I wasn’t expecting this from an old towel…

I wasn’t expecting to be asked for sweatbands.

I mean, does anyone ever really expect their youngest child to request such a thing?

But such a thing was requested, and as such, I did my best to oblige…

Using some wide elastic, liberated from my grandmother’s stash, and an old towel with a hole in the centre, I cobbled together perfectly adequate sweat bands. Or at least, the small child seemed happy with them. But that’s not really the end of the story.

I was left with the rest of a very bald towel. And I hate throwing away fabric, even when it is as ancient as this.

I honestly don’t know how that hole got there…

This came at a fortuitous time, though, because my knitted dishcloths look like this…

Massive holes all round.


I decided to do what anyone would do – I cut up the remains of the towel for dishcloths.

I started off by cutting through the hole, then by cutting those halves into quarters. Luckily everything came out pretty evenly, but you cut your cloth according to what you have…

I ended up with 8 good sized dish cloths. Despite the baldness of the fabric, though, I found that the edges were pretty prone to fraying.

So, out came the sewing machine.

I started by folding each edge over twice, but this was a lot of fiddly work, and it all got very thick on the corners. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue for the Jones, but I’ve run out of ‘period-correct’ fully round needles so I’m down to modern ‘organ’ needles. These work, but have slightly different proportions so the machine tends to struggle to catch the bottom bobbin on thicker projects.

I abandoned the double fold for a single folded hem and this worked just as well in stopping the fabric from disintegrating.

Double fold on the left, single on the right – not a huge difference.

When it came to the cloth which had been right next to the hole, I just made a slight detour with the presser foot and everything came out ok…

It’s not perfect, but honestly, who cares when it’s a dish cloth?

And that’s really all there is to it. It took around 20 minutes from start to finish to make 8 cloths in total (but would be faster on an electric machine). These are also 100% cotton, so whilst 20 minutes of time vs 85p for a pack of 5 dish cloths isn’t a huge financial saving, it does prevent plastic microfibres from entering the water system, and it’s one fewer towel destined for landfill at the end of its life.

What do you do with your old towels? We used a lot as packing material when cleaning out my in-laws house so we have many, and only one dog to use them on! I’d love to hear any suggestions!


6 Replies to “I wasn’t expecting this from an old towel…”

  1. Brilliant. I like the idea of using towels for cloths, I chopped up a old bath sheet for my boys to use as small towels when we camped a couple of years ago – that saved space packing and they were much easier to dry. I tend to donate old towels to the vets or the animal shelter when they are beyond usefulness for the family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a brilliant idea – there are so many dog walkers around here and I’m sure some of them would appreciate some towels for after rainy walks 🙂 Thanks!


  2. Great re-purposing – and I always love seeing your beautiful sewing machine, it reminds me of the old Singer I used to have. Sigh. Our old towels are always so thin they make good general purpose rags for DIY and round the garden. Some years ago, I used a couple to make fillers for washable sanitary pads with envelope covers made from old brushed cotton PJs. Worked a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I would love a Singer! They don’t need the fancy needles my Jones does 🙂

      Washable sanitary pads are a brilliant idea – I found a tutorial for how to make some that are ‘built in’ to undies and fancy giving them a go, but I need to get one of the machines that does zig-zag stitch serviced before I can 😀 (http://alltheunderwear.sophiehines.com/diy-period-panties-sewing/ it’s this tutorial, in case you’re interested) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had one with a handle to start, then an electric. There was such a solid feeling to them both and I swear the stitching was far superior to the modern (Brother) I have now . . . but, trying to find attachements for simple things like zig-zag and buttonholes was a nightmare so I crumpled in the end!


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