S'more Glamping Gear - Unpaper Towels

These double-sided towels will replace the need for paper towels and are super easy to make!

I have slowly reduced the number of disposable paper products that we use both at home and on the road.  In our RV, we use real plates, flatware, and cloth napkins.  Yes, you may be rolling your eyes, but washing dishes or clothes does not bother me.  And these items don't really add to my workload overall.    I finally decided to make a set of towels to replace my paper towels.  I love this set so much that I am going to make a set for home next.  This is a beginner level project that anyone can do, and I'm going to show you how.

S'more Glamping Gear - Unpaper Towels

This cheery camping themed, s'more fabric is perfect for our RV.

First, any project that you complete yourself allows you to customize everything about it.  I wanted to make my towels to coordinate with my decor.  I could also incorporate our love of camping into the design.  I started with s'more novelty flannel and chose a buttery yellow towel fabric for the backing.  The results are just what I had hoped for when I began this project.

The supply list for this project is short.  You need flannel, towel fabric, plastic snaps, and thread.

To make these towels, you will need:
You will need more thread than you can imagine for this project because you will go around your borders three times.  This project uses a LOT of thread.  Second, the prep time for this project takes longer than the actual sewing.  It is an easy and somewhat mindless project, but it will take a little time to prep everything.  Its a great rainy day project!  (or quarantine project!)  

Before beginning any sewing project, always wash your fabric.  This will keep your fabric from puckering and shrinking up later.  Trust me on this.  Don't skip this step!  Also, you could choose to eliminate the snaps all together from this project and just have your towels in a little basket for everyone to use.  I've seen quite a few of these that are made without the snaps.  I wanted to snap mine together for a roll.  There are no rules here.  Make your own.  You can't mess this up!

Step 1

Cut your two fabric pieces into 12-inch squares.  I use a self-healing mat and rotary cutter to help do this.  To get your edges straight, use a straight edge to help you with this task.  I found that this fabric slipped around a bit while trying to get my edges straight.  Take your time.  You can always trim this up after you get everything initially cut.  That is exactly what I did.

Rounded edges make a neater edge, and it is easier to finish.  An ordinary can from your pantry will do the job just fine.

Once your edges are rounded, you are ready to pin the two pieces of fabric (towel and flannel) together to sew around the edges for the first seam.

Step 2

Round your edges.  I used an ordinary can from my pantry and created a rounded edge.  Trace the edge at the corner and trim to create a rounded edge on each piece.  This will make your project easier to finish once you begin stitching.  Straight and square corners can be frustrating on projects like this.  At this point, you will think that the cutting will go on forever.  Hang in there, you are in the home stretch now!

I use the edge of a standard presser foot to line up my fabric for the seam allowance.

Use a straight stitch to go around all four corners with about 3 inches on one side left open so that you can turn them right side out later.

Step 3

Place your wrong sides together.  The toweling will not have a wrong side, so that won't matter as much as your flannel.  Pin together.  I did this loosely with one pin on each side.  Then, go around the edges using a straight stitch.  I set my stitch at about 2.5 mm.  I used the edge of my standard presser foot to give me the seam allowance by matching up the edge of my fabric to the edge of my presser foot as I went around.  Leave about 2 to 3 inches on one side open for you to turn it right side out.  You will want the opening to be in the middle of the side where you leave the opening.  Closing all corners.  

After you have sewn around the edges with a straight stitch, go back around the edges with a zig-zag stitch closely to the original straight stitch.

Step 4

Now, zig-zag around the edges.  I stitched close to the first seam with a mid-width zig zag.  I set my stitch closeness to about 1.5 mm for this.  Again, stop and leave the amount of width to turn right side out.  

Step 5

Clip any extra fabric around the edges trimming close to the zig-zag stitch.  This will keep you from having a lot of bulk on the interior of the piece when it is finished.  

The edges, when turned right side out will be neat with the rounded corners.  Now you are ready to go around the tops one last time with a top stitch to close each towel completely and seal the seams.  

Step 6

Turn the piece right side out and pin the open side closed.  Be sure to push the corners completely to the edges so that the fabric is turned completely to the edges all the way around.  If necessary, pin each side to ensure that your top stitch in the next step lies close to the seams on the interior.

I made a narrow stitch all the way around the towel.  Again, I used the presser foot as a guide for my seam allowance.  I used the opening in the presser foot as my guide for a narrow allowance of about 1/4 inches of width all the way around.

The finished result of the topstitching leaves a professionally finished edge all the way around that won't ravel.

Step 7

Now you are ready to stop stitch all the way around the piece.  You want to be close to the edge with this step.  This will give a nice clean finish when you are done.  Repeat steps 3 - 7 for each piece until you are finished with stitching each piece.

The snap setting tool will take some time to learn and figure it out, but it is quick work once you get going.

Place the flat cap with a little sharp point on one end through the fabric.  Align this with the black cap on the presser tool and top with a snap and press closed into the fabric with the tool.

Step 8 (you could skip this step)

I used plastic snaps for this project.  I didn't want to sew them on, and I felt this would give a better look when I was done.  If you have a crafty friend that has a tool to set snaps, you might want to borrow one.  I purchased one because I like to craft and could see myself using this tool more than once.  Again, skip this step if you don't want to snap together and roll them up.  It is entirely up to you!  Make this project your own!

You will set snaps on each of the four corners paying attention to how you are going to attach each one.  I attached two pieces in one direction and then set the next two pieces in a different direction.  I connected each towel to the next as I worked to ensure that I would have everything fitting together correctly when I was done.

The snaps allow you to connect each piece together in one long roll.

There is a bit of a learning curve to using this snap setting tool.  You will need to ensure that you have the correct pieces on your snap setting tool for the size snaps that you have.  Setting pieces that are too small will break your snaps and not connect them correctly.  Read your instructions thoroughly for this.  I had to put in a different snap cap setting piece for the size 20 snaps I had.  Once I had this fitted correctly, it was smooth sailing.  But I broke a few pieces before I got the hang of it.

Done!  Now you have a set of towels that you can have on your towel holder and use them over and over for cleaning, spills, and wipes.  The flannel is nice and soft and the towel side is absorbent.  It is the perfect combination for this type of project!  Because I chose to use a novelty fabric for this, the fabric cost a little more.  However, paper towels are not cheap, and you can burn through a lot over a year's time.  So, whatever you invest in making these, you will save over the life of this product that you have made.

I was also able to just roll them up and place onto the paper towel holder that I have.  I didn't use an insert or cardboard tube.  They just fit onto the holder independently.

I loved the finished project and how each piece snaps together to fit onto the roll in one consecutive piece!

And, if you don't want to make your own, grab a set on Etsy!  There are several shop owners that have this project readily available.  But, if you are crafty and want to make your own, you certainly can.  I enjoyed this project.  This is a perfect project for learning how to sew or for the beginner.  If you are in the midst of homeschooling kids right now, make an excellent "home economics" lesson! 

I can't wait to use these when we begin camping again, but until then, I'll be using them on our weekend driveway camping excursions.  No matter where you are or how you are spending your time...

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Board.