Sunday, February 24, 2013

DIY Reusable "Paper" Towels

In general, we try to be diligent about minimizing our impact on the environment - reduce, reuse, recycle, and all that good stuff. But I have a confession to make - I'm a horrible paper towel waster (although I do buy recycled paper towels, at least!). They're just so easy. But I keep seeing these reusable towel rolls and figured they shouldn't be toooo much more of a pain than regular towels, so I decided to finally suck it up and make a set of my own.


Supplies for 12 towels:
  • 1.5 yards terry cloth (you should be able to get about 9 towels per yd)
  • 1.5 yards cotton fabric or whatever you want to use for the top layer
  • Plastic snaps & snap pliers
  • Sewing machine, thread, pins, scissors, & measuring tape

I didn't have snap pliers, but I figured it was worth getting a set since I'm sure they'll come in handy in the future. I got the Dritz Babyville Boutique Snap Pliers, which I found in the baby section of Joann's - they were less expensive (around $12 with 40% off coupon) and just seemed more simple than the other options in the actual snap section. They were super easy to use, and I kind of want to go around the house putting snaps on everything now! 

Anyway....begin by cutting out 12x12 squares. I found the terry cloth difficult to cut evenly, so I erred on the side of making those larger since I wasn't necessarily cutting them very evenly. 


Here are my stacks of squares...


...which are also comfy kitty beds, apparently. In contrast, our pup preferred the uncut fabric.


So back to the directions... Stack the two pieces inside out, with the terry cloth on the bottom and the pretty side of your other fabric facing down. Mark out an 11x11 square and pin the pieces together.

Sew along the square, but leave a 2-3" gap along one of the edges (not in the corner). If you're like me and have lots of excess on your edges, cut off the extra fabric around the edges once you're finished sewing. Turn the fabric inside out through the hole you left, then sew up the hole on the outside. 

Now for the fun part - snap time! (Ok, maybe I'm the only one excited about the snap pliers). Before starting, make sure you have the right plan for applying them. I planned it out but made the mistake of grabbing the wrong piece once - those suckers are seriously hard to take off! This was the plan I used - if you stick the outside stitching on the side that has the connector side up, the overlap from the towel it connects to will hide it. I wondered if I needed to measure out the distance between snaps to make sure they matched up appropriately, but didn't end up doing that - I just snapped them in the corners and it worked fine.



(Please excuse all the fur on my towels!)

Then just keep on going till you have a full set and snap them all together. I made 12, but 11 are pictured because one was dirty already.


I do eventually want to add a tube to the middle - right now I just have them wrapped around my paper towel holder.



I'm not gonna lie - They are going to take a little getting used to. When I first spilled a few drops of something, my thought was Am I really going to use a towel just for that little bit?, which then led me to think I'll probably have an 'in use' towel that I use a few times when there are a few little drops to wipe up. I'm also not sure where I want to store the dirty ones - I think I want to get a little basket with a lid to keep right in the kitchen for the used ones. I'm also curious to see how they hold up - the white definitely makes me nervous that they're going to stain quickly. But despite my concerns and things to figure out, I'm happy with how they turned out, and very happy not to be wasting so many paper towels!

27 comments:

  1. I think I might have to try this out! We go through paper towels like crazy. I buy three or four rolls a week. This is a great idea.

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    1. Thanks! It should be a big cost savings for you too if you use that many!

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  2. Wow! That is so incredibly crafty! I bet you could make some money selling them at craft shows or on Etsy! We go through paper towels faster than I'd like and they are so expensive! I wish I knew how to sew!
    Julie @ 70wpm
    www.70wpm.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Julie! I'm actually pretty bad at sewing - if I stick to squares or rectangles, I do ok though, haha. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. I have been totally wanting to make these for some time now. This post may just give me the motivation to do so!

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    1. They really were pretty simple and quick to make. It got a little tedious to make so many of the same thing, but I split it over a couple of days and it wasn't bad at all. Happy Sunday!

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  4. I've never seen these before. Quite a concept. I may just have to make some of these. I like the idea of a bin in the kitchen to hold the used ones too.
    Bobbi @ welcometomyworld
    www.socialmediabar.com/welcometomyworld

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Bobbi! I actually just picked up a small wastebasket from the dollar store today to use for that purpose!

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  5. Great idea for kitchen cloths, and will free up half of a kitchen drawer! Considering all the little clean up jobs around our house each day, I'm thinking making these half-size might work for us. Double the snaps, so not sure if the roll will look goofy...something I'll have to mess around with this month. Thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. Thanks, Vanessa! I think half-size towels would be a great idea - we tend to have more tiny messes to clean up too. I bet the roll would look fine with the extra snaps for small towels. Let me know how it turns out if you decide to go for it!

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  6. Like the idea,cut them to washcloth size and put them in a handy wipe container...no snaps

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  7. I just made these and used brown terry cloth. I used your same flannel. I made these for my daughter who is very ECO friendly. I have a question - How do you keep the first paper towel from flopping down? I might try to find a holder with a rod or something on the outside to hold it in. I love this! It was very easy to do. Thank you for such a great tutorial. Vicki

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    1. Nice! I think brown terry cloth was definitely the way to go. That is a very good question about keeping them from flopping. You can see in the pics that my paper towel holder has 2 poles so it's a little different than usual - I wonder if that helps mine stay up better? I try to wrap them tightly and they seem to stay pretty well. I'm sorry I'm not much help, but I would love to hear if you find a solution. Good luck!

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  8. Splendid,i think this is one of the best approach.Towels are looking so nice.i appreciated you.You know,We are providing a huge deal in UK on very cheap and range able prices.In which all lines products and every types of towels, you need to usage in daily life e.g: Hand towels, bath towels, tea towels, bathrobes, bed sheets and every thing related linens.Thanks for sharing this information.

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  12. I don't want to sound rude, but I just buy a pack of 12 wash cloths at Walmart for $5.00 fold them and put in my napkin holder. No sew idea.

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  13. Hello..great! But what is a terry cloth?
    I'm Dutch.

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  14. I made these in smaller size. Used white fabric so they can be bleached. Used rotary cutter instead of scissors for cutting and chained sewed them together, one after another. No snaps. Stacked them in a square basket, gave as gift. They went together fast and easy. For me, I went to a warehouse, found white washcloths really cheap. $3.00 for a big package. I love crafty ideas, but sometimes it just doesn't make cents ($).

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  16. Where do you buy your fabric? I can't find a plain white terry cloth fabric anywhere and I want to be able to just bleach these without worrying about them looking bad after a day in my house.

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  17. I love this idea! What do you use for super greasy messes, like oil or bacon grease? Do you still use these for those messes? Thanks!

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