Handmade Christmas on the Cheap—Idea #4

If you are like me, your bank account is whimpering right about now.

So, it’s time for another cheap Christmas idea that you can crank out for under $10. Hand-embroidered dishtowels are a gift that will take a little time, but anyone can do it:

The supplies you need for these are:

  • a pack of flour-sack towels (which you can usually get for about $7 for a pack of three)
  • an iron-on embroidery design of your choice (Aunt Martha’s iron-on patterns run about $2 for a big, diverse sheet of designs that you could probably use for 5-7 towels)
  • Needles and various colors of embroidery floss, which are usually only 10 cents a skein
  • Obviously, you need an iron, but I’m going to assume you already have one
  • An embroidery hoop is helpful but not dire. You can pick up a small, plastic hoop for about $1

All these supplies are right next to each other at any Michaels, Hobby Lobby or JoAnne’s.

This towel was my first attempt at embroidery:

I ironed the design from the Aunt Martha’s pattern onto the towel (per package instructions), and then found embroidery instructions on the internet. If you Google embroidery stitches, you will find hundreds of diagrams, instructions and even videos demonstrating the basic stitches. I practiced the outline/stem stitch on a scrap piece of fabric until I felt pretty comfortable with it. If you are a total novice to all things needlework, I still think you would probably only need about 10 minutes of practice to master the basic outline/stem stitch.

Once I felt confident with the stitch, I simply stitched over the ironed-on pattern in whatever colors I wanted.


This towel is part of a set, and the patterns for all seven days of the week were included in the $2 Aunt Martha’s pattern package. So, basically, I got the designs for at least seven towels for $2.

Overall, I was able to make three towels for about $10. This project simply took a little time and effort to start, but the finished product was absolutely worth it. Also, once I mastered the initial technique, the project picked up speed and each towel has taken progressively less time as I become even more adept. By carrying this around with me in a bag, I am able to work on it while I am waiting at an office, watching TV with the kids and sitting through endless Cub Scout meetings.

If you too are feeling the financial stress of the holidays, a hand-embroidered towel may be a great way to cut costs, while still providing a unique gift from the heart.

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