Embroidering Towels, Part II

After making sure your design is good to sew on towels, actually embroidering on towels takes some care to make it look good. If possible, we suggest hooping the towel along with the backing. However there are situations where this isn’t possible (smaller, thin hoops that just can’t hoop towels, really thick, plush towels that no hoop can handle, etc) in which case use the method outlined below.

First, determine the location where you want design to be on the towel, then pin some water soluble topping (wst) over the area the design is going to sew. Make sure to use a big enough piece of wst to fit your design. Next, hoop 2 pieces of medium weight cutaway, then use a small amount of temporary spray adhesive to affix the towel to the backing. Don’t use a ton because this is only temporary until we begin sewing.

Applying water soluble topping on left and temporary spray adhesive on the right.

After you insert the hoop into your machine, the first thing you will want to do is sew a basting stitch with widely spaced rows of long stitches for easy removal later. It is highly recommended that you DO NOT use the spray adhesive as the only method of attaching your towel to the backing. It is NOT recommended that you use adhesive backing at all. The reason being that neither of these methods will secure the towel enough to embroidered upon properly and have it look good. Using either of these methods just sticks the “hairs” of the towels to the backing, while the part of the towel you are embroidering on is still free to move. See the picture below.

Typical results from using only spray adhesive or sticky backing. Notice the gaps and different parts not lining up.

You can create your own basting stitch file if you have a digitizing system. If you own the Monogram Wizard Plus you can now get an assortment of basting stitch files from the needleheads online store. These basting stitch files show up in your program as motifs which you can add directly to the design you are creating. You can also use the basting stitch motifs just to make a set of generic basting stitch files to use with your embroidery machine.

Sewing the basting stitch on the left and sewing the design on top of the basting stitch on the right.

After the design has completed sewing, remove from the machine and unhoop. Turn to back of the towel and cut the bobbin thread of the basting stitches. Turn the towel back over to the front and the basting stitches should be very loose. Trim the basting stitches close to the design to make them easier for removal. Sometimes you will be unable to pull the basting stitch out completely, just trim as close to the design as you can. Remove the water soluble topping and clean up any loose ends.

Trimming basting stitch bobbin thread on left and removing basting stitches on right.

Note in the picture above we used black backing just for photo purposes so the bobbin thread was easily visible. Trim away any excess backing and you are good to go!

Finished design.

Embroidering Towels, Part I

One of the top 3 most embroidered items has to be the towel, yet, they are also one of the hardest items to embroider and have it look good. The secret to creating good looking embroideries on towels is twofold: 1) starting off with the right design and 2) specific steps when embroidering. If the design to be sewn is not up to par, there is not a lot you can do at the machine to make it look good, and vice versa.

First we will talk about setting up the design in the beginning using the Monogram Wizard Plus to give yourself the best chance of having a good looking towel embroidery. After setting up your design, before you save it to send to your embroidery machine, there are 3 things you should do to have the highest chance of success.


The first thing you want to do is increase the Boldness of the design to 120. This will make the strokes of the letter wider and act as pull compensation for the letter. Towels are generally made of a loose weave and tends to compress during the embroidery process causing the stitches to become thinner than expected. Increasing the boldness will act to compensate for this natural occurrence when sewing on towels.


The second thing you will to do is increase the Density. On regular towels increase the density to 110, on super plush towels, increase the density to 120. This will help insure proper thread coverage on the towel, and you don’t have the concerns about too many needle punctures affecting the integrity of the towel.


Always click the underlay button. If there is no underlay, clicking the button will add underlay. If there is underlay only in parts of the design, it will add underlay to entire design. Making sure there in underlay in the entire design makes sure that the “hairs” of the towel are held down both during the sewing process, and through the life of the towel, even after washing.