Thursday, June 14, 2012

Un-paper towel Tutorial

About a month ago I realized that we go through a ton of paper towels in a day, like 2-4 each meal, and whatever I use to clean up the kitchen after meals.  That’s a lot of paper towels!  Being a work at home mom, I am always looking for ways to save money.  We’ve already made the switch to cloth diapers, homemade laundry soap, and homemade baby food just to name a few.  These all save money AND are greener than the alternative – that’s doubly as good! 

Oh yeah, the tutorial…after lots of research I decided to make my un-paper towels out of a layer of terry and a layer of flannel.  The terry cloth is good for scrubbing dirty hands and tables and the flannel side is pretty absorbent.  I waited until flannel was on sale for 50% off at Joann’s and brought in another 50% off coupon for the terry cloth.  My original plan was to get 2 yards of flannel and 2 yards of terry, but I found two prints I liked in the flannel so I bought 4 yards of each. 

First wash your fabric! It will shrink, shed and fray.   I prewash everything before I sew it’s an extra step but nothing is worse than finishing a project, throwing it in the washer then pulling it out to find that it is wonky because it shrunk. 

I cut my fabric into 13” squares, I wanted my towels to be 12” squares.  The terry will make a huge mess, there will be little fuzzy balls everywhere!


Lay your fabric with the right sides together


Pin your squares together.  If you are a novice sewer I would us more pins but I was in a hurry so I only used one pin on each side. 


Sew around your square, I used a 1/2” seam allowance.  Don’t sew the square shut, leave about 2” open so you can flip the towel inside out.  I prefer to put the terry side down on the feed dogs when sewing, it doesn’t stretch as much as the flannel so it holds that nice square shape better.


Cut the corners off to remove some bulk, but be careful not to cut the stitches. 


Flip the towel right side out.  I use a dowel to get into the corners.


Press the towel flat


Top stitch around the edge of your towel  for a nice finished edge.  You can also use a cute decorative stitch if you want, I like the simplicity of a straight stitch so I left it plain.


Fold your towels  and show them off in a pretty basket.  I’m planning on adding snaps eventually and putting them on a roll like actual paper towels.  Here’s the tutorial I’m going to use to add snaps.  I need a snap press (ok not need but really really want) before I can add the snaps. 

I’ve been using these for a little over a week now.  I put my bagel on one for breakfast, then clean my girls up with one after breakfast, I make our sandwiches on another one for lunch, then clean the girls up with one after lunch, and the same for dinner.  I am still using paper towels to clean the counters in the kitchen mainly because my unpaper towels are so pretty and I don’t want to get bleach stains on them! 

I have a spare wet bag hanging on our laundry closet door that we put our dirty unpaper towels in and when I’ve collected enough of them I wash them with my homemade laundry detergent. 

As always please feel free to email me at with any order, questions or suggestions.  I’m always adding new creations into the mix so please check my facebook page, even if you don’t have a facebook account you can look at my pictures and posts.


  1. These are super cute and definitely worth the extra start up money. Thanks for sharing how you made yours!

  2. Very cool! I've made cloth napkins this way with regular cotton fabrics, but I like the idea of using terry cloth and a flannel or other backing fabric. You could use thrifted towels and flannel pants or other "found" materials for your clean-up rags, if you wanted to make some that weren't pretty. ;) Also, if you sew a little diagonal piece across the back of one of the corners, you could hang it on a hook for your kids to use-- just change out every so often. This is a very well-done tutorial. Thanks for the idea!