How To Machine Embroider On Towels


Thick or thin, formal or casual—towels are simple to embroider and make great gifts!

Towels are available in an assortment of styles and sizes, with a band or border, or without. The band area on towels can vary from 1″ to 1 1/2″. Embroidery is traditionally centered above the border or band.lead 1024x888 How To Machine Embroider On Towels

More luxurious or commercial towels are available without a band. There is more creative embroidery freedom with towels that do not have a band or border. The embroidery or monogram can be positioned in a more pleasing location and the addition of trims can enhance the finished appearance.

Kitchen towels have little or no nap depending on the style. Most specialty towels usually do not have a border, which makes them ideal for embroidery. A decorative border can be added for a contrasting band of color.


Monograms are an obvious choice for towel embroidery. The satin stitches of monograms make for distinctive personalization as well as hold down the towel nap. Fine stitches will sink into the toweling. Select designs with sufficient width to withstand the toweling nap and not sink in.

Rose 300x300 How To Machine Embroider On TowelsFill designs with a lot of stitches can be embroidered on towels with a few precautions. Pre-wash the towels before embroidery. This will help prevent the design from cupping (laundering after embroidery makes the toweling shrink but the design stitches stay in place causing the design to buckle under pressure). Use a topper to prevent stitches from sinking into the nap and make sure the design has sufficient underlay to hold the nap down.

Test-stitch designs on similar fabric to make sure sufficient underlay has been used to hold down the toweling nap or loops. Determine if your digitizing software can import designs and add underlay if more is needed.

Embroider using a polyester thread as it will hold up to repeat washing and bleach. Use a size 14/90 embroidery needle to accommodate the toweling thickness.


Toweling has a nap; therefore a topper is required to hold down the loops. The most common is a water-soluble topper. Use a clear tear-away variety that is easy to remove.

If a permanent topper is necessary, consider using a vinyl topper or a layer of sheer organza or organdy in a color that matches or contrasts the toweling. The organza or organdy layer will be a bit more difficult to remove. Use it with designs that are solid fill designs without gaps in the embroidery. Use a very sharp curved tip scissors to remove the layer. Sometimes just opening the scissors and holding the fabric taut is enough to support the fabric trim as the scissors glide around the design outer edge.

The base stabilizer can be a mesh or adhesive water-soluble, or a tear-away. Mesh water soluble stabilizers can be trimmed after embroidery; the remainder will dissolve in the laundry process. Trim close to the design outer edge and leave it; or use a needle-tip bottle filled with water to surround the outside design area and remove the entire excess stabilizer. Use a paper towel to dab stabilizer not removed around the edges or within small areas of the design.

A clean-tearing stabilizer will dissolve over time if one is used as a base. Note: The heavier or more compact the design, the heavier the stabilizer needed.


Hooping a towel with the stabilizer can be a daunting task. To do so, loosen the hoop screw sufficiently to accommodate hooping the topper, toweling and base stabilizer together.

Or hoop the stabilizer and spray it with temporary adhesive. Secure the towel to the stabilizer. Lightly spray the topper and secure it to the toweling. Use a perimeter basting or “fix” stitch to hold all the layers together during the embroidery process.

Or hoop a water-soluble adhesive stabilizer and use it as a base and a topper for embroidery. Allow the laundry process to remove both layers. Note: Removing an adhesive stabilizer from loop toweling can be difficult as it can pull on the delicate loops. It is advisable to launder the towels again to remove the stabilizer.

Christmas 1015x1024 How To Machine Embroider On Towels—————

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5 Responses to How To Machine Embroider On Towels

  1. Nancy Jacobs says:

    I love embroidering on towels as they are the perfect gift. My favorite topper to use on terry cloth towels is tulle. It holds the terry cloth down. You can tear it away from the design, or cut it if needed, and it doesn’t wash away in the laundry. Also comes in a variety of colors that you can get one close to the color of your towel and no one will ever know it is there.

  2. Kate says:

    What a great tip! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sandy Riggs says:

    Like the idea of using tulle, I will try it on my next towel. I usually use water stabilizer.

  4. Carol says:

    Do you use bridal tulle?

  5. Kate says:

    I think any tulle would work (except maybe the glittery kind). I’m sure bridal tulle would be fine.

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