Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Pattern for Tea Towels

Here is a pattern for blue and white checked tea towels woven in cottolin or nialin. This pattern for tea towels is very popular with my friends.  The yarn is a blend of cotton and linen.  It makes a hard wearing and absorbent tea towel. You can use 8/2 cotton instead.

Weave structure: plain weave
Warp sett: 20 ends per inch
Weft sett: 20 ends per inch.
Number of warp ends: 494 (12 blocks of 40 ends plus 14 ends white on one side and an extra 4 ends on the other).

Make the warp.

Alternate 10 ends of white, then 10 mid blue then 10 dark blue then 10 mid blue.  This is one pattern block of 40 warp ends. Warp 12 blocks for the towel. Finish with another block of white ends to balance the pattern.  I always increase the number of white ends at each side to 14 ends instead of 10. The selvedges of the towel always pull in slightly so this makes the stripe a similar width as the rest of the pattern after washing the towel.

The weave draft

To weave.

Weaving the towels on my loom.

  1. Weave 12 picks with 16/2 cotton in white.  This is for the turn under part of the hem.  Weaving in a thinner cotton makes the hem less bulky.
  2. Using three shuttles and weave as drawn in.  This means weave ten picks white, ten picks mid blue, ten picks dark blue and then ten picks mid blue.  This is one pattern block.  Weave 15 pattern blocks and finish with an extra 10 white picks. The weft is the same as the warp yarn.
  3. Weave 12 picks with 16/2 cotton for the turn under part of the hem.
  4. The woven towel will be about 32 inches in length.

Finishing the towel.  

Turn under the 16/2 cotton stripe and then turn the first white stripe.  This makes the hem.  I use a zig-zag stitch to sew the hem securely.

Make the hanging tags.

I have woven another four tea towels in this design and needed to weave a narrow warp faced band for the hanging tags.  I use my Swedish band loom which can take very long warps.

narrow warp faced band for hanging tags.

I found that I had woven a band of 133 inches.  Only about 3.5 inches is need for a hanging tag, so now I have plenty in stock when I weave some more towels using this pattern.

Cut lengths for the tags.

Sewing the tags.

I always hem my towels then add the woven hanging tag.

Cut about 3.5 inches of the narrow band and iron flat.  Turn over each end and place on the centre of the towel hem. Iron again so that the tag lays flat. The tag should rest on the hem of the towel.

To ensure that the towel tag does not slip when sewing it, you can tack it into place.  If you feel confident about sewing. just pin it and sew.

Sewing the tag onto the towel.

I usually sew the band onto the towel using my sewing machine but you can hand sew on to the hem.

After sewing the tag, the towels are then washed and ironed.

Dimensions before washing.

length after hemming:  30 inches (76.5 cm)                 width:  23.5 inches (59.5 cm)

Dimensions after washing.

length:   29.25 inches (74 cm)                                      width:  22.75 inches (56.5 cm)

Happy weaving.

Durham Weaver June 2014

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