Recipes, memories and random thoughts from my kitchen
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Flour Sack Dish Towels
A project I’ve been working on lately is embroidered day-of-the-week flour sack dish towels. It occurred to me that others might also like to try this old-fashioned craft that results in such a lovely, useful product. Flour-sack towels are very absorbent and work beautifully for drying dishes. They are also thin, so when you hang them back up to dry, they dry very quickly.
If you prefer to just use plain white flour-sack towels, you may buy them plain and just use them that way. I enjoy the fun of embellishing the plain towels with vintage-looking embroidery designs.
Packages of five flour-sack towels may be purchased at Walmart. I believe the price is around $5. These towels are very large; to my mind, they are too large to be practical as a dish towel. So I cut them in half and narrow-hem the cut side of each resulting towel. Thus, from a package of five towels I end up with ten dish towels.
The next step is to stamp on an embroidery pattern to stitch over. The craft department at Walmart carries a fair assortment of iron-on embroidery patterns made specifically to use on day-of-the-week dish towels. The brand is Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers. They are very inexpensive and can be used more than once. Follow the instructions and iron the patterns on your towels. (You can also find great patterns on the internet; Pattern Bee is a wonderful resource.)
You may find, as I sometimes do, that the transfer doesn't stamp satisfactorily. Another very easy way which I have used often to get the design on the towel is to use dressmaker's tracing paper, placed color side down between the transfer and the fabric. Then simply trace the design with a pen and it transfers to the towel like magic.
Next, choose the colors of embroidery floss you want to use for your design. I use the same colors for all the towels in a set so that things look nice and coordinated. Then place the designed part of the towel in an embroidery hoop and stitch over the lines you stamped on. Most designs will use basic stitches like back stitch, stem stitch, lazy daisy stitches and French knots.
Sometimes I like to add a fabric trim to the towels. You can click the "dish towel" label in the label cloud to the right to see some of the ways this can be done. One thing I have not done, but which would be a lovely idea, is to add a crocheted edging. Many can be crocheted right in place on the towel.
When you are finished, press the towel. After pressing it once, I like to place the embroidered area right side down on a towel or washcloth and press again, to help the design stand out.
If you are giving a set of towels as a gift, fold each towel neatly so that the design is centered. Press again if need be. Stack the towels and tie the set together with a ribbon if desired. I like to add a crocheted dishcloth to complete the set.
I’ve found a nice way to package the dish towels. Our supermarket sells salad greens in the clear plastic “clamshell” lidded boxes -- but the greens are inside a plastic bag and the box stays in absolutely pristine condition. I designed a label on the computer that says “Day of the Week Flour Sack Dish Towels -- embroidered with love by ____” and I place this on top of the store label that said “Baby Spinach” or whatever. Then I just put the stack of towels inside this box.
I live in scenic northern New England with my handsome husband. We're empty-nesters with a bunch of adorable grandchildren. We love (tent) camping and traveling, but don't get away as often as we'd like to.