Un-paper Towels

PicMonkey Collage

Remember how one of my “before 40” goals was to stop using paper towels and make a re-useable variety?
Well, I finally forced myself to get them made. They were really easy to crank out, which makes me wonder why I drug my feet on this for so long.
(Maybe because the thought was lurking in the back of my mind that it would create more laundry…)

Despite the dreaded laundry pile, I like the idea of going paper-less for a few reasons:

  1. Less waste.  I’m not a die-hard environmentalist or anything, but I do think we should each do our part in recycling as much as possible and cutting back on waste where we can.  (I also believe in the community trash pick-up day, ahem, Jerm.  But that’s another story for another day…)
  2. They save money.  Obviously, they negate the need to buy paper products.  Self-explanatory.
  3. They’re pretty!  Hello!

These are seriously super easy to make.  You’ll need the following:

  • 1 yard terry cloth
  • 1 yard cotton or soft flannel (I used flannel)
  • Velcro or snaps, whichever you prefer
  • Sewing machine, scissors, thread, etc.

I cut my squares 10″x10″ and was able to get a dozen from 1 yard of fabric.


With right sides together sew all the way around the square, leaving a small opening to turn right side out.

Turn out, iron flat, and top stitch around the entire square, making sure to close the opening at the same time.

I sewed a squiggly line in the center of each square to help hold them together in the wash.

Add snaps (or velcro).  I chose snaps, because I was concerned that velcro would eventually not stick after being washed a few times.  Add snaps to each end of the square, matching the pieces so they’ll snap together (hopefully the photo helps make sense of this step).


Roll up and enjoy your pretties!  I rolled mine around an old paper towel roll and hung them up on my dispenser.  Love them!

April 2013 042

(I’ve got to admit, I don’t know what I was thinking buying light-colored fabric.  My brain must have been on vacation that day; I’m sure they’ll be awful looking in no time.  Ah well.  You win some, you lose some.

Parties I link to: Craft-O-Maniac, Sew Can Do, Sew Chatty, C.R.A.F.T., Making the World Cuter, Skip to My Lou, Chef In Training, Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Sugar Bee Crafts, Funky Polkadot Giraffe, Todays Creative Blog, Tip Junkie, Mandy’s Recipe Box, My Girlish Whims, Handy Man, Crafty Woman, Sew Much Ado, Ginger Snap Crafts, Southern Lovely, House of HepworthsThe Crafty Blog Stalker, A Glimpse Inside, Delicate Construction, Tidy Mom, Thirty Handmade Days, Tatertots and Jello, Flamingo Toes, Six Sisters Stuff, Naptime Creations, I Heart Naptime

30 thoughts on “Un-paper Towels”

  1. veddy veddy interesting! I don’t think I could live without my paper towels…but I am sure I would amaze myself to find what I could live without.

  2. Cute!! I just have a bunch of terry cloths that I use instead of paper towel. Although I think this would be a fun accent to my kitchen. Stopping by from Tidy Mom. I would love for you to stop by my cleaning blog here.

  3. These are so great! I really need to get on the bandwagon and make some. I love the fabric you used! Thank you for sharing! I’d love to have you visit me at Get Your Crap Together! We have a Pattern Party with free patterns from the 1st of the month to the 10th that I’d love for you to check out. See you soon!

  4. I think this is a wonderful idea and thank you for sharing. However, I think your math is off. A half yard is 18″ and most fabric runs 45″ wide. You could get 4 10×10″ squares from each cut that size with some sizable (but not 10″) scraps left over; any other towels you made from the scraps would not yield a size uniform with the other towels. Cutting 9×9 squares would yield ten squares from each piece, not a dozen.

    1. Thank you for pointing that out – I’m not sure what I was thinking! It was a yard of each; I will make the correction right now. 🙂

  5. Very clever! We are a cloth diapering family, but still use paper towels. I’d love to try something like this to get us away from paper towels. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  6. Love this idea – I am always looking for ways I can painlessly do my part and reduce/reuse. And they’re adorable as well!

  7. They’re so pretty, I’d hesitate to use them 🙂 I should mention, however, that I tried going paper towel/disposable Swiffer/sponge-less for a few months – only to discover that my laundry water usage was more and didn’t offset the savings 🙁

    1. I used the snaps that you hammer together since I don’t have a snap tool. They were very inexpensive and easy to put together.
      Your towels are very cute – love your fabric choice!

  8. Very cool idea. I love that there’s still the ease associated with a paper towel roll on the counter. It’ll take me a while to convince my husband to go paperless but this might be an easier transition.

  9. I love these! I’m just curious, where is the cheapest place to find fabric to make them? I swear my Joann’s and Michael’s are SUPER expensive! Would somewhere online be a better choice?

    1. I looked around and found that using a coupon at JoAnns was the least expensive place to purchase the fabric for me. The terry was around $10 a yard and I used a 50% coupon when I bought it. The flannel is often on sale for $2-$3 a yard at JoAnns, so the overall cost for the fabric was about $7-$8. When you factor in shipping cost, it would probably be hard to beat that price while shopping online.

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