Search This Blog

Saturday, January 18, 2014

DIY Un-paper Towels with Plastic Roll

Today I finally got around to making un-paper towels...reusable cloth towels to replace paper towels. They cut costs, save trees, and keep more trash out of the landfills! 

Plus, making them yourself, you can find the perfect fabric to match your personality and kitchen decor. I've bought Viva paper towels for years now, and I always get the three pack of designs, but there's really only one design I like (with the cute!), but none of them really match my colors.

In constructing my un-paper towels, I used a few tutorials that I found on Pinterest. The main tutorial that I followed was from Eliza at That Short Girl's Blog. While this is a pretty simple project, she explained the steps well. The problem with her tutorial was that it didn't include a plastic roll, and I really liked that idea so they didn't slouch on my dispenser. 

So I kept searching and along the way, I found Amy's tutorial at A Blossoming Life. She still didn't have the plastic roll, but there were a couple of interesting things about her un-paper towels. First, she sewed a wavy line caddy-corner across each towel to keep the two layers of fabric in place through the wash. I liked this idea and thought it added a pretty touch. The other item of interest was that she used velcro instead of snaps. When I first thought of making these, I thought velcro was the way to go because they'd be easier to rip off the roll, BUT in the end, I did decide to use snaps because I feared that the velcro (even the really nice velcro) would get all kinds of fuzz, strings, and general nastiness caught up in it. That didn't appeal to me.

Finally, I found Sabra's tutorial at Sew A Straight Line where she included easy to understand instructions on how to make the plastic roll. She also used a very cute decorative top stitch on her towels. This isn't something I did as I'm not that talented and I didn't feel like putting THAT much effort into it, but I absolutely love what she did.

Putting all of these together, I came up with my un-paper towels.

What you'll need:
1.5 yards flannel or knit fabric
1.5 yards terry cloth fabric
coordinating thread
plastic snaps and assembly tools (approximately 30 sets of snaps for 12 towels and the roll)
11.5"x6" plastic canvas
general sewing supplies

First, cut your fabrics into 11.5" squares. - Now, I made a measuring oops and made my "squares" 11" tall x 11.5" wide on the first strip I cut, so I carried my oops through all 12 towels that I made. It worked, but remember to measure twice, cut once. :)

Pin your flannel/knit fabric and terry cloth right sides together, and sew them using a 3/8" seam allowance, leaving a 2" opening on one side. Trim the corners to reduce bulk. 

Turn the towels right side out by pulling through the 2" opening.

Use a chopstick or similar item to push the corners out.

Tuck the edges of the openings inside. And iron the seams flat.

For a nice finished look, top stitch around the towel about an 1/8" from the edge. This will also seal the opening that was used to turn the towels right side out.

At this point, you can stop sewing, or you can go ahead and sew the wavy line from one corner to the opposite corner. (I did this when I finished the top stitching, without cutting the thread.) 

Now, apply the snaps.

It's a little hard to see in this photo, but be sure to apply two female on one side and two male on the other side. If you have directional fabric like mine, be sure to always put the females on the same side and the males on the other side. Also, remember that you have to snap these together, so you'll want to be sure that you position the snaps in about the same place on each towel and place the snaps in the right direction to be snapped to the next towel (male end goes into female end).

All snapped together!

Now, you can make the plastic roll. Because I messed up measuring my fabric, I cut the plastic canvas 11"x6", but if you measured correctly, cut the canvas to 11.5" tall x 6" wide. Place three female snaps down one 11.5" side and three male snaps down the other 11.5" side. These will snap together to form the roll. 
Then, use the snaps on your towels to measure where to put the snaps in the middle. Make sure you use the proper side of the snap (male or female) to match up with the snaps on your towels. As you can see from the photo below, I lined the first snap up at the very edge, about halfway on the 6" side of the plastic canvas. Then, using the snaps on my towel, I had to bring the bottom snap in a couple of rows.

Snap the roll together and attach the towels. 

Roll them up and place the roll on your paper towel holder.

Can't wait to make another set with my I <3 Bacon!! flannel! I just have to get some navy blue or white snaps. I'm also hoping to find some cute cupcake fabric and some fabric with martini glasses to make even more. Ooooh...and maybe some snowflakes, clovers, and hearts for the many ideas!


  1. okay, I can get on board this one MUCH easier than the family cloth. Super cute! Now I just have to learn how to sew... Thanks for sharing such creative ideas!

  2. t post.UnPaper Towel Tutorial - i really like the size she did. I would like to try these just to have extra towels in the ..More info visit Colored Corrugated Cardboard Rolls

  3. I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.corrugated plastic sheets 4x8