Decorative Tea Towels

Make a decorative tea towel in an afternoon!

Decorative Tea Towels

by: Amy

Hi guys!  I am happy to be back here at Craftaholics Anonymous® today with another “make it in an afternoon” project.  Those are my favorite kinds of projects, really.  Not too much of a commitment and almost -instant gratification.  Win-win!  I found some fabric that I loved at Hobby Lobby a while back, but it wasn’t a perfect match for the color scheme I have going on in my open floor plan living area right now.  I figured I could get away with using it as a bright punch of color on some funky tea towels in my kitchen.  Guess what . . . I LOVE it!!

I don’t do a ton of embroidery {don’t look too close at the photos, mmkay?}, but I find it very relaxing.  I settled in on the couch one Friday evening and knocked this set of two towels out while catching up on my favorite Netflix shows.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone!  You can use my pattern or freehand your own to make a fun decorative accent for your kitchen.

You will need:

  • 1 yard of linen fabric
  • 1/3 yard of decorative accent fabric
  • 1 roll of thin decorative rope trim or small satin cording
  • embroidery floss & needle
  • printable pattern {Click on the image below to open it up, then right click and save to your computer.}

shake and bake

Step one:  Cut the linen fabric to the desired size for your tea towels.

I wanted my towels to be a little over-sized, so I went with 23 inches wide by 33 inches long.  You will easily get two towels out of your yard of fabric, and possibly 3 if the fabric you buy is wide enough.

pretty tea towels

Step two:  Applique the ampersand. 

Using your printed pattern as a guide, cut one ampersand shape out of the decorative fabric for each tea towel you are making.  Pin the cut-out onto the linen fabric in the center of the lower half and machine stitch around the outside edges.  To determine the placement, I just hung the linen fabric piece over my oven door handle and eyeballed it, but you could measure carefully to find the exact center if you are so inclined.  I used a straight stitch around the edges because I want the fabric to fray a little after I wash the towels.  For a more finished look, use a tight zig-zag stitch.

decorative tea towels

Step 3:  Lightly trace the rest of your pattern onto the linen towel.

If you are lucky enough to have a light box, use that to lightly trace the pattern onto the linen with a pencil.  Otherwise, you can go old school and hold it up to a window to trace it.  If you are lucky, your linen might be light enough to see the pattern through it without any back light.

how to hand embroider

Step 4:  Attach the rope trim or satin cording along the lines of the words you are embroidering.

Following the lines you just traced, lay the rope or cording out on the linen fabric.  I used a needle and thread to tack it in place every half-inch or so along the length of the words.  If I do this project again, I might do a couple of things differently in this step.  First, I would choose a rope or cord in a color that matched my background better.  The gray I used worked great for demonstration purposes, but it was extra hard to make sure it was hidden under the embroidery floss.  Second, I would use a little hot glue or fabric glue to hold the cord in place rather than tacking it with thread.  It would save a little bit of time in the long run.

dish towels

Step 5:  Embroider over the cording.

Use all 6 strands of the embroidery floss at a time to get really good coverage.  Take small stitches over the cord, close together until the cord is completely hidden.  Just pull the needle up on one side of the cord and down on the other side, until it looks like the photo above.  Keep going, following the cord until you reach the other end of each word.  This is the tedious part.  Netflix will be your friend! When you are finished it will look like this:

decorative dish towels

Step 6:  Finish the side edges with decorative fabric.

Cut strips of the decorative fabric 1½ inches wide by the width of the fabric {usually about 44 inches}.  You will need two strips for each tea towel.

make your own dish towels

With the tea towel right-side-down, pin a strip of decorative fabric along each long edge.  The decorative fabric should also be right-side-down, as shown in the photo above.  Stitch the decorative fabric in place with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

pretty dish towels

Press the seam allowance open as shown above.

tea towels

Fold the outside edge of the decorative fabric in to the center of the seam {where the stitching is} and press in place.

dish towels

Fold the decorative fabric over one more time, so that it covers all the raw edges of  the seam allowance.  Pin and then stitch in place.

how to make pretty tea towels

Step 7:  Hem the top and bottom edges.

On the top and bottom of the towel, make a narrow rolled hem toward the back side to create finished edges.

Make your own decorative dish towels

Hang it over your oven door handle and enjoy the bright, fun pop of color in your kitchen!  I probably wouldn’t use these towels for any heavy-duty kitchen cleaning, but I love the way they look.  So, while you’re giving your oven a break from daily cooking duty and using your grill this summer, take a minute to dress it up and make it the star of the kitchen with these bright, funny tea towels.  Happy Summer, friends!

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  1. 1

    Thanks for this excellent tutorial. I’m gonna make it. Kisses from Venezuela!