Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TUTORIAL: Personalized Bath Towel

Continuing the tradition of making gifts for the sweet girl next door (she and her momma love all things homemade), I made my neighbor a personalized bath towel. Here's the how-to.

  • Bath towel
  • Scrap of fabric
  • Wonder Under, or similar paper-backed fusible web
  • Name (letters) printed onto computer paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • thread, scissors, sewing machine
  • iron, pressing cloth (muslin or other medium weight fabric)
1. Print name onto computer paper.
TIP: Use a font with thick/bold letters. Skinny letters make for skinny scraps of fabric, which are hard to work with and barely show up on the towel.

2. Fuse fabric to Wonder Under.
Cut out the name. This helps you see what size you need to cut your fabric and Wonder Under. TIP: Cut your Wonder Under slightly smaller than your fabric --approximately 1/8" on each side -- so that none of the adhesive sticks to your ironing board when you fuse the Wonder Under to your fabric.

Lay wrong side of fabric against the bumpy side of the Wonder Under. Press for 5-8 seconds with hot, dry iron. Let cool.

3. Trace name and cut letters.

Now that your fabric is fused to the Wonder Under, flip your fabric over so that the right side of your fabric is laying on your table and the paper backing of the Wonder Under is facing up.

Lay tracing paper on the paper backing with the right side of the tracing paper facing down against the paper backing.

Lay your computer paper face down on the tracing paper. You should still be able to see the shape of your letter through the wrong side of the computer paper. TIP: If you can't see through the paper and are familiar with your computer software, you can print the name in reverse and trace the letters exactly as they appear on your printout.

Use the dull tip of a mechanical pencil to trace the outline of the letters.

Your name should look like this. See how the letters are backwards? If you picked up the strip of fabric and held it in front of a mirror, you would be able to read the name correctly.

Cut letters following the traced lines. When you flip over the letters so that the fabric side faces up, the name should look normal.

4. Adhere letters to towel.
Peel the paper backing off each letter.

Arrange letters on the towel.

Cover letters with a damp press cloth. With iron at wool setting, press firmly for 10-15 seconds. Repeat until each letter is fused.

Peel back your pressing cloth and check to make sure that the letters are bonded to the towel, especially along edges and corners. If the letters are damp, iron them to remove the excess moisture.

5. Edgestitch around letters.

Edgestitch around each letter. I used a narrow zig zag stitch. Remember, since your letters are already adhered to the towel, you don't need to use pins. Hooray! TIP: When you reach a corner, leave your needle down in the towel, lift the presser foot, and pivot the towel 90 degrees. TIP: If I made this towel again, I would use darker thread. The thread I used was an exact match to the blue in the fabric, but barely showed up on the towel.


Wrap it with a bow and it's ready to go.

Hope this helps. If you make a towel, please leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to stop by your blog and see your good work. :)


  1. Great job. Thanks for all the pictures and directions. :)

  2. Will you make me one? I NEVER see my name on personalized things!!! Too cute!

  3. That's a great idea! Didn't know it would stick to towelling but now I do. Looking forward to some decorating now.

  4. I love this project! Thanks so much for sharing and including such detailed steps. I'd like to make a few of these for Christmas gifts,but I'm brand new to sewing (just figuring out how to thread the machine). Do you think this is too ambitious for me to tackle?

    1. Could experiment on a few old towels before making one for gifts. . . practice makes perfect! You can do it! Once you get the hang of sewing a few items you will work your way up to more complicated items! Have fun!!

  5. It´s a funny idea! I love the fabric.
    Hugs from Málaga (Spain)

  6. Heather, this is a great project for a beginner. Here are my tips.
    1) It's easier to work with less-fluffy towels than thick, plush ones.
    2) In this tutorial, I edge stitched the letters using a zig zag stitch. If you liik at this other towel I made (http://what-rachel-made-today.blogspot.com/2010/01/ctr-towel.html) and then click on the photo of the towel for a close up, you'll see that I used a straight stitch along the edges of the applique. I think straight stitching is easier and would have done that with the personalized towel except that the towel I made for Greta was so dang fluffy that the edges of each letter weren't bonded on very well.
    3) Any towel you applique will be thicker than sewing two pieces of mid-weight fabric. I think the default settings on most machines are meant for sewing mid-weight fabric. You'll probably need to adjust the thread tension, pressure foot, and use a longer stitch length (3.5 - 4). Your machine's user manual probably says how to adjust for working with thick materials.
    I don't know that I'll be much help, but if you get stuck, please feel free to ask me any questions. Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the inspiration. This is a wonderful tutorial. I have a few little girls in my life that would love this.

  8. so I tried to leave a comment a few days ago, but blogger wasn't liking me! first of all, this is an amazing tutorial. thanks so much for sharing. I'm totally going to be trying this out...i just need to practice edge stitching first.

    thanks for asking about my husband...he was here for 2 weeks this summer towards the end of july/early august. he was so relieved to get a break from the 120 degree days over there!

  9. Thanks for the great tutorial! What font did you use on the name?

  10. @The Bevers - I didn't save the file but I believe the font is Zurich Blk BT. Good luck!

  11. I love this!!! I'm a new follower and love your ideas! Will definitely be trying some at home!

  12. Awesome tute! The exact match on the thread is chic. But I bet a brighter color would have looked just as swell.

  13. I LOVE this tutorial -- I included it in my "Handmade Christmas Gift Guide." Plan on making it for my daughter and son!

  14. Very nice! A towel present with very warm thoughts.

  15. This would make a terrific gift for my friend's daughter! Thanks so much for the very clear tutorial! I can't wait to get started.

  16. Love the look of this towel...very professional! Plan on using this idea for my twin grand-boys, Caden and Conner, for their 4th birthday this Sept. I have purchased lime green towels and am going to use brightly colored fabric with fish, sea horses, and sea stars printed on it for the lettering.

  17. Such a great gift idea!!! Thanks! -Question: besides using a narrow zig zag stitch, did you have to adjust your sewing machine in any other way?

  18. How nice of you to share these DIY personalised bath towels. This work is just perfect for the coming holidays. But oh, there are retailers offering personalised bath towels nowadays. This is also ideal since this can save one more time.

  19. This personalized bath towel is absolutely a perfect gift for anyone. I’m sure anyone would love and appreciate a gift with their name on it. I’d like to make one for my sister as a gift for her wedding. I’m sure she’ll love this. ->Yon Vann

  20. Very nice! A towel present with very warm thoughts

  21. Such a nice idea which you share here, Looking very beautiful just like a gift which decorated in shelf, I like it very much and i try to do it and then share with all of you that what's happen after it

  22. This would work great for a monogram or just a single initial too. Might be an good introduction for a beginner like me :)

  23. Do you have to stitch around the letters?

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  28. What size font did you use for the name?

  29. I am very confused about how you traced the letters. Wouldn't you need to trace the letters on the Wonder Under prior to adherig it to the fabric?

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  33. What kind of tracing paper did u use? Does it matter?

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