“How do you finish your towels?”

Hello, friends. This week a nice lady and fellow weaver who follows me on Instagram recently cut her first completed dishtowel cloth from her loom. She asked me how I finish my handwoven towels. We went back and forth via Instagram “replies,” and a few other people chimed into the discussion. I thought I’d write up a summary about how I finish my kitchen textiles here.

First off: I’ve tinkered with hemming handwoven cloth for over twenty years, but my method may or may not work for you. Maybe you prefer to hand sew all of your hems, and if so, good for you! I machine finish all of my hems for kitchen towels and other items that will receive heavy use.

1. While weaving my towels, I always separate hems with two picks of cotton in a contrasting color. This gives me a good cutting line.

2. After removing dishtowel fabric from the loom, I machine stitch the raw edges. You can do this one of two ways: use a zigzag stitch or use a straight stitch. I typically use a straight stitch set at a length of 2.6 on my Janome. If you would prefer to cut long lengths of toweling apart before laundering, I recommend machine stitching all raw edges. Most of my dishtowel warps are between 10-12 yards long and while sometimes that cloth ends up in a jumble, I’ve never ended up with anything that a hot iron can’t fix.

Towel fabric prior to laundering.

3. Machine wash your cloth. I toss into the washing machine with regular detergent and a color magnet sheet and use warm water. I use the “speed cycle” on my machine. We’re on a well here in our New Hampshire rural home, and I am mindful of how much water I use.

4. Machine dry. I usually set mine for a regular cotton cycle. Note: CLEAN OUT YOUR LINT TRAP AFTER DRYING!

5. Get your iron good and hot and then press across those contrasting color picks (from Step 1) before cutting your towels apart. Pressing here first gives you a nice line for cutting.

6. Press up your hems according to your preference. I like to turn under my plain weave hems twice (did I mention I always weave hems using tabby?) so that the hems are disguised on the underside of the cloth.

Press up hems by folding under two times. Pin, then stitch!

7. I machine stitch my hems using a 2.6 stitch length. Also, if you have one, I recommend a walking foot attachment. I really like how these prevent layers of fabric from shifting around during sewing. Everything seems to stay aligned better, which is nice.

8. Trim up your threads and admire that spiffy hem.

A tidy hem that will last.

So there you have it. Feel free to submit any comments about how you finish your kitchen towels here! We weavers can always learn something new from each other.

Be safe & well,

Kate K.

2 thoughts on ““How do you finish your towels?”

  1. My method is very similar to yours. I was hemming towels yesterday and discovered that I can set the location of the needle a bit left of centre (like my politics, ha ha.) This makes it easier to sew a hem using the general purpose foot. I use a tailor’s awl to gently push the upper layer of fabric under the presser foot when it seems necessary. I generally avoid hand sewing hems on functional items as I feel a machine sewn hem is more robust. I also always line dry but that’s for personal preference reasons – part to reduce energy usage and part because washing smells nice fresh off the line. Thanks for sharing your method and for inviting comments.


  2. I agree with you – line dried clothing and linens are lovely. My favorite things to dry on the line are sheets and pillowcases! Thank you for sharing your tailor’s awl tip – this is a great idea. Happy weaving!

    Liked by 1 person

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