Although many standard sizes can be found, kitchen towel sizes are largely based on personal choice. I recently purchased a large set of vintage linen-weave placemats at an auction that measured 11 inches wide by 18 inches long. They also came with 11-inch matching square cloths, which I am assuming are napkins, although they have a 1-inch hem on two opposing edges.
I knew I would never use the placemats for their intended purpose, so I decided to tweak some of them and turn them into kitchen towels for my home and as Christmas gifts. The towels would not fit any of the standard measurements I have found for kitchen towels, but I figured the size would not be too far off the mark and would create a beautiful and usable “green” recycling craft for the home. The small “napkins” looked like they would make nice matching dishcloths.
Dig through your linen closet for vintage placemats or purchase inexpensive and plain kitchen towels. Embellishing with a trim will give the items a new purpose with a professional looking finish.
Measure across one short end of the placemat and add a 1/2 inch. This is the width measurement. Cut a a piece of decorative fabric rectangle using the width measurement by 8 inches long. Note: The width edge of the rectangle will be longer than the length measurement.
Fold the fabric in half with the right sides together and matching the long edges. The rectangle is now 4 inches wide. Pin the 4-inch edges. Sew the pinned edges using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Turn the folded rectangle right side out and press.
Lay the placemat with the wrong side facing up. Place the open edge of the rectangle on a short end of the placemat. Pin the bottom open edge of the rectangle to the edge of the placemat. Sew the pinned edge using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. If there is a hem on the edge of the placemat, sew just beyond the hem stitching.
Turn the placemat right side up and position with the stitched bottom edge closest to you. Flip the stitched fabric from the back of the placemat so that it hangs below the bottom edge. Fold the remaining open edge of the fabric rectangle to the inside of the cuff a 1/4 inch and press. Pin the folded, pressed edge of the rectangle to the front of the placemat, covering the stitch line with the edge of the fabric.
Top stitch the pinned edge as close to the edge as possible. Cut a length of rick-rack the same length as the top stitching. Lay the rick-rack over the stitching and top stitch in place.
I sketched a 3 1/2-inch round-petal flower on lightweight cardboard and cut it out. I also traced a 1-inch circle on the cardboard for the flower center. Trace the flower pattern and flower center on the paper side of lightweight fusible web. Loosely cut around the shapes, leaving at least am extra 1/4-inch around the edges. Place the fusible web glue side down on the back of your chosen flower fabric and iron. Repeat with the flower center on scrap fabric that matches the cuff of the kitchen towel.
Cut out the shapes along the traced lines. Peel the paper backing from the flower center. Place the flower center on the front of the flower and iron to adhere. Peel the paper backing from the flower and center it on the towel above the fabric cuff. Iron to adhere. Sew a zigzag stitch around the flower and the flower center.
Create a matching dishcloth. Fold a small “napkin” in half and press. Fold in half again to create a small square. Cut out another flower and flower center. Position the flower on the top layer square of the napkin and iron to adhere. Unfold the cloth and sew a zigzag stitch around the flower and the center.