Random Stories

Treasuring the Art of Grandma’s Flour Sack Towels

My Grandma Janet has been embroidering flour sack towels for as long as I can remember. Now that she is in her mid 80s with painful arthritis, I do not take her treasured art for granted. This set is one of my favorites.

If you spend much time whipping up good eats in your kitchen, you know that even if you have a dishwasher, there are always dishes to wash and dry. A good-quality flour sack towel dries dishes better than any kitchen towel I’ve used. Grandma won’t buy the towels unless they are the big, heavy fabric. And she’ll spend lots of time sorting through the bin to find the towels that are almost perfectly square.

Grandma gives each of her grandchildren a set as a wedding gift.

(The marriages have usually outlasted the towels.)

I already bought one set for each of my kids just in case grandma isn’t around when they find true love and get married.

Notice how flat and neatly folded they are? Grandma insists on ironing each towel before she lets you have them.

They are never ironed again.

Grandma uses random embroidery threads, occasionally purchasing new colors. Even though she is often unsure that she has chosen the right colors for the designs, I have yet to see one that I don’t absolutely love!

I have purchased extra towel sets for myself because as often as we use dish towels, we go through a set every few years. And I don’t ever want our kitchen linen drawer to be without them.

I am not the crafty one in my family so I am hoping one of my sisters will carry on Grandma’s artful tradition. (I will learn how to bake her secret sugar cookies.)

As you can see, there’s one towel from my day-of-the-week chocolate towel set that got burned. I’m not sure why he thought it was ok to wipe a hot burner with a towel, but I was mad. And I was sad that it broke up my set. Then he asked Grandma Janet to make me a new one. She did. And everything was right again.

Grandma Janet and Grandpa Elroy next to their Rambler in 1968.

Does someone in your family make something that your family cherishes? Who is learning to continue their tradition?

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  1. Hi Becky! Grandma said she has a few extra sets of the towels but they are different patterns than this one. They are $29.99 per set of seven towels plus shipping. Let me know if you are interested and I will take a few photos of them for you. Thanks! Staci

  2. A beautiful post about a beautiful and talented woman. Her work is wonderful and you are very lucky to have this treasures.

  3. Sis, I think Kalli knows how to embroidery and I do enjoy it as well, so the skill will go on in the family. The biggest issue is that it is very, very time consuming. At this point in our lives we just don’t have the time. You know, in the good old days, wives didn’t work 40-60 hours a week outside of the home and would have the luxuary of sitting and crafting whether it be for fun/relaxing or out of necessity. This will have to be part of our schedule in our retirement years. But of course, we may never have the fine craftsmanship that Grandma has developed over her many years of stitching! Thank you for documenting about Grandma’s towels. It is almost as beautiful as her!

  4. You are so right, Barb!! I don’t know very many people anymore who embroidery. And most young women these days don’t know what flour sack towels are. I’m glad my daughter (who is only 11 now) will have at least one set to enjoy when she has her own home.

  5. I love these – especially that they are from your grandma! My mom always used flour sack towels – I wish I had a collection of them!

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