Appliqué Towels!

Every year I stitch towels for high school swimmers that have qualified for the state swim meet. A local tradition is that the state qualifiers make a towel for one of their fellow state qualifying swimmers, and the towels are always personalized for that swimmer.

Today I thought I would share two of the towels I worked on, and the towel I am making for my granddaughter.

  1. Purchase 2 yards of 45″ wide towel terry fabric is at the fabric store.
  2. After working out the design elements of the towel, I begin to appliqué them on top.
  3. I use Pellon Wonder Under to fuse the appliqués on and than do a loose satin stitch to finish the edges of the appliqués.
  4. Be careful not to satin stitch too tightly or you will stretch out the towel fabric.

Pellon Wonder Under is a fusible web product that is wonderful for working with appliqués. Fusible Web is basically a sheet of glue with paper attached to one side. You trace your design (mirror image) on to the paper. Trim around the tracing leaving about ¼” around your design. Lay the paper webbing with the glue side to the back of your fabric and iron the two together. The heat will activate the glue, adhering it firmly to your project. Now trim directly on the line you drew on the paper. Remove the paper backing and place the wrong side of the appliqué to the right side of your project and iron again. This will fix the two fabrics together. Because the glue sheet is all the way to the edge of the appliqué you should not have much fraying if any; however, it is always good to finish the edge with a satin or blanket stitch.

This first swimmer is into the argyle look so I took the red towel and added black and white diamonds and than did a zig-zag stitch through the diamonds to create the design. After the design was complete, I went back and appliquéd on the swimmer’s name and the other letter elements (the category she qualified for, the year, and of course the school name). I choose white because it would stand out nicely and still worked well with the other colors in the towel. As you can see, Lauren is a diver.

Some of the towels are more graphic than others, here is one for a freestyle swimmer who also happens to like cars.

Of course, working on projects like these tends to inspire me in other, similar directions. Below is a picture of a beach towel I have just finished for my granddaughter for Easter.

Her towel is being made onto a store-bought towel (no requirement to ‘make’ every element of her towel!), and I got the idea for the appliqué pieces from a new quilting book that I have recently previewed for Hancock Fabrics.

Anyone looking for some inspiration for some cheery quilts should consider taking a look at this book once it becomes available!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

3 thoughts on “Appliqué Towels!

  1. kendra says:

    I need help! I am new to sewing and just got an embroidery machine, too. I want to take store bought towels and put my daughter’s name on them. they are so thick that they seem impossible to hoop, so I was thinking that maybe you don’t actually embroider towels, maybe you embroider fabric and applique that onto towels. is that what you have done here? Would I embroider her name – cut it out – and applique each letter on? I know this is an elementary question, but I am literally brand new at this! Thanks!


  2. sheilareinke says:

    You do the embroidery directly on the towel. This is what you need to do. Do not hoop the towel but instead you will want to hoop the stabalizer. You will have options on the stabalizer. You can hoop a sticky stabalizer or you can hoop a regular stabalizer and spray with Sulky KK2000. After that you simply lay the towel over the stabalizer ( not hooping the towel) and start the embroder machine. Just a note: You will also want to put a stabablizer for the top of the towel so your stitches will stay on the top. I usually use a wash away on the top.
    Hope that helps and happy stitching!


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