achievement unlocked: owl print calendar tea towel

I got my MRI results a lot sooner than I expected, so I won’t prolong the suspense: my brain is 100% normal. That’s obviously a good thing, but it means that we’re not any closer to finding an explanation for all of my strange health problems. About 5% of people with MS have clear brain scans, so it can’t be ruled out entirely, but you know. MS is pretty rare to begin with; 5% of an already very uncommon disease isn’t terribly likely.

I will be seeing my doctor soon to discuss. In the meantime, it has gotten hot as fuck in Kansas (almost 90 degrees today, ugh) & my body is in open rebellion. I’m having some kind of weird hip thing today. It doesn’t hurt to stand or sit perfectly still, but if I try to move in any way (even turning my head, or, say, typing up a blog post!), I am in excruciating agony. I tried to sew a little this morning because I have a new summer dress ready to roll & it would be perfect for this weather. But the pain is on the right side of my body & the act of using my right foot to press on my machine pedal was so agonizing, I openly wept. I snarfed a Percocet left over from my surgery. It didn’t make a dent.

Anyway! Who cares! Let’s talk about some sewing.

The little summer dress I’m currently working on is made from fabric I simply could not resist, from Spoonflower. I’m not ordinarily all up in the Spoonflower because their fabrics are really expensive, & not necessarily the best possible quality. I mean, you can buy some nice fucking fabric from Mood or wherever for $27 a yard. But I’m such a sucker for prints sometimes. I just fall in love & reason goes out the window.

As long as I was already selling my first-born to pay for some damn jersey, I spent some time on the site to see if there was anything else calling my name, & I discovered a whole selection of really cute calendar prints! Like for tea towels, you know? My mom had some when I was a kid, with, like, an image of a rooster & a whole calendar for 1986 printed beneath it. I’ve always found calendar tea towels really charming, & I was like, “Wait, I could MAKE one!” As so often happens, my mind’s eye took on a certain Vaseline-on-the-camera quality, as I imagined Ramona in fifty years, opening her cedar chest to show someone her treasured collection of pristine calendar tea towels hand-sewn by her mother over the years.


I was quite spoiled for choice in the 2017 department, because, you know, it’s May. I’m sure the designer of the print I chose was surprised to be getting paid for a calendar print so late in the year. It was really hard to pick, but I went with the owls because they just reminded me of Jared & myself somehow. We have a real Statler & Waldorf dynamic, & even though Statler & Waldorf are human Muppets, they’ve always made me think of owls. I guess because I think owls are really judge-y? Just like me & Jared!


You can buy the calendar prints as fat quarters, so I bought one on Spoonflower’s linen blend. The fabric was cardboard-stiff when it arrived, but it relaxed a bit after being washed. To be honest, I’m really not sure how well it would function as an actual tea towel, due to the printing process. It seems like the print really compromises the fabric’s natural absorption properties. Luckily, our house is already overflowing with tea towels & various rags (pro-tip: cut up old sheets & clothing to make un-paper towels; they work perfectly well, they’re re-useable, they don’t cost anything because they’re things that would have otherwise been thrown out, & they are zero effort). So I felt perfectly justified in making a decorative tea towel.


I do think the fabric may have stretched off-grain a bit in the printing process, because there were spots where the printing was not quite straight. Linen goes off-grain easily because it’s such a loose weave. So that was kind of a bummer, but somehow I’ve found the inner strength to persevere.


Yeah, I burnt the corner a little. Whoops.

Nothing really to write home about as far as the sewing process goes. I mitered the corners (another pro-tip: when you trim away the excess fabric after sewing the corner seam, one side of the seam will be trimmed away at an angle; trim away the other side to match & press the seam open for a really sharp, pointy corner) & topstitched with a thread just slightly darker than the background color. I glued on some teeny tiny Swarovski crystals to mark days of importance to our family (our birthdays & Jared’s & my anniversary). I made the hanging loops from a bit of ribbon I had lying around & attached it with double-sided fusible tape so there wouldn’t be any extra visible stitching on the tea towel. Next time, I will stitch the ribbon on before mitering & topstitching, because I do find stitching more trustworthy than using a fusible. Not that a tea towel falling off the wall would be a calamity or anything.


I cut the dowel down to size myself using Jared’s hand saw, & realized in the process…Hey! I’ve never used a hand saw before. My review: not as easy as it looks. The cut edge could really stand to be sanded a bit, but the sandpaper is buried somewhere in the depths of our storage closet, so…nope. It’ll turn up when we move & I’ll sand the dowel then.


So yeah! Just a quick & easy instant gratification project to give myself a break between beading & cross stitching sessions. The finished tea towel is pretty large, like 14″ by 22″ or so? So it adds a lot of pizazz to the house without a lot of effort. I’m already getting antsy for people to design prints for 2018! (Or maybe I’ll design one myself?) Something like this would also make a nice handmade gift, in case anyone wants to get a jump on the December gift-giving holidays.

Really, my only regret is that the owl print gave the Jared the opportunity to say, “More like a tea OWL, am I right?” *sigh* Do you see what I have to live with, people? & he is passing his punnery on to Ramona.


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

13 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: owl print calendar tea towel

  1. This is just adorable – I love those old tea towels and had an embroidered tea towel calendar for a number of years. I’m sorry and happy for your test results. Like, I’m glad there’s nothing terrible up there, but it can be horrible to be unwell and not have answers. I’ve just had a week of tests done and if they come back normal I think I’ll cry.

    1. Thank you! I don’t want to toot my own horn too much, but it did turn out pretty adorbs. I really like it.

      You nailed my feelings on the test results. I hope your tests result in more answers for you.

  2. Jared needs to go live in the punitentiary now. Terrible.

    Seconding being sorry and happy for your results. It’s such a double edged thing, isn’t it? Like something is clearly still WRONG, no matter what the tests say. A positive test result would be bad but at least then you might know what KIND of bad. Well, I’ll settle for being glad that your brain is normal (how many of us can say the same… :P) and also extremely sorry that you are in so much pain. I hope it passes soon (somehow… magically?)

    1. Jared laughed pretty hard at “punitentiary”.

      The MRI results are definitely a double-edged sword. I told Jared yesterday that I felt like Benjamin Button: old before my time. He was like, “I don’t think that’s what that movie was about.” Haha.

      1. Hahaha! The author is dead, Jared. It means whatever we want it to mean!

        I felt like that when I was developing gluten intolerance. Note this is NOT me saying ‘have you considered cutting out gluten?!?!?!’ because uuuugh no. I don’t do that shit, that’s for you and your doctors. I’m just saying… it’s familiar.And then I felt like that again last winter when I was depressed. Like my body just belonged to someone about twenty years older than me. And it STINKS. Many sympathies, I still feel very precarious in my body, like I’m always just waiting for it to betray me again. And I had a really very mild thing to deal with, in the scheme of things.

        1. I would be so bummed if I had a gluten intolerance, if only because I have spent so many years rolling my eyes at other people’s gluten intolerances. (Sorry! But only kind of, haha.)

          1. I mean I can’t talk because SAME. Tbh I still do! People are insufferable. I try not to be insufferable – in general and also about the gluten thing – but probably still am sometimes. It DOES mean I get a nice moral high ground upon which to be extra superior to people with fake gluten intolerances, so I guess that’s fun?

            But also, I miss bread. So there’s that.

            1. Have you tried cactus juice? Maybe that will magically cure you!

              Haha, just kidding. It’s kind of crazy how many people have recommended cactus juice to me as a magical cure-all.

              1. I almost spat out my tea. I was like ‘OH NO not Ciara too… oh. A joke. I see’ XD

                Honestly, people are… terrible. (I am sure I am also terrible, being a people myself)

  3. I wish you had more definitive answers about what’s going on with your health! I hate uncertainty. Especially when it comes to scary stuff like, your health. :\

    I’m sure that Ramona will owlways treasure her collection of tea towels. (Sorrynotsorry for the terrible pun).

    1. So I guess horrific punnery is just the name of the game in Massachusetts, eh?

      Ramona is seriously already getting into the game. She has a friend named Isla (pronounce like Eye-la). They were saying goodbye to each other after a playground play date & Ramona said, “‘Bye, Isla!…Byela…Heh heh heh, Byela. I am so funny.”

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