Reusable Paper Towel Tutorial

Reusable (Unpaper) Paper Towel Tutorial.

UPDATE 15Sep2016, Sadly I am no longer selling these in my Etsy shop.

These have gotten quite a bit of love on facebook and pinterest so I thought I would make a quick tutorial.  I’m always looking for practical gifts and projects.  This is a great sewing project to pass a little time, letting you play in your fabric stash all while making something practical and useful.  

Supplies (for one towel)
Basic sewing supplies
Cotton print, 11.5 x 11.5  
Terry cloth, 11.5 x 11.5
Plastic snaps and the assembly/installation tools update: I got my snaps here.

Coordinating thread 


Cut out your fabric, try to get the pieces as square as possible so your towels wont be all wonky. This can be difficult with the terry, as it does stretch, so just be patient with yourself.  
Placing right sides together pin the terry cloth and cotton print together.  Sew (3/8 inch allowance) all the way around the towel, being sure to back stitch when you start and stop. 
 If you feel more comfortable with a larger seam allowance go for it, just be consistent so all the finished towels are the same size.  Leave a 2 inch opening on one side for turning. 
 Trim the corners to remove some bulk (which I forgot to photograph sorry), at this point you might also want to trim the edges if you used a larger seam allowance.  Through the 2 inch opening turn the towel right side out, push out the corners and tuck in the “flap” of the opening. 
Almost done!   Iron it very well, pressing the seams flat.  To give the towel a nice completed look top stitch 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around.  This will also serve to close up the 2 inch opening.  
Next install the snaps, two female down one side and two male on the other side.  ….and done!  
 Now go do it five more times and you will have a full set.   
snapped together set
Or comment that you think I should start an Etsy shop, cause I need more to do……. UPDATE:  see the top of the page for the link to my shop!



125 Replies to “Reusable Paper Towel Tutorial”

  1. Wash before you cut, that way you won't have all the fussy unraveled edges to deal with when you are sewing. It will save you time with ironing too.

  2. Hi there,
    Do you recommend pre-washing and drying the fabrics before cutting into pieces or should I cut the fabrics into pieces first, then pre-wash and dry?
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. Bella – Pure genius! However, you are correct not everyone's towel rack is the same size. I have one that is narrow and another that is a rubberized pressure do-dad.

    Deirdre – Two pieces of terry finished in the same as listed in the tut would do well. Alternatively you can do one piece of terry and serge the edges if you are okay that the terry will work through the stitch getting a little messy after a while.

  4. Early on, people were commenting about securing the set to a roll. I'll admit that I did skim a bit (119 comments is quite a handful!) so hopefully this isn't redundant. If it is, I apologize in advance.

    A tube with the matching fashion fabric, that slides over the dowel, with two receptive snaps in the right places, should anchor it nicely!

    Cut 1 strip, 11.5 inches, as wide as the diameter of the dowel, plus 1 inch. Hem narrow ends. Install snaps in center, matching the placement on the hand towels. French seam long side and turn.

    The only trouble is, not every paper towel holder is the same size. So, perhaps the DIYers can make their own but for the etsy shop, the "tube" can be wrapped with velcro to allow some leeway for size differences? I don't know…just thinking aloud. 😉

  5. Julie – You're to sweet. Perhaps its time to get a sewing machine and have the best hobby ever! Keep checking the shop, they may how up again.

  6. Thank you Denise, I am trying to get something back in my shop, anything really. I love to sew and share. I'll make an announcement when I get it back up and running.

  7. I sure wish you still made these. I don't sew, don't even have a machine. I LOVE this idea for several reasons.
    First, I think it would be neat to choose colors and prints that go with decor.
    Second, I have extremely dry and thin skin. I'm 63 and along with being dry no matter how much I spend on creams,I always get skin tears which are so painful. Using paper towels just makes my skin even drier.
    These are so awesome!

  8. @ Mary.

    I typically make six to a roll, it seems to fit just right on the paper towel holder. I'm sure you could use fleece if you would like, I recommend looking for something that won't pill. Happy sewing!

  9. Hi! Not sure if you're responding still, or if these have been asked/answered before, but I have a couple questions..

    How many would you make for a roll? 4-6?

    Also, do you think fleece would be a good sub for either the absorbent or the cotton side? I've got more fleece remnants and I'd like to use them.

    I think this pattern and even the suggestions are so brilliant!

  10. @ Ashley, I get very antsy too! However, with the terry cloth and cotton print shrinking differently I really do recommend pre-washing. It doesn't have to be a long full cycle in the wash, if that helps with your patience. 🙂

    @ Lana, I love love love to shop for fabric….so anywhere I can find it really. The blue print in the tut came from Jo-Anns. I think the bright colored one was amazon so it could have been from just about anywhere. My favorite online shop is!

    Happy sewing all!

  11. Love this blog!! Just wondering where you get your fabric – especially the colorful print? Thanks for posting this blog… sew on!

  12. These are amazing!! So glad I found your blog. I was wondering where you get your fabric at… more specifically the colorful print in your photo? Thank you for this! Sew on!

  13. Anon – I use the standard size that they carry. I have used the longer ones for other projects but they dont come in as many great colors!

  14. Anony 1, I'm sure magnets would be easy to grab but I had a little chuckle thinking about them stuck to the inside of the washer and dryer. 🙂

    Patty, what a great idea to mathc the curtains. Love!

    Brandy, I top stitch which adds stability. Most of the 3 snap jobs I have seen are serged on the edges. However if you want three go for it.

    Anon 2, I put six to a roll but I think you can use as many as you like.

    Everyone – Happy sewing!

  15. I had read somewhere that 3 snaps was preferable for stability. You only have 2….is three overkill?

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am all for saving money and the environment. About to make mine with fabric that matches my kitchen curtains!!

  17. I am thinking about making both sides terry cloth and sewing magnets into the corners… not as cute and a little more expensive (50 for $6?), but possibly easier to grab. Has anyone tried this? I'm wondering if the magnets I'm looking into would be strong enough for two layers of terry cloth…

  18. Miranda – That is awesome that your grandmother still sews at 93!! I bet she can show you lots of great tricks. I don't see why the metal snaps wouldn't work, especially if that's what you already have. Happy sewing!

  19. Thank you for sharing this! I am glad I found it after wanting to make mine because we really don't have the money to buy them right now! I haven't bought paper towels in a few months and just been using washcloths for my lil girl…same concept but would be great to have these 🙂 I am going to try and tackle them this week…Do you think the metal snaps would work ok? My grandmaw (93and still sews) gave me her snap press and I used for mama cloth so I don't see why they wouldn't?

  20. Don't just kid about reuseable toilet paper. I make our own. Just cut up old t shirts instead of throwing them out. I keep them in neat pile in a nice basket. Then i keep covered bucket to put used ones in. You can't imagine the money it saves especially with a big family.

  21. I love this idea. I didn't have the snaps so I just made some up and put them in a basket on my counter. We are trying to go more "green" in my house. Plus I have so much fabric (I admit it I have a hard time not buying fabric or throwing any away!). My daughter (11) and I are going to do some for a craft fair along with other stash busters, we are even thinking of an esty shop. I need to do something to offset the cost of all her music trips with school.

    Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

  22. CSI Girl –

    I am so glad you found the tut and enjoyed it. As for care – wash them with your other towels, or just your regular laundry. Yes they will get slightly misshapen and will have some wear but they are ment to be easy. They should last a while before they need replaced. I have a friend with a set of six that she has washed pretty regular for about a year and a half.

    Christine – These are a great way to use up extra scraps of fabric!

    Happy Sewing Ladies!

  23. Okay now this has got to be the coolest idea ever. I've got tons of fabric pieces around my house and this would be a great way to use them without wasting them. Killer idea. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Love these! Thanks for inspiring so many of us!
    How do you wash these after use?
    Hot water, soap and the throw in dryer?
    How long have these lasted for you?
    Now, I am off to your Etsy Shop!
    Thanks so much!!!

  25. Oh man I just got so excited seeing that you have an Etsy shop. I hope you restock soon, because I am no good at sewing and will definitely be buying!

  26. This is such a great idea! I just made a bunch of cloth napkins and home-made shopping bags. I will be making these for me, and gifts for my family! Thank you for the clear instructions, all for the greater good of the planet!

  27. Thank you for the great posting! I just made my first one and was excited on how easy it is overall. Now to get the rest of the roll done. I wanted to add that I purchased a Babyville Boutique snap set(Pliers were $20 and snaps were about $8). It took me a few minutes to figure out but it works great! I got it at Joann's in the baby diaper making section. Thank you!!!

  28. @ Pam – Thanks for the feedback. If the snaps don't suit your needs, thus having no advantage to you, then continue to skip them!

    @ The Lady and Jenny Lynn – Thanks for the feedback.

    To All – Happy Sewing!

  29. Nice tutorial. I do have a comment concerning the use of snaps on the towels. When your hands are wet and/or nasty from some activity, how do you unsnap a towel and not dirty the other towels on the roll or drip everywhere? I often snatch a paper towel off the roll with one hand in order to do a quick cleanup. I don't see how unsnapping the towels can be quick or easy. I have made these previously but added no snaps (or anything else) to connect them. They are kept on the kitchen counter where they are easy to reach and to grab one as needed. Just wondering about the ease of use with the snaps…..

  30. Anonymous. You know I never even thought about buttons. I honestly don't care to sew buttons, however I bet they would look really neat. Hmm Funky vintage kitchen fabric and old shirt buttons……

  31. Susan- sorry it took me so long to respond. It always a good idea to wash your materials like you will the finished product. I pre wash everything in hot water, and toss it in the dryer. hope that helps.

  32. Please sell these!!! I would buy at least four!!!! I dont have the time or materials to make these but i looove them!!

  33. One thing I changed was snaps to Velcro. While Velcro can get beat up much quicker than snaps, the quick rip off the roll comes in handy! 🙂

  34. Great tutorial !

    Someone mentioned a plastic sleeve. You might try the PVC pipe from the hardware store, its sturdy for multiple uses, can go through the dishwasher and you might be able to use the PVC glue to attach the snaps.

    Good luck with your business

  35. Maggie, Yep! That's what i started with. I got the white snaps and then one of the mixed color sets. Your are on the right track. Happy sewing!

  36. Hi Eliza!!
    Thank you for the blog tutorial on these, I LOVE them! I have a question, do you think this is a good purchase to complete the project? I've never used snaps before and I want to use the ones you've recommended, it seems cheapest to bundle it and get it all together? I'm not sure how many snaps I will use or need but I know I can find other uses for them! So this is what I was going to purchase for the project:

  37. Hey Carla – I use the standard size snaps. The longer ones would work if that's what you had they just don't come in as many fun colors.

  38. Hey Christina, good questions. I purchase one yard each of Terry cloth and the cotton print. Fold the salvage edges together and cut two strips 11.5 inches long, perpendicular to the salvage edge. Cut each of these strips into three squares. You will have extra fabric and could get away with less than a yard but i like to save the extra for other matching kitchen goodies.

  39. Awesome tute! I have a couple questions – how much fabric yardage do you purchase to make a set of 6 towels? And second, do you purchase terry cloth fabric, or do you buy like bath towels to make your kitchen towels?

  40. I plan on making these for Christmas gifts, but plan on giving several bundles with different holiday fabrics….Valentines day, 4th of July, Back to school, Halloween, Christmas….and don't forget, fall, winter, spring and summer colors. A festive kitchen year round.

  41. @TMOM You're are very welcome for the help, anytime. I think you will be very pleased with the KamSnap products and customer service

    As for time….if everything goes smooth i can make a set of six in about two hours i guess. I try to make four sets at once and this seems optimize my time and the process without over whelming me.

  42. @ TMOM I used the pliers and didn't have any issues. The KamSnap people (see link above) have some great starter kits that come with pliers, snaps and an awl. Hope that helps.

  43. I am going to try these but it means investing in the snapping press/pliers. Question: do you think the pliers would work for this kind of project or do I need to invest in the heavy duty press?

  44. Pam, I used a #20 snap. Just be aware if you get your snap tool from KamSnaps it will be assembled with the #16 holder and will need to have the #20 one put on. It comes with everything you need there is just some part switching required.

    I am getting very excited about opening my shop! Thanks!

  45. Eliza..
    So did you use a #16 snap for these or a #20?
    I can't wait to make these!!
    Thanks for the idea!
    And the ETSY shop!!

  46. Thanks for the awesome pep talk Tawny. In regards to the feature sounds great. If you don't mind I'll get in touch with you through your Web site. It would be nice if you would wait for new to launch an etsy shop. 🙂

  47. Wow what an amazing job! I love the finished product and the tutorial! You should for sure open up an ETSY shop! Just be ready to make a ton of them and stop as soon as it isn't fun anymore! It's the worst when your fun turns into work. I would buy these for sure! I sew but it's always nice not to have to do the work for such an awesome project! These would be the best house warming gift, ecspecially for the Eco friendly type! I always feel so guilty using all of this paper towels and I think this is the bet solution! Again awesome job! Would you mind if I feature you and this tutorial on my blog?

  48. @W.G.C. I say do what you want! If you don't want the frayed edges…. I have seen these done wrong sides together and the edges are serged instead of turning. That would keep the edges from unraveing. If you don't have a seger there is sure to be a stitch on your machine that would do the same thing.

    I opt for the method in the tutorial because it's a personal preference. I like the process and the clean finished look. Again, do what makes you happy!

  49. I was wondering if I could skip the "turn it right side out" step? I know that the edges would get fringy, but I HATE turning things, so if I can skip it….

  50. @gone for a walk. Thanks for the feedback. Even as a not great sewer i bet you could give them a try and be pleased with your accomplishment! However, I'll post my shop when its up and running! Thanks again.

  51. That's a great idea! I really love the snaps, even if you're just using a couple of same-type cleaning cloths (says the not-great-sewer), and the snaps, it's super! and yes, if you opened that on etsy, I'd be trying to figure out how many sets I should order 😛

  52. I think $52.00 is a good price. $1.00 a week? Would I use the roll up once a week if you had them, hmm, maybe? Costco price is $25.00 for a 15 pack of Bounty paper towels. Plus, I have the sewing skills of a 7th grader, so doing this project neatly would cost me a lot of hours, not to mention the snaps & snap tool investment. Good for the original Etsy seller if she can get that price for them, I think they look worth it!

  53. @Sara – they have tuts on the Kamsnap site that might help you with your snap machine. And yes- pricing handmade goods is a tricky. Its easy to apply the cost of materials. However time, ingenuity and skill are so much harder to price.

    @ Judy from KamSnaps – Thank you and you made my day!

    @ Mama Nicki – I use size 20 snaps also. When I got my pliers I had to change out the die from size 16 to the size 20 die that came with the pliers. Kamsnaps explains it a bit better on their site. Hope this helps.

  54. I must make a suggestion – if you do plan on making them to sell, a serger will save you about three steps! I love my serger, and it seriously saves time.

  55. I'm just wondering what size Kamsnaps you used? I just received my pliers today and they came with size 20 snaps but it just wont snap together for anything.

  56. Someone else is selling these on etsy for $52. CRAZY expensive for me so I thought about making some using velcro because I cannot figure out that snap machine!! You did a great job!

  57. @Lori – Honestly I haven't thought of velcro. My first thought is it might get tangled up in the terry cloth but its worth a try.

    @Abbybeutler – you are just to sweet! Thanks for the blog love!

    @Chellebeth – I'm seriously considering the etsy shop. If I do I'll post the link.

  58. If the center of the towel holder is solid you could do either of these two ideas.
    1. glue the snaps to the center
    1 at top 1 at the bottom then proceed as you indicated.

    2. make some small taps attach the snaps to them and glue to the center also.
    Great idea though!

  59. Hey Bramdi. Thanks for a great question. I use KAM Snaps and tool. I have been happy with the snaps and their tool. They also have great customer service and how to tid bits. Happy Stitching!

    In addition I updated the post to include a link. Thanks!

  60. what kind of snap tool do you use? Brand name I mean. I am using a smaller version but need something that's a little more heavy duty. Thanks!

  61. @Kristin756 I am so tickled you have enjoyed the tutorial. I know what you are talking about but I have not tried a "tube" yet I typically roll them around an empty paper towel roll. I've also seen elastic loops with snaps to attach the first towel to, and that gets attached to the paper towel holder. Not sure if that helps…. Keep me posted and thanks for stopping in! Happy sewing.

  62. These have become my latest obsession! Have you heard of making a "tube" out of plastic canvas to snap the first towel to so it easily fits on a paper towel holder? I've seen a couple other Etsy shops doing that and was wondering about it's effectiveness….

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  63. You should def start an etsy shop… Lol because Id be buying all your stuff haha – Tiffani

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