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Appliquéd Bath Towels with Extra Large Alphabet

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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 than a traditional monogram and the colors and patterns brighter. It's a great use for 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 the 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, the interfacing 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 Shir-Tailor® 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 want 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 piece. 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, 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 want to use all-purpose thread in the bobbin to best match the towel for the neatest look on the back of 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 this straight 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 (14)

Mary H. said:
Mary H.'s picture

i finished two bath towels, then used my printer to reduce the size of my chosen letters in order to make matching hand towels. They all came out fabulous! Thanks for a great idea. I'll be making more of these monogrammed towels for family gifts.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Mary - Thank is fantastic news. If you follow us in social media, we'd love to see a picture or two! You can find us as sew4home on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook and we are sew4home_diy on Instagram.

Annette1952 said:
Annette1952's picture

Thank you for this pattern. I have appliqued towels before but always used the fusible with it. I like this idea better. I'm going to make this tonight for my son & DIL as another Christmas gift. Sounds fun & it looks great!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Annette - So glad to know we've helped with a new idea!

KarenB53 said:
KarenB53's picture

Love this applique. Any chance you know where I can find the lower case letters for this font? Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@KarenB53 - this font is called Lobster and, yes, it does have a lower case option. You can find it with a simple Google search. 

Susan K. said:
Susan K.'s picture

Thank you so much for this great project; I use it for wedding gift towels often. Can you tell me what type of computer program is used to create the letter cut outs for this project?   Thank you!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Susan - We didn't draw/create the seletters; as mentioned above, they are from a free font alphabet we found online called Lobster. There are many, many options for font alphabets online - both free and for a small cost. If you wanted to create your own font, you'd need something like Illustrator or another higher-end drawing program.

AC said:
AC's picture

Please forgive the dumb questions, but I've never tried applique before and I'd like to give this project a go...  My machine doesn't specifically have a "satin stitch," but wouldn't it be okay to adjust the zigzag stitch on my machine and do some practice sewing until I achieve a similar look?  Also, do you have any tips or tricks for securing the satin (or zigzag) stitch?  (Is it as simple as backstitching, or would that create a nasty-looking mess of thread?)  The reason I ask is because I've seen multiple appliqued items at flea markets/craft fairs on which the satin stitch is noticeably coming loose. I definitely want to avoid this, especially on an item that will need to withstand multiple machine washings!  Thanks in advance for any advice.

Sandy Sew said:
Sandy Sew's picture

Liz, this link will not open. It says page not found. The e at the end is not included in the link.  

norskie3 said:
norskie3's picture

This looks like fun!  I love monogrammed towels.  Thanks for today's project.  You make it look doable.

wekebu said:
wekebu's picture

Wow, you actually make this look like I could do this and that it would finish just like yours.  Thank you for giving me daily inspiration!