Sewing Terry Cloth Tips

terrycloth

Terry cloth is a plush, absorbent fabric. While you won’t be making ballgowns with it, it’s the perfect choice for sewing projects designed to be near water, like a cozy bathrobe or a cute cover up to wear to the beach or pool.

You’ll find terry cloth in various colors and thicknesses. Like most fabrics, terry cloth has it’s own quirks. Here are some sewing terry cloth tips to make your next project a success:

1. Terry cloth is messy! The fabric will shed quite a bit once you cut it because of the loops on the fabric, so be prepared. You might want to cover your work surface or keep a lint brush close by.

2. Terry cloth has a nap, so make sure you are cutting pattern pieces in the appropriate direction. When you run your hand over the fabric, one direction will feel rough and the other direction will feel smooth. The smooth direction is the nap of the fabric. The terry cloth will look different depending on if it’s cut with the nap or not. You can be rebellious if you want and cut your pieces against the nap-- ultimately, you just want all of the pieces to behave the same for a consistent look with your finished product.

3. Consider using a contrasting color thread on hidden seams. This is one of my favorite sewing terry cloth tips. Because of the fluffiness and the loops of the terry cloth, it can be hard to see your stitches when you use matching thread. This is no big deal until you make a mistake and need to rip out a seam. If you like the look, go ahead and use a contrasting thread on visible seams, too. Contrast stitching can be a great design element (and you’ll have a much easier time correcting mistakes!).

4. Lengthen your stitch length. Terry cloth is bulky, so lengthening the stitch length is a must. Also make sure you are using a heavy-duty needle to accommodate the bulk of the terry cloth. If you are using a thinner terry cloth you might be able to get away with skipping this step, but be sure to run a test swatch first to double check.

5. Because the fabric will shed on cut edges, you’ll need to pay special attention to finishing seams. All cut edges will need to be enclosed, so no quick use of pinking shears on raw edges this time. If you have a serger, you can, of course, finish the seams that way, but it’s not a necessity.

Sewing terry cloth doesn’t require a ton of skill or special techniques, just a bit of patience and planning for dealing with the shedding factor.

Do you have any sewing terry cloth tips? Let me know in the comments!

19 Comments

Barb

I have a question about the Jean-ius course that is being offered at this time. Will this course be available in an archive in future? I am interested in purchasing the course, but would like to attempt it later. So, am just wondering if there is an archive somewhere of all the courses that have been offered.
Thank you

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Gladys

Hello Barb; Craftsy Classes don’t expire, they all come with life-time access. I have purchased a few classes, ahead of time, knowing I won’t be able to begin the class for several months. I did this because the class was on sale, knowing I wouldn’t look at it until dead of Winter.

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Gladys

Try using a 1 inch-wide strip of tear-away stabilizer, the kind used for embroidery. Fold it over along the seam as you stitch, then just tear-away the excess, leaving the stabilizer to enclose the raw edges. Make sure its the tear-away, not the water-soluble. You could also try this with fusible-interface.

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Sherry

I was wondering if I would be able to use french seams on a hair turbie that I am making, or would that be to much bulk in the sewing seam?
Thanks,

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Pam

I’d like to add that because of the amount of lint and fibers that come off of terry cloth, it’s really important to make sure your machine has been cleaned out both before you start sewing and after you’re done with the terry fabric. You’ll be amazed at how much build-up occurs with this fabric. By cleaning it out you will have fewer possible thread jams due to lint balls. This holds true for both conventional sewing machines as well as overlock machines.

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Michelle

I have a question. I am using my sewing machine and am having an issue keeping the stitches from pulling apart. If I tug on it it comes right apart. Please help.

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Shiloh

Sounds like a tension problem. If it’s not helping by moving the dial, you may need to adjust the bobbin tension.

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Julie

It also kind of sounds like you don’t have a bobbin in your machine! Make sure you have bobbin !!!

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Shiloh

I just made a fun mini-skirt with terry and plan on doing a dress soon. I know it’s not super popular but I LOVE it 🙂 I think it’s more texturally interesting than most fabrics. I also own a vintage dress and polo, along with a modern polo made with terry.

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Terry Sheeran

I am interested in terry beach pants for swimmers. How would you finish seams? Pattern?

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Molly

Should I use a stretch stitch for terry? I’m making a 1970’s jumpsuit. 🙂

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Angela

I am interested in learning how to make handmade bath towels using terry cloth. I can not find anything online for making your own bath towels and/or hand towels? Any ideas or tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Jayne

What is the best sewing method to edge towelling when making face washers from towels? Jayne 🙂

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Samantha

I’m making bibs with flannel and terry and when I sewed with the wrong sides together I had no problem…but once I flipped it and tried to sew the hole closed my machine kept getting jammed no matter which fabric I had on the bottom. I’m not sure what’s wrong. Any tips?

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ann

In sewing an applique on a towel, I found the loops were getting hung in the feed dog! i don’s see any comments made on this problem…….. what is the secret to preventing this? I’m scared of terry now!

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Blythe

Hi,

I dont know if you found a solution, but tips I’ve read for embroiderers include placing cling wrap over the feed dogs (not sure about that!) or using tearaway stabilizer or tissue paper under the fabric as you sew (much easier, have used).

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Jane

I use a water soluable stabilizer over the nap and no problem. I would not use cling it will melt and make a mess if anything is left in the stitching

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Marian Jackson

How do I get rid of the lint and fiber once my garment is finished. I’ve shaken the garment several time, but the fiber and lint continue to come off. Will washing the garment make a difference, either before and now afterwards?

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Sewsomethingspecial

I’m making my dog cleaning bag out of towels, when I’m using my singer over locker / serger it keeps jamming – any ideas im completely stuck on this one.

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