Tea Towels – Not Just For Doing The Dishes

Tea Towels

I picked up these two tea towels for £4. That’s some fun printed cotton for novelty makes such as bunting, wash bags etc. Way cheaper than on line purchases of quilting cotton fat quarters. Seriously, guys, keep your eyes on the tea towels!

Do you have other tips about unexpected sources of cheap and fun fabric?

I have one complaint with these. The tea towels have the 38 Routemaster going to Glasgow. Everyone knows the furthest north they go is Clapton Pond. (Unless there is more than one number 38 bus in the world. Tell me it isn’t so!)

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31 Responses to Tea Towels – Not Just For Doing The Dishes

  1. KristiEllKay says:

    Yes! My red Charlotte skirt is made up of a sheet and a curtain (lining & ruffle), both of which I bought at a thrift shop for a total of $6! It made me feel so dumb for having just come from the fabric store where I spent $40. Next time, I’m hitting up the thrift store BEFORE the fabric store.

  2. Chris Butler says:

    What a great idea. Tea towels are pretty expensive here in France, so I’ll be packing up my suitcase next time I’m in the U.K. Looking forward to seeing everyone’s creations. Keep up the great work.

  3. Sam says:

    No unexpected sources for fabric to share, but I do want to know where you got those teatowels. We’re redecorating our kitchen at the moment and I’m desperate for new fun teatowels when we’re finished – not least because my husband has used most of our current ones as painting rags!

  4. Maureen says:

    I would love to pick up some of those tea towels as well, when I come to England for my family reunion in June.

  5. Sewingjen says:

    I find some great soft furnishing fabrics – am currently making bags from a London print which was £7.99 p m and meant for curtains, also some great beach hut fabrics – I live close enough to visit Terry’s Fabrics but they have a great website. I would also like to know where you for the tea towels

  6. Sabs says:

    I got a pair of thick cotton curtains (the biggest width and drop there is too) for a fiver! I made my very first dress out of one curtain and have the other one in my stash, I’m not sure what to do with it at the moment… I’m hoping your “right fabric, right project” mantra will ring true for me!

  7. nessahux says:

    There is a route 38 bus that goes from Paisley to Glasgow, so you can console yourself knowing it is at least a genuine picture and not just a mock-up print. Great find by the way! I go to charity shops and buy duvet covers for a £1 to use as toiles/muslins – but recently I’ve found two gorgeous floral duvet covers that will be made into proper summer dresses!

  8. Oh my goodness, so cute! I also pick up placemats and sew them together for sturdy tote bags. Crate & Barrel usually has some really nice prints each season.

  9. Those tea towels are lovely! I’ve heard using curtains is a thrifty way to get lots of gorgeous fabric, but for smaller items (like bunting and wash bags) scarves can also prove handy.


  10. Funnygrrl says:

    What a great post! Especially the comments! Picking up all kinds of hints and tips.
    Wish I had some to share…

  11. rosyragpatch says:

    I’ve made clothes from duvet covers – they often have interesting patterns. Also, just wanted to say thanks for the Walthamstow Market info – on Saturday I spent my birthday money at the stall outside Sainsbury’s….

  12. Two teatowels make an awesome cushion cover too. You don’t even need to cut them up, just fold the ends in whatever way you like! 🙂

  13. Dixie says:

    Those are the cutest towels! It will be fun to see when they reappear in a different form.

  14. Judith says:

    I bought those towels too. Planned to make a couple of shopping bags. Haven’t done it yet. Tea towels also make good bunting. Another good source of fabric is men’s shirts, but I’m sure you know that. Enjoying your blog.

  15. suth2 says:

    Some cushions made from tea towels http://suth2.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/kiwi-cushions-by-kirsten/ My daughter bought them when she was in New Zealand. Her house decor is retro.

  16. Jo says:

    Belgium doesn’t have that many good second-hand shops (or can anyone correct me?? Please do!) so I tend to keep a lookout for interesting fabric in high street locations – kids’ pillowcases/duvet covers often have good prints, and you get good yardage for the price. And then there’s always Ikea, – their blankets and bedlinen are good sources of prints or interesting textures, and a lot of their fabric by the metre is great. They had brilliant stuff around Christmas this year, not overly seasonal but very nice. Plus it’s the cheapest place to get decent fleece (in blanket form). None of it as good as your tea towels though! I have tremendous trouble not bingeing on stuff like that every time I go back to the UK…

    • grtescp says:

      If you don’t know it, Berger on Rue de Caserne in Brussels (near midi station) has an incredible variety of reasonably priced fabric – lots of cotton prints for 3,50€ in the basement, and good priced fleece… I try not to go too often, I always come home with a million ideas!

  17. One of my very first projects when learning to sew was making an apron out of a tea towel – just turn it so the long side is horizontal across your body, sew some basic quiliting cotton ties on the side and you’re done! Great beginner project. I look at the stiching now and shake my head but they are the best for half aprons – what hold up better to washing and drying better than a towel?

  18. silvia says:

    Did you take the 38 Geary bus in San Francisco last year? It goes from Downtown (and right by Britex Fabrics) all the way out to the Pacific Ocean in one of those super long-bendy in the middle buses. When I was a young thing on the 38 bus and you could still buy live food animals in SF Chinatown, a lady got on with a chicken which subsequently escaped her bag. It ran around the bus and the driver got on the PA and said “ma’am, control your chicken”. Srsly. Best bus ride ever.

    Love the tea towels and wan to see what they become!

  19. When I was a kid, I had a blouse made from two teatowels sewn in something approaching a kimono top, I guess. My sisters each had one, too. Quick and easy, surprisingly colourful and idea for a hot Aussie summer.

  20. Shelly says:

    I’ve thought of many other thing to refashion but I have to admit that I haven’t thought of tea towels. What a great idea! I’ll certainly be looking out for some great ones to use. Can’t wait to see what I can find.

  21. Elena Wright says:

    Love the tea towels – so cute! I always scour charity shops for old sheets, pillowcases, etc. My Banksia is made from a sheet I found in Oxfam for £2 🙂

  22. Lucym808 says:

    I’ve always wondered – why are fat quarters called fat quarters (could probably Google it, but it’s more fun this way).

    And as for making stuff out of other stuff – haven’t you read Gone with the Wind? Scarlett O’Hara was the original upcycling seamstress! (Or at least, Mammy was, sigh).

  23. grtescp says:

    Love those towels, so typically England! Can’t wait to see what you make with them. We have a bus 38 in Brussels too, takes me from home to the European Parliament, the airport bus, and then I think carries on down town…
    My favourite alternative use/upcycle is making wallets from plastic placemats!

  24. anne jewell says:

    does anyone besides me shop linen outlets for odd sheets? if the tops/bottms don’t have a mate, they are priced very low. i have made dresses, quilts, curtains

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