This is the last stop on the Christmas recap train (I think... I'm not very organized about this).
We have five nephews under the age of six. They have more toys than you can imagine. So, I try to give other kinds of presents (art supplies, books). This year, for some reason, I had an unstoppable urge to make hooded towels. (Might have had something to do with the huge kick J gets out of wearing one each evening...) So I made one set as an experiment, tweaked the measurements a bit, and then got Mama's Little Sweatshop up and rolling just before Thanksgiving. Fortunately, I took a lot of notes (after leaving the first set of measurements in the towel aisle at KMart).
Materials: towels, washcloths, and some cute flannel (1/4 yard per towel). You need an extra towel to cut up for the hood. For five boys, I actually needed two extra towels. Preshrink everything first! The towel will almost certainly shrink at a different rate than the flannel, so if you don't preshrink them, you'll get some obvious puckering after the first trip through the dryer.
I used a denim needle (2026, size 100/16) and all-purpose thread. Didn't seem to need a walking foot, though if your towels are insanely thick, you might want one. I think the terry and the flannel had enough friction between them to stick together in between pins -- there wasn't much creep. (Perhaps another benefit of preshrinking, since it washes the slippery stuff out.)
The towels I used happened to be 28.5" wide, and the washcloths were 12.5" wide. They had woven bands near each end (two 2.5" high bands for each towel, and one 1.5" high band for each washcloth), which I planned to cover with a strip of flannel.
Your measurements may vary! I turned under about 3/8" all the way around for the towel and washcloth strips, so I cut two 29.25" x 3.25" strips for the towel and one 13.25" x 2.25" strip for the washcloth. Yes, 3.25 is greater than 2.5 + 2 x 3/8. When I made the first one I found that the woven band kept sneaking out, so I made the strip a little wider and stuck with the 3/8" hem.
The hood is also trimmed with flannel (not lined, though you could certainly go there!), so you'll need a hood template:
Because I am lazy, I used a single piece of newsprint to trace both the front and back pieces of the hood, even though the front piece is 1" shorter than the back. Just fold up the bottom inch when you trace the front piece (or cut two different templates). The dart here is 3" deep, but I think it could have been even a bit deeper, and certainly could have been wider.
A note on seam allowances for the hood pattern: The curved edge of the hood includes a 1/2" seam allowance (or so). The bottom edge does not need a seam allowance! For the front, you'll bind the raw edge with a wide strip of flannel. For the back, be lazy like me, and place the template along the already-finished edge of your sacrificial towel:
Now you just need to cut one more flannel strip for the hood binding. I made mine 14" x 3" (including roughly 3/8" hem allowances along the long edges). It ended up showing about 1.25" to 1.5" high on the front of the hood. It really doesn't matter how high you make it, since it's not going to cover anything up, so relax and don't worry about cutting it too large. The bound edge eats a lot of height.
Press the seams under on all four sides for the towel and washcloth strips. Press the long edges under on the hood strip. Note that on the binding edge (on the right), the hem is a bit wider and is folded over twice (like bias tape).
Pinning time! I did the towel and washcloths strips first just to get them out of the way. Lay a flannel strip over one of the woven bands (right sides up) and start pinning in the center of the strip, working your way out to the edges. Then stitch as close to the edge of the flannel as you can manage, making sure to catch the turned-under hem.
I pinned and sewed the towel strips one at a time, just to keep from getting stabbed by a pin while wrangling all that extra towel. Once the woven bands are all covered up, you can move on to pinning the hood strip. Pin the binding edge to the wrong side of the front hood piece, making sure that each pin goes through all the layers of fabric (2 flannel, 1 terry, 1 flannel).
Sew the binding edge -- I ran the needle right down the middle of the road, making sure to catch the turned-under flannel and the terry all the way down. Then flip the hood front over and pin the top edge of the flannel to the terry. Sew it down just as you did with the towel strips.
Almost done now... time to pin and sew the darts (right sides together) on each hood piece, then pin and sew the hood pieces (right sides together). Make sure to preserve the 1" flap at the bottom of the back piece (don't worry about the raw edges at each end of the curve). For these seams I ran a straight stitch first and then went over it again with a wide zigzag. I haven't a serger and terry is too bulky to turn under twice (especially for something that's going on a child's head!), so this is lazy lady's serging.
Final assembly! First, fold the towel in half lengthwise and mark the center with a pin:
Next, pin the hood to the towel, matching centers. The hood should overlap the towel by about an inch. Be careful to turn under the raw edges at each end of that overlapping region.
Stitch the hood to the towel along the bottom flap (two short edges and long prefinished edge). Mind you don't catch the front of the hood!
Then flip the whole thing over and stitch down the edge of the towel, on the inside of the hood.
J came in just in time to help with the last bit, and to model. He only does action shots though.
That's it! Honestly, it took longer to write this up, than to make a towel set. By the end of it I was cutting the pieces out assembly-line style, then pinning, then sewing. It seemed to go faster that way... and I was able to put five sets of towels in an extra suitcase and check them through on our flight to visit the grandparents and cousins. (Hooray for Southwest's humane baggage policy!)
If anything is unclear or weird, please let me know. Happy toweling!