(******You can right click on the pictures and open them in a new tab to see them on a bigger scale. I know they are small on this post.*******)
You asked for it, and now you’re going to get it. Okay, so you didn’t actually ask for it, but you’re getting it anyway. A sewing tutorial for a hooded towel, complete with examples of bad photography.
These towels are great! I’ve been making them recently as baby shower gifts, and they have always been well-received. I finally made one yesterday for Connor, and today, I made one for Zachary, even though he isn’t due to grace us with his presence until September. Anyway, these are fantastic because they can be used on bigger kids, they actually absorb water instead of just adhering to the child, they are soft and fluffy, and you can get them in any color you want, assuming the store has that color in stock. Not to mention, they are relatively cheap and easy. Trust me, if I can afford it and am able to make it, that’s saying something. We are by no means rich, and I am certainly no seamstress. I have, however, gotten to a point where I felt like I could actually tell someone how to make these. (I’ve made about 9 of them now, so surely I have learned something. (And that’s A LOT of babies in one year’s time, and I’ve still got two more towels to make before this fall! I think I know some fertile people, but I digress.)) So, without further hopping down rabbit trails, here’s the tutorial.
What you will need:
- One regular sized bath towel
- One regular sized hand towel
- Spool of thread to match
What to do:
To make a basic towel, without any embellishments, you don’t really need anything other than the two towels and some thread. Cut off all the tags and make sure you pull out all those plastic label attacher-thingies. Lay aside the bath towel. You’re going to make the hood first from the hand towel.
You’re going to want to cut off all the hemmed edges from the towel to cut down on the bulk of fabric you will later be sewing through. If the sides of your towel are selvages, then you don’t have to cut them off unless you want to. Your towel will need to be at least 24 inches long after you trim the edges. It’s fine if it’s larger than that. I think this one was about 27 inches long. If you want to trim it down to 24 inches, go for it.
Zig-zag or surge the long sides of the towel. This will keep the fabric from unraveling. Thus, allowing the towel to last longer.
Once you’ve finished the sides, fold the towel in half. In school, for some odd reason they called this fold “hamburger style.” It always sounded weird to me, but if it works for you, then alrighty.
Okay, now close up the two sides of the towel using a straight stitch. Sew as close to the edge as you can. You do not want a lot of bulk that you will have to sew through in a minute. Sewing up the sides will basically create a giant pocket.
Now that you’re done with the first part of making the hood, turn it inside-out. From here, you’re going to want to tuck the side on your right into the side on your left. (Right corner into left corner.) I did not take a picture, but when lying flat, the towel will no longer be shaped like a square but rather a long, skinny rectangle. (Hot dog style, anybody?)
Once you open up the hood, turn up the raw, bottom edge and pin it. I like to pin it on either end and on either side of the bulky middle seam. Use however many pins that you need.
Be sure that both the top and bottom pieces of fabric are folded over.
Alright, here comes the fun. Sew a straight stitch across the bottom edge. It will be bulky, especially in the middle where the seam is. In fact, when I sew through the middle seam, I raise my presser foot, and slowly guide the fabric through. If you go too fast, your needle will bend or break. Slow and steady wins this race for sure.
Now, pin the hood to the outside of the bath towel. Line it up in the middle of the towel. I have discovered that most towels have a crease right down the middle of them from being folded on the shelf for so long, and I use that as a guide. Also, cover all the ugly hood hem by the towel. I just eyeball it and make sure the hood isn’t on the towel at an angle and pin it on both ends and on either side of the middle seam.
When I sew on the hood, I sew above the hood’s hemline. It is less bulky above the line. You just have to use your fingers and be thoughtful to be sure that you’re actually sewing the hood onto the towel. If you run off the edge of the towel, carefully go back and try again.
Now, the thing that has driven me craziest with these towels is this little flap of a hem on the hood. Since I attach the hood above the hemline, the whole hem can be flipped up and show off its ugliness. I finally figured a way to at least make that not as easy to do that also won’t give my hands severe pain. (You can hand sew the hem down, but because of carpal tunnel, I can’t do that.) Anyway, simply make a short, straight stitch down both ends of the hood hem, and on either side of that middle seam (the same places where you did your pinning). This will tack it down and keep it from flapping in the wind and being unsightly.
I followed a tutorial found here when I learned how to make these towels: http://onesimplebliss.blogspot.com/2011/04/diy-hooded-towels.html. This tutorial also has instructions for adding a ribbon to the hood.
As you can see in the pictures, I added an applique initial to the towel that I made. It was fairly simple to do. Use a pattern to cut out the letter from fabric and interfacing. If you stack the fabric and interfacing together before cutting, you will be sure to have a perfect fit and will only have to cut once. Lie the interfacing onto the center of the outside of the bath towel, and then place the fabric on top of it, lining them up together. Using a low iron, iron it together, pressing gently with the tip of the iron on the edges of the letter (or shape). Carefully, carry the whole thing over to the sewing machine, and with a zig-zag stitch, outline the edge of the shape. I got mine on there a little crooked, but with an 18 month old pulling on the towel, it’s a wonder the letter made it on there at all.
I would also recommend adding the applique before you attach the hood to the towel, just to make it easier to turn the towel as needed to outline the shape.