Monday, October 7, 2013

Dressing up a dish towel

 This project came about after my favorite activity- trolling Pinterest for ideas!!! I have seen several iterations of quilts using appliques of circles such as those seen here, here and here. And I had the perfect occasion to do this for- our awesome friends and previous neighbors from Nashville have moved into the triangle! WOOHOOO! We got to visit them at their amazing new place and I wanted to bring something house-warming-esque. I thought I would combine circle appliques with one of the dishtowels I purchased a few weeks ago from Target.

I improvised this a bit, basing it loosely on this tutorial from the Poppyprints blog. To make circles for applique, you need some fabric scraps, fusible non-woven interfacing, scissors and your sewing machine.
[ fusible non-woven interfacing ]

I picked three fabrics with- you guessed it- polka dots! I then traced a circle on the wrong side of each fabric using my disappearing ink fabric marker. I used circles that had a diameter of approximately 3 inches. To get a circle that size, I traced the lid of a tiny jam jar : )
[ tracing circles! ]

[ blue line showing what I traced ]

After tracing the circle, I made a sandwich of the polka dot fabric and the interfacing with right sides together (for the interfacing, I am calling the 'right' side the side with the bumps on it). Then, using a size 2 stitch, I very.very.slowly stitched around each circle. In order to make sure the fabrics don't shift, I made about 4 to 5 stitches, then left the needle in the fabric, lifted the presser foot and slightly pivoted the fabric. 
[ high school sewing flashbacks- sewing on the lines! ]

After sewing around the circle, I trimmed the fabric down to ~1/4 inch. I wasn't very precise about this- I just sort of eye-balled it. Then, I cut small notches into the seam so that the circle would lay smooth. 

[ trimmed and notched! ]

After you have sewn the circle and trimmed and notched, you need to flip it right-side out. To do this, I made sure to isolate only the interfacing, cut a small slit in it and then extended that to create a vertical line from seam to seam along the diameter.

[ interfacing separated from cotton layer ]

[ cutting the interfacing ]

[ after the cut, flipped right-sides out ]

After cutting the interfacing, you can flip the circle so that the right sides are out. Make sure to run your finger along the inside to push the seams fully out. 

[ completed circle ]
Once you have your desired amount of circles (I chose 3), you need to attach them to the dish towel. Because I overlapped the 3 circles, I started by ironing the bottom-most (is that a word??) circle to the towel. I followed the interfacing instructions for adhering it to the towel (medium high heat and some steam). It was so nice to have the circle already tacked down before sewing- no pins necessary!
Then, I used a stitch similar to a blanket stitch to sew the circle to the towel.
[ Stitch I used, straight from the Bernina sewing manual ]

[ modified blanket stitch ]

[ circle fun! ]

I consulted this video tutorial before trying this stitch for the first time!The goal is to keep the 'straight' stitches on the towel and then use the angled stitches to tack the circle to the towel. I used the same approach as when sewing the interfacing and cotton together- slow and steady. After every angled stitch (which was 4 stitches), I pivoted the fabric. I then added the second circle, overlapping with the first circle, and then slightly overlapping with that middle circle, I added the last circle.

To finish it, I wrapped up a bottle of wine in the newly dressed up dish towel and took it over to our friends to celebrate their arrival!