Sewing Projects for Vintage Tea Towels

My grandmother gave me a couple of her old, calendar tea towels the other day.  When I was growing-up, she always had one hanging in her kitchen, so I was excited to get them as they have happy memories attached to them, but other than folding them up and putting them in the linen closet, what could I do with them?

After playing with them for a bit, I decided I could make a couple of pillows from one and a tote bag from another.  I’m very pleased with how both projects turned out. 

There are a lot of tutorials on the web for creating a tote bag from tea towels, but most of them just have you fold it in half and sew up the sides.  Because my tea towels have calendars on them, I didn’t want the image to be upside down on one side so I cut one of the towels in half, made sure both sides had the images in the proper position, and then sewed them together.  I’m thinking I might give it to my grandmother for a Christmas gift.  I know it seems silly to give someone something they had given you, but I think she originally gave me the tea towels because they were just rotting in her linen closet.  Now that it’s a tote bag, she can enjoy a piece of her past and use it when she goes on shopping trips.

The pillows I’m keeping!  I think the bird illustrations look like they might be in an Anthropologie store don’t you?  The tea towel was really too long to make into one pillow, so I split it and made myself two. I used Bari J’s Art Journal fabrics to complete the pillows.  The colors and bird & nest designs matched my tea towels perfectly and modernized them without taking away their vintage feel.

Now, go run and find some old tea towels and get sewing!

9 Responses to Sewing Projects for Vintage Tea Towels

  1. Cindy says:

    Oh my goodness, those are so cute! I’m a big fan of tote bags, and I especially love the tote with the fabric “flowers”. And the fabric you used coordinates perfectly. Nice job!

  2. Those are darling! I have some from my grandmother too. *digs through drawers* They’re here somewhere…and when I find them, I’m making some of these.
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  3. I L.O.V.E. this project. (Saw it over on Craft Gossip.)
    My grandmother had tons of these towels. A new one every year. Hopefully, Mom kept a few!

  4. Natalia says:

    I really, really love these! Thank you for the great ideas!

  5. I am born in 1972 so I really love these!! I recently picked up a 1972 tea towel at Value Village in perfect condition. I hope to make it into a pillow. I love your project.

  6. Carmen says:

    Fabulous!! Totally totally cute!

  7. Chica1000 says:

    Great ideas. I think I might try this with one of my grandmother’s pillow cases.

  8. kandeland says:

    these are great! love the idea!

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