Friday, 29 June 2012

Tutorial: Tatiana's Tea Towel


I'm going to a wedding this weekend for our friends Ed and Tatiana. They actually got married in Chicago this March, but they're celebrating their nuptuals at the North Wooten Village Hall this weekend right here in (currently) sunny Somerset. She's American. He's English. Just like Olly and me! Unlike us though, they are very, very cool people. The epitome of East London cool, so I had to come up an equally cool wedding gift. And here it is... a tea towel.

crafty supplies

Japancakes, Giving Machines

  • a tea towel or a scrap of linen-like fabric
  • two 19" by 2" strips of a decorative fabric
  • smalls scraps of at least 10 fabrics
  • brightly coloured sewing threads
  • brightly coloured embroidery threads
  • fabric glue
  • sewing needles
  • an embroidery hoop
  • a measuring tape
  • fabric scissors
  • a sewing machine
  • an iron (optional) 

Step 1. 
Gather up your supplies. I highly recommend ironing out your fabric scraps as this will make them easier to work with. Especially if they tend to stay stored all smooshed up in an optimistically small box, like mine.

fabric scraps

iron your fabric
Step 2.
Measure the linen-like fabric and cut it to your desired dimensions. I cut out a 18" x 30" rectangle.

Step 3.
Now you're going to decorate the two short sides of your tea towel by attaching a fabric tape. Take one of your 19" x 2" strips of decorative fabric, fold your strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and iron.

Open up your strip wrong side towards you. Fold each side towards the center crease and iron. Fold again along your first crease, right sides together, so your two folded edges are together, iron.

Now pin the tape that you've just created to a short side of your towel, tucking the towel into the fold. Top stitch the tape and the towel together. Repeat for your other strip of tape at the opposite end of the towel.

For very thorough instructions on creating bias fabric tape and working with it, see this link. If you are working with a ready-made tea towel, then you will simply stitch the tape over the existing hem. If you are making your towel from scratch, then there is no need to hem the short sides of the tea towel before adding the tape.

fabric bias tape

Step 4.
If you have added a bias tape to each short side, you might need to trim the each end of bias tape so that it is the same width as the tea towel. On each long side of the towel, fold and iron down 1/4". Fold down another 1/4", iron, and pin it down. Then sew along each side, creating hems. 

hems on each long side

Step 5. 
Select at least 10 fabric scraps to make triangle decals for your tea towel. I found it helpful to make a paper template first by drawing a triangle on a piece of paper. My triangle was 4.5cm tall and 4.5cm wide. Then trace the triangle with a pencil on the wrong side of my fabric scraps. Cut out each of your fabric triangles.

use a paper template

Step 6. 
Place the triangles on your tea towel and play around with them until you have your desired look. My 10 triangles are placed in the corner of my the tea towel to make up one big triangular pattern, but you could create any pattern you like. 

get the placement right

Step 7.
Adhere each of your triangles to the tea towel with fabric glue. Yes that is washable PVA in the photograph below, but I opted for fabric glue in the end for fear that the triangles would misshapen after washing if I used PVA.

glue on triangles

Step 8.
Now you're going to sew all of your triangles onto the tea towel. My sewing machine isn't very fancy, but I thought it would be cute to use a zig zag stitch rather than a plain old straight stitch. It's really up to you. Leave a few inches of thread as a tail when you cut the piece away from the sewing machine. Tie a double knot with your two threads as close to the piece as possible. Trim the threads carefully so as not to cut the knot.

double knot

Step 9.
All of your triangles have been sewn on to your tea towel. Using two strands of your embroidery thread and a hand sewing needle, add decorative touches to your tea towel such as the lines I created between rows of triangles. Be sure to use double or triple knots on the back of your tea towel to secure the embroidery thread as the tea towel will presumably be washed - if it isn't too cute to use!

embroidered lines
Step 10.
Because my tea towel is a wedding gift, I wanted to add a personal touch for the happy couple. Using a no.2 pencil I very lightly drew their initials to the right side of the towel. You could easily add an iron-on transfer motif or leave off more embroidery all together. After drawing on the initials, I used an embroidery hoop to create tension in my fabric before selecting a neon yellow thread to complete the look.

That's it! Enjoy!

If you have any questions about this tutorial, if I have forgotten a step, or if you'd like to share your ideas to improve on this project, please feel free to leave a comment below. I always read comments and will be happy to answer. Thanks!

tea towel detail

tatiana's tea towel

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