Friday, March 9, 2012

Hooded Towel Tutorial

If you sew, this is seriously the BEST gift you can give to a person with young children! Carla, a real life friend, gave me one for Micaiah when he was first born and I have LOVED it! When a friend of ours threw together a girl's craft night, I asked Carla if she would PUH-LEASE teach me how to make one and let me share the tutorial with you! She claims that this is the outcome of three put together tutorials, but I told her that EVERYONE re-invents the wheel and that we all know it is HER secrets that make this such an awesome tute for you! Carla makes these for all her friend's babies, so she knows a thing or, too!

The reason why this hooded towel tutorial is so awesome is because it uses a WHOLE towel. I really got annoyed with those tiny hooded towels that people give as gifts (sorry, it's true), because it doesn't take long for your baby to grow out of them! When you need something bigger...make these!

To get started, you will need:
  • One whole towel and one hand towel (Room Essential towels at Target are cheap and AWESOME for this project and they last a long time, too! Seriously! They also have lots of good color combos or stripes, too!) 
  • Matching Thread (don't just use white... make sure it matches, so it is hidden). 
  • 1/4 yard of coordinating cotton fabric (my fishy fabric is from Jo-Anne's! isn't it cute!? Carla picked it out! I love it!)
  • Other sewing essentials (machine, scissors, etc) 
 Let's get started!

Lay out your HAND towel, folded in half and cut a little less than half. Set aside the larger piece... you won't need it anymore. So, in fact, you could get two hooded towels out of ONE hand towel if you needed to. And if it is for an older child, you could in fact use exactly one half or even a little larger if you want a bigger hood. Cai is almost 18 months. If it were for a 5 year old, I would probably used half or a little bigger than half sized piece.
Now, you should have just the slightly smaller hood piece like so.
Fold this piece right sides together so that the sides you just cut are on the same side together and pin a couple times to keep it together. 
You are ready to sew this part together. Start at the hem of the hooded towel and sew one straight stitch 1/2'' in.
Then, zig zag stitch along the raw edge from the hem to the end where you just sewed. Flip it over and do one more zig zag stitch down this side and lastly, to one more straight stitch over where you just zig zagged the 2nd time. This completely reinforces it, since you will be washing it a lot.

Unfold your hand towel piece like so:
Next, take a pin and pin about 1 inch down from the pointy part of the hood.
Sew a straight stitch across where you just pinned, then, cut off the pointy tip.
Now, do the same zig zag method you just did to this little part. Zig zag, flip it over, zig zag again, then straight stich over the zig zag stitches you just did to reinforce.
Now you have your hood piece for the most part! You really could stop here and just attach the hood piece to the towel and have a hooded towel, but that's not cute and you know it!

Next, grab that cute cotton fabric that you love so much and let's make the bias tape for around the front part of the hood. Cut a piece that is 26'' x 4.5''.
 Fold this piece in half and iron it down. It's important to iron it down, so IRON IT DOWN!
Open it up and fold one side in to touch the crease you just made with the iron and iron it down.
Then, take the other side and do the same thing. Fold it in to touch the crease and iron it down. (This is how you make a bias tape piece if you didn't know already).
Now fold it in half again and iron one more time. That's your bias tape trim!
Now grab you hood piece and your bias tape piece you just made.
Turn your hood back to normal and fold your bias tape in half length-wise. See how your bias tape is longer than your hood piece? That is good. You want some to hang off at the ends.
Now you want to pin your bias tape trim to the front of your hood. Make sure the very end of the hem of the towel is touching the very center of your fabric, so that the bias tape is sandwiched over the towel. It's a bias tape towel sandwich! haha!
This next part is kind of hard to photograph, but you want to sew a 1/2'' straight stitch all the way around the front of your hood piece and you need to start about 1 inch from the bottom hem of the hood.
See you want to make sure you start up high enough, even 1.5 inches up, so that you can eventually fold and tuck in the bottom of the fabric under.

Now, cut off about half of the over hanging bias tape on the end of the hood piece.
Now, if you look closely at your towel, you will see it kind of has a hard knot where the hem has already been folded over.
You actually want to tuck under the bias tape, so that the edge or end of your bias tape lines up with right under that knot. Iron and pin this down so that it won't move when you sew.
Now, start sewing where you finished sewing before, remember 1 - 1.5 inches up from the bottom hem of the hooded towel, but this time START there and sew TOWARDS the bottom hem. It makes a difference. Otherwise, your foot will push the fabric and it will wrinkle. (These are Carla's special secrets!)
And when you get to about 1/4'' from the bottom, turn your towel to make an L.
Now, do one more straight stitch, but this time RIGHT along side where your other straight stitch is, but right along the very edge of the fabric, almost touching the towel, but not. This will make sure that the fabric won't flip up or act funny when you wash it. If you don't care, I guess you could just skip it! I turned and made another L, again.
 See the L and how closely stitched it is to the edge? 

Now, you are almost done! Your hood piece is complete! Next, you want to grab your whole towel and put a pin in the center of your towel to mark the middle.

Fold your hood in half to find its center and then lay it down on your towel piece and pin it with the hooded towel natural hem on top of the towel natural hem.
Sew a straight stitch sewing the two pieces together! If you look closely you can see that the towel already has some thread keeping the hem together... you could just follow that as a guide if that helps.

Celebrate with your sweet friend, because she is awesome to let me share this with you!
You have a cute towel to use daily, take to the pool, or give as a gift!

Look how many cute options there are, too!? Are these not adorable!?
All photos from and

Want to personalize your towel with your child's letter?
 If you want to personalize your towel, you can do a big matching fabric applique to the back of the towel. This is not part of the tutorial here (SORRY!). I didn't really want another one so specific for future children, but I am contemplating doing this part in another tutorial if you really want! The one Carla gave us that is ALL Micaiah's has an M on the back. It's a great touch and a good way to use up the remaining 1/4 yard that you have left over. Plus, it helps you differentiate if you have more than one child! There are a lot of applique tutorials out there on the web. You would just need to trace your letter on your fabric and Pellon Wonder Under, iron on, zig zag around the edges to keep it from fraying...not hard and it makes it super cute!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Thank you, Carla, for letting me have it for DBS and for teaching me how to make these awesome hooded towels!!! I know everyone is going to love them!!!