project // musical embroidered towel
When I was 14 I started piano lessons. I would struggle to play anything now, but I'm still fairly musical. At the very least, I could figure out how to embroider a bit of sheet music! The result is a towel that is customized with a patriotic song.
But that's really just one way to make this project. Originally I thought about stitching the first line of the song Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. The intro is so distinct, and a favorite of mine! But then I thought that my mom might like something to display for the 4th of July (and even though Sufjan has a song by that title, it's probably not my mom's thing!).
So let's get musical and stitch up a towel!
You will need:
Ready-to-stitch kitchen towel
Basic embroidery supplies
Near the bottom of the towel, sew five horizontal lines of black thread. Mark the first with masking tape so that you have a straight line. The rest of the lines should be about 1/4in apart, so the foot of your sewing machine will work as a guide.
Backstitch at the end of each line so they don't come undone.
You can have the music go all the way to the edges, but I decided to leave some room at each side. I only wanted to use four measures, so narrowing the area made it so the notes didn't have to be too spread apart.
The amount you leave at each side would depend on how much space you want for the notes. I marked off the width of my hand on each side.
Next, evenly mark each measure. If you're not a musical sort of person, that's each section of music that is divided by a thin vertical line.
You can embroider all of the notation at the beginning (treble clef, time signature, and key), or leave it off. I do recommend choosing a song in the key of C if you aren't adding the notation for the key, otherwise it would be rather confusing to a musician!
The song I used is America the Beautiful, which I just looked up online. Take a look at the sheet music. The first note is actually in it's own mini measure. Because I wanted the first line of the song, I moved the lines for the measures, which I then used to help evenly space the notes.
You can be as accurate or as relaxed with this as you want. And each song will present different situations. When in doubt, follow the music as your pattern.
Next, use a water-soluble marking pen to mark out the location of the notes. The notes are spaced based on how long each note is played, and it's nice to reflect that in the placement of your embroidered notes. But it's not essential.
Getting these markings in place was just a basic guide for me. As I stitched, I just kept looking to the sheet music and adjusting as needed.
And now you stitch! Notes are just small ovals, often with a straight line and maybe a curved flag. Draw or trace them on the sewn lines, or just freehand them, as I did.
Use satin stitch for filled in notes and back stitch for the stems, flags and white notes. Some notes may have a dot next to them (adding 1/8 to the note!), which calls for a small french knot.
For my patriotic song, I used red and blue embroidery floss, alternating the colors. Tie off the thread on each note so you aren't carrying it from note to note.
When you are finished, wash away the markings and give your towel a good ironing. You can see that my music is a little wonky, but you if you've read any sheet music, I bet you can follow it!
And this really is just the beginning. Other ideas to make this towel for yourself or gifts:
Christmas songs (in red and green, of course)
College fight songs (in school colors)
A couple's song (good for weddings, perhaps in their kitchen colors?)
Any favorite song (black notes are a classic!)
What I have here is very simple, but you could make an entire song, adding the base clef, or even words. Seriously...fill the towel with music! You'll just need to have someone help hold it up when it's time to play a song.