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Fabric strips can be used to revamp tea towels

In my studio, I have many bins where I save fabric scraps from larger sewing projects. These baskets are overflowing with colors and patterns, and I’m often finding ways to use up every pretty little piece.

For this project, I was inspired by all the mixing and matching of colors and styles of fabric bits, and wanted to translate that onto something I would see and use every day.

Sewing strips of the scraps in varying widths onto a plain tea towel created a multicolor masterpiece!


•One plain tea towel

•Fabric scraps at least as wide as the tea towel


•Sewing machine, or needle and thread



Begin by gathering fabric scraps that you think look lovely together. They can be a fun mix of florals and geometric prints in many colors. Lay them out to see if you would like them arranged in a particular order. You may decide to only have bands of fabrics on the ends of your towel, or go from top to bottom.

Snip and then rip each piece of fabric so that it’s as wide as the tea towel, and somewhere between 2 inches to 4 inches high, with frayed edges.

Pin one strip straight across along the tea towel, right side up. You can do one at a time, or pin multiple strips at once if you feel more comfortable sewing that way. You could leave a gap of an inch or so between fabrics to see the original tea towel show through, or line them up right on top of each other. You don’t need to turn any of the edges under; the frayed sides add appeal.

Using a sewing machine makes this a quick project and also makes the towels stronger when thrown in the wash. But if you would like to sew the strips on by hand, you can. Simply sew around all four sides of the strips, about one-quarter inch in from the frayed edge.

One great plus in sewing the fabrics on top of old tea towels is that they cover stains or small holes, giving new life to the useful kitchen cloths. You could also adapt this project to the ends of your fabric napkins or to your apron, creating a whole new feel for your kitchen linens.

Dena Fishbein is a designer and artist of home, gift and paper products. Visit her blog at