Guest Post: Handprint Dish Towel Tutorial

By happy coincidence, my mom's and my mother-in-law's birthdays are within a few days of each other. So guess who runs out to the store at the last minute and finds not one, but two gifts? In the spirit of what Anne calls "yesterday's thriftiness inspires today's better living" (and I call "limited budget = time to get crafty"), this year's perfect gifts were to be handmade items, composed of things already lurking in my craft room, inspired by the moms' almost-2-year-old granddaughter. By another happy coincidence brought about by my extreme procrastination, the absolute last day I could mail these wonderful, handmade birthday gifts and expect them to arrive during the birthday week, was a day Anne's children were spending the morning at our house. So I decided that we would have a group craft time, have some fun, make lovely dishtowels for everyone, and still get to the post office before 4:30.

As I said, the materials needed for the project were already on hand, and chances are you probably have them on hand too. I used plain white flour sack dish towels (which, by the way, is why I thought of making these for the Flour Sack Mama herself), acrylic paint, something called textile medium, and some fabric scraps for the ruffles.

Here's what you do:

1. Paint the handprints on the lower edge of the dishtowels. I wish I had pictures of this to share, but with three children under 5 who had paint all over their hands, I was afraid to turn around and pick up the camera! The most important part here is, regular acrylic paint will not stand up to multiple washings and dryings. Since this is a dishtowel (and I always make my projects to be used), this isn't practical. To make acrylic paint more washer-friendly, all you have to do is add something called textile medium, which is a liquid that is sold in the craft store right next to the acrylic paints, and for about the same low price. Specific ratios for mixing the paint and textile medium are printed on the bottle of the textile medium.

2. Allow the paint to dry (and clean up the kids, too).

3. During nap time, make the ruffles. I used fabric scraps between 3 and 4 inches wide (they truly were scraps, so exact measurements didn't figure into the equation), and 1/3 to twice as long as the bottom edge of the dishtowel. Join several lengths together if necessary, but make sure the entire strip is of equal width. The ruffles are basically a bias tape, which I pleated, but you could just as easily create a true ruffle.

4. Fold the strip of fabric in half, lengthwise. Press. (Or if you're lazy like me, finger press.)

5. Fold the edges of the fabric in toward the middle crease on each side, creating a long, double-sided strip. Press.

6. Before you attach the ruffle, tuck under 1/2 inch of each short end of the fabric strip to create a clean finished edge.

7. Attach the fabric to the bottom edge of the dishtowel. I made a small tuck about every inch or so, and secured each one with a pin. Sew the ruffle to the towel using a straight stitch, backstitching at the ends.

And there you have it! A lovely gift for grandma, or a friend, with an even lovelier reminder of how small and precious those little helping hands really are. Don't you wish that everything your kids put their handprints all over would look this nice? As a final touch, I wrote each child's name and the date in the bottom corner of the towel. My thought is, next time I'm desperate for a birthday gift, I'll make these again and say it's part of a series showing how those little hands have grown.

Thanks to Siobhan Warren for this guest post.  Her family living blog is called Wee Warrens.

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