{Handmade Holiday Gifts} Kitschy Kitchen Towels

It’s time to start thinking about holiday gifts, if you haven’t already done so.  I usually don’t get my shopping done that far in advance, but this year I decided that I’d like to create a few of the gifts on my list…which means I need to get started now.

I am turning a few of my handmade gifts into tutorials for you guys.  The first one that I want to share with you is a set of DIY Kitschy Kitchen Towels.  This a great gift to give as a set, or you can break them up into individual towels to include in other gifts.  Per popular demand on my Facebook page, I put together another free downloadable template to make it easy to replicate!

DIY Kitschy Kitchen Towels

I always have a cute kitchen towel hanging from the handle on my oven.  My little decorative towel collection ranges from darling ones that I’ve picked up at Anthropologie to ones that I’ve made for $2 with items from the Dollar Tree.  We don’t use these towels to dry our hands and wipe up messes since we have a whole drawer full of junky kitchen towels for that, so I always want them to be something very special and quirky.  The set I put together I’m actually keeping for myself (the worst part about handmade gifts – I always want to keep them!), but I’m going to make a few more sets to give as gifts this year.


  • Flour sack towels – 3
  • Fabric paint – 3 bright colors
  • Freezer paper
  • Craft paint brush
  • Decorative trim – 3 yards in bright colors
  • DMC Embroidery floss to match the trim – 3 colors
  • Washable fabric glue
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Sewing needle
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Pencil


1.  You need white flour sack towels for this project.  You can find them at Dollar Tree for $1 each or buy a set of 4 at Target for $3.99.  I personally prefer the quality of the Target towels over the DT towels – I have found the ones at DT aren’t ever cut completely square.

Wash and dry the towels to get them ready to be painted.  I recommend ironing the towels when they are damp so that it’s easier to get the wrinkles out and make them crisp.

2.  Print out the free template download from here.  Trace the pieces of the template onto the non-shiny side of your freezer paper (I found mind next to the freezer storage bags at Walmart) by putting the template under the paper.  Don’t worry about tracing the words yet.

3.  Cut out the inside of a silhouette and speech bubble and iron it shiny side down onto a towel.  I centered my design and put it about 2 or 2 1/2 inches from the bottom edge of the towel.  Leave enough paper around the outside of the design so that you don’t have to be super careful with keeping the paint inside the stencil.

Ironing the freezer paper stencil to the towel is the biggest key to this project.  You need to make sure that every edge is firmly adhered to the towel.  I put my iron on the cotton setting and pressed down hard.  When you think it’s on there perfectly, iron again.  :)  There were a few edges that weren’t perfectly pressed down, and I had some paint bleed.

4.  Lay your towel on top of a piece of cardboard and put a piece of freezer paper (shiny side up) underneath your stencil.  With your craft brush (I LOVE my big flat brush like the one in this package), paint a thin layer of fabric paint onto the stencil, making sure that you cover all the edges really well.  Let it dry for a few minutes and then apply a second layer.  I used paints from the “So Soft” line from DecoArt, but I think the new Martha Stewart craft paints would work great, too.

5.  Carefully peel off the freezer paper and let the towels dry.  If you have a place to hang the towels to dry so that they don’t touch anything, that would be best – the paint will be wet on the back of the towel, too.  I let my towels dry overnight.

6.  Cut out the phrase from the template that corresponds with the silhouette you painted.  Pressing hard with the side edge of a sharpened pencil, color in the back of the phrase paper.

You can then center your phrase on the speech bubble and trace the word with your pencil.  You should be able to see that the phrase has transferred to your towel.  If you want to create your own phrase, you can obviously write it out by and with a pencil directly onto your design.

7.  In the photo above, you can see that I had a bleeding issue (because the stencil wasn’t iron down well enough), which we can mostly fix with this next step.  Put your towel in the embroidery hoop so that you can work on the speech bubble.  With embroidery floss in a contrasting color, embroider the words with a back stitch (tutorial here).  Also, stitch a back stitch around the edge of the speech bubble – you will be able to hide some minor paint bleeding with this stitch.  If you would like, you could also stitch around the silhouette, but I left mine plain.

8.  With your washable fabric glue, attach a strip of trim on the bottom of the towel.  I chose a fun pom pom trim in a matching color as my embroidery floss.

I created three different designs for this project:  1.) a Granny who says, “That’s not my recipe, dear.” 2.) A young Queen Elizabeth who says, “I trust that you have some crumpets.” 3.) And my favorite – a dog who says, “I’m going to eat that when you aren’t looking.”  That is so something that my dog would say.

These towels are washable and make perfect holiday gifts!  Which one is your favorite?

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Project Gallery

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. I love these- so original! I want to steal this idea badly now!


  2. So cute! What a great idea. Any other time of year I’d be tempted to make these for myself but right now I’m picturing these as great presents.

  3. Those are awesome and I will be making them!

    Funny story about “fancy” dish towels. I grew up in a home with regular old dish towels and then the nice dish towels that hung on the stove.
    My husband and his parents, did not. Whenever they come over for dinner they offer to do the dishes and they always use the fancy towels to dry the dishes!!!!
    Even when I show them a drawer full of regular towels. It boggles my mind!

  4. I love those! The dog is my favorite. I have tons of blank towels in my sewing room already, so I have no excuse not to make some.

  5. It happens all the time, I also want to keep my DIYs form me…

  6. These are very cute! Great job.

    The EXACT same thing happens at my house! I have towels from Anthropologie and the $ general (which my best friend made awesome for me) and the towels that I actually use. My husband has no idea what is going on and at least one a week try’s to use the wrong towel to clean up someone’s mess only to hear me yell DON’T USE THAT TOWEL!!!!

  7. Lindsay! Another amazing project…. I love these towels :) So fun. Thanks for giving us a template too. I have actually never attempted the freezer paper stencils as of yet, but you make it look very easy so I might just try this!

  8. For a “kitchen theme” shower, it’s especially appropriate since
    it’s also used for cooking. Even if you are an atheist you must have faith that tomorrow
    will be a better day and that your life is worth living each and every moment.
    You will find a lot of people on these kinds of
    functions coming without gifts.

  9. I believe this is one of the most significant info for me.
    And i’m satisfied studying your article. But should statement on some basic issues, The
    web site taste is great, the articles is in point of fact great :
    D. Excellent job, cheers