Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hooded Baby Towel

I know it's been a long time. This summer has turned out to be busier than the school year. I'm not promising anything miraculous, but I'm just going to start sharing some of the projects and activities we've done this summer.

Earlier this summer I made a few baby gifts. This is my go-to gift (along with baby soap and shampoo) because I love them so much and feel that homemade is so much better than storebought. When I had my second baby, a neighbor gave me a homemade hooded towel. It was 100x better than the cheap, thin ones I had from the store, and much better than the hooded towel I had made for my first using a washcloth for a hood. This towel stayed on her head better and wrapped around her better. The trick is to use a hand towel for the hood instead of a washcloth. I looked at what she had made and found it was so easy to copy. I made subsequent towels for my other children, and they used them for years. I had to take them away from my youngest, or she'd still be using it at age 9.

Let me show you how. . .
The hood takes 1/2 a hand towel, so I usually make 2 at a time. Gather the 2 bath towels and 1 hand towel and take the tags off the hand towel. Baby doesn't want an itchy tag in their face.
1. Start by folding the hand towel in half and cutting it straight across.
2. Then serge (or zig zag) the edge to prevent the towel loops from fraying everywhere.
3. Set one half aside for a second towel, and fold the remaining half in half, serged edge to the finished edge. Don't worry about having the two edges flush - the give in a towel makes it so they won't line up. It's okay, they don't need to line up. Focus on the now short edges. That's what needs to line up. Notice in the picture I have the serged edge just short of the finished edge. It's not really necessary, but will make the edge 10x easier to sew and serge, later.
4. Next, on the folded edge, measure in 5" and pin.
5. Now draw a line (or pin, or eyeball, however you need to mark it) from the pinned point to the corner of the serged edge. This is where you will sew.
6. (Sorry about the blur, I don't have the best camera.) Now sew on the diagonal line, backstitching at the beginning and the end.
6. (con't)Here's where it becomes easier if you didn't line up the edges exactly. Sewing this corner (and especially serging) is hard if you have to go through so many layers, and can bog down your machine. I broke several needles before figuring out I could avoid that corner. Look closely at where my seam is ending. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 with the other edge.
7. After sewing both corners, serge off the outside triangle, or trim and zig zag. You end up with this:
8. Turn the hood inside out and measure (or fold) the halfway point of the serged edge. Mark with a pin. Measure the halfway point of the body towel and mark it with a pin, as well.
Next you'll be pinning the hood to the towel. Make sure you pin the right side of the hood. The wrong side is this one with the seams:
9. Match up the 2 centers and pin the right side of the hood to the towel. Now, towels do have a right side as well, but most people don't pay attention to it. If you don't care, don't worry about it. If you're giving this as a baby gift, or notice things like this yourself, the body towel has a tag on it. Consider that side the wrong side. I always place the tag on the inside and make it the bottom of the towel.
10. Now you're going to make a pleat. Start on the left side of the middle pin. About 1/2" from the pin, fold the towel towards the middle pin, then fold it back at the middle. This makes a 1/2" pleat. The picture shows 2 pleats, one to the right and one to the left of the middle pin.
11. Make 2 more pleats, each about 2" from the last, on each side. I use my fingers to measure, and I've done this enough I can eyeball them to be evenly spaced. If you need to, use a seam gauge and measure so they're the same distance apart and the same size pleat.
Pleat on both sides of the middle. Make sure that the pleats on each side are facing the middle. So, on the left, you fold right, then left. And on the right of the middle, you fold left, then right.
12. After pinning the pleats, stretch out the remaining hood and lay it along side the towel. Pin the ends down. The end of the finished edge of the hood, the part just past the diagonal seam, will lay down along the edge of the towel as if it were part of the serged edge.
13. Now sew the hood to the body of the towel, backstitching at the beginning and the end. Sew with the pleats facing up and go slow so you can take out the pins and make sure each pleat is laying flat.View of the inside of the hood:
View of the outside of the hood, and finished pleats:
All rolled up, tied with a ribbon, ready to give:

Now, sometimes, I like to add a ribbon or lace to the hood, especially if it's for a baby girl. If I already have a towel sewn, I'll add the trim by folding the edge under and sewing it on the hood right at the end of the fluffies, starting at the seam where the hood meets the body of the towel:
But if I know I'm putting trim on at the beginning, I'll sew it on the hood before I pin the hood to the rest of the towel. This towel will be for my next new niece, and I'm adding a bright pink ric-rac. Sew the trim (ribbon, lace, or ric-rac) on right after step 7.
There's no need to fold the ends of the trim over. They'll be sewn into the finished seam between the hood and towel body. Cut the trim flush with the edges of the hood. Then continue with step 8.
And here is the finished towel with the trim:

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