Stamped Tea Towels

By Kate Riley January 9, 2012

Howdy y’all!  I hope you had a fine weekend.  Ours was spent organizing and planning, planning and organizing, but mostly tinkering around the house, cleaning up the remnants of Christmas and tucking it away in bins for next year.  Lots of neat things happened in the peace and quiet, we made plans to take a vacation this year and to make more changes to the house, it was both productive and relaxing.

Another project I worked in the midst of all that was these stamped tea towels. I’m a huge fan of block print fabric so I decided to mimic the look by using some old stamps in my collection and applying the pattern to tea towels to brighten up the kitchen.

diy stamped tea towels


To make your own, you’ll need the following:  tea towels, non porous flat surface, paint for fabric, fabric medium, sponge roller, rubber stamps, iron.

I used the Martha Stewart paints since they’re inexpensive, readily available (found mine at Michaels), designed for use on fabric, and they come in such nice colors. Be sure to buy the fabric medium, that’s what keeps your paint thin, soft, and washable.

fabric medium and paint



1.  If you want to make your own color, first mix it together, then 2. add the fabric medium after the color is mixed. I used about one part medium to one part paint.  

mix paint and medium steps

Next, roll your paint on a nonporous flat surface (I wrapped a piece of plywood in aluminum foil).  4. Use the sponge roller to apply it to the stamp.  I found the color came out more even this way instead of placing the stamp directly into the fabric paint.

roll paint on stamp

Next, apply your stamp in your pattern of choice.  Sponge roll a light coat of paint before every single stamp for even color distribution. 

begin stamping

Change colors and sizes to add interest!

continue with little stamp

I also made a second version with another old speckled stamp I had in my stash.

speckled stamp

The paints are water based, so cleanup is crazy easy, just a little water.

wash off stamp 2

Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours, then heat seal your paint with an iron. I placed a plain cotton sheet between the tea towel and the iron to prevent direct contact.

heat seal paint

Once you’re done, you have your own custom tea towels that are unique and completely washable.  I recommend a delicates setting on your washer, just to preserve all your hard work.

diy stamped tea towels cg

stamped tea towels

So pretty and so easy, and they make great gifts.  You can apply the same technique to simple cotton to make pillows or window panels too, have fun creating your own!


kate signature image




  1. Where do you find plain tea towels? I guess I could sew some, but then again – I’d rather not. These are lovely.

  2. Those are beautiful. I have almost all of the materials in the house for this project. I love the idea and am definitely going to try it.

  3. So cute! These would make such great gifts as well. Guess it’s time to break down and start buying all those pretty Martha paints, huh? ;)

  4. Hi Kate! I love these towels & am currently thinking of creative ways to repurpose some myself! :)
    Thank you for the inspiration!!!
    -Jane @

  5. What a great idea! You just Solved my “What to get for end of the year teachers gifts” dilemma!

  6. Love this idea! I’ve been looking for towels for my kitchen that have certain colors in them and have been totally unsuccessful. Now I can DIY my own using the colors I want. Thanks!!

  7. Oh this looks like such fun! I’m def gonna give it a try!
    For the lady at the top asking to buy plain tea towels, I used to work as a waitress and we had to have plain towels for polishing cutlery and glasses(the most horrible part of the job, I hated it!) and I used to get my in either kitchen supplies stores, or kitchen uniform stores, they were pretty cheap too.

    • Yes Ruth, plain tea towels or flour sacks are inexpensive, I found mine at a local mom & pop hardware store in their kitchen section! Kitchen supply stores are the easiest place to find them in bulk, but check around at any place that sells kitchen or culinary goods.

  8. I love this! I am new to your blog and can’t get enough of your fabulous ideas. I made the lavender sea salt scrub yesterday. Easy peasy and smells great! I filled 5 small mason jars with one recipes and cannot wait to give out. Thank you.

  9. Love this! I am thinking another homemade Christmas gift project to add for next Christmas! :) Can’t wait to make my own set, I love dish towels.

  10. How adorable! I have so many Martha Stewart paints, and had no idea about the fabric medium…guess what my next project is going to be!!! Tea towels for sure!

    Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

  11. Very pretty! Think I will put this project on my to do list! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Looks great, Kate! Thanks for mentioning the “one part medium to one part paint” thing. This has always mystified because I was never sure what the proportions should be — very helpful!

  13. These are so cute and pretty – and my fave colours. Maybe when all of my old tea towels are worn out I can justify it haha.

  14. I think the use of a sponge roller to apply the paint is an important point. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “goobed” out paint because I tried to get away with just dabbing the stamp in the paint!

  15. I’m gonna use this idea for my curtain panels I am making for the dining room. Looks much easier than stenciling….

  16. Oh so pretty! I love the stamps and colors you used. But then, all of your things are beautiful…I noticed even your ironing board cover is gorgeous! Thanks for passing on a great idea so well thought out and clearly explained.

  17. Beautiful! I can totally see giving these as gifts as you mentioned. Such a personalized and pretty idea! Thanks :)

  18. Thank you for another great tutorial! You always manage to make really stylish projects with simple materials. You are an inspiration for me.

  19. These are gorgeous! A couple of these tied with a beautiful ribbon would be a great gift. I’m off to find tea towels!

  20. These are gorgeous! A couple of these tied with a beautiful ribbon would be a great gift. I’m off to find tea towels!

  21. These are lovely, Kate. Beautiful colors you’ve used and yes, they would make a lovely hand made gift. I made some home made jam today for a friend’s birthday. I might have to make a couple tea towels to go along with the jam. Thank you for sharing your tutorial!

  22. Kate – I love the towels. This seems like a great, inexpensive project and perfect for adding a personalized touch to a room. I think I might try this to stage our bathroom. Thanks for the idea!

  23. Oh my gosh!!!! Those came out awesome! What gorgeous colors! Could you stencil the design as well? Or is a stamp best! I love them!

  24. Another great idea and tutorial. Those definitely would make great gifts. I am going to a housewarming party in the near future and rather than wrapping the gift with the usual wrapping paper, I am going to wrap the gift in a monogramed tea towel!

  25. Absolutely beautiful. Looks like you bought them in a high-end store. Love the colors and the pattern. I think I might have to try this – I have many large stamps for wall/fabric.

  26. These look great, love the colors and the pattern. Looks like they would be quicker than stencils. Is it hard to line up the pattern, any tricks to it?

  27. I love these! Thank you so much for this tutorial. I think I will try it on pillowcase edges.

  28. If these are not the typical flour sack towels (which are very thin and low thread count), I was wondering where you found them. I am always on the lookout for heavier flat surface dishtowels for painting. Thanks

  29. I, too, love crafty projects! These are so cute that I MUST try! Thank you for sharing. I posted this tutorial on my facebook page “Rayne Lynne ~ It’s So You”!


  30. Hi Kate, do you have any recommendations on the tea towels to buy? Type of fabric, sources? Thank you again for a nice great project!

  31. They are so pretty Kate..I am also thinking pillow cases would be nice..Thanks for another great project..

  32. what a fantastic way to change up your handtowels! i have a few white ones that i can do this to it. thanks for inspiring me as always!

  33. Cute, but how expensive are all those paints, stamps, etc? Wouldn’t it be just quite expensive?

    • Hey Rose, the stamps I already had (they usually run $5 to $10 depending on size) and the paints are $2 each so if you find the one color you love you can stick with that. Tea towels are inexpensive usually no more than a few dollars for a pack, at least that’s what I paid for mine.

  34. Hi Kate….Love them! Just finished our kitchen reno and my old tea towels are doing it for me anymore. Would love to give this a try….can you advise where you picked up the plain white tea towels for this project? Many thanks, Karelyn

    • Hi Karelyn, I picked them up at a local mom & pop hardware store, but you can find them anywhere them at restaurant supply stores, or anywhere that sells culinary or kitchen goods. Cheap too!

  35. Such a lovely stamp design too… in teal – one of my favourite colours.
    Lovely tutorial, i cant wait to get started, Jennie. x

  36. This is just amazing! I was wondering where you got your white tea towels from, though? I cannot seem to find them. My friend bought me a gorgeous set of stamps a few years ago, and I think making a set of these towels would be perfect!

    • Hi Holly, I’ve had them for years, one I found in a boutique in San Francisco – the large medallion is by Paper Source and the speckled version by All Night Media. Hope this helps!

  37. This is such a great idea!! I am making these for the bathroom at my wedding reception!

  38. Hi Kate! Where did you find the tea towels? I have looked all over and cannot find smooth towels that are not looped on both sides. Help!! Thanks!!

  39. I’m a little behind on jumping on this bandwagon, but I can’t wait to try it! I’ll have to sew myself up some new muslin tea towels, and it’s perfect excuse to use on the hubby.

  40. Love the look of the towels. But I cannot find them in this area. Any ideas where I can find them?

    • Hi Rosalyn, I would check your local housewares or kitchen stores, or even a restaurant supply company!

  41. Just bought a 5-pack of flour sack towels for 5 dollars at my local Walmart. Can’t wait to try this out!

  42. has anyone found the speckled stamp yet? I found the other 2 which Iam going to order now but can’t find the other one?

  43. Uh oh! I didn’t know about the fabric medium… Will my painted tee shirt be ok in the wash??

    • Not sure Frances, I can’t guarantee it will, wash it by hand or on a gentle cycle when you’re ready and let us know how it held up!

  44. Instead of heat setting with the iron, do you think it would be possible to do it in the dryer? I don’t have an iron and no space for the board lol

    • I doubt it Krissy, sorry! I think the iron’s heat is the key for heat set paint but I’m not 100% on that.

  45. I’m wondering about what exactly the printed tea towels can be used for? I’m excited to try this project for some Christmas gifts for friends and family but can they be used as napkins, or dish drying towels? Not sure how “tea towels” are specifically used. Thanks!! :)

    • Hi Elnora, they can be use for anything in the kitchen, for drying dishes or for decorative use.

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