A win-win gift

A friend’s bridal shower registry contained all kinds of foreign-to-me objects: a trivet, a plate stand, pot and pan handle grips, an avocado slicer, a probe thermometer, a microplane grater (actually, I know what that is, if only because dark chocolate shavings on top of everything is a life necessity)… you get the idea. Clearly she’s into cooking, while I’m into… crafting! We all have our different skills and passions ;).

It would have been perfectly fine if I got her some of the gadgets on her list. But I decided that putting a crafting touch on some kitchen linens would be even better. It would allow me to connect our two passions – I would make something that my friend would use in her kitchen. It’s a win-win!

I got a set of three bar mop towels, and tipped them with some fabric along one of the short edges.

I used a navy blue cotton and a white-red cotton blend, cut the fabric into strips along the crosswise grain, joined them on the bias at random intervals, and attached the tape to the towels following angry chicken’s brilliant bias tape tutorial.

While sewing, I slipped in a length of grosgrain ribbon to make a hanging loop, and sealed the ends for tidiness.

At the moment I’m working on a similar embellishment for a set of linen-cotton dishtowels. I really like these – the fabric is rustic and highly textured, but it softens up after every wash. I think these dishtowels would make great casual dinner napkins, actually.

Here I’m attaching the binding a little differently: I’m using the French double-fold binding technique described in Machine Quilting Made Easy by Maurine Noble, which I referred to last time.

This book warrants a second mention – I really love it. It is small (only 60-odd pages) and topical, written in an entirely understandable language with simple and clear diagrams. It has so many practical tips – how to join pieces of batting, when to use decorative threads and how to adjust your machine’s tension when you’re using them, how to make a streamlined and smooth quilt sandwich, which quilt lines need to be stitched first, and the right way to “stitch in the ditch” (I won’t even admit to my former misunderstanding of this technique – it’s shameful).

I don’t know if the other books in The Joy of Quilting series are as good, but I requested many of them via inter-library loan, so I’ll find out soon. A Perfect Match and Happy Endings are already here, waiting to be picked up.

I will tell you more about this second set of dishtowels once I’m done with them. Like all works-in-progress, I’m modifying the precise way in which I’m doing things as I go along, from one napkin to the next ;). So, please, stay tuned!

26 thoughts on “A win-win gift

  1. Edith

    just keep your idea in mind when/if she has a baby shower. You can use cloth diapers and cute cute fabric (yes you have to use two cutes) to make burp cloths. :)

  2. margaux

    i love these! what a great gift… now wouldn’t it be great to have a craft registry – put all kinds of yarns, sewing machines, fabrics on it… i mean it will add to the marriage, no? ;-)

  3. Margaret

    Very sharp and creative! Love the red, white and blue colors together. I like Maurine Noble’s book too!

  4. Michele In Maine

    I would only worry that the colored fabric might run onto the white dishcloth in the wash?

  5. Bether

    These are gorgeous!

    I love doing crafty things for weddings — for my best friend, I embroidered a week’s worth of dishcloths. Fun! And she loved it!

  6. Susan

    Your friend must be registered at Williams Sonoma—as a former employee I recognize the list, avocado slicer, microplaner, probe!!!.

    Your towels are so much better! Yay for you bucking the list!

  7. donna lee

    I prefer hand crafted gifts. I think the recipient will long remember who gave her the lovely towels with the colorful trim. At least longer than she’ll remember who gave her the avocado slicer.

  8. molly

    These are absolutely lovely! I’m about to have a wedding shower, and it makes me wish that etsy had a wedding registry! Luckily, I come from a crafty bunch, so I know I’ll get a lot of handmade goodness.

  9. triza

    She will absolutely love them; any cook loves dishtowels and handmade is the icing on the cake. I always step out side of the box. For baby showers; I give a nice frame and a gift certificate for setting fees at a nice photography studio and for bridal showers (personal), I ask if she remembers what scent she was wearing at the time when she met her betrothed and then I build a gift around the scent–I usually get a great reaction from both of these because it’s something that other people would never think. Am a great fan of your blog and wish you all the best.

  10. Philippa

    These are so lovely! – and thank you for the links. I am sure your friend will be very pleased indeed.

    I love linen tea towels (as we call them in Britain; they are drying-up cloths, I guess the same as the ones you are using). They do always look like they should have been ironed, but they dry so much better! I inherited my grandmother’s whole collection (she was always buying them when she went on holiday, or from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, etc), and I didn’t realise what a privilege this was until drying up at my boyfriend’s house with standard supermarket cotton ones. Linen tea towels are clearly magic.

  11. Philippa

    These are so lovely! – and thank you for the links. I am sure your friend will be very pleased indeed.

    I love linen tea towels (as we call them in Britain; they are drying-up cloths, I guess the same as the ones you are using). They do always look like they should have been ironed, but they dry so much better! I inherited my grandmother’s whole collection (she was always buying them when she went on holiday, or from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, etc), and I didn’t realise what a privilege this was until drying up at my boyfriend’s house with standard supermarket cotton ones. Linen tea towels are clearly magic.

  12. tina

    What a fabulously lucky friend! Those wonderful hand crafted details touch our lives in very powerful ways! I know she will appreciate you!

  13. kay

    The towels are lovely and cheery and bright, but more important, a handmade gift is always, always appreciated and remembered. Especially outside of crafting circles, where they are too terribly rare.

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