continental US only
continental US only
As the fall season settles in and the holidays approach, crafting emerges from its hiding place. Crafters around the world rejoice as stores fill up with all of the ingredients for gift-creating, home-decorating, and DIY projects. Pumpkin spice fills the air around craft stores and coffee shops alike; people start to smile when it’s cold enough for fuzzy socks.
All of the hype is merely the beginning of crafting potential around the end of the calendar year. October, November, and December inspire all sorts of ideas for gifts and Saturday activities. Possibilities for projects are endless and range all the way from homemade candles to homespun wool socks to wine racks. Somewhere in between, long forgotten novelties with an unlimited number of uses… are flour sack towels.
Flour sack what? Unfamiliar to many, flour sack towels first made their appearance during the Great Depression. Throughout the eighteen hundreds and into the twentieth century, goods like flour, sugar, and cornstarch were packaged in sacks. The Great Depression meant frugality for many, as resources of all sorts were limited and people had to struggle to make ends meet. One solution meant re-purposing these sack containers as all different household items, including but not limited to clothing items, undergarments, pillowcases, blankets, and towels. Absorbent and soft, they did their job wiping water from all sorts of surfaces.
Merchandise companies began catching on to the popularity of these sorts of towels and started making them on purpose with different patterns as decorative touches. People in the community, typically women, would trade among themselves to build their own collections. This happened consistently until the nineteen fifties when a different, cheaper material was selected for packaging purposes. Unfortunately, flour sacks began to fade out until fairly recently, when they’ve begun to make a comeback.
FURTHER READING: HISTORY OF FLOUR SACK TOWELS - FROM 1800'S TO 1950'S
Flour sack tea towels come in handy for all sorts of things, particularly around the holidays. Predictably, they excel at their traditional use; they do an excellent job drying dishes and servicing spills around the kitchen. Gatherings that are often popular around the holiday season allow many people to admire said towels during visits. Flour sack dish towels make wonderful, practical and decorative gifts for all occasions including birthdays, housewarmings, Christmas, and as thank you acknowledgments for invitations to dinner parties from hosts and hostesses. Imagine arriving at your next potluck with a couple of flour sack kitchen towels in hand. The individuals receiving them would understand that not only did you appreciate their invitation, but you cared enough to craft something special for them.
Festive flour sack towels can be glimpsed at craft fairs all over the country throughout fall and the holiday season. Around October, they sport images of pumpkins, cute slogans, black cats, ghosts, bats, and more. Halloween colors of orange, black, purple, and silver pop against the traditional white backgrounds to create a truly festive effect. Later in the season, jack-o-lanterns fade to turkeys and eventually to Christmas trees, elves, angels, and Santa Claus faces. Truly, these towels allow for an unlimited flow of creativity and innovation. Adaptable to any occasion, they are a perfect project all year long.
Often, flour sack towels can be bought at Mary's Kitchen Towels or the local crafting sites. This way, they can be custom ordered and processed on demand. Making them even more novel, sellers can add their own signature touches and symbols. These towels can even be purchased as part of growing collections, similar to the collector patterns available in their original heyday. Additionally, these towels make great activities for DIY projects and gifts. Lazy Saturdays turn into productivity and innovation with a little fabric paint. Easy and soft enough for little fingers to manipulate, they can even be great options for kids to decorate as presents for peers, teachers, and family members. Truly, these items are the definition of multipurpose.
FURTHER READING: 50 UNIQUE WAYS TO UTILIZE FLOUR SACK TOWELS
Once you’ve determined how you’d like to use your blank flour sack towels, you’ve arrived at the fun part. There are a plethora of different ways to decorate these towels, each more unique than the next. Applique, fabric paint, embroidery, tie-dye, fabric borders, and permanent markers are just a few ideas to inspire your creativity.
Applique is a process of stitching pieces of fabric onto a larger piece of fabric to form an image. Appliqueing pictures of pumpkins, bats, candy corn, black cats, ghosts, witches, or jack-o-lanterns onto 100% cotton flour sack towels can be wonderful Halloween project ideas. Though maybe not ideal for kids, this sort of project provides a meditative effect to experienced applique crafters. The stitching serves as a repetitive motion that not only produces a pleasing image but quiets the brain.
Embroidery means using a special kind of thread and needle to create pictures with stitches on flour sack material. With traditional white backgrounds, white flour sack towels allow all sorts of Halloween colors to pop. Patterns are available online for direct duplication, or once again, creativity can reign. It can be fun to let innovation play with an art that is stereotypically organized and fairly rigid. Embroidered flour sack towels are one of the most popular kinds and can be found for sale on a variety of crafting sites.
Applying fabric borders is another way to spruce up plain flour sack towels. Festive Halloween patterned cloth can be purchased at any craft store and cut into wide or skinny strips to act as a towel border. Borders can be sewn onto towels by either hand or machine, and presto: newly decorated flour sack towels that exist in no other household.
Fabric paint is another great option for decorating flour sack towels and absolutely serves as a possibility for a younger group of crafters. With less dexterity involved, little fingers are able to utilize different colors of paint to create designs of their choice. Paint may be squeezed onto a smooth surface (like a paper plate) and utilized with brushes or q-tips for easier access with painting. Halloween designs don’t stop at traditional; encourage young crafters to let their imaginations run wild with possibility.
Permanent markers can be a great alternative to fabric paint. The trade-off is less mess for longer lasting mess. While markers guarantee that paint won’t end up in anyone’s hair, they do offer the possibility of crafting remnants long after the project is over. From a more technical standpoint, they do offer a little more capacity for detail and an easier time forming script, if lettering is part of your flour sack towel design.
Tie-dyeing flour sack towels with orange and black serve as a new way to decorate and dazzle for the Halloween season. Another great option for kids, this method accommodates limited dexterity quite well. Towels are soaked in white vinegar, twisted into a design, and held in place with rubber bands. Then, they are dipped into dye and left to sit for twenty-four hours. Often, it is helpful to package wet, dye-ridden towels in individual plastic bags while they sit. After a day, the towels can be rinsed until water runs clear. Ultimately they are run through the clothes washing machine without soap and dried. The heat from the dryer helps to set the ink so that it won’t transfer to any other surface. You wouldn’t want your counter died Halloween colors, festive as they are.