Thursday, June 7, 2012

Easy DIY Cloth Paper Towels

I wanted to share a super easy way to save a few dollars. We've been using cloth napkins/paper towels for over two years now and we love it. We started off using some basic 8X8 square white cloths that we actually bought to use as diaper wipes but we didn't like how big they were so they got repurposed as napkins. They've gotten quite a bit of use over the years and it shows...stains, coming unraveled along the edges, and frankly they just are not even close to being white anymore. So I decided to make some new pretty ones and give you a little tutorial to make your own too.

Oh, and if you don't have a sewing machine or just don't feel like making these, then just purchase a decent stack of cloth napkins (I like having at least 2 dozen on hand) at any old store and voila, you're set! I do prefer terry cloth on one side of mine for better absorption qualities, but you may be able to find something similar that you can just purchase.

First, here are a few reasons why we switched to cloth napkins:

- Money savings. Bottom line, this is the number one reason we switched. If you have kids, or make messes easily, then you know how many paper towels and napkins get used and thrown out everyday. Dozens and dozens, depending on the number of kids or pets or just how messy you are. :)

- Less garbage. They can be used and used and used until they wear out. I feel a lot less wasteful when I know I don't get just one use out of it.

- They work better. Cloth cleans up messes way better than paper. One cloth napkin/paper towel can do the job of a stack of napkins or a few paper towels.

- Cuter. Pretty, actually, if you make some with fabric you like.

- So nice to be able to use it once then toss it in the laundry. No guilt, just wash and reuse.

If you own any kind of sewing machine this is a ridiculously basic project and fun to see the results!


- A few yards of cotton quilting fabric (depending on how many you want to make). I find that I can make about 14 napkins out of one yard. I just used a bunch of different cotton scrap fabric I had around.
- The same yardage of terry cloth fabric. Any color (I did white) that matches your cotton fabric.
- Thread
- Sewing machine
- Scissors or rotary cutter.
- Iron and ironing board

Getting Started:

1. Always wash your fabric before beginning so that it doesn't shrink abnormally after you finished your project. Iron it when its done.

2. Make a 10X10 inch template. You can cut a 10X10 inch of paper or cardboard to use as a template or just cut one 10X10 inch square of your fabric and use that as your template for cutting the rest.

3. Cut your cotton and terry cloth fabric into as many 10X10 inch squares as you want. Equal amounts of each, of course.

4. Once you have the all of your squares cut out, start pinning together your cotton squares with a terry cloth square. Right sides together.

5. Sew along the edge of these squares with about 5/8th inch inseam. Leave a 3 inch section open (un-sewn).

6. Flip the napkin right side out through the 3 inch section you left un-sewn.

7. Iron your napkin (or flatten as best you can if you're lazy and hate ironing like me) so that the edges and corners lay nice and flat and tuck in the 3 inch section so you can sew over it.

8. Begin sewing along the outer edge of your napkin and continue all the way around.

9. (Optional) I like to sew another line right down the middle of mine as a fold line and so they stay together better in the wash.

10. You're finished with your first one! Now do this with all of your squares until you have a nice stack of beautiful paper towels/napkins.

11. (Optional) Add snaps to the ends so that they can all hook together and be rolled up, sort-of like real paper towels do. I've seen them made this way and I find they look cute, but would be too much of a pain to unsnap every time I'd want one and then snap together every time they came out of the wash.

12. Place them all in their designated drawer or cute little basket on your counter.

13. Done! Bask in your savings!!