Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Q: When is a square not a square?

A: When I've sewn it.

As I mentioned the other day, all the child-related doing and re-doing has me wanting to do something that stays done. And, ta da! I acted on this urge by sewing a bunch of hand-drying squares.

Hand Towel Squares

Ada's school, like most places that deal with children, is concerned about germs. Ada often talks about how this or that "spreads germs" (though I have noticed this doesn't worry her when she wants a lick of my ice cream cone). The school is a typically Portland eco-friendly, so rather than replace a single cloth towel with lots of paper towels, the school bathroom features a basket of cotton squares on the counter. The kids wash their hands, then grab one or two squares to dry themselves.

Recovering from a cold as I am, the squares got me thinking. I realized that once we get into helping  Ian and Mira routinely wash their hands, we will have five people drying their hands on the same towel. Most of the time this is okay, but as I have direct experience with the lackadaisical hand-washing effort of the average child I thought it might be a good idea to give everyone their own squares. This will help avoid a germy towel spreading colds from one person to another in our house.


I have a ton of cloth scraps left over from various projects, several of which I grabbed for this effort. I looked briefly for a tutorial before realizing making these squares is so straightforward that instructions were probably unnecessary. Just in case you are interested in making this and are a novice sewer, here is what I did:
  • I wanted large-ish squares, so I cut out rectangles that were 7 by 14 inches. This gave me a half inch seam on three sides (so I would have a 6x6.5 "square" when I was done). I could have measured 7 by 13, but I am lazy and it was easiest to have the long side be double the short one. 
  • I folded the cut rectangle in half with the outsides touching. I then ironed the squares (okay, most of them) because the fabric had gotten wrinkly sitting in my fabric stash. 
  • Next I sewed along the three open sides, but left a gap on the third side so that I could turn the squares right side out. I even clipped the corners so that they would lay flat, although this is a little fussy for something that is for hand-drying. (Stephanie would be proud of me, I am sure.)
  • Finally I sewed a zig-zag stitch around the whole square. This closes the hole left in the previous step and makes the little squares look so snazzy. Using contrasting thread is nice. I used orange for some of these, and a yellow that is a minor color in the cloth once the orange ran out. 

Oh yeah. I cross-posted this over at Did You Buy That New? because Debbie sweetly asked me to start posting there again, and I can not resist a curly-haired girl.


    1. They look perfectly square to me!! A great idea. I'm thinking about sewing a few of those, too. Someone in this house (and I won't say who...) sometimes thinks that "wash your hands" means "wet your hands with a bit of water and then rub the dirt into the fluffy white towel next to the sink". That fabric is very pretty.

    2. I like these. Are they made of flannel?

    3. I like these very much, but I'd feel much more comfortable if you referred to them as "quadrilaterals". Can we be sure that you have right angles, even? It would have bugged me more had you not clipped the corners, though. :)

    4. These are SO COOL. I love it. Hand towels are big time germ transmitters... so these are extra good and healthy, too!

    5. I am in total awe of you and those squares are gorgeous!