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Thread: Hand Embroidered Flour Sack Dish Towel?

  1. #1
    Power Poster JuneBillie's Avatar
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    Hand Embroidered Flour Sack Dish Towel?

    I want to hand embroider some 100% cotton flour sack dish towels, but was wondering if I am suppose to put anything on the back where the back side of the embroidery stitches show. Looking forward to hearing how others do theirs.

    Thanks,
    Susan

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    If you starch it, you won't need to put anything on the back.
    Penny

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    Power Poster JuneBillie's Avatar
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    What I want to know though, is it ok that the back stitching shows up? Although, I know they are usually hung on something, but just wondered if that matters. I read online where someone sewed a strip of cloth over that area on the backside.

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    I grew up (a long, long time ago) hand embroidering flour sack tea towels...never worried about the stitches showing on the back

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    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    My mother did a lot of embroidery. She didn't put anything on the back of her dish towels. But she always told me the back should look as good as the front and hers did. Somehow she hid her knots and she never carried colors across. I didn't have the patience or the skill.

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    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    so it doesn't matter if stitches show on the back?
    I know that it should look nice on the back, but if if the thread is used in more than one spot? Do you carry it over or do you knot and start over in another spot? I too want to emb some towels and am wondering about this also. Does anyone have a picture of the back of a tea towel they can show us how it looks?
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

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    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    I have done a lot of them by hand over the years and never put anything on the back. I have been gifted many over the years and none have had anything on the back.

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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    When my aunts and I did this 60 years ago, we never worried about the backs. We allowed knots to show. We were just careful not to run a long line of thread from one area to another. If it was far, we knotted and started over. If it was closer, we might loop the thread around other stitches in the back to travel to the next area. I have some of these stored away, but have never figured out how to post photos here. If I have some time I might try to do it later this weekend.

    One reason not to run long lengths of thread on the back is that the flour sacks tend to shrink a little when washed. I don't remember what we did back in the day, but I would be sure to pre-wash the flour sacks before doing all that embroidery. It's probably a good idea to starch them after washing too. We used an embroidery hoop while working.

    Again, I don't know about the old days, but the flour sacks I find locally in Fleet Farm, Walmart, etc. are often not cut and hemmed on the grain of the fabric so they wash and dry "wonky". It might be worth buying better quality flour sacks online -- the ones that are made specifically for hand embroidery. They may not be perfect, but might be better than the cheapies I am familiar with these days.

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    My grandmothers both did hand embroider and they would just weave the tails through the threads. That's what I do when I do any embroidery (hand). They prewashed all their fabric before any sewing.

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    I do hand embroidery using a lot of Crabapple Hill designs/patterns. Their instructions call for using a muslin backing for most blocks but not for their tea towel patterns. The patterns for the towels just recommend being extra neat with your stitches so the backs will look ok. To me that just means not to travel very large areas and weave in your ends, starts and stops rather than making knots. Lynnie, I don't have any of my embroidered towels to show you since I gave them as gifts. I did one set with a Halloween design and another with snowmen. I thought they were really cute. Take a look at their website.

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    I agree. My mother taught me to embroider, and my grandmother taught her. Neither of them put anything on the back to hide the stitching. Just make it look neat on the back. Have fun ---- don't worry about it. The embroidery police don't come around very often.

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    Another thought, the muslin backing works to keep the travel stitches, knots, etc. from showing through to the front of the completed blocks. With tea towels the back will still show even if you stitch through another layer. So no need to add an extra layer.

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    Power Poster JuneBillie's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. So now I can get busy. I want to make some for my sisters for their birthdays. I bought some a couple of years ago, and never used them.

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    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    Susan, thanks for posting this question. I'm sure it's not just you and me wondering about this.
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

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    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    I hand embroider and gift kitchen towels frequently. The idea is that stitches are nice enough NOT to be covered (even on the back). It's okay to 'carry' thread for a short distance from one area to another, but if it's a large 'carry', one should end the thread, make a new knot and begin in the next area. The idea is to have it look good on the front and the back.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Here is a picture of the back and then the front of a towel made in the 1970's. Well used, so pardon the spots. Name:  image.jpeg
Views: 273
Size:  1.66 MBName:  image.jpeg
Views: 258
Size:  1.35 MB
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

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    I too had been wondering about this topic. I made a table runner for my Christmas table so the back doesn't show but I kept wondering about the towels. I do need to do better on making the back neater

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    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltsRfun View Post
    My mother did a lot of embroidery. She didn't put anything on the back of her dish towels. But she always told me the back should look as good as the front and hers did. Somehow she hid her knots and she never carried colors across. I didn't have the patience or the skill.
    are you my sister?! we MUST have had the same mother!

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    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coopah View Post
    Here is a picture of the back and then the front of a towel made in the 1970's. Well used, so pardon the spots. Name:  image.jpeg
Views: 273
Size:  1.66 MBName:  image.jpeg
Views: 258
Size:  1.35 MB
    It's official, I do hate you LOL!! My goodness, that is the neatest embroidery I have seem in a long, long time!! Congratulations!! Do you teach??
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

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    Power Poster JuneBillie's Avatar
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    Coopah thanks for your picture, and your back does look good just like the front. The stitch doing the cross stitch or I use to call them the x stitch brought back memories too me. The first embroidery stitch I ever did was this stitch. In the 70's also my mother bought me a small end table type scarf with the x's already stamped on it for me to try, and see if I liked embroidery. That is when I knew I loved it.

    Then years passed before I really did more due to life, but then picked it back up a few years back, and wanted to learn more stitches and always have something on hand.

    All of you have really helped me with your comments. Thank you again!!!!

    Always good folks on here to help with our questions.

    Hugs,
    Susan

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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltsRfun View Post
    My mother did a lot of embroidery. She didn't put anything on the back of her dish towels. But she always told me the back should look as good as the front and hers did. Somehow she hid her knots and she never carried colors across. I didn't have the patience or the skill.
    This is how I was taught to embroider, and my mother told me the same thing - the back should look as good as the front. Now, even if I am embroidering something where I know the back won't show, I work to keep it neat.

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    I did them years ago and I never covered the back. I hid the knots and did not carry them over any distance. d

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    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    thanks coopah on the pictures. I try to keep my backs like yours too.
    I was just wondering if there was another way, but I guess it's ok for
    the back to show. Now everyone here can go and emb some towels. thanks.
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

  24. #24
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Confession: This towel was stitched by my great-grandmother in her late 80's. Even though it is full of holes and unusable, I can't get rid of it. I have other embroideries, but we were talking about towels, so that's what I photographed.
    It's good to see hand embroidery making a comeback.
    P.S. Thanks for the compliments. AZ Jane, come to FL and I'll teach you! My suspicion is that you are awesome without any help.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  25. #25
    Senior Member maryfrang's Avatar
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    I have made at least three or four sets. I was surprised but the stitches did not take away from the towels. Just remember do NOT run stiches on the back over large areas.

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