The Sunbathing Companion

Hi Everybody!  I’m Stella from The Golden Adventures of a Very Dark Horse and this is my very first time sharing a recipe here at the Moda Bake Shop. Today I am sharing a project I created last Summer (it is midwinter here in New Zealand), for all those lazy days sunbathing down at the beach.  I am forever dragging all sorts of ‘essentials’ with me when I set out to sunbathe, which is how and why this project was borne (much easier to carry it all in one go).

I made a few changes from my original design for this tutorial.  This time I created an envelope sleeve so that you can slide your pillow out after using the towel, which makes it much easier to wash, and pack away when you’re not using it.  I also experimented with the edging just to spice things up.  You’ll see!

This is really quite a simple project, and should suit beginner sewers (such as myself).  I hope you enjoy making it, and please let me know if you have any questions!

1 Oh Deer by MoMo Layer Cake
2 towels in your desired size (old or new – I repurposed two old towels for this project).
1 pillow
Velcro/snaps/domes/buttons.  You may choose whichever of these you prefer.

If using buttons you will need a small amount of braid/ric-rac/cord or something similar to loop around the buttons.

Take your first towel and line it up against your pillow.  Trim the towel so that it is the same width but with a small allowance, 1/2″ or so each side (you can trim it further at a later stage, if needed) – as your pillow, and then put that towel to the side.

Take your second towel and wrap it around your pillow, with the wrong side out.  Pin it down one side, against the pillow, and trim the other side allowing for a 1/4″ hem.  Leave some excess towel along the bottom of the pillow.  You’ll use this fabric to attach the two towels later.  Remove your pillow and stitch down the side that you have pinned.  Hold onto any toweling that you have trimmed off, as you will use these pieces to make the handles for your tote.

Turn your pillow sleeve right side out and place your pillow inside it once again.  Pin along the length of your pillow and also leave a pin where your pillow ends and the hem will be.

Pin marks where pillow ends and hem will be (envelope opening).

Remove your pillow again, and sew where you have pinned – up until your marker.  With the towel wrong side out once again, fold the edges of your pillow sleeve opening and sew a basic hem.  Right side out again, you now have a home for your pillow!
Take both pieces of towel and piece them together, short side to short side.  The pillow sleeve piece will have two layers of towel with adequate room for you to attach it to the other towel.  It is your choice whether you want to slide the other towel between these two pieces before sewing them together, or just bang them together and sew.  The result will look much the same regardless.  This time around I was unable to do a tidy hem as my machine couldn’t get through that much towel, so I left the edges raw.  It looked fine in the end, which made me wonder why I’d bothered trying to make it look tidy last time!
To make this item nice and strong, I made two seams.  One just below where the pillow slides in, with both pieces of Towel 2 backed by Towel 1.  I then stitched another seam just above the edge of Towel 2.  See below to get a better idea of what I mean.  You basically just want both pieces stitched together as strong as possible.

Now for the edging!  I used six pieces of Layer Cake from the ‘Oh Deer’ collection by MoMo.  I chose polkadots because they were bright and colourful and I was sure that the recipient of this towel tote would love the colours.  I stitched all six pieces together with a 1/4″ hem.  Easy peasy.

 Sewing those lovely pieces of layer cake together.

Then I folded the strip in half, width-wise, and cut it straight down the middle, leaving me with two matching pieces of edging.

I folded these in half again and ironed them this time.  I then folded each edge another 1/4″ and ironed those edges down, leaving me with two pieces of binding, perfect!

Depending on the size (length) of your towel, you may need to add another piece (or two) of layer cake, but you should end up with two pieces of binding long enough to add to each side of your towel tote.  This time I chose not to add edging to the pillow itself, as I wanted the opening, but the choice is up to you. All you need to do now is pin your binding to each side of your towel tote and topstitch it.  Woohoo!  Your towel tote is looking fabbity fab now!

So now you slip your pillow in (again!  It does get a bit tedious), and roll up your towel tote so that you can decide where want the pockets and handles to go.  Mark out those spots with pins, and leave the towel tote where it is.  Time to make those pockets and handles!
Choose another two or more (depending on how many pockets you would like) pieces of layer cake, and hem along the top of each piece that you are going to use.  Fold (and iron if you desire) the edges in and top stitch the sides and the bottom of each pocket to your tote, in the spaces you have marked with pins.

Now take some of those pieces of towel that you trimmed off the second towel to make the pillow case.  The size you make the handles will depend on how much towel you have, and what size you want them.  The two pieces I cut to make handles with were 78cm long and 15cm wide. Stitch them together with a 1/4″ allowance, and turn them right side out.  Then pin them where you would like them on your tote, and make sure that they are aligned.

Because you are sewing through so much towel at once, you will have to work slowly to attach those handles.  You will also want to make sure they are as sturdy as possible.  Good luck wrangling with your machine!

Once your handles are on (almost there!) just choose your method for closing your bag.  This time I chose buttons, picking two brightly coloured ones from my collection, and a piece of cord that matched my towels to make loops.

Hopefully it looks something like this:

As well as being super handy for personal use, the Sunbathing Companion makes a perfect gift as well.  I made this one for my sister-in-law who has hankered for one since I made the original.  It would be fun to fill the pockets with sweet sunbathing essentials too (magazines and chocolate?  Surely essential!)!

Stella Rutherford
{The Golden Adventures of a Very Dark Horse}