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Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Tea Towels

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Embroidering on tea towels is a great way to add color and charm to your kitchen, and are fabulous when giving gifts to friends and family. Learn the best way to embroider on tea towels to guarantee excellent results.

Towels shown in this tutorial were purchased from Target and Home Goods. Other sources include Kohl's, JoAnn's (especially the Aunt Martha brand of towel), Bed Bath & Beyond, and TJ Maxx. Online sources include All About Blanks and The Sewphisticated Stitcher.

Project Needs & Notes

- Tea towel
- Medium weight (2.5 ounce) cutaway stabilizer
- Air-erase pen 

This project was featured in the following:
Let's Dish Lookbook

Designs Used

Begin by washing, drying, and pressing the towel. Tea towels are made of cotton, so they'll shrink when laundered.

A template is a printout of a design, and it's an excellent tool for planning where to stitch.

Print a template of the design from your embroidery software. If you do not have embroidery software, Wilcom's TrueSizer is a free program to use.

Arrange it on the towel until it's right where you want it. Mark the center point, and the horizontal and vertical axis lines.

Every fabric needs stabilizer, and a medium-weight (2.5 ounce) cutaway stabilizer is a good choice for tea towels.

Cutaway stabilizer supports the fabric fibers while embroidering, and also during use and laundering, too.

Hoop the towel with the cutaway stabilizer. The hoop keeps the fabric and stabilizer together, ensuring that the stitches land in the proper spot.

Line the marks on the towel with the marks on the hoop. Then, move the hoop so the needle is right over the center point and embroider the design.

Use a size 11 or 75/11 needle when embroidering on tea towels. Either a sharp sewing needle or an embroidery needle are good choices.

After the design has finished, trim the stabilizer away from the back. Leave about one-half inch around the design.

Embroidered tea towels are a wonderful way to add color to your kitchen, and make thoughtful gifts for family and friends, too.

If you're using a tea towel that is transparent and don't want the cutaway stabilizer to show on the back, you can try tear-away stabilizer.

However, you'll need to use a very light and simple design, and a sharp sewing needle.

Embroidery needles have larger points than sharp sewing needles. That means that larger holes are left in the tear-away stabilizer.

View the examples, and note that the holes left by the embroidery needle are much larger than those left by the sewing needle. Sometimes the tear-away stabilizer will tear away in chunks, and that results in things like shifting, gapping, and misaligned stitches.

Use a good-quality tear-away stabilizer and a sharp sewing needle for best results.

After embroidering, gently tear the stabilizer away.

Because the design is light and simple, and because the sharp sewing needle has a fine point, this tea towel turned out perfectly!.

Designs with low to medium complexity are excellent choices for tea towels.

Inventory changes frequently, and you may not be able to find the exact tea towels shown here. However, you may find a similar good-quality tea towels at stores like Target, Kohl's, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Online resources for towels  include All About BlanksThe Sewphisticated StitcherEmbroider ThisThe Towel Place, and Amazon - specifically Aunt Martha's and Homemakers Dish brands.