01 February, 2020

Cotton UnPaper Towels Out Of Double Gauze

Yes! I've returned to my blog.

I have felt long-winded lately on Instagram, writing too much necessary stuff with the full compliment of photos. Today, while I was serge-zipping around these Unpaper Towels, my mind told me, It Was Time.

Anyway, a friend recently contacted me through our local FB crafting page to see if I could sew some unpaper towels.

They are all over on Etsy, averaging $20 for a set of 5-12 napkin/paper-towel size pieces of cotton gauze with a colored serged edge.

On youtube, videos are still old-school using two pieces of quilting cotton and toweling to sew, turn, and top stitch. And then add snaps to connect them together.  haha. I can see kids re-snapping them back together (dirty or not), but ain't nobody got time for that kind of sewing around here.

At first, I was thinking Rolled Hem. After half an hour fiddling with settings and finally getting a stiff edge that was unevenly rolling (thanks to the single layer double gauze), I re-thought and re-set my machine to a regular 3-thread overlock stitch.

My first ones were carefully lifted and turned around the corners. Still thinking how etsy peoples can sell 5-12 for $20. Quickly moved on to the rounded corner. Gauze tends to pull and stretch, so I did have to slow down around the corners, and make sure material was next to my blade.

If you pull too much making a round corner, you end up serging into the air, or half on, half off.
See my photo above?? I can't show you the bad corner because I've been IG indoctrinated - only the good photos can be seen.

My understanding is these UnPaper Towels are better at absorbing spills and water after washing them 5-6 times. Plus, they get softer, while remaining strong.

Since I've flown over the paper tree plantations in Idaho, I also realize, these cost not only more $$ but also more resources to make the cotton cloth. Growing cotton is notorious for high chemicals in order to grow but also loads of water to process. Paper takes less resources. The bleaching is bad for the environment for both products.

Would I use these?

I already use cloth napkins. But I like paper towels for cleaning up bacon grease, the husband (who wipes first, then washes), etc. I usually buy the half-sheet paper towels.

These double gauze towels are similar in size and feel (single layer). If it was just me, maybe. But these items stain and will look fairly ratty in about 6 months. I would rather use colors to disguise stains. Do I even want to make more in six months?

I have no clue how etsy sellers are making money with these. They are all-over, so pricing is pretty cut-throat. It took me over two hours to make 16, including serger fiddling time. Once, I got my system in place, I whipped these up pretty fast.
Say an hour to do 12?

$6/yard - I'll say $3/yard wholesale. You can make 8-12 towels per yard. I made mine squarish and about 13".

I like to pay myself $20/hour, so obviously, I need to speed up the overlocker./serger.
Or, I could just buy some factory made birdseye gauze diapers instead.

Any thoughts? Would you use these in place of paper towels?

To see Etsy listings, google search "Unpaper Towels".



  1. Hi, it’s rae_b_riv from IG!
    Those are cute! We’ve been using cloth/old fabric/tshirt & bandanas as napkins for years! A large pack of cheap microfiber cloths from the flea market for paper towels! Don’t think I’d spend $ on new fabric to make these but yours are very pretty!

    1. The double gauze is pretty but has certain similarities to micro-fiber cloths - picking up lint like crazy.

  2. I cut up old tea towels (or towels) and zig zag around the edges, as my kitchen cloths - no more buying sponges etc for the kitchen. For greasy things only I do still use paper towels - to wash the grease from the cloth would take hot water + soap + energy. Cotton production does use a lot of water - it's a hard one. I figure if I'm giving a second life to tea towels, that I'm better off re-using something I already have. And cotton does eventually compost, unlike synthetic sponges - who knows what they're made from. If I were giving a set of kitchen cloths as a gift, though, I'd definitely make some like yours! They look great!!!
    I don't get the whole un-paper towel thing - meaning snapping them together. I don't see the point. My spare cloths are stacked in a kitchen drawer. Much quicker to open the drawer and pull one out, than to unsnap something.

  3. Maybe, it's I don't have a place for unpaper towels. My paper towels sit on the kitchen windowsill. Interesting thought.


I love comments. My heart goes pitter-patter every time there is a new one.