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Hand Painted Towels {Just in Time for Tea}

The tea towel to the English, the dish towel to the Yank. The companion of the freshly washed dish, the linen for the cook, and the fabric to soften a table. Before the tea towel was mass-produced (post Industrial Revolution), and popping up everywhere making its way to every home store near you, this linen was held as something novel. In the 18th century the dish towel was "a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea things" {source}. Sounds quite pristine doesn't it? I have always had a love for dish towels, and I can distinctly remember the very day that I took notice to this particular linen. I was close to 7 years old, in North Dakota, at a lady's house. She was a relative that knew my mom well, but I was just a little girl, and I don't recall much about this particular day except for the tall set of stairs in this old house, the wooden banister, the warm yellow hues, and the drawer that was opened upstairs. It was filled with vintage hand embroidered tea towels. I had never seen something so delicate and detailed like that. Embroidered deer, kittens, geese, daisies (the obvious details a 7 year old would notice). I remember looking at the few towels that my mom took home with her from North Dakota to California after that day in that old house. I think in some small way, those dish towels are part of the repertoire that made me love pretty details in home design, with bits of vintage flare. 

SO fast forward to now. Just like those hand-made embroidered dish towels, I wanted to make my own hand-made set. I had stumbled upon some flour sack towels on sale at the grocery store, purchased soft matte fabric paint, and set out with my paintbrush. For my first towel, I hand painted the design that is on my favorite pot holder from Anthropologie (a bridal shower gift that I use daily still, almost 4 years later!). It is a really unique design, and I felt up to the challenge. Using the kitchen counter as my painting space, I placed my paint cloth and a hard plastic board under the flour sack cloth (the paint does seap through  just a bit, if the cloth is thin) which I secured with a few pieces of tape (to ensure it would not move while I painted!). The painting process went like this:
I still have yet to wash it, but I know it will turn out fine as fabric paint is washable. I still have three more towels to paint on! I would say this first one was a success. I love the idea of painting a set of two or three towels to give as a gift {or maybe a future Giveaway?}. Hand painted towels can be so personalized and range from intricate to simple. I just love the way they can bring extra life to a kitchen, and for the Brits, tea time! Someone put the kettle on.


  1. Love this. So beautiful. You are so talented.

  2. Thank you Katie! I am so glad you like it! I will be sure to show you the others if and when I end up painting them ;)

  3. I love this idea, thank you so much for sharing this tutorial!!

  4. Your Welcome Deanne! I hope you feel inspired to make your own tea towels!

  5. These are AMAZING! You're very talented. I just love the design on these towels. Thank you so much for sharing on Marvelous Mondays!


  6. Lauren, this is so pretty!!

    1. Thank you, Michelle! I need to hop over and look at your photography! You are so talented. xo, Lauren


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