Reusing old towels to make new clothes is a creative way to reduce waste and give fabrics a new life. With some basic sewing skills and imagination, you can transform leftover towels into stylish garments.
Selecting Towels for Upcycling
The first step is choosing which towels to upcycle. I look for towels that are still in good condition without holes, stains or excessive pilling. Terry cloth and cotton towels tend to work best for sewing clothes.
Towels made from natural fibers like cotton and bamboo are ideal because they sew and fit nicely. I avoid using ultra-plush or very thin towels, which can be tricky to work with.
For children’s clothing, lightweight hand towels or washcloths work well. Bigger bath towels are suitable for adult-sized garments. I pick towels in fun colors and patterns to add flair to the final pieces.
Preparing the Towels for Sewing
Before sewing, some preparation helps transform the towels into fabric ready for clothes-making.
First, I wash and dry the towels to preshrink the material. Sometimes I bleach white towels to brighten them up. For thorough sanitization, I might also soak towels in vinegar.
Next, I cut towels into usable fabric pieces. I fold towels to visualize where to make straight cuts for consistent widths. I use scissors, a rotary cutter or utility knife to cut towel material.
To soften the texture, I wash cut towel pieces again. Then I iron them on the highest setting to flatten and smooth seams for easier handling.
Sewing Clothes from Towel Fabric
With the towel fabric prepared, I’m ready to sew it into wearable items! Some designs I’ve made include:
I sew basic tees and tank tops using a pattern or draping the towel fabric on my dress form. Towel fabric creates casual, flowing tops with unique texture.
Tunic styles or asymmetric cuts flatter the irregular drape of towel material. For more structure, I interface towel fabric with iron-on interfacing.
Dresses and Skirts
Cutting towel fabric on the bias creates flattering drape for dresses and skirts. Using a pattern helps achieve the right fit. For maxi skirts, I sew together long strips of towel fabric.
Elastic waistbands work well for casual skirts and dresses in towel fabric. I also smock and gather towel fabric to create girly dresses with cottagecore style.
I upcycle towels into hair scrunchies, headbands, tote bags, yoga mat bags and other accessories. This repurposes small leftover towel scraps.
Towel fabric also makes cozy blankets, pillows and pet beds to decorate my home. The absorbent texture provides comfort and durability.
Tips for Sewing Towel Clothes
Based on my experience, here are some top tips for working with towel fabric:
Use tightly woven, good quality towels – they’ll sew up nicer.
Prewash and prep the fabric – don’t skip this important step!
Choose simple patterns without too many pieces or fiddly construction.
Use a ballpoint needle and polyester thread for best results.
Increase seam allowance to 0.75″ – 1″ to accommodate the bulk of towel fabric.
Grade and clip seams, trim corners and use a walking foot – this prevents tunneling around seams.
Use towel’s stretch – cut on the bias or incorporate smocking and elastic for better fit.
The Benefits of Towel Upcycling
Sewing with towel fabric allows me to:
Reduce textile waste – old towels are reused instead of tossed out.
Save money on fabric for new clothes and accessories. Towels are often free or cheap.
Create unique, eco-friendly designs that can’t be found in stores.
Express my creativity through DIY fashion – I design all my own towel clothes.
Learn and develop my sewing skills by working with a new type of fabric.
With a pile of leftover towels, some basic skills and a dash of creativity, anyone can transform old towels into fashionable new clothes! It’s a fun and earth-friendly way to refresh your wardrobe.