There are a few specific considerations to keep in mind when embroidering on towels. First, it's best if your design isn't incredibly dense, since terry cloth is already a very thick fabric. This actually makes monograms the ideal embroidery design for towels because the letters tend to be generously spaced. You'll also find you need unique stabilizers and specific techniques for using them. We've added our advice below for choosing the right materials.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 350E)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Tear away stabilizer
- Water soluble stabilizer
- 40wt. rayon thread in colors for design
- Towel to embroider
- Fabric marking pen
- 90/14 needles
There's a certain amount of discussion in embroidery communities concerning the proper type of stabilizer to use when creating monogrammed towels. And, believe me ... it can get as wild as those political forums! I usually leave before people start hurling hoops at one another.
Cut away stabilizer is the firmest stabilizer available, and will provide the best support for your project during the embroidery process, and during laundering. This is a good option for embroidering towels, because they tend to get a lot of wear. However, my personal preference is to NOT use cut away stabilizer, because the back of the towel will be seen. I prefer to use tear away, so the stabilizer can be cleanly removed from the back of the towel. When you remove cut away stabilizer, you need to cut the stabilizer from the back of the stitching. This is a bit tricky with towels, because it is dang hard to cut the stabilizer away without cutting down the loft of the terry cloth. By comparison, you simply tear off the tear away stabilizer. Tear away is a close second to cut away in firmness, and will still support the towel well during the embroidery process. But it may not hold up as well in the laundering process. This is a concession I'm willing to make for the sake of cleanly and easily removing the stabilizer. You can experiment with both kinds of stabilizer to see which you prefer.
Because towels have a lot of loft (by 'loft' we are referring to the plush depth or fuzziness of towels), it's also important to place stabilizer on TOP of the towel during embroidery. Using a rinse away, or water soluble stabilizer on the top of the towel will maintain the loft of the fabric during the embroidery process. This way, the design doesn't get lost in the fabric, and the stitches are able to emerge from the surrounding towel. Once you are done with the embroidery process, just run the design under warm water to rinse away the water soluble stabilizer.
You may also notice we call for a specific kind of needle: 90/14. This needle is great for embroidery because it's extra sharp for penetrating the fabric. The eye and shank are also specially crafted so polyester or rayon embroidery thread won't fray or shred during the embroidery process. For best results, you should still change your needle frequently when monogramming; at least at the beginning of every new project.
- I like to work with a printed template of my monogram. I print my monogram design at actual size on a semi-transparent paper, and trim around the design. Then I use this template to figure out where the monogram will look best on my towel.
- Once you've settled on your monogram's position, take your fabric marking pen and create marks on your towel to guide the position of your hoop. Your embroidery machine manual will give you the step-by-step instructions you need to place these 'register marks' to achieve your perfect hoop position.
- Layer the towel with tear away stabilizer underneath the area you want to monogram.
- Hoop the towel and stabilizer.
At Your Sewing Machine
- Place the hoop on the machine, and select the monogram design you want to embroider.
- Place water soluble stabilizer on top of the hoop, allowing the stabilizer to 'float' as the design is being stitched. If you'd like, and your machine has the option, you can run a basting stitch around the perimeter of the hoop to hold the water soluble stabilizer in place.
- Stitch your design.
- Remove the hoop from the machine, and the towel from the hoop.
- Remove basting stitches if necessary.
- Tear or cut stabilizer from the back of the fabric.
- Rinse away the water soluble stabilizer.
- Carefully trim any jump threads.
Hints and Tips
These are our super simple steps for towel monogramming along with our favorite tips about stabilizers. If you're new to monogramming, take the time to read through your machine's manual. You should find all the steps you need for proper machine set-up, hooping and stitching.
You should also check with your sewing machine dealer about classes; many have fabulous education departments and offer great intro-to-embroidery courses. Some even have clubs. Monogramming is a wonderful beginner project because the designs are simple and there are few thread changes.
Other machines suitable for this project include the Viking Designer Topaz 30 and the Bernina Artista 730E.