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Wear ’n’ Wipe Kitchen Towel Scarf

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What happens when you combine the wearable feature of an apron with the wipe-able feature of a towel? You get our Wear ’n’ Wipe Kitchen Towel Scarf. It’s fabric on the top so you can loop it around your neck, but at the ends of that fabric loop are absorbent towels. No more soggy dish rag slung over your shoulder – these towels sit right at your waist, where you need them most. Wipe your hands, wipe the counter, even grab a warm pan or dish. We added an optional button at the center to keep the scarf more secure. As you move around the kitchen, never again be without a towel when you need it!

You may have seen similar items online or in-store. We received several requests on our You Asked 4 It list and so put one together with our own S4H spin.

Our fabric loop is created with a pretty patchwork of jelly roll strips. You can follow this plan or use a solid panel of fabric. Since we worked with quilting weight cotton, we added a layer of Pellon ShapeFlex® lightweight, woven interfacing. This flexible interfacing is optional, but we feel it gives the patchwork a crisper and better looking finish.

If you use jelly roll strips, you can double-up, cutting two each from 10 strips as we did. Or cut one each from 20 strips. In addition, you’ll need one 21” strip to cut in half for the towel accent bands.

When you're planning the position of your strips, remember to vary not only color but also motif size and type. Bring in both geometric patterns as well as organic patterns. If you’d like to learn a few more basics about mixing and matching, check out our tutorial: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints

The Kitchen Towel Scarf is completely washable. If you’re working with pre-cuts and interfacing as we did, pre-washing is not critical, but if you go with a solid panel of fabric and/or forgo the interfacing, consider pre-washing the fabric as well as the towel. For more information, take a look at our tutorial on the What, Why, When and How of Pre-Shrinking and Pre-Washing.

Regarding the towel, we do recommend a store-bought option as then there’s no need for additional hemming. And, opt for a traditional kitchen towel weight; the thicker terry cloth that is more common for bath towels would be too bulky. Our towel was 20” wide x 30” tall, which was similar to many we found online and in-store.

This would be a wonderful gift idea, perhaps adding in a matching apron and hot pad. Take a look at our Project Index for lots of great pattern ideas.

Our Kitchen Scarf finishes at approximately 5” x 66” with about 36” of that fabric and about 15” of towel on either end.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 11-21 jelly roll strips for the main patchwork panel plus the towel accent bands; we dove into our S4H stash for jelly roll strips from the Florence collection by Denise Schmidt for FreeSpirit Fabrics
    NOTE: You can double-up, cutting two each from 10 strips as we did. Or cut one each from 20 strips. In addition, you need one full 44” strip to cut for the two towel accent bands. If you don’t have jelly roll strips on hand, you can cut your own 2½” x 13” and 2½” x 21” strips.
  • ONE apx. 20” wide x 30” high kitchen towel; we used a classic 100% cotton waffle weave white towel from Crate & Barrel – if possible, choose a towel that has a woven-in “band” at both the top and bottom
  • 2 yards of 20”+ lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex
    NOTE: As mentioned above, the interfacing is optional, but we feel it gives the patchwork a crisper and better looking finish.
  • ONE ¾” - 1” button for the optional center button and loop; we used a ”, two-hole plastic button from our stash
  • All purpose thread to match fabric and towel
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the 10-20 jelly roll strips (or your own 2½” strips), cut TWENTY 13” lengths – two each of ten or one each of twenty.
  2. From the remaining full jelly roll strip (or your own 2½” strip), cut TWO 21” lengths for the towel accent bands.
  3. From the remaining jelly roll strip scraps, chose one from which to cut ONE 2” x 4” strip for the optional button loop.
  4. From the lightweight interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 11½” x 38” rectangles for the patchwork panel
    TWO 1” x 20” strips for the accent bands
  5. Cut the 20” x 30” towel in half at the horizontal center point so you end up with TWO 20” x 15” pieces.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Patchwork panel

  1. Place the TWENTY 2½” x 13” strips in your favorite order.
  2. As mentioned above, when you're planning the position of your strips, remember to vary not only color but also motif size and type. Bring in both geometric patterns as well as organic patterns. If you’d like to learn a few more basics about mixing and matching, check out our tutorial: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints
  3. Place the first two strips, right sides together, aligning the 13” sides. Pin in place.
  4. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch together. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot.
  5. Add the next strip in the sequence to the sewn pair, again aligning the 13” sides. Pin in place.
  6. Stitch the new strip in place with a ¼” seam allowance.
  7. Continue in this same manner, working your way across the panel.
  8. When finished, press all the seam allowances in the same direction.
  9. When working with the 2½” jelly roll strips, and using ¼” seam allowances all the way across, your finished panel should end up about 37” - 38” in width. Trim the height down from 13” to 11½”.
  10. Flip over the sewn and trimmed panel so it is wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Find the two panels of interfacing. Place them against the wrong side of the patchwork panel, butting the interfacing together at the vertical center point of the panel.
  11. Following manufacturer’s instructions fuse in place.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, the interfacing is optional. We simply felt it helped give the patchwork panel a smoother and crisper finish.

Accent bands for towel halves

  1. Find the two towel haves, the two 21” strips, and the two 1” interfacing strips.
  2. As mentioned above, we recommend using a towel with a woven-in recessed band at the top and bottom. The recessed band on our towel was approximately 2” up from the bottom hemmed edge of the towel and about 1¾” wide. If your towel differs, you can simply place your accent bands at about the same position. Without the recessed band, you may want to switch to a Walking foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system to better stitch through the thicker layers.
  3. Fold in both 21” raw edges of both strips ½”.
  4. Place the folded strips wrong side up and flat on your ironing surface.
  5. Slip an interfacing strip into place on each. The interfacing strip should fit exactly between the folded sides and should be ½” in from each end. Following manufacturer’s instructions fuse in place.
  6. Refold the sides in place over the interfacing.
  7. Fold back each end ½”.
  8. Place each towel half right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the accent band in position, right side up on the right side of the towel. You can adjust the end folds if necessary to insure they sit just inside the hemmed side edges of the towel. Pin each accent band in place.
  9. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the accent band in the top and to best match the towel in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. We also attached our Janome Edge Guide foot for extra precision.
  10. Starting at one end of the accent band, edgestitch along one folded edge, pivot at the corner, and stitch across the end.
  11. Pivot again, continue back up the opposite folded edge, pivot, and return to the starting corner point to finish. If possible, use a lock stitch to start and end your seam. If this is not a feature on your machine, you can use a very neat back tack or leave the thread tails long and hand knot at the back to secure.

Accordion fold the towel halves

  1. Accordion fold each towel half, creating a finished width of 5”.
  2. To do this, fold in towel in half right sides together to find the exact center. Press lightly to set a crease line.
  3. Open the towel wrong side up and flat on your work surface and fold in each side to the middle crease line.
  4. Finally, fold in half once again. You should now have folds along one 15” side and one fold and both hemmed edges along the opposite 15” side. The width should finish at about 5”. One end is the bottom hemmed edge of the towel and the opposite end is the raw cut edge.

Place the folded towel halves in position on the patchwork panel

  1. Fold the patchwork panel in half, wrong sides together, along the horizontal center. Press lightly to form a center crease line.
  2. Unfold right side up and flat on your work surface so the crease line is visible.
  3. Place an accordion folded towel half on each end.
  4. The drawing below shows you how to position the towel halves.
  5. The hemmed sides of the towel halves should sit right along the center crease line. The raw ends of the towel halves should be flush with the raw sides of the patchwork panel. The folded sides of the towel halves should sit just over ½” in from the raw bottom edge of the patchwork panel.
  6. Pin the towel halves in place.
  7. Baste the towel halves in place, using an approximate ” seam allowance.

Create and place the button loop

  1. Find the 2” x 4” strip.
  2. Fold the strip in half, right sides together, so it is now 1” x 4”. Press to set a center crease line.
  3. Fold in each raw edge to meet at that center line. Finally re-fold along the original crease line and press well.

  4. Edgestitch along the folded edges down the length of the narrow strip. The ends remain open and raw.
  5. Place the button loop right side up over the first seam on the left side of the patchwork panel. The raw edges of the loop should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the panel. Pin and/or baste the loop in place.

Fold and stitch to finish

  1. Fold the patchwork panel in half, right sides together, along the horizontal center line, sandwiching the towel halves between the layers. Be especially careful to line up all the patchwork seams.
  2. You may want to pin the lower edges of the towel halves farther out of the way of the ½” seam allowance to be extra sure they aren’t caught up in that long seam.
  3. Pin along both sides and across the bottom, leaving an approximate 3" turn gap in the center of the long bottom seam.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the turn gap.
  5. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
  6. Turn right side out through the opening. Un-pin the towels if you pinned them out of the way.
  7. Press the finished Kitchen Scarf flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with sewn seam. Pin the opening closed.
  8. Hand stitch the opening closed.
  9. Fold the Scarf in half, aligning the two sides, and use the button loop to mark the position for the button. In general, it should sit over the first vertical patchwork seam, opposite the loop.
  10. Once marked, move the loop out of the way.
  11. Hand stitch the button in place.

Contributors

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

Section: 

Comments (14)

Gilmer Gal said:
Gilmer Gal's picture

This is great!  I think I'll modify mine to make it a tad less wide around the neck.  Wonderful for gifts.  Thanks

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

@Gilmer Gal - Thank you - we'd love to see a picture of your finished scarves! Post to social media if you can so we can all be inspired. We are sew4home on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and sew4home_diy on Instagram. 

Nancyjc said:
Nancyjc's picture

I love this!  I'm always looking for Christmas gifts to make for my colleagues at work.  This year it was your wonderful soup cozies and they were a hit!  Next year, I think I'll make these beauties and I've got a whole year to make them up!

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

@Nancy -Wow -- you are WAY ahead the game. Have fun, and be sure to let us know how yours turn out. If you follow up on social media, we'd love to see a picture. We are sew4home on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and sew4home_diy on Instagram. 

Belinda B said:
Belinda B's picture

Thank You so much for the tutorial. I also put a machine embrodiery design on my towel "Bakers gonna bake". It made up very nicely!

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

@Belinda - what a fun embellishment idea !

cl2clark said:
cl2clark's picture

I love this idea.   So much easier than tossing the dish towel over your shoulder.

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

@cl2clark - Thank you! Let us know if you give it a go 

Karen L. said:
Karen L.'s picture

What a great idea! This is not only pratical but looks good too. I am always looking for a place to wipe my hands but always seem to be too far away from the hand towel hanging on the cabinet door. By the time I get to it, I have dripped on the floor. This is right where you need a towel and the button and loop will keep it there. I love it!

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

@Karen - Thank you so much! I so know what you mean about the towel always being at the exact opposite site of the kitchen from where you need it  .

Suzanne Reese said:
Suzanne Reese's picture

What a great and practical idea! I always seem to hang the towel itself around my neck but this is better and CUTER! Thanks!

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

@Suzanne - You're welcome! A towel over the shoulder is SO common, but can also be rather dirty and/or soggy  - This is a fun alternative.

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

Love the color choices. The best functional apron I have ever seen had a large ring that held a hand towel on it.

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

@Jane - Thank you. We've done several aprons with a built-in towel loop at the waist, but we thought this was such a clever alternative. 

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