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(Sew) Handy Fridge Towel – A Tutorial

2012 November 6

Before we begin – I know what you are thinking… “She didn’t just make a title with the word ‘sew’ in it – that’s so punny”… But I did! And it is amazing, because I could actually spell words with the magnetic letters I found. Given that most of them are lost, or under the fridge or someplace else I don’t want to think about. So, forgive me. (Though it is possible I may do it again!)

A while ago I was online searching for a tutorial for a towel I could hang on my fridge door handle. The fridge is right next to the sink, so it would be super-handy to have it there. I found a whole bunch of really great stove handle tutorials – the kind where the piece of fabric comes up and over the handle and buttons onto the front. The problem is, that the fridge handle is vertical, not horizontal like the stove handle – so those won’t work.  I came up with this bunny-ear shape.

I have made 6 of them for myself so far and they are really great! Especially if your fridge is anywhere near your sink. Especially if you have kids that pull on towels when they dry their hands. And especially if those towels inevitably end up on the floor and need to be washed – again… This towel has a tie long enough to be made into a knot, and even if you don’t have kids it will never fall off causing you to have to do unnecessary laundry! (Anything to save doing laundry!)

You will need:

  1. 1 bath towel (makes 4 towels), or 1 hand towel (makes 2 towels)
  2. just over 1/4 meter of fabric for the tie portion of the towel (makes 2 towels)
  3. 1/2″ double fold Bias tape – 2 pieces equal to the height of your towel + 2″ – you will need 2 pieces for each towel you are making (Note: you do not need the bias tape if you are using a hand towel)
  4. The pattern piece – here.
I bought a cheap bath towel for $5 at my local Walmart, sized 27″ x 50″. The fabric is Michael Miller – Put A Lid On It. The bias tape was made from Kona Cotton Ash.
1) Print the pattern piece full size (do not select “fit to page”). Fold your fabric and cut 4 top pieces on the fold, as noted on the pattern piece. Make sure that you put the fabric the right way up if it is a one-directional print. Set aside.
2) If you are using a hand towel cut it in half through the middle, the short way. You will end up with 2 square-ish pieces with one raw edge on the top of each, skip to step 5. (Sorry, I don’t have photos to make this using a hand towel.) If you are using a bath towel: Cut the towel in half lengthwise (down the centre the long way) and then cut those long rectangles in half (down each centre the short way) to make shorter rectangles – each with a thickly woven end of the towel to use as the bottom of your fridge towel. (see below photo, ignore the ruler.) 
3) You now have 4 towel shapes, each with a raw edge top, a raw edge side, a finished edge side and a finished thick woven bottom. Now, cut the one finished edge off of the side of each towel piece.  I know this seems like a make-work idea, but if you want both edges to match you must cover them both with bias tape. Do not cut the thick woven bottom piece off!
4) Now, if you used a bath towel – go ahead and make your bias tape (or pull it out of the package!) If you want to make your own here is a good tutorial. I started with 2″ strips and folded each edge into the center, then folded the whole thing in half to get my 1/2″ bias tape. Read the tutorial – it makes more sense! If you did happen to use a 27″x50″ towel, you will need about 36″ (1 yard) of bias tape for each towel. On a side note, I did not cut my bias tape fabric on the bias because we won’t be sewing it around any curves.
Here is what you should have now:
Hooray – the tedious part is done, now we can really start!
5) Iron the bottom straight edge of your fabric up 1/4″ once. Do this for all of your pieces.
6) Place 2 pieces of fabric right sides together, pin, sew around the curved edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance starting at one side, up and down the bunny ears and down the other side to the bottom. Do not sew across the straight edge you just ironed! When you get to the top of each bunny ear stop and pivot the fabric around your needle to make a sharp corner.
7) Clip the top of each ear close to the stitching (1st photo), the bottom edge you ironed up (2nd photo) and clip the curve (3rd photo).
8) Turn the pieces right side out and iron. Set aside – we will topstitch this later.
9) Now it is time to sew on the bias tape to finish any raw edges. (If you used a hand towel skip to step 14 below). Lay one of your towel pieces with the back facing up (right side to the table). Find the end of your bias tape and open it out flat. Pin it (or wing it) with the edge of the bias tape lined up with the edge of your towel. Sew down the bias fold line (should be 1/2″ seam allowance). When you get to the bottom cut the bias tape 1/2″ longer than the bottom of your towel.
10) Now, turn your towel over and fold the bias tape over the edge of your towel to the front. Pin the bias tape to the edge almost all of the way to the bottom.
11) Fold up the extra 1/2″ you left at the bottom carefully and sandwich it between the towel and the fold of the bias tape (see photo). Pin.
12) Sew the edge of the bias tape from the top to the bottom of the towel, insert a tag or folded ribbon in this step if you want.
13) Repeat the bias tape for all of your raw edges.
14) Now, grab a ruler and mark every 1″ across the top of your towel.
15) Make three pleats on each side of the towel, folded towards the centre. (1st Photo shows left pleats only) If you have not used a 27″x50″ bath towel, size the pleats as needed to make the top of your towel 7″ wide. (2nd Photo) If you want you can baste the pleats with a 1/2″ seam allowance and remove the pins – if you hate basting like I do, keep the pins in and move on to step 16.
16) Now, insert the top of your towel 3/4″ into the bottom of your fabric. You should have a towel sandwich with fabric on both sides. The green pins in the photo are holding my towel pleats together, the red pins are pinned through the fabric as well. Make sure that the bottom of your fabric lines up with itself by checking the position of your pins. We are about to sew blindly through the fabric from the top and won’t be able to see the back to line it up.
17) Sew across the bottom straight edge of the fabric 1/8″ away from the fabric edge. Sew slowly over the thick pleats (and the pins!) so you don’t break your needle. Sew a second line 1/4″ away from the bottom straight edge to make sure everything is secure and give added strength.
18) Now, topstitch around the curved edges of your fabric towel top 1/8″ or so away from the edge.
You’re Done, hooray!
Quickly now, tie it to the fridge and enlist someone to wash their hands and try, just try to pull it onto the floor! Now, laugh in delight at the laundry you have saved yourself – really, it’s okay – we can’t hear you!
Update: Find a link to this tutorial on Sew Set! Link here.
As usual, please feel free to use my patterns/tutorials for your personal projects and gifts and for charitable fundraising events. Please do not sell anything made with this pattern. Thanks! Sherri
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14 Responses leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    November 7, 2012

    Great Idea. I should make somebody I know some for Christmas! :)

  2. Janette permalink
    January 7, 2013

    Now that I have a sewing maching (birthday present!), I can make one of these! Do you think it would be okay for someone who doesn’t have a lot of sewing experience?

    • Sherri permalink*
      January 7, 2013

      The only part that might be tricky is when you sew the two parts together onto the towel, and maybe the topstitching? Practice sewing not-straight seams and you’ll be happier with the results. I’m happy for you and your sewing machine – we might convert you yet! Sherri

  3. March 16, 2013

    Thanks a lot ! I loved so much this idea when I saw it yesterday night, that I made one for myself, and will make more of them !
    You can see pictures here !

    http://sewingpot.blogspot.fr/2013/03/torchon-accrocher-handy-towel.html
    See you !

  4. MARIETTA permalink
    March 25, 2013

    Thanks so very much for the tea towel tutorial! I have been looking for one for quite some time, to replace the crocheted ones I had, as I prefer to sew!
    Cheers, Marietta (Brisbane Australia)

  5. Marlene permalink
    March 30, 2013

    Just made two of these. Easy to make and I like these the best of any of done before.
    I think I’ll be making a lot of these for gifts. I made binding to match the tops of mine.
    Marlene

  6. April 10, 2013

    Thanks for this tutorial, I can’t wait to try it out.

  7. Christine Ivy permalink
    July 22, 2013

    This is adorable! So smart!

    • July 22, 2013

      Thanks Christine! Glad you like it. Thanks for checking out the blog :)

  8. October 10, 2014

    Beautiful, Just Whst I need for My Christmas exchange, Thsnks for the great tutorial.

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