How to Decorate Tea Towels

Transforming plain tea towels into works of art is an enjoyable and creative process that allows you to add a personal touch to your kitchen or make thoughtful, handmade gifts for friends and family. Whether you choose to embellish them with fabric paint, embroidery, or unique stamping techniques, the possibilities are endless.

How to Decorate Tea Towels

In this guide on how to decorate tea towels, we’ll explore a variety of methods to decorate tea towels, each offering its own charm and level of craftsmanship. Get ready to unleash your creativity and give a new lease of life to those ordinary kitchen accessories!

What is a Tea Towel?

Before we dive into the different ways to decorate tea towels, let’s first define what exactly a tea towel is. Tea towels are rectangular pieces of plain or patterned fabric that are primarily used for drying dishes and wiping hands in the kitchen. They vary in size but are usually larger than hand towels and smaller than bath towels. Tea towels can be made from various materials such as cotton, linen, or microfiber and can come in a range of colors and designs.

Why Decorate Tea Towels?

So, why go through the effort of decorating tea towels when plain ones are perfectly functional? Well, for starters, it’s a fun and relaxing activity that allows you to express your personality and creativity. Additionally, decorated tea towels can add a pop of color and character to your kitchen, making it feel more warm and inviting. Moreover, they make great gifts for housewarmings, holidays, or any special occasion. It’s also a great way to upcycle old or stained tea towels and give them a new purpose.

Specially Designed to Adhere to Fabrics

Materials You’ll Need

Before we begin decorating, let’s make sure you have all the necessary materials. Depending on the decoration method you choose, you may need some or all of the following items:

Plain Tea Towels

As mentioned earlier, tea towels come in different materials and sizes. Choose the ones that best suit your preferences and decorating techniques.

Fabric Paints

Fabric paints are specially designed to adhere to fabrics without fading or washing off easily. They come in various colors and finishes, such as matte, metallic, or glitter.

Make Great Gifts for Housewarmings

Embroidery Floss/Thread

Embroidery is a beautiful and intricate way to decorate tea towels. For this, you’ll need embroidery floss or thread in your desired colors.

Embroidery Hoop/Needle

To embroider on tea towels, you’ll need an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut and a needle specifically for hand embroidery.


Stamps are a quick and easy way to add designs to your tea towels. You can either use pre-made stamps or carve out your own designs on rubber blocks.

Ink Pads

To stamp on fabric, you’ll need ink pads that are designed for use on fabric. They come in various colors and are washable as well.

11 Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Decorate Tea Towels

Step 1: Planning Your Decorations

Before you begin, it’s essential to have a plan in mind for your tea towel designs. You can sketch out your ideas on paper or use templates to guide your decorations. The possibilities are limitless, so don’t be afraid to get creative! It’s helpful to have a theme in mind, such as nature-inspired designs or holiday-themed patterns. You can also mix and match different techniques to create unique designs. It’s entirely up to you! The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the creative process.

You Use Items You Already Have at Home

Step 2: Preparing Your Tea Towels

Wash and dry your tea towels before decorating. This will remove any chemicals or residues from the fabric and ensure a smooth surface for painting or stamping. The tea towels should also be ironed to remove any wrinkles and make the fabric easier to work with. It’s best to work on a flat, clean surface to avoid any mess or accidental spills. You can also place a sheet of parchment paper between the front and back layers of the tea towel to prevent any paint or ink from bleeding through.

Step 3: Painting with Fabric Paint

Fabric paint allows you to create detailed and vibrant designs on your tea towels. You can use it freehand or with stencils for more precise patterns. Make sure to place a piece of cardboard or paper under the tea towel to prevent the paint from bleeding through. You can also use masking tape to create clean, straight lines on your designs. If you’re using multiple colors, make sure to let each color dry before applying the next one. The fabric paint should be heat-set once it’s dry, either by ironing or using a dryer.

Step 4: Embroidering Your Tea Towels

Embroidery adds a beautiful and intricate touch to your tea towels. Start by securing your tea towel in an embroidery hoop and threading your needle with your desired embroidery floss or thread. There are various stitches you can use, such as backstitch, satin stitch, or French knot. You can also refer to embroidery tutorials online for more guidance. Once you’re done embroidering, gently remove the tea towel from the hoop and trim any excess floss or thread. You can also iron your embroidered tea towel to give it a neat finish.

Attach a Small Loop

Step 5: Stamping on Your Tea Towels

Stamping is a quick and easy way to add designs to your tea towels. Start by applying ink onto your stamp evenly, making sure not to use too much. Then, press the stamp firmly onto your tea towel and hold for a few seconds before lifting it off. You can create patterns with multiple stamps or use different colors for a vibrant look.

Once you’re done stamping, let the ink dry completely before using or washing your tea towel. The ink pads used for fabric are usually washable, but it’s best to check the instructions on your particular ink pad.

Step 6: Creating Block Prints

Block printing is a traditional technique that involves carving designs onto rubber blocks and using them as stamps. You can either purchase pre-made block stamps or carve out your own designs on a rubber block. Once you have your block, apply ink onto it evenly and press firmly onto your tea towel. You can experiment with different colored inks and block designs for unique patterns.

The process is similar to stamping, but the outcome will have a more handmade and rustic feel. Although block prints can be used multiple times, they may need re-inking after a few uses.

Step 7: Adding Applique

Applique involves attaching fabric cutouts or patches onto another fabric, creating a layered design. For tea towels, you can use fabric scraps or pre-made appliques and sew or glue them onto the towel. It’s best to use a fabric adhesive that is specifically designed for this purpose.

Using a Sewing Machine

You can also sew on the appliques using a sewing machine or hand-sewing needle and thread. It’s a great way to add texture and dimension to your tea towel decorations. The appliques should be heat-set if using a fabric adhesive.

Step 8: Embellishing with Beads or Sequins

Beads and sequins are a fun way to add sparkle and shine to your tea towels. You can either sew them on individually or use fabric glue to attach them in patterns. If you’re using fabric glue, make sure it’s suitable for washable items.

It’s best to let the glue dry completely before using or washing your tea towel. You can also combine beads and sequins with other techniques, such as painting or stamping, for a unique look. But make sure to avoid using too many heavy embellishments, as they can weigh down the tea towel and make it difficult to use.

Step 9: Using Iron-On Transfers

Iron-on transfers are a convenient way to add designs to your tea towels. You can purchase pre-made transfers or create your own using transfer paper and a printer. Make sure to follow the instructions on the transfer paper carefully, as they may vary depending on the brand. Once you have your design transferred onto your tea towel, heat-set it by ironing over it with a hot iron for a few minutes. You can also add additional details to your design with fabric paint or embroidery. The possibilities are endless!

Step 10: Finishing Touches

Once you’re done decorating your tea towels, it’s time for some final touches. You can add decorative trim or ribbon along the edges of your tea towel for a polished look. You can also attach a small loop at one corner of the towel to hang it from a hook or drawer handle. And don’t forget to add a label with your name or initials if you’re planning on giving these as gifts! It’s always a nice personal touch to add to handmade items. 

You can also wrap your tea towels in a pretty ribbon or fabric and tie it with a bow for an extra special presentation. And voila, your unique and stylish tea towel is now ready to be used or gifted! Remember to care for your decorated tea towels according to the instructions on the materials you’ve used, and enjoy using them in your kitchen or as thoughtful gifts for friends and family.

Embroidery Adds a Beautiful and Intricate Touch

Step 11: Caring for Your Decorated Tea Towels

To ensure that your decorated tea towels last, it’s important to take proper care of them. Machine wash them in cold water with like colors and mild detergent. Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, and never use fabric softener as it can affect the paint or other decorations. You can tumble dry them on low heat, but air-drying is recommended to prevent any shrinking or damage to the decorations.

Finally, avoid ironing directly over any decorated areas, and instead, iron from the back side of the towel.

Following these steps on how to decorate tea towels, you can create beautifully decorated tea towels that are both functional and unique. Get creative and have fun with different techniques and designs. These make great gifts for any occasion or a lovely addition to your own kitchen decor. Happy crafting! 

Do You Need to Use Professionals Help?

While decorating tea towels can be a fun and easy DIY project, some techniques may require professional help or specialized equipment. For example, if you’re using screen printing or sublimation printing methods, it’s best to leave it to the experts who have the proper tools and experience. Similarly, if you’re embroidering intricate designs or using delicate fabrics, seeking help from a professional embroiderer can ensure a high-quality result. Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance if needed, as it can save you time and frustration in the long run. 

Keep in mind that the most important thing is to enjoy the process and create something that reflects your personal style! Happy crafting!  So go ahead and get started on your tea towel decorating journey, and have fun exploring different techniques and designs.

How Much Could It Cost?

The cost of decorating tea towels can vary depending on the techniques and materials used. Some techniques, like stamping or applique, can be relatively inexpensive if you use items you already have at home. However, if you’re interested in more advanced techniques like screen printing or embroidery, there may be additional costs for supplies and equipment.

It’s best to do some research and plan out your project before purchasing materials so you can stay within your budget. Remember, decorating tea towels is a fun and creative process, so don’t be afraid to get creative and improvise with what you have!  So gather your supplies and start decorating those tea towels today!  Happy crafting! 

It's Essential to Have a Plan in Mind

Care and Maintenance

As with any handmade item, it’s important to properly care for your decorated tea towels to ensure their longevity. Here are some tips on how to maintain and clean your tea towels:

  • Wash in cold water with like colors and mild detergent.
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach.
  • Never use fabric softener, as it can affect the paint or other decorations.
  • Tumble dry on low heat or air-dry to prevent any shrinking or damage to the decorations.
  • Iron from the back side of the towel to avoid damaging any decorated areas.

By following these simple care instructions, you can enjoy your decorated tea towels for years to come!  So go ahead and get creative with your designs and techniques, and have fun decorating your own unique tea towels.

Showcasing Your Decorated Tea Towels

Once you’ve finished decorating your tea towels, it’s time to showcase them in your kitchen or give them as gifts. Here are some ideas on how you can display and use your decorated tea towels:

  • Hang Them on a Towel Rack or Hook in Your Kitchen for Easy Access.
  • Display Them Folded on a Countertop or Shelf.
  • Use Them as Place Mats at Your Dining Table.
  • Wrap a Bottle of Wine or Homemade Treats in the Tea Towel and Tie it With a Ribbon for a Unique Gift.
  • Frame Them for a Personalized and Decorative Wall Art Piece. 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to showcasing your decorated tea towels. Have fun finding new ways to display and use them in your home!  So go ahead and get creative with your designs and techniques, and enjoy your beautifully decorated tea towels. Happy crafting!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I Use Regular Paint for Fabric Instead of Fabric Paint?

A: It’s best to use fabric paint designed specifically for this purpose, as it will be more durable and washable. Regular paint may crack or peel off the fabric after washing. It’s worth investing in the right materials for a longer-lasting result. 

Q: Can I Use Any Type of Tea Towel Fabric?

A: For best results, it’s recommended to use 100% cotton or linen fabric for decorating tea towels. These fabrics are more absorbent and will hold the decorations better without fading over time. Other fabrics may not work as well or may require special techniques for adhesion.

Q: Is It Necessary to Pre-Wash the Tea Towels Before Decorating?

A: Yes, it’s important to pre-wash the tea towels before decorating to remove any sizing or chemicals that may affect the adhesion of your decorations. Make sure to also dry them completely before starting any decoration techniques.

Q: Can I Decorate Both Sides of the Tea Towel?

A: Yes, you can decorate both sides of the tea towel using any of the mentioned techniques. Just make sure to let one side dry completely before decorating the other side to avoid smudging or bleeding of colors.


Decorating tea towels is more than just an artistic endeavor; it’s a fun way to infuse personality into a household staple or create memorable gifts. By following the methods outlined in this guide on how to decorate tea towels, from fabric painting to embroidery or even stamping, you can transform simple tea towels into bespoke pieces that celebrate your individuality or express your fondness for loved ones. So, grab your materials, and let your imagination run wild – the humble tea towel is your canvas to beautify!

Leave a Comment