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 .
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
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome 3160QDC)
- Clear View Quilting Foot & Guide Set (optional)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies listed are for ONE towel
- 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
- Remove all tags from the towel, both price tags and care tags.
- 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.
- Select the Jelly Roll strips (or other fabric strips) that will become the front and back layers of your ribbon ties.
- Trim off any selvedges.
- 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
- Place each pair of strips right sides together, aligning all raw edges. Pin in place.
- 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.
- 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.
NOTE: I used my Clear View Quilting foot to help keep my seam, angles and corners straight and true.
- Clip all the corners and trim the diagonal seam to 1/8″.
- 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.
- Press the ties, turning in the opening ¼” so it is flush with the sewn seam.
- 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.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of each tie. I used my
- Fold your towel to find the middle and mark with a fabric pencil or pins.
- The ribbons are designed to cover the towel’s bottom band.
- 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.
- Repeat to pin the opposite tie in place. Check to make sure your diagonal ends are correctly matched.
- 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.
- Press the ties. Tie a pretty bow.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Melody.