You'll Never Guess What You Can Do with Dish Towels

Dish Towel Projects
Reconsider the humble flour sack dish towel as more than just a kitchen tool. See how you can turn it into creative decor and accents with these clever do-it-yourself projects.

Dish Towel Lampshade

Why buy when DIY-ing is this easy and clever? Two plain-Jane items, flour sack dish towels and a boring lampshade, combine to create one cute lamp topper.

Go to the next slide to see how it's done.

Make It: Dish Towel Lampshade

Along one hemmed edge of a towel, snip slightly into the fabric every 2 inches. Beginning with each snipped cut, rip the fabric into strips. Starting at the bottom of a plain lampshade, wrap each strip and hot-glue where the ends overlap at the front (as shown). Continue up the lampshade, looping excess fabric at the overlap as the shade becomes narrower.

Cafe Curtains

With dye, a potato, and a few basic supplies, you can turn understated dish towels into statement-making cafe curtains. 

Go to the next slide to see how.

Make It: Cafe Curtains

First, cut and hem a dish towel to fit your window and, following the directions on a package of fabric dye (we like Rit or iDye), dye the fabric as desired. Slice a potato in half, and use a melon baller or a small paring knife to make a design for your stamp. Use a foam brush to apply white fabric paint to the potato, and stamp the design on your towel (as shown). Repeat as desired, let dry, and hang from a cafe or tension rod with curtain clips.

Dish Towel Pillow

Sew towels into a basic pillow cover, then turn up the volume with a fun striped technique. 

Go to the next slide to see how. 

Make It: Dish Towel Pillow, Step 1

Choose a pillow form, then fold and trim your dish towel to size (as shown). The cut towel should wrap around the pillow completely with an additional 1 inch on three sides for seam allowances. With right sides facing, sew the side seams together using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Sew the remaining side, leaving a 4-inch opening in the middle.

Make It: Dish Towel Pillow, Step 2

Turn the pillow cover right side out, lay flat, and insert a piece of cardboard to prevent paint from bleeding. Use painter's tape to make stripes on one side. Spray fabric paint over the untaped areas as desired and according to manufacturer's directions. Let dry and remove tape (as shown). Add stripes as desired in a second color. Let dry and insert your pillow form. Whipstitch the opening closed.

Catchall Tote

Sew a simple drawstring tote bag for storage or for on-the-go needs.

Go to the next slides to see how it's done.

Make It: Dish Towel Tote, Step 1

Determine a size for your finished bag, add 1/2-inch seam allowances, and cut two rectangles from a dish towel. Cut 2x2-inch squares from the bottom corners of each piece (as shown). With right sides facing and starting 2 inches down from the top of the bag, sew the sides and the bottom. Iron the seams open.

Make It: Dish Towel Tote, Step 2

Align the edges of the bottom corners and sew (as shown). Turn the bag right side out. Fold the top edges over 1 inch toward the inside. Sew close to the raw edge, leaving a 1/2-inch opening at each side seam to insert the cord (we used 1/4-inch polypropylene rope from the hardware store). Secure a safety pin on a length of cord and thread through the casing. Remove the pin and knot the ends. Repeat with second cord at the other opening. To stencil, place a piece of cardboard inside the bag. Apply the stencil to the bag using repositionable adhesive. Using a round, flat stencil brush, paint your design as desired; let dry.

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