I love using pretty dish towels, especially around holidays! This cute Valentine dish towel is such a quick and easy project that you can be done in less than 30 minutes! You could make it for the hope chest or keep it for your own kitchen. I love hope chest projects like this for a couple of reasons.
First, the technique is simple and fast. Just cut a ragged edge shape and quickly applique to the towel with the straightforward running stitch. Second, there are no complicated materials or tools. All you need is a plain cotton dish towel, an embroidery needle, cotton thread to contrast with a scrap of cotton fabric, and pinking shears or regular sewing shears to cut the shape. The cost is minimal. If you keep a fabric scrap bag, the cost is limited to the towel and the thread. Nice. Finally, the most inexperienced sewist can make this project, so it's a great project for someone needing to practice using a needle and thread.
Many of you won't even need instructions for such a project, but I'll give them for those who do. First, determine how big you want your applique and cut a heart shape from paper. Use the towel and adjust the size if necessary.
Press any wrinkles out of the fabric scrap. Use a pencil to trace around the shape on the wrong side of the fabric. Use pinking shears (or regular fabric scissors) to cut the shape from the fabric. Pinking shears will give a nice evenly ragged edge after washing. Regular shears will give a more primitive ragged edge that will take several times washing to achieve.
Arrange and pin the fabric heart to the dishtowel. You can place it in the corner, as I did, or in the center of one side. Pin the shape well so that it doesn't shift as you do your stitching. If you are using this project for a child, you might use many small safety pins rather than straight pins so that little fingers don't get poked! Measure the cotton embroidery thread so that you have enough thread to go all the way around the shape, plus five or six inches more. Divide the thread so that you have two lengths with three strands in each length. Then thread the needle and knot the thread at one end. Start at the bottom and use an even running stitch all around the heart, keeping about 1/8 - inch or so from the edge. You want to be far enough away from the edge that it frays a little in the wash, but close enough that the shape is securely sewn.
When you reach the beginning point bring the needle out on the back of the towel. Take three small back stitches to secure the thread and then tie a small knot. Pull the knot through the towel fabric, pull the towel back just a bit to clip the thread and then "lose" the end of the thread in between the towel and the applique. This will keep the back of the towel neat.
Thread the needle with the second length of thread and tie a knot at one end. Push the needle into the towel between the towel and the applique at some point away from where you want to begin stitching. Again, pull the knot through the towel to "lose" it under the fabric. Then push the needle through to the front where you will begin a second row of stitching.
Make a second row of stitching about 1/4 - inch away from the first row. Try to keep the stitching evenly spaced.
Once you've completed a second row of stitching, tie off your thread and you're finished! The back of the towel should look as neat as the front. Wash and dry the towel to fray the edges.