Handwritten Dish Towels

Before we dive into the tutorial of how I made the most awesome Handwritten Recipe Dish Towels ever for Mother's Day, let me preface this post by saying I get zero, ZERO, credit for this brilliant idea.  The original idea came from the Spoonflower Blog.  And it was Allison that brought it my attention when she asked for a little sewing help last Christmas so she could make these for her mother.  I gladly helped and also filed the idea away for me to use later on. Spoonflower, if you're not familiar with it, is a website that allows you to create your own fabric from anything you upload.  It's pretty much the coolest thing ever.  I'm trying to figure out what all I could make from my own personalized fabric. 

Anyway.  This brilliant idea was to scan old recipes, print them onto fabric, and then sew them into usable dish towels.  And, to make it more memorable, I chose recipes that were written in my grandmother's handwriting (another suggestion from the spoonflower blog).  Getting my hands on these old recipe cards was definitely the hardest part.  I had to sneak into my mom's kitchen while she wasn't there.  I had no idea how I would get some from Doc's mom but, as luck would have it, he actually ended up traveling there the week before Mother's Day and I was able to put him (and his dad!) to work sneaking around her kitchen.  Operation: Steal Old Recipe Cards was a success!

The next step was to get them all scanned in and resized to the right measurements.  Special thanks to Allison for her help on this step so I didn't have to try to sneak back into my mom's house to use her rickety old scanner.  After they were turned into digital files, they just had to be uploaded on the Spoonflower site so they could be printed on fabric.  Detailed instructions for this step can be found here.  If you're smart, you'll plan ahead so you'll have plenty of time to order your fabric and wait for it to come in with plenty of time before you need to give your gift.  Don't be like me and wait until the week of to get it done.  Trust me, you'll pay an exorbitant amount to have it rushed. 

Moving along.  Here's how the fabric looked when it arrived.  Each yard - I had five total - had four different recipes printed on it.

Here's a close up of one of the quadrants.  My grandmother always wrote recipes on this same pad of paper - from the bank she retired from - and I love it.  I love that not only are they in her handwriting, but her hometown and where she worked are printed on there too.

Doc's mom's recipes were almost all on traditional recipe cards.  We didn't do any touch-ups to them after scanning them in, so every smudge and drop of ingredients that are on the actual paper recipes are printed on the fabric recipes too.

First step to turning these into dish towels was obviously to cut the four recipes apart.

I had already purchased five yards of white terry cloth to use as a backing so they'd be extra absorbent.  After cutting the four squares from the first yard, I placed them face down on the terry cloth and cut it out too.

Then I just did a simple stitch all the way around (except for leaving an opening to turn it out) to sew the two together. 

Here's how they looked after that first round of sewing and turning them rightside out.  Quite a wrinkled mess!

Thankfully, they easily ironed back flat.

The last step was to top-stitch all the way around to give the edge a more finished look.

And voila!  Done!

Here is one of the towels I gave my mom folded over so you can see the difference in the two sides.

Up close, you can see the top-stitched edge.

Here's one that I gave Pat that was on a recipe card.  Just looks like a giant card now!

Some of hers were two-sided recipe cards, so instead of adding terry cloth to the back, I just sewed the two sides of the card together. 

I like this one of hers too.  It was written by Anna a few years ago.  I love her little kid handwriting!  My mom has lots of recipe cards that I wrote out for her when I was little...wish I'd thought to scan one of them for her!

I love this one too even though I cut off some of the words in my sewing.  Looks like it's gotten lots of use in the kitchen! 

Each of the women - my mother and mother-in-law - received a stack of dish towels for their kitchen. 

I think they were both really surprised and excited about the gift!  I know I loved them.  I might've kept two with my grandmother's handwriting for myself.  :)  I've seen them out in my mom's kitchen the last couple times I've been over there so I know she's already put her's to use.  The best part is, I think the fabric will get even softer and more absorbent the more they're washed.  Gotta love a gift that gets better with age!