Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tea Towels

 It's been awhile since I've posted anything.  Life has been busy here.  But, now I have something to show you, so I'm back.

When I dropped off the wine bags, the shopkeeper told me that the woman who owned the shop next door was interested in having me sew some things for her to sell.  The things she wanted aren't really things I've done before, but I was interested, so I've found myself in a bit of a product development project.

One of the things she wanted was tea towels.  She had a favorite type that she carried, but can't get them anymore and hasn't found a good replacement.  I did a little research about tea towels and found out that linen is the fabric of choice for good tea towels.  I didn't know this - I assumed it would be cotton.  I guess fine china and crystal should only be dried with a linen tea towel.  Perhaps the absence of fine china and crystal in my life (I'm really at more of a Tupperware kind of a place right now) kept me from knowing this. 
As it turns out, I have a big (4 yd) piece of linen that I bought a few years ago at a going-out-of-business sale.  But, because of the color, I'm not sure it's really tea towel-worthy.

I don't have an embroidery machine and I'm not an artist, so after thinking about it, I decided that I could offer hand embroidered tea towels or machine appliqued ones.  So, I made up a sample of each and I'll see what she thinks.  I'm not sure I can make these for as cheap as she would like - how much would someone pay for a tea towel?  But, again, these are just samples and we'll see what she thinks.

The color of the linen is much better suited for the "Coffee" towel, but I'm still not sure it looks good. The towels are folded in thirds. They are approximately 20" x 30".

I used the blanket stitch on my machine for the applique and then did the lettering and steam with hand embroidery.  The design is my own, loosely based on a clip art graphic I saw awhile back.

Most of this apple design is done in split stitch with four strands of floss.  The design is available for free here.  I really like a classic embroidered tea towel, but I'm not liking the colors on the natural colored linen here.

Now for a couple of trips through the washer and dryer and a couple of uses and we'll see how they look.  I'm really not interested in selling something that won't hold up.


  1. I think they look very nice.... I'd buy them if I saw them.. They would make a nice gift. Make sure your price point is high enough to warrant HAND stitiching! Your time and talent is worth $$$. Don't cheat your self! (which seems to be a seamstress problem!)

  2. I love the coffee version. Very well made (and I even saw your well done hem). I also agree with Linda in making sure to price the towel independent of what you think they should sell for. It's a handmade item and one to be carried in a local shop. The shop owner can decide whether the towel will sell for them and you've not locked into an unfair price for your materials and labor.

  3. I am in awe that you did that all by hand embroidery! You really are very talented! My letters would look like a kindergarten class did them! Yours are perfect! Cute tea towels. The color of the linen doesn't seem wrong in the picture. The designs are very cute! Good luck with this project!

  4. These are SO CUTE!!! I like that color linen - pure white might show stains faster.

  5. You did a really lovely job on these. I think the color of the linen is good - will show fewer stains, which is nice. I'm so impressed with the hand embroidery!

  6. i just bought some vintage hand embroidery patterns. i'll bring them thanksgiving.