Sunday, June 9, 2019

Tea Towel Robots

Last month I went with my husband Frank and my son Alex to the Tech Museum in San Jose to watch a showing of the movie Superpower Dogs in the IMAX theatre there. For information about our outing, see a post in my other blog Wander or Ponder dated  5/22/19. We visited the museum store where my husband spotted a pair of robot tea towels. Our grandson Isaiah is currently into robots – at least I think he still is – but what would a nearly 4-year-old boy do with tea towels? I could not think of a use for them at the time, but I bought them anyway. Sound familiar? A predominantly turquoise towel featured "Raptor ROBOT" who "shoots jets of fire" and has "amazing jet pack action"! Whoo-hoo!

A predominantly red towel featured mechanical punching "PUGILA" a fighting robot who has "seismic punching power"! Yeah!

Each tea towel measure 19½" wide by 26" long and is made of a rather coarse, rough, twill-type cotton fabric. I considered making them into sturdy drawstring bags where Isaiah could stash and haul around some toys. But if I folded each in half, the effect of the robot would be lost. If I made  bags in their full out dimensions, each would be too long and tall for a young boy to reach into and carry around. Plus drawstrings would crumpled up the robots within the gathers. I considered making them into pillowcases but the coarse fabric would be too rough on the face. I suppose I could back it with a softer fabric but then he'd have to sleep with the robot side facing down and what fun is that? Then I got the idea of sewing the two towels back to back and making a two-sided floor pillow or back pillow for watching TV or reading or just stretching on the floor. Maybe I could get or make a liner and stuff it with bean bag pellets. I'd put a zipper in the base of the joined tea towels to insert whatever I stuffed them with.

Since all four edges of the tea towels were finished off by folding over and sewing, I decided not to take out that stitching but rather incorporate it in the final product. Those folded over edges would become a sort of mini-flange on the pillow. Thread color on the folded over edges was chosen as the dominant color of the tea towel: turquoise on RAPTOR ROBOT and red on PUGILA. I would copy those colors and stitch right over them when I inserted a black 18" zipper in the base and when I sewed around the other three sides.

Here are the tools and threads I assembled. Red thread off a spool would go with turquoise and black thread bobbins which I happened to already have wound. No way was I going to try to pin through that heavy fabric but I used Clover Wonder Clips instead to hold  the two towels in position while I stitched. I swapped out my quarter inch foot for a zipper foot and changed my needle to a heavier 90/14 that was good for heavy denims or other jean type fabrics.

When I change out needles, I keep track with a sticky arrow on my machine face. It was time to switch out the old one for a new one. Maybe I will be neater this go-around as I write in my needle size and dates. This method is effective but not very elegant.

My first step was to install the zipper on the two bottom edges of the tea towels using black thread in the bobbin, and the turquoise bobbin on top for one side and the red spool on top for the other side. A zipper 18" in length is just perfect: its "ears" at the top and bottom ends went right to the edges of the tea towels and did not extend beyond. I overlapped each tea towel over the zipper midline just enough that a stitching line directly on top of the one the towel already had would catch the zipper tape underneath.

Once the bottom was finished I stitched around the other three sides, wrong sides together, placing my stitching line directly over the edge hemming stitch line already there. In this case red thread had been from the spool on top for the face up punching towel and turquoise thread had been in the bobbin on the face down raptor towel. I was careful as I sewed around that the stitching line of both towels aligned and it worked out pretty well. Switching to that heavier needle and proceeding slowly was successful. My trusty Pfaff handled all those thickness without a hitch.

My old hard working Pfaff even handled those many thickness of fabric in the corners like a champ.

Coincidentally, a standard size bed pillow measures 20" x 26". I slipped the joined towels over one to take some photos. I think a newer plumper pillow will fill out the robot towels better so that maybe I do not need an insert with bean bag pellets after all.

In any event, these robots are traveling out to my grandson in Oklahoma folded flat in my suitcase without stuffing or filling of any kind. I will buy a pillow and insert it once there. By the way, I'd like to report that this was a quick and easy project taking me less than fifteen minutes yesterday morning. I spent more time writing this post. But blogging is a fun part of my hobby, too. I also got to share my completion at my quilt guild meeting yesterday afternoon. I really milked those tea towels – that I bought without an end use in mind – for far more than the cash I expended. Linking up now to Cooking Up Quilts Main Crush Monday #156.