DIY Muslin Kitchen Towels⎮Textured and Pretty

The Diy Muslin Projects continue…

Since my last two muslin projects were not kitchen specific, I thought I would revisit kitchen towels. This time, I experimented with two layers of muslin to create textured fabric. For simplicity, I left the towels in their natural colour; stitched one with white thread, another with yellow gold and a third with a deep almost red fuchsia thread. I bound the four edges of the towel stitched with white thread; and for the other two, I turned under the edges and stitched them all around. I love the way the texture adds body and interest to the towels. I’ve kept my towels simple but if you would like, there are a number of ways to add visual interest to yours.


Add interest with Stitches binding and Dye

One of the easiest ways to add another design element is to use contrasting thread for vertical and horizontal stitch rows. Or use decorative stitches; it will reduce the number of rows needed to achieve your design–think wide zigzag. Too, you can bind the edges with a different colour fabric. Or dye finished towels in your favourite colours. If you choose dyeing, there are several options available. Tie-dyeing, full immersion dyeing, direct application dyeing and low immersion dyeing are some of the lot. Rit Dye guide on How to Dye

Above: Contrasting thread, and two types of zigzag stitch patterns create varied designs with minimal effort.

Above: Contrasting thread, and two types of zigzag stitch patterns create varied designs with minimal effort.


To achieve the textured fabric effect, you need to sew two pieces of muslin together; it is essential that the top layer is pre-shrunk and the under layer must be guaranteed to shrink when washed.

Note: Since there is no way to determine how much texture you will achieve before washing, you might want to make a test sample with the fabrics you intend to use. Too, sew enough stitching for the top layer of fabric to form a visible pattern after it is washed.

You will need

Unwashed muslin 32” x 23”

Prewashed muslin 30” x 21”

If using binding, fabric strips 4 times as wide as finished binding width and long enough to go around all edges of towel plus 2”.

Sewing machine

Ironing board or flat padded surface




Temporary fabric adhesive (Optional)

Ruler (Optional)

Dressmakers’ chalk or water soluble pen (Optional)

Rubber gloves and fabric dye if you plan on colouring towels.


Adding Design Elements with Coloured Thread

1. Thread your sewing machine with the same colour thread at the top and in the bobbin.

2. Use two different colour threads. That way, you’ll have different colour stitches on both sides of the towel.

3. Sew vertical rows of stitches with one colour thread and horizontal rows with another.

4. Stitch rows in different colours at equivalent or irregular distances

See sample stitches below.


Creating texture


Cut mark and stitch fabric patterns

Step 1. Cut or rip fabric and mark stitch lines on upper layer. (This guarantees precise lines and spacing) I accordion pleated the fabric and pressed it to create multiple creases all at once. This approach doesn’t produce exactitude and some folds will be sharper than others. Being accordion, some creases will be inverted. As long as they a visible, you’ll be okay. I started by stitching the first set of creased vertical lines; then, I pleated the fabric on the horizontal and stitched along those lines.

Arrange top and bottom fabric layers

Step 2. Position unwashed base fabric on a flat surface; wrong side up. Place prewashed unfolded layer on top of it; with right side up. Adjust layers so that backing fabric extends past top layer in equal amounts all around. Anywhere between half an inch and one inch is acceptable. (This is a precaution, in the event top fabric stretches during stitching).

Pin fabrics together

Step 3. Use pins to anchor top layer to base fabric; or opt for temporary fabric adhesive to prevent shifting.

Create stitch pattern

Step 4. Stitch along creased lines first; use presser foot toes as a guide to fill in rows after. Alternate direction each time you finish a row of stitches.

Trim and bind or hem edges

Step 5. Trim around edges and bind or hem. See instructions below.

Wash and Dry

Step 6. Toss in the washer and dryer and be delighted with your textured towels.


Binding Towel edges

You may use any suitable fabric or ribbon to bind the edges of your towels. Use fabrics that can be cleaned in the same way as the main fabric and can withstand the repeated washes kitchen towels endure.

Some sewing machines have attachments that usually come in the form of a presser foot. They make certain aspects of sewing more efficient. One such accessory is a binder foot. If you have one, don’t hesitate to use it; and if you don’t, your all-purpose zigzag or straight stitch presser foot will work just as well.


About Binding

For practical use: It is a strip of fabric that encloses the raw edges of hemlines or seams.

As a design element: It is applied as trim in contrasting colours and textures.

To make your own binding, cut a strip of fabric:

Length: Combined measurements of all edges of towel plus two inches. E.g. For 27” X 18” towel, you will need a strip that’s 92” long. (27+27+18+18+2)

Width: Four times the finished width of the binding you desire. E.g. if you want a ½” binding, you’ll need a 2” wide strip of fabric. (1/2+1/2+1/2+1/2)

Bindings are typically cut on the bias. As you’ll be working with straight edges, strips cut on the vertical or crosswise grain will be fine.

Creating binding

With wrong sides together, fold strip in half lengthwise; press lightly with an iron. Open binding flat and bring raw edges towards the center crease and press; fold in half again and press. Depending on the fabric you are using, pressing one edge at a time might prove easier to create consistently sized folds. Binding can be applied in one or two steps

Creating one-step and two-step bindings is an identical process. The only difference is in folding: two-step binding is folded in half along the middle; while one-step binding is folded off centre. This creates a slightly extended underlap that gets caught while top stitching.


Applying binding in two steps

(a) Open a fold of the binding and with right sides together, position and align it to fabric edge; pin in place and stitch.

(b) Press seam toward the center of binding, taking care not to erase original creases. Fold binding in half at pre-pressed crease; bring folded edge toward stitch-line, pin in place, stitch and press.

Applying binding in one step

(a) Fold binding off center lengthwise; making one side about 1/8” wider than the other.

(b) Open binding, fold and press edges towards the center crease.

(c) With right side of fabric facing up and wider side of binding below, sandwich raw edge between binding layers, pin, stitch and press.

Note: Apply binding to lengthwise edges of towels first.

At short edges, remember to trim seams and remove bulk before stitching binding.

Creating narrow turned under hems

Trim edges; turn edge of fabric up about ½” and press; fold again; press and stitch along the fold line.

Use decorative stitches to save time

Though I started with straight stitches, I’ve decided decorative stitching is the way to go. If you think this project requires mega stitching, select a decorative stitch and you won’t look back. I used a plain zigzag stitch set at wide and a multi-stitch zigzag set on long and narrow. They cut the stitching time in half. I’ve added these towels to my list of quick and easy gifts to sew because the stitching is not as laborious as it looks.

Below is a number of samples I created because I got excited. The one at far right is not suitable for kitchen towels; but it’s the way I’m wired. I had to think of something else I could do with this technique. Right now, I’m thinking textured DIY clutches. I’ll keep you posted.


Whether you’re refreshing your own kitchen towels supply, or planning to gift someone who is moving house, these made-with love muslin towels are thoughtful and perfect gifts for the home. Find more muslin kitchen towels here.

Now, you are equipped with all you need to create your own brand of muslin kitchen towels–textured to your taste.

Happy stitching; have fun and enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section.

If the LORD will, see you next time.