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If you read my blog regularly, you may know that I am a huge fan of being zero waste. I love helping to save our environment by cutting down on wastage. Did you know that we throw away so much paper each year in the form of paper towels? With this in mind I decided to make some frugal, waste reducing reusable kitchen roll. Or paper-less towels. An eco-friendly alternative to traditional paper towels.
*This is a collaborative post – for more details please see my Disclosure Policy
*This post has been updated – it was first published in February 2019
Reusable Kitchen Roll – How To Make UnPaper Towels
A little while ago I did a whole series of posts on Lagom. This is the Swedish concept of reusing and recycling and reducing waste. I hate throwing away old clothes, and love to repurpose them (like in my post New Clothes From Old). Even tiny bits get used (like in my Rag Rug making or fabric scrap posts).
But one of the best ideas I have come across is how to repurpose old towels and terry cloths into these reusable kitchen roll towels. So you have an old tea towel with a hole in? Don’t throw it away!
I am going to share two ways of making them.
You will need
- An old towel (or terry cloth)
- Some cotton fabric, either new or from old clothes
- a rotary cutter and cutting mat (which I find best for cutting even squares, though you can do it with scissors)
- a kam-snap kit ( sharp hole tool and kam snap pliers)
- a ruler or quilting cutting square
- a sewing machine or a serger/overlocker. Find a great sewing machine for quilting.
Method 1 – using the overlocker
Using the rotary cutter and measuring square, cut the old towel into squares (mine were 9 inches square). And do the same with the top fabric.
Take a square of towel and a top layer and put them WRONG sides together. This means that the right sides of the towel are facing outwards.
Overlock (serge) all four sides of the assembled towel.
And then to strengthen the towel and prevent it from bagging in the wash, sew a straight line diagonally from corner to corner.
These are really quick and easy to make, but you may think that they look a little less refined. And what if you don’t have a serger?
Well here is how to make really neat and pretty unpaper towels.
Method 2 – using just a sewing machine
For method 2 I cut out my squares exactly the same way using a rotary cutter and measuring square. This time I used terry cloth.
Pin the upper and lower layer RIGHT sides together this time. And mark on one edge a 2-3 inch gap. This is where you are going to start and stop sewing to allow to turn it inside out.
Sew around the edge of the pinned squares, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide. I made sure I did a few backstitches at the start and end where I had placed the dots. This means that a 6mm seam allowance is used. (You can use more, but I wanted to keep these towels as close to the size of the other towels as possible)
Once I had finished at the second dot, I clipped the corners close to, but not into, the stitching. If you have done a larger seam allowance I would cut it back at this point to 5mm or so, but I didn’t need to do that.
Turn the whole thing inside out so that the right sides are on the outside one more, pushing out the corners as much as possible. And give it a good press, so that the edges are crisp.
Where the turning gap is, make sure that this gets a really good press.
Then sew a topstitch about 3mm from the edge all the way around the edge of the towel. This serves to make the towel edges crisp, but also seals the gap in the edge where we turned it inside out earlier.
Again, sew diagonally from corner to corner, as this stops the towel from getting misshapen and baggy when it is washed.
Attaching the Reusable Kitchen Roll Together
You can leave these towels and just fold them or present them in a box. Lots of people don’t want to use fastening as they are concerned that it will scratch surfaces, but I personally have never found that, so this is how to attach the kitchen roll together.
I made 4 of each type of towel.
Attaching them together is where the Kam-snaps come into play. Using the sharp tool, you make a hole in each corners of each towel.
To the left 2 corners of each towel, you attach a Kam-snap with a female attachment on the cotton side and the smooth part on the towelling side.
to the right two corners, you attach a Kam-snap with the male attachment on the towelling side and the smooth part to the cotton side.
Thus the reusable kitchen roll will fit together and slightly overlap.
These are so useful to have as they can all snap to each other. I like to roll mine up on the towel stand just like a regular roll of paper. They can be washed again and again, and you can just keep clipping them back on once they have been washed.
Love these? Why not make some unsponges to go with them? A great zero waste kitchen swap alternative to bacteria breeding scrubbers.
Reusable kitchen roll is also a great gift idea. How colourful are these? Why not pin this for later and make your own reusable kitchen roll?