How to Hand Embroider a Towel

Updated March 23, 2017

Embroidering by hand is not as difficult as some people believe it to be. Hand embroidering on a towel gives it a personal touch. Depending on your level of creativity, you can hand embroider just about any design on a towel. These towels make thoughtful gift ideas for teachers, co-workers, family and friends.

Wash the towel and place it in a dryer on the "High Heat" setting. Preheat an iron to the highest heat setting. Remove the dry towel and place it on an ironing board. Iron until the towel is wrinkle-free. Set the towel aside.

Place the design pattern flat against a sunny window and tape it in place. Place the towel over the pattern, aligning the design with the section of the towel you would like to embroider. Tape the towel on top of the design pattern.

Choose a starting point on the design and place the tip of the marking pen on that point. Use the sunlight as a guide to trace the entire design onto the towel with the marking pen.

Remove the towel and the design pattern from the window. Open the embroidery hoop and place the section of the towel you will embroider between the two hoops. Pull the towel taut and close the embroidery hoop. Tighten the latch on the hoop to keep the towel held tightly in place.

Remove three of the six strands from the embroidery floss and set aside. Insert the tip of the remaining three strands into the eye of the needle. Thread the needle and tie a knot in the end of the thread.

Hold the embroidery hoop in one hand and the threaded needle in the other. Place the needle under the towel and poke it through the fabric along the traced design. Reach your embroidering hand over to the top of the towel and pull the needle up. Continue pulling the needle until the thread is taut.

Place the needle 1/8 inch to one side of the original needle hole and push it down into the fabric. (If you are right-handed, place it to the left; if left-handed, place it to the right.) Reach underneath and grasp the needle and pull it slightly through. Refrain from pulling it taut.

Place the needle 1/8 inch to the left (if right-handed) or right (if left-handed) of the original needle hole and push it up though the fabric along the traced design. Reach around and pull the needle up through the towel until the thread is pulled taut, creating the first backstitch.

Place the needle directly over the original hole. Poke the needle through the fabric. Reach underneath to grasp the needle and repeat steps above. Continue to work from right to left if you are right-handed and left to right if you are left-handed.

Continue to backstitch over the lines of the traced design until all the lines are covered with stitching. Tie a knot in the thread at the fabric on the underside of the towel when finished embroidering. Cut off any thread that extends beyond the knot. Open the embroidery hoop and remove the towel. Iron the embroidery flat with a hot iron.


Keep the length of the stitches consistent throughout the design pattern. When embroidering words, embroider one letter at a time, cutting the floss and tying it off before starting with a new piece of floss on the next letter.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Needle
  • Fine-tip marking pen
  • Design pattern (drawn by hand, printed from a website, cut from a magazine or from another source)
  • Tape
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About the Author

Delialah Falcon has been writing professionally for eight years. With extensive experience in all aspects of both technical and creative writing, Falcon specializes in content writing, research, proofreading/editing and health/medical journalism. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English from Dowling College and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health.