One of my favorite super-quick projects to make is embellished dishtowels- When I see colorful, undecorated dishtowels or handtowels in the store, I buy them and stash them away for the easiest projects ever. Then when I need a gift, or I just want to freshen up the kitchen or bathrooms, I add some embroidery, applique and trim and Voila!! Today in my free tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a cute and cheerful Summer Seashells Towel. Mother’s Day will be here soon, as well as the end of the school year and summer parties, and you can whip these up quickly for the moms, teachers, and hostesses that you’d like to show a little love & appreciation to.

If you are looking for tea towels to embroider or applique, be sure to check out what I have available in my SHOP.


— Applique and embroidery patterns, click here

— 1 purchased dishtowel or handtowel, approximately 18″- 22″ wide

— Scraps of coral fabrics for the shell appliques

— 12″ x 6″ White fabric for the embroidery background

— 6 strand embroidery floss in aqua (I used Aurifloss #4093)

— 12″ x 6″ Thermoweb Lightweight Fusible Interfacing

— Thermoweb HeatnBond Light Fusible Web

— Cotton thread for sewing (I used Aurifloss 50 wt light coral # 2220 for the applique and white #2024 for topstitching)

— Trim such as mini pom pom fringe or rick rack

— Frixion pen or washout embroidery marker

— Pencil, scissors



Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the White fabric, following manufacturer’s instructions. Using the interfacing will give the fabric a little more body, and help to prevent any color or design from the towel from showing through.

*Trace the “Summer” pattern onto the right side of the fabric. *Embroider using a backstitch and 3 strands of aqua floss. Trim White fabric to 9 5/8″ x 3 5/8″, centering the design. Press all of the raw edges 1/4″ toward the wrong side of the fabric.

*Scroll down to see my free embroidery videos at the bottom of this post.

Applique Preparation

Trace the shell and starfish patterns onto the paper side of the fusible web. Cut out roughly, leaving about 1/4″ around the traced outlines. Fuse shapes to wrong side of coral fabrics, following manufacturer’s instructions. Cut out on traced lines; peel off paper backing. (Cut out the centers of the starfish and shell using small embroidery or manicure scissors.) Set shapes aside.

Assembling & Sewing the Towel

Measure the width of your towel. Cut the trim the width of the towel, PLUS 1″. Pin trim to bottom of towel, turning the raw ends of the trim to the back of the towel. Pin trim in place. Topstitch trim to towel, using matching thread. I decided that just one row of pom poms wasn’t enough, so I added another!

Arrange the applique shapes on the towel above the trim; use an iron to fuse in place according to manufacturer’s instructions. Use matching thread to applique. You can use a buttonhole, zigzag or other desired stitch.

Pin the embroidered square in the center of the towel, above the appliques; pin in place. Use white thread to topstitch in place.

Basic Embroidery Stitches Video

Transferring Designs and Using Fusible Interfacing Video