Baby sewing tutorial: hooded towel and wash cloth set

I’ve been working laboriously last week while I was on leave from work to try and catch up with baby sewing projects. I’ve managed to get all the pieces cut out and I’m looking to get baby blankets sewn during the week. I’ll hopefully have a quick tutorial on making blankets (for babies and adults!) up on my blog soon for you!

For now, as you’ll probably have realised from my last few posts (here and here), I’ve got a few friends who are mothers to wee humans or are expecting. I collated a series of tutorials for easy sewing projects for babies here which I’m working through, and one project that I figured I’d get done is a hooded towel.

A hooded towel is not so different from making a blanket so I thought I’d give it a go. I read up on a few blogs and tutorials before setting out on my own and I’m quite pleased to say it’s turned out quite well. There are quite a few essential items new parents will need. A hooded towel is included in various books on sewing for babies and a lot of people have been writing about it. Why? Everyone needs a towel for a bath, but especially for the wee ones, you need to be careful once they come out of the warm bath water that they don’t get cold. Shading their heads is also very important so cosy hats are a must for cold weather and windy days. Adding a hood to the baby’s bath towel is a great way of keeping them warm while you dry them off and keep them warm.

If you’ve got non-directional fabric (where the pattern is random and there’s no need for pieces to be facing a certain direction), it’s as easy as cutting the length you need and start sewing, but when working with directional fabric (say you’ve got birds or little girls standing up a certain way), you want to make sure when it’s being used, that the little girls or birds aren’t upside down. This is where my tutorial comes in. It can be used for directional or non-directional fabric so it’s versatile that way!

It was a bit difficult for me at first trying to decide what would be a good size. You can buy lengths of fabric in 10cm increments at fabric stores, normally with a minimum length of 30cm, but for convenience sake I usually get a metre. When I held this up though it seemed quite a big piece, so I decided to go down in size a bit but leaving it big enough for the baby to still be able to use as a toddler. I also decided to go with what some sewing enthusiasts did and made a couple of wash cloths as well that can also be used for drying if needed.

I decided to use organic cotton jersey fabric as it will be softer and match the stretch in the organic cotton terry cloth fabric, but you can also decide to use organic cotton fabric if you wish. I used a different coloured top fabric (blue) to the cream/white colour of the terry cloth and I’ll also explain below how to set your machine to match the thread to the colour of your fabric.

Hooded baby towel and wash cloth set

1.5 metre directional organic cotton jersey fabric (if it is non-directional, 1 metre is sufficient)
1 metre of 60 inch wide organic cotton terry cloth fabric (I bought mine here, or any other absorbent towelling fabric like organic cotton fleece)
Matching spools of thread for your cotton and terry cloth fabrics
Dressmaking pins
Fabric scissors

For non-directional fabric (ie if there is a pattern, this is random and doesn’t have to be facing a certain way)

Note: This is only if your fabric has a random pattern. If you’re using directional fabric, go down to the section ‘For directional fabric’.

Starting from the top corner of your organic cotton fabric, cut out:

  • one 80cm x 80cm square
  • one 30cm by 30cm square
  • two 20cm x 20cm squares

For the hood, fold the 30cm x 30cm square in half along the diagonal so the outside edges make a 30cm x 30cm triangle.

For directional fabric (fabric with a pattern that has a right and wrong way up):

1. I worked out that an 80cm square towel would be a great size that would be big enough for larger babies as well as smaller sized ones, but with directional fabric, you’ll need to cut your square at an angle (diamond shape) so the top of the hood is the right way round with each of the edges measuring 80cm. Using the Pythagorean Theorem Calculator (here), I worked out that I needed to measure 56.5cm from the corner of the fabric along the top and down the side. I made marks for my first two points.

2. Knowing that from one corner to the adjacent ones form a length of 56.5cm to the centre point, I made a small mark in the centre of my square measuring 56.6cm from my first 2 points. From there, I measured another 56.5cm from the centre point to mark the other 2 corners.

3. Next I joined up the points so I had lines for each of the 4 sides until I had my diamond shaped square with sides measuring 80cm each.

Marking my first side of my square

My completed square

4. Now measure, draw and cut:

  • a triangle with 2 sides at right angles to each other measuring 30cm, and
  • 2 squares measuring 20cm x 20cm.

All my directional pieces cut

These steps are to be followed for directional and non-directional fabric:

1. Cut the same required pieces (one 80cm x 80cm, one 30cm x 30cm triangle and two 20cm x 20cm squares) out of your organic cotton terry cloth.

Cat not required!

2. Starting with the hood, with the tip of the hood facing upwards (where the 30cm edges meet at a right angle), match the right sides together (towelling side of the terry cloth to the patterned side of your jersey with the wrong sides on the outside). Pin along the long edge at the bottom only.

Before you sew, to match the thread to your fabric if they’re not similar colours (with the blue jersey and white terry cloth and you want to hide the line of stitching so blue thread doesn’t show up on the terry cloth side), decide whether you prefer to stitch with the terry cloth on top or bottom. I decided to stitch with the blue jersey on top so I changed the spool on top of my machine to blue so blue thread is threaded through the needle and the bobbin is threaded with cream coloured thread. Now you’re ready to stitch!

3. Turn the right sides of the hood out and making sure the edge is flat, pin and sew again so the seam doesn’t roll up. This will also leave a nice line of stitching along the long edge. Remember to always keep the same coloured side (blue jersey) on top so you don’t have to switch threads!

4. Now match the right sides of the large 80cm x 80cm jersey and terry cloth fabrics together. Then insert the hood with the right side of the jersey facing the jersey and the terry cloth should be facing the right side of the large 80cm terry cloth piece. Pin and sew along all 4 sides leaving a 2 inch gap.

5. Before turning your fabric inside out, cut across the 4 corners to allow these to turn easily into sharp corners without bunching of excess seam fabric.

6. Now turn your fabric inside out through the 2 inch gap you left. You’ll see that the terry cloth side of the hood is now on the inside and the hood matches the jersey side!

7. To make sure the edges of the towel doesn’t roll up (just like in step 3) and to close off the 2 inch gap, I pinned along all 4 sides if the fabric.

8. To keep in line with matching the thread to the fabric, I started along the edge of the hood where the terry cloth is visible and sewed along all 4 sides until I got to the edge of the other corner of the hood. I then switched the bobbin to blue thread to sew along the edges of the hood with blue thread on both sides. To secure the stitches, I tied the blue and blue threads (on the jersey side) and blue and white threads (on the terry cloth side) together in a tight double knot and snipped off the excess.

9. I then matched the right sides together for the wash cloths together, repeating the steps above, but skipping the part for the hood until both wash cloths are also done.

There you have it!

As these are large square piece of fabric, it’s really simple and easy to make. I would say all in all, the whole project only took a couple of hours. As you might have noticed, you’ll need to leave slightly more fabric width if you have directional fabric but when you’re working with non-directional fabric, it doesn’t matter so much where you cut, so you only need the exact length of fabric shown above.

Children’s fabric is so much more fun to work with as they’re so cute and you really can’t help but get lots of different patterns! I’ve now got more fabric than I actually need, but I had a hard time choosing, but I know I’ll end up using them for one project or another. The combination of cute fabric with the smaller size of everything is just too adorable!

Have you made a hooded towel before? Do you have any favourite children’s fabric you like to work with?

2 thoughts on “Baby sewing tutorial: hooded towel and wash cloth set

    1. It depends on what each person is comfortable with, I grew up using metric units (eg cm, metres and kg) rather than the imperial system and it’s more accurate for me that way to calculate exact measurements for fabric

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