DIY Reusable “Paper” Towels

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In general, we try to be diligent about minimizing our impact on the environment – reduce, reuse, recycle, and all that good stuff. But I have a confession to make – I’m a horrible paper towel waster (although I do buy recycled paper towels, at least!). They’re just so easy. But I keep seeing these reusable towel rolls and figured they shouldn’t be toooo much more of a pain than regular towels, so I decided to finally suck it up and make a set of my own.

Supplies for 12 towels:
  • 1.5 yards terry cloth (you should be able to get about 9 towels per yd)
  • 1.5 yards cotton fabric or whatever you want to use for the top layer
  • Plastic snaps & snap pliers
  • Sewing machine, thread, pins, scissors, & measuring tape


I didn’t have snap pliers, but I figured it was worth getting a set since I’m sure they’ll come in handy in the future. I got the Dritz Babyville Boutique Snap Pliers, which I found in the baby section of Joann’s – they were less expensive (around $12 with 40% off coupon) and just seemed more simple than the other options in the actual snap section. They were super easy to use, and I kind of want to go around the house putting snaps on everything now!
Anyway….begin by cutting out 12×12 squares. I found the terry cloth difficult to cut evenly, so I erred on the side of making those larger since I wasn’t necessarily cutting them very evenly.

Here are my stacks of squares…

…which are also comfy kitty beds, apparently. In contrast, our pup preferred the uncut fabric.

So back to the directions… Stack the two pieces inside out, with the terry cloth on the bottom and the pretty side of your other fabric facing down. Mark out an 11×11 square and pin the pieces together.


Sew along the square, but leave a 2-3″ gap along one of the edges (not in the corner). If you’re like me and have lots of excess on your edges, cut off the extra fabric around the edges once you’re finished sewing. Turn the fabric inside out through the hole you left, then sew up the hole on the outside.
Now for the fun part – snap time! (Ok, maybe I’m the only one excited about the snap pliers). Before starting, make sure you have the right plan for applying them. I planned it out but made the mistake of grabbing the wrong piece once – those suckers are seriously hard to take off! This was the plan I used – if you stick the outside stitching on the side that has the connector side up, the overlap from the towel it connects to will hide it. I wondered if I needed to measure out the distance between snaps to make sure they matched up appropriately, but didn’t end up doing that – I just snapped them in the corners and it worked fine.


(Please excuse all the fur on my towels!)

Then just keep on going till you have a full set and snap them all together. I made 12, but 11 are pictured because one was dirty already.


I do eventually want to add a tube to the middle – right now I just have them wrapped around my paper towel holder.




I’m not gonna lie – They are going to take a little getting used to. When I first spilled a few drops of something, my thought was Am I really going to use a towel just for that little bit?, which then led me to think I’ll probably have an ‘in use’ towel that I use a few times when there are a few little drops to wipe up. I’m also not sure where I want to store the dirty ones – I think I want to get a little basket with a lid to keep right in the kitchen for the used ones. I’m also curious to see how they hold up – the white definitely makes me nervous that they’re going to stain quickly. But despite my concerns and things to figure out, I’m happy with how they turned out, and very happy not to be wasting so many paper towels!

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