Saturday, September 29, 2012

DIY Unpaper Towels

In keeping with what seemed to have become a theme last (Last?! Is it Fall already?!) Summer, I went ahead with something I'd been seeing all over Pinterest: unpaper towels. I could link up with about a hundred bloggers who have created the reusable towels, but I have to say, my favorite tutorial has to be Lilly's at Cottontail Babies. I'll explain exactly why a bit later.

To get the party started, I ran to JoAnn's with coupon in hand and purchased 1 yard each of flannel and terrycloth. Most of the tutorials I checked out suggested a pretty, decorative flannel and a coordinating terrycloth. I just didn't see the point of choosing a cutsie fabric since the unpaper towels would be stored underneath my kitchen sink. It would make more sense to pick out something specific if they'd be displayed on the counter. I picked the least expensive terrycloth I could find (on sale for $2.50/yard) and a reasonable flannel for $7.99/yard. (I used a 60% off coupon for that.) I walked out of the store about $6.00 poorer.

When I got home, I cut the fabric into 11-inch squares. I got 9 squares of each out of the fabric I had.

Then, I pinned each of the pieces of terrycloth to a piece of flannel.
Then, I sewed along the edges with about a 1/4-inch seam allowance. I don't have a picture of this, but I ended up leaving the edges raw. (As opposed to sewing them inside-out and turning them inside-in for a cleaner, more finished, look.) I figured since these would be kitchen towels that would be stored under the sink, it didn't really matter what they looked like.
I also sewed a big X on the towel (from corner to opposite corner both ways) so that when they were washed, the sides wouldn't come apart.

Next, I used Dritz snap fastener and some size 16 (7/16") snaps to help create the effect of actual paper towels. Again, no picture for this step. (Sorry. Sometimes I get wrapped up in the process and forget to snap them. I need to be a better blogger.) If you have or purchase these pliers and snaps, the directions on the back of the package are easy to follow. Most importantly, when making these towels, you need to fasten an outtie (the part of the snap with the nub) on both corners of the right side of the square. Then, fasten an innie (the part of the snap with the hole) on both corners on the left side of the square. This ensures that when you use and wash the towels, you can snap them back together correctly.
For my unpaper towels, I recycled a used paper towel roll. Some tutorials suggest making a roll out of plastic, but my way is free! I simply secured a snap using the same fastening method to the top and bottom of the cardboard roll. Check it out.
Sweet, huh? Finally, I rolled the pieces of fabric together for a $6 unpaper towel roll that can be used for years!
Back to why I really liked the Cottontail Babies tutorial. In short, she was honest. To wrap up her post, she admitted a few of the very things I was thinking on my way home from the store:
  • It's going to take some effort on my part to snap them back together after washing them. I hope I don't end up just folding them and stacking them under the sink.
  • I could have skipped the sewing part and simply fastened snaps to cheap washcloths instead. But they're durn cute.
  • This could have been yet another use for upcycled T-shirts. It would have been free. I only paid about $6 for the fabric, though, so if I use them like they should be used, they'll end up costing pennies over the next few years.
Even though all this is true, the project was fun and it's super cute. I think it could be a pretty cute (and inexpensive) housewarming gift! Let me know what you think!
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