How to Make DIY Tea Towels for Fall Decor

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When fall comes around, I love swapping out my kitchen linens to celebrate the new season. A few years ago, I stumbled upon a unique way to make DIY tea towels without breaking the bank. These custom towels will add just the right amount of farmhouse feels to your fall decor.

DIY tea towels with fall pumpkin images and text overlay reading "DIY Farmhouse Tea Towels"

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. For more information, please see my disclosures.

Fall Pumpkin Crafts

Today, I’m joining a wonderful group of fellow bloggers to bring you a variety of pumpkin-related crafts for fall. A big “thank you” goes to my friend Kippi from Kippi at Home for hosting this fun collaboration!

You’ll find links to all of my friends’ posts at the end. I hope you’ll stop by to see their wonderful creations!

How to Make DIY Tea Towels

For this easy craft, all you will need is an inkjet printer and a few budget-friendly supplies.

As for the design…the sky’s the limit! I’ll link to a great source for graphics below. However, you can customize your tea towels with any image.

So if you’re dying to immortalize an Instagram image or family photo on a tea towel, have at it!

To watch me make these towels step-by-step, check out the DIY Tea Towels video on my YouTube channel.

Supplies for DIY Tea Towels

Get the Fall Graphics

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Step 1: Wash and iron the dish towels

Before beginning, you should wash and iron the tea towels to make sure the image transfers will adhere smoothly.

Step 2: Print the image transfer

Make sure your image transfer sheets are made for ink jet printers. If you saw my tutorial for wood slice ornaments with Mod Podge Photo Transfer, you’ll remember that project requires a laserjet printer. Not so with this craft!

You can use any editing software like Word, Photoshop, PowerPoint, or even Canva to size your graphics. I used Microsoft Word to click and drag the image to the appropriate size (about 6-inches wide).

Photo resizing for printing image transfer to make DIY tea towels

Be sure to reverse your image (if necessary) by flipping it horizontally. In many cases, the image would look fine either way, but you especially want to pay close attention if there are words on your design.

Before printing on the transfer sheets, do a few test prints on plain printer paper to see if your design looks proportionate to your tea towels.

Finally, print your design on the blank side of the transfer sheet with the highest quality or “photo” settings.

Step 3: Trim around edges of design

If your design does not fill the entire transfer sheet, you’ll need to trim around the edges of your graphic.

Cutouts of images for image transfer to make DIY tea towels

I used a craft knife to cut out some of the finer details of the farmhouse truck and wagon.

Image transfer of farmhouse truck with pumpkins for use in making DIY tea towels

Step 4: Iron the image transfer onto the towel

Make sure the ink on the transfer sheet has dried 30 minutes before ironing.

To transfer the images to the towels, heat your iron with the following settings:

  • Highest heat (usually cotton or linen)
  • No water
  • No steam

Your iron must be well heated before applying the images. Beware of any auto shut-off features while your iron is preheating.

Try to remove as many wrinkles as possible before transferring your image. Then, place the image face-down on the tea towel and iron slowly in a circular motion.

Continue heating the transfer backing paper according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, it only takes 1 to 1.5 minutes for the image to transfer.

Step 5: Peel the transfer backing paper

After the image transfer has completely cooled (about 1-2 minutes), gently peel back the transfer backing paper. If the image appears to stick to the paper, run the iron over the image for another 15-30 seconds.

Repeat the process until you can safely remove the backing sheet.

DIY tea towels with fall farmhouse watercolor art
Completed DIY tea towels

Step 6: Attach or Sew Decorative Ribbon (Optional)

These DIY tea towels are beautiful enough without embellishment, but you can always choose to add ribbon along the bottom for an extra finishing touch.

I quickly sewed a simple buffalo plaid ribbon to the bottom of each flour sack towel to complete the fall farmhouse look. You can also use fabric glue to attach the ribbon, though I like the finish of a sewn hem better.

I think these towels would pair nicely with my decoupage wooden spoons for a seasonal hostess gift or teacher gift.

What kind of design will you choose for your DIY tea towels? While you’re deciding, be sure to keep scrolling down to see the great pumpkin-themed projects my friends are sharing today!

Pin it for later!

Steps showing how to make DIY tea towels made with image transfer sheets. Text overlay reads "DIY Tea Towels with image transfers."

More Pumpkin Themed Crafts

Be sure to visit my friends below to see the pumpkin crafts they are sharing for fall!

DIY tea towels made with image transfers showing farmhouse pumpkin wagon and truck theme

How to Make DIY Tea Towels with Image Transfers

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Beginner/Easy
Estimated Cost: $15

Learn how to make beautiful DIY tea towels using a simple image transfer technique. These dish towels make the perfect hostess gift or housewarming present, and you can customize the design with any graphics.

Materials

  • Printable graphics or artwork
  • Image transfer sheets
  • Flour sack towels 
  • Ribbon or trim (optional)

Tools

  • Inkjet printer
  • Iron
  • Ironing board or padded ironing surface

Instructions

  1. Before beginning, wash and iron the tea towels to make sure the image transfers will adhere smoothly.
  2. Use editing software like Word, Photoshop, PowerPoint, or Canva to size your graphics to match the size of your towels.
  3. Reverse your image (if necessary) by flipping it horizontally in the software. (You will be placing the image face-down on the towels for the transfer.) You especially don't want to skip this step if there are words on your design.
  4. Print your design on the blank side of the transfer sheet with the highest quality or “photo” settings. Let the ink on the transfer sheet dry 30 minutes before ironing.
  5. Trim around the edges of your graphic, using a craft knife for finer details, if needed.
  6. Preheat the iron on the highest setting (cotton/linen) without water or steam. Then, place the image face-down on the tea towel. Begin ironing slowly in a circular motion for about 1 to 1.5 minutes. (Note: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the image transfer sheets, if it varies.)
  7. After the image transfer has completely cooled (about 1-2 minutes), gently peel back the transfer backing paper. If the image sticks, try ironing again for 15-30 seconds in the trouble spots. Then, let the towel cool and try to peel again.
  8. For a finishing touch, you can sew a ribbon or trim along the edge of the towel.

Notes

Wait 24 hours before washing the towels. Use cold water and mild detergent when laundering. Lay flat to dry or tumble dry low.

If you own a heat press, you can also apply the transfer sheets at 350°-375°F for 20-25 seconds. Remove the paper backing after the towels have cooled completely.

If your design covers a full transfer sheet, you may need to extend ironing times to 1.5-2 minutes.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram and tag @firstdayofhome!

If you try making these towels, be sure to share your photos and tag @firstdayofhome on Instagram!

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22 Comments

  1. Wait… I didn’t comment on this yet? That is SO weird! Well, I love these so much (and they look great with your decoupaged wooden spoons!), that I’m featuring your DIY tea towels at Tuesday Turn About! Woot! Pinned… several times!

  2. Your fall pumpkin themed tea towels are so cute, Crissy! I’ve never seen this transfer method before. I’d definitely like to give it a try! Thanks for sharing. It was fun pumpkin crafting with you!