Un-paper Towels

First let me start by saying this project is simple, it could be finished in a couple hours. But unfortunately, because of the demand placed on my attention by my two small children, it became infuriating and took over two days. Simple sewing machine troubleshooting took time I didn’t have.

Distractions aside, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I didn’t really follow any specific pattern, because there were so many different options out there so I just winged it and this is what resulted:


  • 2 yards printed cotton fabric
  • 2 yards cotton flannel
  • 60″ sew-on velcro (soft and flexible)
  • Cotton thread to match 

I could not decide on a single color scheme, so I went with two different ones to match my “eventual” kitchen and dining room colors. (1 yard of each)

First, I washed and dried the fabric to shrink it. I ALWAYS do that before I cut and sew so my measurements are more true.

Then I ironed the fabrics and cut 12×12″ squares using my fancy new acrylic rulers (which I was able to afford because I came in under budget for total project cost.) It’s easiest if you fold them in half and cut 6″ wide x 12″ long along the folded edge, and then 12×12 squares on the open edge. This gets you the most bang for your buck, in my experience and wastes very little material.

Then I pinned 1 square of print fabric to one square flannel, right sides together.

I straight stiched the edges with an 1/8″ seam allowance, leaving and opening about 2″ to turn them right side out.

Once I had them right side out, I ironed the squares flat and sewed an “X” from corner to corner with a zigzag stitch to sort of “quilt” them a little and hold them together better.

Then I measured out 3″ of Velcro and cut it into 1″ strips, and pinned it equidistant along the edges. I put soft fuzzy sides on the print, and the loopy sticky sides on the opposite flannel side so they’d stick to one another when rolled on a piece of PVC.

Then I just sewed on the Velcro and snipped the straggler threads and stuck them together end to end and rolled them up.

Total cost: $27.86

Fabric = $17.38 Thread (2 spools)= $4.54 Velcro = $5.94

I had been thinking I would spend at least $40, so that’s what I budgeted, and with the extra, I purchased the acrylic rulers since mine got broken in the move.

Technically, I spent $46.79 after tax, but the materials themselves did not exceed $30 at Walmart.

When I priced unpaper towels on Etsy, the cheapest set I could find were $25 for a set of 6. I’ve currently completed 6 towels, and have 12 more to sew! So it’s WAAAAAAY more cost effective to make your own.

I’ve seen patterns that call for plastic or metal snaps, and to that I say, to each his own. I didn’t have the snaps or tools necessary for that, so I chose sew on velcro and saved some money.

Now here’s the biggie, cost per towel:

Unpaper towels = $1.55 (rounding up) per towel

Bounty = $9.99 for 6 rolls, $1.67/roll.

So, looking at it initially, it doesn’t save me much money. BUT- long term, if this roll of 18 cloth towels lasts me, say, 3 years, and I’d normally buy 6 rolls of Bounty every month, then in 3 years of not buying papertowels, I can save $359.64. 

That’s a gross savings of $331.78, once you subtract the cost of materials.

So, I’ll let you judge for yourselves whether or not that’s worth it, but for me, extra cash is extra cash. I will say, they are more absorbant.

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