Week One: Tea Towels to T-Shirts

"In 18th century England, a tea towel was a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea things."

I love tea towels!  And I'm so glad that they are popular again.  I have been collecting them for years, usually from antique shops, but recently I have been finding new ones everywhere.  True confession...I do not dry my dishes with them.  (I have a dishwasher that works just fine!)  I think of them as 18" X  24" pieces of fabric.  They are usually cotton or linen (my fav!) and printed with everything under the sun!

To start off our "Month of Woven T's" Rhonda, over at "Rhonda's Creative Life" and I are each starting with the tea towel of our choice.  Should we call them Tea-shirts?  😝  (You can see Rhonda's pick HERE.)  My pick was a towel that I spotted on my recent trip to Taos, New Mexico...

What's not to love?!

It's got chickens, and a vineyard and herbs and WINE!

It's actually printed on an old cotton flour sac so it has a soft rustic texture.  And it is a bit bigger than the standard 18" X 24" towels.

Snapped it right up!

I headed out to Oregon at the end of July for the International Pinot Noir Celebration!  (yes, it is all wine all the time!!!) πŸ˜‹ I have been looking forward to this trip since a friend and I started planning it a year ago.  She retired at the end of June and we decided it was a great way to get her launched into her new life as a carefree retiree!  It was an amazing event.  Not just lots of Pinot Noir to try, but fabulous food prepared by 80 different chefs from the northwest region.  The finale is a outdoor salmon bake for 1,600 people!  

I thought a wine shirt would be just the thing!  My traveling buddy was a bit dubious about the idea, but I figured it would be kind of like the 'camp t-shirt' for the weekend.  And, the guazy texture of my tea towel was the perfect weight for the predicted (and actual!) 90+ degree days!  So I surged ahead!

For some reason my towel reminded me of the Mexican peasant tops with all the colorful embroidery on them.  Maybe because I was in New Mexico when I found it...?  Anyway, that was the picture in my head as I started working on my Tee.

Square neck line, blanket stitched edges, loose, cool, comfortable...

I wanted to keep the image intact so I had to come up with something else for the back side of my shirt.  I pulled a light weight turquoise cotton and a cotton madras from my stash.  Both had the light summery texture of the towel.

I chose a drop shoulder style "T" to use as much of the towel as I could.

I did add some embroidery, but tried not to get too carried away.  Just a bit more wine on the back yoke!

It turned out so light and summery that I actually got a pair of white capris to wear with it!  I can't remember the last time I had a pair of white pants!!  Maybe a mistake with all the wine...

I gathered the plaid into the yoke and dropped the back hem a bit.  The white edges have turquoise blanket stitching and the turquoise edges have white. 

The embroidery on the back yoke took me right back to seven years old and the outline stitched pillow cases that were my first sewing projects.  I even got out my embroidery hoop!  ...no I didn't embroider wine bottles on my bedding!  😝 Just lazy daisies.  🌼🌼🌼

I'm not sure I transformed it completely.  It still has it's original 'tea-toweliness' about it.  But it was totally fun to make and makes me smile when I wear it.  

You might think that with all the wine going on that my recipe would involve a bit of Pinot, but, no, I decided to go with the travel theme for this one.

The 'recipe' that I want to share is a bit more craft than cooking, but it is all about making a cup of tea.  When I travel, especially for sewing retreats, I like to have my favorite tea.  It's a loose blend that I get by the pound from my local tea shop.  One trip I was unpleasantly surprised when I opened my suitcase to find loose tea leaves ALL OVER EVERYTHING!!  I had secured them in a zip top bag, but the airplane pressure must have popped it open...😬  Not wanting a repeat of that episode, I decided to bag my tea more securely for future travels.  I made a long tube out of a scrap of silk organza, I measured out the amount I needed to brew a bottleful of tea and put it into the tube, I sewed it shut and repeated the process until I ran out of tube!  I added a string and a tag and Bob's your uncle...I have travel tea bags!  Obsessive? Perhaps?  But it sure beats loose tea leaves in your panties!


  1. Your Tea-shirt is fresh and delightful.

    1. Aw shucks...thanks. I just hope I don't spill red wine on it!