Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Project #1: Fruit Tea Towel

I am making every project from the book 1 --> 2 --> 3 Sew, and first up is a set of little kitchen towels that are supposed to be stamped with a piece of cut fruit. While I appreciate the suggestion to gussy up a plain towel, I decided that I have had enough stamping experience in my life and that I do not want a towel stamped with fruit in my kitchen.

Plus, I am trying to sew frugally, and the only plain white fabric I have that would work for this project is a plain muslin, and I think it is a bit thin for a towel. I actually stood in front of my fabric for some time trying to choose a fabric that was the appropriate weight and size, that I didn't really care about using (meaning I haven't earmarked it for another project), and that I liked enough to actually use the towels. Since the project calls for 1 yard of fabric I cut a two yard piece in half and went forward from there.

(What is it about a project that makes us want to run to the fabric store and buy fabric for a specific project rather than using our stash? Or rather, what is it that makes us buy fabrics for our stash if we aren't going to want to use them later?)

I did see that without some sort of embellishment these towels would likely look like oddly shaped napkins; luckily, Ellen Luckett Baker (from here on out referred to as ELB) made an allotment for people such as me, as evidenced below.
See where ELB says "Forgo the fruit stamps and instead use trim ..."?

I pulled out my trim box and chose some rickrack. I had hoped to used one of the packages of vintage rickrack I had purchased for a song at a thrift store, but those were all too small so I had to go with a vintage rickrack that I purchased years ago from April at April 1930s. It's time to stop hoarding, right? (Unfortunately it looks like April no longer sells rickrack, although she states that you can email her to see what she has left.)
Vintage rickrack from my stash

Then I thought of another hiccup: I have a towel with rickrack on it and the trim curls after washing. I decided that I needed to sew the rickrack down firmly, so I went searching for a decorative stitch and fiddled with the spacing to get it to work with my rickrack. When I actually sewed the rickrack on (after using glue stick to baste it) the stitches didn't line as well as they had with my sample, but I decided to Let It Go*.)

I sewed up the sides, top, and bottom as instructed (I think I did, because I read the directions a couple of days ago) except I decided to use a zigzag stitch, and while it is a cute towel, it is small. I guess I should have gotten that from tea towel, eh? I decided not to move forward with making a set of them; I will cut the other three pieces of fabric into squares and move on to the napkin project.
 The decorative stitching on the rickrack
The completed towel

Did I learn anything? Yes! I learned that it is really easy to make my own kitchen towels and that the corners don't have to be mitered to look nice. I learned that sewing heavy cotton rickrack to lightweight quilting cotton can result in some puckering. I learned that this pattern results in towels that are smaller than I like (so I will note that in the book, suggesting that I start with 1.75 yards of fabric cut into rectangles 22 x 31"). I also learned that I probably won't use rickrack as an embellishment again; my next try will involve a solid cotton or linen and I will use several rows of decorative stitches as the embellishment.

* I read that you have to be bad at something before you can be good at something. I've gotten really hung up with my sewing because I find myself not wanting to sew if I can't sew well, so my new mantra is Let It Go ... let go of the desire for perfection, let go of the fear of doing it wrong, let go of the fear that something will turn our ugly. Let It Go reminds me to sew for the process, not the product.

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