Embroidering Towels

Have you ever wanted to create elegant towels, blankets, and robes? I am going to show you how!

When I was teaching at a dealership, a lot of people wanted to embroider towels so badly but they were intimidated, they had towels popping out of the hoop, or they just didn't know how to get all of the different designs to look balanced within a set of towels.

This towel was embroidered with designs from our Elegant Embossed Alphabet series. They are available in four different sizes.

I like to pre-wash my towels, it’s a personal preference, because towels can shrink and I don't want the design to be changed in any way.

This happens to be a hand towel and I printed out a couple of different template sizes. I fold my towels in thirds when I hang them up, so the smaller sized of the two monograms (4x4) fits best.

Hoop a medium tear-away stabilizer. I don't like to use a sticky stabilizer or a wet and stick because, sometimes, you can pull loops in the towel when pulling sticky stabilizer away. Mark the hoop’s true center on the stabilizer in a vertical line.

When hooping, make sure that you have the towel’s tag at the opposite end of where you're going to embroider.

Because towels are thick, it is difficult to hoop them the traditional way. In fact you really shouldn't even try as you could get "hoop burn" on your towels. Instead, you are going to float the towel on the stabilizer. I like to use a little bit of spray adhesive to hold the towel in place, just enough to get the hoop from table to the machine. Fold your towel in half, lengthwise, with right sides together to find your vertical center.

Use the towel’s decorative band and the inside edge of the inner hoop as horizontal references when aligning the towel on the stabilizer. Make sure the center fold of the towel is lined up along the vertical center line drawn on the stabilizer. When it is centered properly for your design placement, flip it open.

I gently smooth the nap so that it all lays in one direction and place a water-soluble stabilizer, otherwise known as a topper, on top. Another option is to use a heat-away stabilizer but, with somewhat dense knockdown stitches like these, heat-away stabilizer has a tendency to not completely disappear.

Knockdown stitches are an important element of this design. They are essential because they hold down the pile of the towel so that the embroidery stitches don’t sink out of sight. Once everything is in place, take the hoop to your machine. Add a basting stitch around your design and then move the design to its lowest position within the hoop. (Since you align the decorative towel band on the hoop the same for each towel, lowering the design to its lowest position in the hoop assures you'll have each design the same distance above the band.) Baste the towel and topper in place.

When embroidery is finished, remove your basting stitches. It is pretty easy since  it's a nice, long stitch. I like to work from the back, I just find it a little bit easier to see and grab those stitches. Tear away the topper

To get the rest of the water-soluble topper off, you can simply toss it in the laundry or iron a slightly damp paper towel on top of the topper to remove it.

Easy, beautiful towels! Get the full tutorial video here.

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  • Bonnie Welsh - June 10, 2018

    Pam—You’re most welcome! Thank you for your kind words. Happy to help! =)

  • Pam - June 09, 2018

    Your tutorials are always very easy to follow and great information. Thank you so much for sharing them and for your time to do them.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 08, 2018

    Jan—Great question! The reason I don’t use WSS for the stabilizer on the back is because WSS washes away and you need a stabilizer to keep the towel from curling once it’s washed. Embroidery needs stabilizer to stay put (unless it’s a very light openwork type design) to hold the stitches in place through washings not just through the stitching process. WSS isn’t a “real” stabilizer—it’s a topper used to hold fibers down on napped fabrics. That’s what its true intended use is for. =)

  • Jan Smith - June 07, 2018

    Why not use WSS for the stabilizer for the back of the towel. That way you do not have to remove the tear-away stabilizer.

  • Josephine Tucker - June 07, 2018

    Thank you. Informative and useful.

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