha casa e coloquei uma alça pequena para pendurar

da cor do tecido que fiz a faixa.

Parabens, muita obrigada.

Beijo no coração

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Natália - So glad they turned out well for you! Enjoy!!

Susan Townsend said:
Susan Townsend's picture

I love this towel ideas what a great idea for guest and home anad to put into a gift basket.! Thank you for sharing. said:'s picture
Bom dia!!!
Olha amei a sua idéia ...
lucia rodrigues said:
lucia rodrigues's picture
a capacidade de criar coisas simples,faz com que elas se tornem singulares
lindas de uma simplicidade chic. lindas lindas......
Mom of 4 said:
Mom of 4's picture
Beautiful towels! What a simple way to spruce up plain towels!! Thank you!
Paloma said:
Paloma's picture
ok! i will write in portuguese!
ficou clean ,não há quem não goste!
Valorizou muito a toalha!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi gmitchel -- thanks for posting your tip! It's a good one. Sometimes for pillows, I actually backstitch around the corners for that same reasons: security and no "poke through".smilies/cheesy.gif
gmitchel said:
gmitchel's picture
Just caught typo - it's sew about 3/8" before lengthening your stitch again....not "stick". Sorry!
gmitchel said:
gmitchel's picture
Here's a hint for securely sewing those square corners when you are sewing the two fabrics together to make the ribbon ties: as you approach the corner, decrease your stitch size, pivot, and sew about 3/8" before lengthening your stick again. The smaller stitch size really secures the corner when you trim away the extra fabric diagonally. Also, after turning the fabrics right-side-out, it's much easier to push out the corners without pushing through them, and much more secure if you use a straight pin to pick the corners out a bit.smilies/grin.gif
Debbie O in Idaho said:
Debbie O in Idaho's picture
I have a few weddings to go to and I think this would be a great gift. I love that they are easy to sew up!
Sew Cindy said:
Sew Cindy's picture
It's so good to have fast, easy projects like this to do - so when you don't have anything left made up and you need a hostess gift - THIS would be perfect!!
wordygirl said:
wordygirl's picture
Thanks so much for the cautionary note about edge-stitching. That is what makes Sew4Home stand out as an excellent source for tutorials.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi jackiems -- smilies/smiley.gif- That's exactly why I made a kinda big deal in the Getting Started section about pre-washing everything -- the towel(s) and all the fabric. The ribbons will wrinkle, so you'll have to iron them - otherwise, it worked out fine. But without pre-washing -- it could be ugly smilies/shocked.gif
jackiems said:
jackiems's picture
I love these!! I guess my question is what do they look like after they are washed??smilies/shocked.gif
Baby Goin' Places said:
Baby Goin' Places's picture
Now that I posted that question about topstitching, I do see how it would make a big difference for the bow part. I guess I'll just have to stitch carefully!
Baby Goin' Places said:
Baby Goin' Places's picture
Do you need to do step 8, the edgestitching? I would think you'd have to be very careful to stitch direcctly over the edgestitching when attaching the tie to the towel. I'm not good at that.
smillie said:
smillie's picture
Baby Goin' Places, if you get a sewing machine foot that has a "blade" kind of guide in it, it can make the topstitching easier. You put the fabric next to the blade and bump your needle position over to edgestitch. Then when you topstitch, you put your needle back at center and keep that blade right on your stitch line and you will stay right on the line where you need to be. Let your machine do the work for you and use the right foot. It takes a lot of operator error out of the way.
Alexandra said:
Alexandra's picture
Awesome ! Love them, they are so pretty, perfect for warming a home for house guests! what a great idea, thanks for sharing!!