Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Make Do and Sew

I have in my linen closet right now a bunch of towels that are... not quite worn out, but not very attractive. When I grow up (or, ya know, when my kids do) I would like to have nice towels. The kind you don't mind displaying in your bathroom. The kind that don't have bleach/hair dye stains, parts that are threadbare, things like that. But right now, that is not the reality. Right now I have two littles who believe it is their right to wear towels as capes, use them to build forts, occasionally use them as sleds/gurneys to drag their toys around...

Occasionally a towel takes more abuse than it can handle, and it gets pulled out of rotation. It gets a hole or the edges fray beyond what I am willing to put up with. What to do with these broken towels? I am definitely not going to throw them away - they are still useful. 

I decided to do make washable menstrual pads with mine. I made one back when I was in college, but I need more. So I made one. I took the shape idea from Lunapads and went from there. And I found a very informative video on how to take care of cloth pads, so you don't need to be worried about not knowing ho

An old towel (a hand towel is fine, or even a washcloth)
1 yd bias tape - you can make your own
A snap or velcro


Hand needle
Sewing machine (optional)

1. Cut your paper into a square. The diagonal of the square should be roughly the desired length of the finished pad.

2. With the paper folded in half, round all the corners.

 3. Fold the paper into fourths. Cut a rounded right triangle from the edge. In the picture below, the wider part will be the pad, and the thinner part will be the wing.

 4. Unfold. Pin the pattern to your towel.

5. Cut around the pattern. 

6. Unpin the pattern. Sew the bias tape around the edges of the pad to keep them from fraying. As you can see, I wasn't too worried about how pretty the bias tape looked. I assume not a lot of people will be looking at it once it is in use.

7. Sew the snaps on the wings. Things I have learned the hard way when working with fastenings:

Sew one on the top side of one wing, and one on the bottom side of the other wing. Make sure you have the correct indents and post facing out before you sew down. Sew down one, then check the placement of the other before you sew down. 

Note that this does not have a waterproof lining. For me, that doesn't matter. I have a collection of underwear I only wear while bleeding, and since they are all black, I don't care if a little blood gets on them. If you care, put a nylon backing on. Or you could make the central pad part thicker by adding more layers of towel to that part. Or you could make the central part a pocket, and make inserts to put in it. You could also add elastic bands to hold inserts in place. These are really quick and easy to make, and very customizable.

Other ideas:

  • Many animal shelters will accept old towels, blankets and sheets to be used as animal bedding.
  • Michele at Michelemademe did a series on how to reuse an old towel. She got 5 projects out of one bath towel. To see, click here and scroll down to series 9. 
  • Google it! There are plenty of lists on what to do with old towels.

*The "Make Do and Mend" movement came about during WWII, when not only food but also clothing was rationed. You can read more about this here and here. I was inspired by Cast-On series 8 to work on this theme for the week.

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