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Appliquéd Bath Towels with Jumbo Letters

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Monogrammed towels are one of life's little luxuries, but for a bit more playful option, try appliqué. The letter(s) can be larger and the colors and patterns brighter. It's a great use of some of those pretty scraps hiding in your stash bin. Make a set for your family to help distinguish which towel belongs to which dripping wet person. Bath linens also make an excellent gift for showers, weddings and housewarmings – especially when you can not only personalize the colors, but also the fabric to fit a recipient's decorating theme, hobby or even a favorite sport's team.

Since these towels are more fun, they are also more likely to be used (we all know the good towels hold the same status as the good dishes and the good scissors). Because of this, we recommend pre-washing the towels as well as the appliqué fabric. Press the appliqué fabric after laundering so it is nice and flat. If you adhere the recommended fusible interfacing (see below) following manufacturer's instructions, the interfaced fabric should launder fine once the project is complete. In fact, it should help keep the fabric from wrinkling against the towel.

We offer a PDF download below, which includes the full alphabet of the font we used. 

For information about the more traditional machine embroidered monogram, we have two tutorials you might like: The ABCs of Machine Monogramming and How to Monogram a Plush Towel.

Our bath towels measured 30" wide x 57" high. The bottom of the towel's woven band is 5" from the bottom edge of the towel and the band is 2½" wide.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies listed are for TWO towels

  • Two high-quality bath towels
    NOTE: The higher quality the towel, then denser and smoother the nap of the terry cloth. A smoother nap is easier to appliqué on and provides a smoother finished look.
  • Scraps or ¼ yard of 44"+ wide cotton print fabric; we used scraps of Fans in Sprout and Fans in Pomegranate from the Parisville collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
    NOTE: We recommend a bold fabric with a smaller motif so there is plenty of color and design showing within the letter shapes.
  • ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing; we used ShirTailor® by Pellon
  • ⅓ yard of water soluble stabilizer; we used Super Solvy™ by Sulky
  • Decorative thread in a slightly contrasting shade for the appliqués, we used 40 wt polyester in rose
  • Bobbin thread in white if using a white towel (if you choose another color of towel, you may wish to use all-purpose thread in the bobbin to best match the towel)
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Super sharp, small scissors to trim appliqués
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out the letter(s) you wish to use from the Font Alphabet. The entire alphabet is included, which is a 14-page PDF file. You can print all or select pages. The letters are all sized to match one another; they are approximately 5" in height, although font flourishes make some letters taller than others. Width is determined by the letter itself.
    IMPORTANT: You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out the letter(s) along the solid line.
  3. For each appliqué letter, cut ONE piece of fabric slightly larger than the printed letter and ONE matching piece of fusible interfacing. 
  4. We used the letters A and B, and cut our sample fabric and interfacing to 5” wide x 7½” high. Your pieces may be slightly smaller or larger.
  5. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.
  6. Using a fabric pen or pencil, trace the letter onto the interfaced fabric.
  7. Cut a square of water-soluble stabilizer a few inches larger than your fabric/interfacing pieces. We used a 10" x 10" square for each towel.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the water-soluble stabilizer over the towel, centering it at one end. 
  2. The appliquéd letter should be placed just above the towel's horizontal woven band, so the stabilizer will cover part of the band. Pin the stabilizer square in place. 
  3. Place the fabric, with its traced letter, over the stabilizer so the lowest point of the letter is approximately 1½" above the woven band. For the letter A, the left leg of the letter extended below the right foot, so we were careful to center the letter with this mind and to make sure the letter didn't extend into the woven band. Adjust as necessary for your letter placement and pin the fabric in place. Several of the letters in this font have flourishes of one kind or another; take the time to center each one as appropriate.

    NOTE: Some towels may not feature a woven band. If so, simply center your letter to best suit your eye. 
  4. Thread the machine with decorative thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin. 
    NOTE: As mentioned above, if you choose a towel color other than white, you may wish to use all-purpose thread in the bobbin to best match the towel
  5. If possible, attach an Appliqué foot or Satin Stitch foot
  6. Using a straight stitch, stitch around the entire letter, following the traced outline.
  7. When the stitching is complete, trim away the excess fabric close to the stitching. Cut the fabric only, not the water soluble stabilize. The stabilizer needs to remain to help control the nap of the terry cloth. Small sharp scissors, such as embroidery scissors, work best for this step.

    NOTE: By stitching the appliqué in place in this manner, you have better control to insure your letter stays exactly where you want it. Letters can be challenging because of the swoops, dips, curves and whatnot that make up any given font. A fusible web is traditionally used in appliqué, but is not the best choice for plush terry towels. The heat and pressure required with fusible webs to adhere the letter to the terry can damage the surrounding nap. Our technique eliminates this possibility. 
  8. Change the stitch to a small zig zag. We used a width of 3.0 mm and length of 1.5 mm.
  9. Stitch around all the edges, positioning the appliqué so one swing of the needle catches the edge of the fabric and the other swing of the needle hits off the edge in the towel. 
  10. When this second round stitching is complete, change to a dense satin stitch and sew around the letter a third and final time. We used a setting of 3.5 mm width and 0.04 mm length. 
  11. Trim any excess threads, then pull away the water soluble stabilizer. 
  12. Any remaining stabilizer can be removed with a spritz of water.
  13. The back looks neat and tidy too.

NOTE: Seamstress team member, Michele Mishler has created a machine appliqué collection using this same font for those of you who may be interested in doing this as an embroidery project. For more information, check out Michele's designs at MM Embroidery Designs on Oregon Patchworks Mall.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler


Comments (17)

Hilary said:
Hilary's picture

Wonderful project - I appliquéd a pair of towels as a wedding gift for a colleague at work. Finished items looked very professional, I wasn't sure how the back would look after 3 rows of stitching but was indeed surprisingly neat. Will definitely be making this again - the font is super, modern and big enough to showcase those lovely fabric scraps that have been in your stash forever because you can't bear to throw them away !  I didn't have the stabiliser but it turned out really good without. Another winner from Sew4Home, thank you for posting. 

Mary Johnston said:
Mary Johnston's picture

Thank you so much for this turorial! This is my next project. I have 4 grands and do shirts a lot, with this I will be doing some summer beach towels. I don't have a monograming machine so this is great for us who do applique! also thanks for the link to download the alaphabet, which is always a chore for me to decide on it.


jackie lin said:
jackie lin's picture

Great tutorial. Thanks a lot! I went back to "how to monogram a plush towel" and loved the alphabets used in that tutorial. Can I get a link to it?  

alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture

@ Jackie, that project didn't provide include a downloadable font; it was intended to show how to use the font of your choice to create a monogram. Unfortunately, no one can here can recall what font was used on that sample. 

Stacey Wilson said:
Stacey Wilson's picture

Wow, this tutorial would have saved me much aggrivation in the past! Thank you for posting it!

Andrea L said:
Andrea L's picture

I love this project, but I can't get the link to the pdf for the font alphabet to work. It freezes for a while, but then seems to stay on the project page, but the template for the alphabet does not appear.

alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture

@ Andrea L: We tested the pattern on our end using several computers, smart phones and tablets and are unable to replicate your problem. It may be that your Internet connection is slow and you need to wait longer, however this is only a 200 kb file. Make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (it's free) and that your browser is set to allow you to open files and/or new windows. Beyond that, it's very hard to tell what might be wrong as there are so many variables in computer and browser set-ups, internet connections, etc. 

Andrea L said:
Andrea L's picture

Thanks so much Alicia. I believe my computer is having issues. I received the template via email. However, now I'm thinking it will elimate a few steps to just download the font.

Mary Elizabeth VonDras said:
Mary Elizabeth VonDras's picture

I love it! My 6 yr old keeps the landing the bath handtowels on the ground, so maybe if we each have our own individual towel, and he realizes his is the only one on the ground, he'll be motivated to get with the program!

Momo said:
Momo's picture

How delightful to see one of my favorite fonts (Lobster Two, Bold, Italic) used in this way!  It's a wonderfully clear font, nice and bold, and obviously makes beautiful monograms!   I very frequently use this font for my recipe cards, too!   I don't need the template since I have the font installed, and I can use it to cut out the fabric letters with my Silhouette Cameo. 

Andrea L said:
Andrea L's picture

Hello Momo..I have been looking everywhere for this font in an embroidery design. Can you tell me where you purchased it? I want to use this applique font on towels as gifts, but feel I would have a better finished product with the design installed instead of stitching around the letters myself.  Thanks!

Andrea L said:
Andrea L's picture

Hello Momo....I love this font as well, and I'm thinking it will save me a few steps to download the font as well. I love the large size of the letters, and I'm hoping I can get that jumbo size with a download.

Momo said:
Momo's picture

Andrea, all fonts are resizeable in the program in which you open them.  You choose the size in a drop-down menu or one that sits beside the font name.  It is easiest to do in a graphics program where you can simply drag out the letter to any size you wish, but in Word, for instance, you can type in the number of points you want.  I typed a letter, highlighted it by dragging the mouse across it, and changed the points to 288, and it is over 3 inches tall.  At 600 points, it nearly fills the 8.5" by 11" page.   Using the provided template would be the easiest way for a novice, however.

Kdshields said:
Kdshields's picture

Thank you for this tutorial. I have appliquéd many T's and sweatshirts, but never tackled a towel.  I have 3 wedding shower invitations this spring & these towels will make a great gift. 

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