How I print on fabric to make tea towels.
One of the things I sell are decorative tea towels. They are just a muslin or duck fabric that I cut up, sew up, and decorate with my own designs. Tea towels are kind of a big deal, especially, I’ve found, in small-town gift shops. They all have cute, funny, or profound sayings on them in gorgeous fonts, and I have even been tempted to buy some myself, honestly. I love little things like that, but I found that there wasn’t enough variety or specialty among them. For instance, the quotes on them are just basic Pinterest quotes that you find written anywhere or the designs were pretty plain. I’m not knocking them at all (like I said, I still might buy some one day). I am saying that I knew I could bring a little something different to the table. Here are some of my designs:
This Christmas-themed one comes with a couple of variations, but two things that stays the same on all of them are their patchwork-like design and the recipe. The patchwork-like designs are on all of my towels. They almost look like a scrapbook page. I like playing with colors, designs, and layers. The recipe on this towel is for “Rum Balls.” When it comes to Christmas, we go hard. Like I should have been born at the North Pole. Anyway, this is one of my favorite recipes. Sure, we make sugar cookies and gingerbread men, but we also have our own family recipes: peppermint bark (I guess that’s pretty common), cinnamon glass candy, Christmas candy, cranberry bars, trash, and rum balls.
When I see this towel, I think of baking with Mom, my sister, and Mimi in the kitchen, Michael Buble CD on, in our shorts of course, because what is winter? I feel all warm inside thinking about those memories, and I hope that others think of their own Christmas memories, much like I do. If you have anything special about your Christmases, please comment!
As you can tell, this one is rather on the simple side. The quote is nothing special (confession- it’s from Pinterest). It wasn’t going to be a Pinterest quote. In fact, I wanted to use song lyrics from Airstream Song by Miranda Lambert, but the copyright print license was $300. No thanks. The backstory on this one is also quite personal. See, I temporarily am living in a camper, and it has been a huge part of my life! It has taught me to live simply and to be less materialistic. This towel also reflects how much I love to… just go. I love to adventure and travel. I love trying new things and beginning new projects. I love to take the next step. I hope when others see this towel, they feel that sense of freedom and simplicity. I also hope they buy it.
Some other designs not shown (because I can’t give it all away):
This design is definitely unique, starting with the quote from Lonesome Dove. I made these without thinking of any copyright matters (oops), but I tried so many times to reach out to De Passe Productions, and… nothing. Despite my uh-oh and wasted effort, I still wanted to share this design anyway because it’s one of my best designs and is close to my heart. The nature of the design itself is just so homey. I grew up around this kind of stuff. My grandpa is a rancher, so of course, I grew up around cows and horses. I raised turkeys all throughout my ten-year 4-H career. My parents have goats. I used to want to be a bull rider. I would spend hours at night as a kiddo roping a dummy by the fire. The denim (which came from my boyfriend’s jeans that he tore while stacking hay) and bullet (also the bf’s), all represent my upbringing and the great state of Texas.
This towel is for my spring-lovers out there. It comes in a variety of colors as well, but the one thing that stays the same is the recipe used on the front. It’s my Great-Great-(Great?)-Aunt Albina’s pickle recipe in her handwriting. As any gardener knows, when you plant something (and it’s successful), you won’t be able to eat all the produce yourself. So what do you do with the surplus? You preserve it. That could be canning whole, putting up sauces or jellies, baking (i.e. zucchini bread) and freezing it, freezing things whole, or pickling. I remember this one day my mom, Mimi, and I were pickling a ton of cucumbers one day, and I swear I smelled like vinegar for a week. I want people to see this and flashback to the days of vinegar, tons of dishes, and popping jar lids.
This was the most difficult one to do, for some reason. The fabric was wonky. Anyway, it is very Texas-y, literally. The seashells that I used on the towels (also in an array of layouts) came from Port Aransas. That’s my favorite beach, and it was only an hour and a half to two hours away. I’m pretty sure they’re from Port A. The only other beaches I go to are Matagorda, Magnolia, and Rockport, and they certainly aren’t from Matagorda or Magnolia (both of which I do love!). So these towels, like the Texas towels, also have a part of Texas on them, making them even more special. I bet Bed, Bath, and Beyond can’t say that.
How I Make Them
This is one of the most magical things I have learned how to do. The possibilities are seriously endless. I present, printing on fabric at home, a skill I’m perfectly happy to share!
-fabric (something like muslin)
-printer (check your ink!)
I use this technique to make decorative tea towels for my business. I use recipes, quotes, phrases, etc. to add a personal, unique touch to something so basic, like this:
You aren’t here to shop, you’re here to learn, so let’s get to it.
First, cut your fabric to the size of a piece of paper, which is 8.5”x11”.
Next, take a piece of freezer paper the same size as or slightly bigger than your fabric. Iron the wax paper, waxy side down onto the fabric. The freezer paper just makes the fabric sturdy, so it doesn’t get all jumbled up in your printer.
Trim it up and boom. You’ve got a piece of fabric-paper.
Put your fabric in your printer so that when it prints, the ink comes out on the fabric, obviously.
Now all you have to do it print whatever it is you want onto your fabric, and you’re set!
I recommend taking another piece of freezer paper and ironing the waxy side down onto the ink, so that the waxy stuff will transfer onto the ink and set it. Also, it probably goes without saying, peel the paper off the fabric!
I will say, though… wash at your own risk. The things I make with this couldn’t be thrown in the washer, regardless of the inked fabric, just because they have other embellishments on them that prevent that trip to the washer, so I am not too sure about what would happen if you did. You probably could wash it on cold, “hand wash”/ “delicates,” but please be careful! Whatever happens, this is not my fault because I warned you!
Best of luck to y’all! May you always be inspired and craft. God bless!
P.S. If you are seriously super serious about getting something serious printed on fabric, but don’t trust yourself doing this, don’t trust your printer, or know for a fact it needs to be thrown in the washer, there is an answer!
Spoonflower is an online custom fabric design shop for buyers and sellers alike. You can go online to their website (https://www.spoonflower.com/) and get your creation printed on a variety of fabrics!