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Bound Gauze Towels for Drying Crystal, China & Flatware

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The dishwasher is my friend. I put just about everything in that puppy and it magically reappears sparkling clean. The key phrase is, “just about.” There are some items that still require hand washing: crystal, fine china, and any flatware you want to keep looking new (sterling, silver-plate or even stainless). Hand washing means hand drying, and for the very best look for your very best tableware, hand drying should be done with a lightweight cotton cloth that can both dry and add a bit of finishing polish. These quick and easy drying towels are made from a single weight gauze bound with traditional quilting cotton. We used Swaddle Gauze by Cloud 9 Fabrics from their Tout Petit collection. It was the perfect weight, and big bonus: so pretty

The construction steps for these towels are super simple. You could make several in a single afternoon as a lovely housewarming or wedding gift, adding them to a set of goblets and a bottle of wine.

Since the cloths will be laundered regularly, you’ll want to pre-wash both fabrics. Don’t wash and dry the fabric or the finished towels with fabric softeners, highly scented detergents or dryer sheets. Softeners can leave a residue, and synthetic fragrances can actually leave a smell that will interfere with wine and other spirits. For more tips on pre-washing, check out our full tutorial.

We added a handy hanging loop at the back of each of our towels so they can hang to air dry in between rounds of dishes.

For the best drying surface, we do recommend a single layer gauze, such as the Cloud 9 Swaddle Gauze we used, over a double gauze. Our thanks to Cloud 9 Fabrics for supplying this certified 100% organic fabric. Designed by Little Cube for Cloud 9 Fabrics, Tout Petit is ultra soft and airy and comes in a variety of solids and delicate prints.

Now: Wine Glass Drying 101

After washing, gently shake out any excess water from inside the glass.

Using the towel, dry the outside of the glass. Don’t use a twisting motion when you’re drying or polishing; it’s an easy way to snap the stem.

After drying the outside, gently push the towel down inside the glass. Hold the towel with just your thumb near the top of the glass. Grasp the base of the glass in the opposite hand. The goal is to keep your fingers off the outside of the glass as best you can.

Swirl the towel around a few times inside the glass, then take out the towel and flick it to release the folds. Insert the towel back into the glass once again to sweep up any remaining droplets.

Remove the towel again and use it to polish up anything you see when holding the wine glass up to the light.

These towels are also perfect for drying fine china, especially patterns with metal rims or hand-painted accents.

And, using a lightweight cotton towel is the best way to dry and polish flatware to keep water spots from staining the surfaces.

Keep your best dishes sparkling with these hints and your own gauze dish drying towels.

Our towels finish at approximately 19” x 27”.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • yard of 44”+ wide single gauze fabric for each towel; we used 100% Organic Cotton Single Gauze from the Tout Petit collection by Cloud 9 Fabrics in Solid Pink and Little Birds
  • ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting cotton for the binding of each towel; we used Diagonal Check in Gray from the Greenery collection from Maywood Studios
    NOTE: Because our check was already on the diagonal, we used straight cuts and were able to get away just ¼ yard of fabric. You could certainly use a standard gingham check and cut on the bias, but would need to purchase at least a ½ yard of fabric.
  • All purpose thread to best match gauze and binding; matching the binding is most important
  • Iron and ironing board
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors 
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the gauze for each towel, cut ONE 19” wide x 27” high rectangle.
    NOTE: Take the time to make sure your corners are square for the best binding wrap. The gauze is quite thin so it can help to fold the fabric and cut through two layers.
  2. We chose a rotary cutter and ruler, using the guide lines on our cutting mat for a nice straight slice.
  3. From the fabric for the binding, cut THREE 2” wide x WOF (width of fabric) strips. You’ll use two full WOF strips for the binding.
  4. Sub-cut the third strip into ONE 18” length to complete the needed final binding length of approximately 104”, and ONE 5½” length for the hanging strip.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, our strips were straight cut because the Greenery gingham is printed on the diagonal. You could cut standard gingham on the bias to get a similar effect.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the binding

  1. Collect the three 2" binding strips (two at WOF and one at 18”).
  2. Pin and then seam the binding strips together end to end to create one continuous strip, approximately 104”.
  3. To do this, place the strips right sides together at a right angle. The ends of each strip will extend beyond each other; this is correct. Pin in place. 
  4. Stitch along the diagonal edge, using a ½” seam allowance.
  5. Press all the seams open.
  6. Fold the assembled binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to set a visible crease. 
  7. Open the strip wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
  8. Fold each side towards the center crease and press. 
  9. Re-fold along the original crease line, concealing the raw edges between the folds and creating your final binding strip.
  10. Repeat with the 5½” strip to create the hanging loop. Pin in place along the folded edges on just this short strip.
  11. Thread the machine with thread to best match the binding fabric in the top and bobbin and slightly lengthen the stitch.
  12. On just the hanging loop, edgestitch along the folds to secure.

    NOTE: If you are brand new to working with binding, check out our full tutorial.

Place the hanging loop and bind the towel

NOTE: When preparing our samples, we initially used a standard gingham check, which means in some of the images below, you’ll notice right angle squares rather than diagonal squares. The steps are exactly the same; we’re just making sure you’re paying attention!

  1. Find the 5½” length of binding, which you should have edgestitched to become the hanging loop.
  2. Find the main towel panel and place it wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
  3. Place the hanging loop across the upper left corner. The raw ends should sit 4” down and 4” in from the corner, flush with the raw edges of the towel panel. Because the loop is at a diagonal, the corners of the loop will extend beyond the panel just a bit. Pin the loop in place and then trim the extending corners flush with the panel.
  4. Starting in the middle along the bottom of the towel, open up the binding and slip it over the raw edge.
  5. Be careful that your center crease line is sitting right on the edge and your binding is even on both sides.
  6. Pin from your starting point to the first corner. At the corner fold a pleat to create a diagonal line. This is considered a “faux mitered corner.” It looks very nice, but is faster and easier, especially when using this slip-over binding method.
  7. Pin the corner in place, the continue to the next corner, repeating the diagonal fold at each corner.
  8. When you return to your starting point, tuck under the raw edge of the binding tail.
  9. Re-fold and re-wrap the tail of the binding around the head of the binding.
  10. Pin in place, making sure your overlap is even and no raw edges are showing.
  11. Set-up your machine for a zig zag.
  12. If necessary, re-thread with a thread that is a good match for both the binding and the towel. We continued with a soft gray. Set up the machine for a wide zig zag stitch.
  13. Zig zag around the entire perimeter of the towel. The single gauze is very thin, so just the point of the zig zag stitching should be catching the gauze; the majority of the stitch should be on the towel.
  14. Go slowly to make sure you catch both sides of the binding equally. 
  15. You can simply pivot at each corner or your can stitch into the diagonal of the corner, stop and lock the stitch, then remove and reposition the towel at 90˚ to stitch the next side. We opted for the second option.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (2)

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

@shirlsew - you are so welcome. They are useful and would make a lovely gift.