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DIY Farmhouse Flour Sack Towels

I love to sew. I learned how to sew near the end of University after I had finished my internship and found myself with some extra time on my hands. I began with really simple projects like infinity scarves (which were very popular at the time) and gradually worked my way up to sewing clothes and home decor.

I am really and truly not one to follow directions. Show me a recipe and I will skim the ingredients list but I really don’t follow the instructions (or quantities) well – I like to fly by the seat of my pants a bit. This pretty much leaves out any sewing project that requires me to follow a pattern. That’s why I love this kind of project so much! Cut a rectangle, hem it and make it pretty – sounds good to me!

While we were shopping at a local Thrift Store I found 2 old flour sacks in the material section marked at $3 each so I snagged them both up knowing that I was bound to find a use for them. Flour sacks are great because they are thin and strong enough to use as a good quality re-usable cheese-cloth alternative (for making butter, jelly’s, etc) and they are incredibly absorbent. I am quite certain that if you didn’t have a flour sack hanging around, you could easily substitute a lightweight canvas, drop cloth or linen and get a very similar result.

Time to get into it. You will need the following materials:

  • Flour sack (or similar fabric)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Quilting Ruler (I like the 3″ one as my all-purpose sewing ruler)
  • Writing utensil (fabric chalk, pencil or sharpie – I tend to use a sharpie because it gets cut away anyway and I know it’ll show up)
  • Stencil (if you want)
  • Paint brush or foam brush
  • Fabric Paint (or fabric medium mixed with acrylic paint)
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread

Step 1:

If you are not using vintage fabric, be sure to pre-wash your fabric before moving on to the next steps.

Step 2:

Cut your towels into 15.5 x 26 inch rectangles (I also made napkins that I cut to 10 x 10 inches for daily use – I prefer a smaller napkin which more resembles the size of a paper napkin).

Step 3:

Hem all raw edges. Press all the edges down 1/2 inch and then another 1/2 inch to hide the raw edges. If you want a cleaner look, you can sew a mitered hem by following these steps:

Fold the corner up, leaving 1/2 inch above the first folded edge
Press both edges towards the center of the triangle, creating a nice, clean mitered hem

Step 4:

Sew the hem in place with a straight stitch. I prefer to go around twice to create a double hem. If you have done a thorough job pressing your hem, this should be very quick.

Step 5:

Paint a pretty design on your towel! I did a few with stencils and a few free-hand. The stencil definitely looks cleaner but the freehand is really fun too. If you would like a detailed free-hand piece, I suggest picking up a fabric marker rather than the bottle of paint. I like to keep some fabric showing by blotting on the paint – it gives it the weathered look that I was going for.

Step 6:

Let your masterpiece dry for 48-72 hours and then wash and dry (on low temp) before using.

That’s all there is to it! I was able to make 8 napkins, 3 tea towels and 3 squares to use as cheese cloth out of my $6 flour sack purchase – not too bad for a pretty towel that adds some character to my kitchen!


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