Homespun Kitchen Towels and Napkins

This article was originally published in the March 2006 issue of 2TCHKeepers, the CHK E-Zine.

by Wardee Harmon

I think it would be understatement to say that I am in love with Homespun fabrics. I discovered them anew last fall when I looked through my quilting books, choosing the Christmas gifts I would make. I began with constructing quilted wall hangings from the book, Colorful, Casual and Comfy Quilts, edited by Karen Bolestra. Since then, I have used Homespun fabrics to make patchwork pillows for my own home and my brother-in-law’s home. I featured those pillows in the January issue of the CHK e-zine. My latest project using this rustic fabric concludes this article — Homespun kitchen towels and napkins.

Homespun heart wall hanging uses 24 different Homespun fabrics.

One might wonder why I love Homespun fabric. First, I adore its appearance. To me, it is simple, comforting and even rustic, like old shirts. The assortment of available patterns in plaids and checks is mind-boggling. If you take a closer look at the wall hanging I made, you’ll see twenty-four different prints.

I also delight in Homespun fabric because of its texture. One can imagine how it would feel just by reading the definition of what makes a Homespun fabric — “a rough loosely woven fabric originally made with homespun yarn” ( The individual threads are more coarse than in other fabrics. Please don’t imagine that Homespun is overly coarse, however. Rather, I appreciate that when I run my hands along a piece, I can “feel” its grain.

One more charm on this fabric’s growing list is that my husband particularly likes it. He is not one to be interested in fancy frills. He’s a simple man with down-to-earth preferences, and I treasure him for being a stable, straightforward influence in our home. Since he likes Homespun fabric, I’ll be keeping it around.

Homespun kitchen towels and napkins

This month’s project — kitchen towels and napkins — uses Homespun fabric. I have been enjoying my own set of kitchen towels and napkins for three weeks. They are lightweight and slightly rough for a good drying texture. No matter how you hang them, wring them out or fold them, there’s no back side to cover up because the fabric is woven without a wrong side. The towels and napkins hold up well in the wash. When removed promptly from the dryer and smoothed out, they need little or no pressing. From the myriads of plaid or checked Homespun material available, you will be able to find just the right pattern to match your kitchen or dining room.

When you purchase Homespun fabric, keep a few things in mind. First, the bolt label will usually say “Homespun” on it. Additionally, check both sides of the fabric to make sure that there is no wrong side; rather, both sides will look identical. Third, Homespun patterns are usually plaid or checked. Finally, be aware that not all Homespuns are good quality; a terribly thin or see-through fabric will not hold up well for daily use.

Due to the coarser nature of this fabric, the checks and plaids don’t always line up symmetrically when cutting. Don’t stress about this. Cut the fabric to the dimensions indicated in the instructions and let the plaids and checks work themselves out in their own rustic fashion.

Have fun with these projects! Consider sending me a picture of your finished towels or napkins — I’d love to see what you’ve done. You can reach me at with any comments or suggestions.


makes 2 towels

Materials Needed:

  • 1 yard Homespun fabric
  • thread


1. Pre-wash and press the fabric. Cut fabric in half, parallel to the salvage edges.

2. On both pieces, fold over each edge 1/4 inch and press. Fold over 1/4 inch again and press. At corners, choose one edge to overlap the other.

3. Seam around entire outer edge of each towel, close to the inner folded edge. Clip threads.

4. Easy variation: Use a zig-zag stich or serger to finish raw edges of each towel.


makes 12 napkins

Materials Needed:

  • 1 and 2/3 yards Homespun fabric
  • thread

1. Pre-wash and press the fabric. Cut the fabric into four equal strips perpendicular to the salvage edges.

2. Cut each strip into three squares, for a total of 12 squares. Before cutting, each strip will be about 44 to 45 inches long. Either cut each strip into three equal pieces, or cut off the first two squares at 15 inch intervals, which will leave the third square to be somewhat less than 15 inches long. For these rustic napkins, the variances are not only acceptable, they are desirable.

3. On each of the twelve napkins, fold over each edge 1/4 inch and press. Fold over 1/4 inch again and press. At corners, choose one edge to overlap the other.

4. Seam around entire outer edge of each napkin, close to the inner folded edge. Clip threads.

5. Easy variation: Use a zig-zag stitch or serger to finish raw edges of each napkin.

© Copyright 2006 by Wardee Harmon. Used with permission from the author.

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