The Seventh DIY of Christmas: Hand-Painted Monogram Tea Towels

Welcome to the seventh project in my 12 DIYs of Christmas series! I decided to make hand-painted monogrammed tea towels as a gift for a friend that has everything this year. I think taking the extra step to hand-paint this everyday item gives it a personal touch, and shows more effort than any store-bought item. I decided to paint the monogram in my own handwriting and made my own stencil, so it definitely took more time. But beyond that, it's a pretty straightforward project.


Supplies:

  • Tea towels — Choose flat ones, without much texture or raised weaving.
  • Washable textile paint — I used Jacquard 113 Navy Blue ($2.79).
  • A paint brush — A thin watercolor brush or small foam brush will do.
  • Clear Con-Tact paper
  • An X-acto knife
  • A cutting mat
  • Paper
  • A pencil

 

To learn the steps, read more.

  1. Using a pencil, draw a few letters on a blank sheet of paper. Try serifs, non-serifs, and cursive — be creative.
  2. Once, you've found a monogram you're happy with, outline it (i.e. make it thicker) so that you'll be able to cut it out.
  3. Using your X-acto knife, carefully cut out your monogram on your mat. Some letters, especially cursive (like this S), will have closed parts, so you'll need to cut inside them.
  4. Cut a piece of Con-Tact paper so that it's a bit bigger (at least 1/2 an inch) than your monogram on each side.
  5. Peel the adhesive backing off the paper, and lay the paper over the monogram cutout letter so that it's sticking to your cutting mat.
  6. Using the X-acto, cut around the letter so that the letter itself will be the negative space (where the paint will go). Be careful not to lose the shapes of any closed parts, you'll need them later.
  7. Once cut, peel the Con-Tact paper off of the mat and center it on your tea towel.
  8. Burnish the Con-Tact paper to smooth out any bubbles or lifts.
  9. Apply two coats of textile paint onto the letter, being careful not to paint beyond the Con-Tact paper.
  10. Let the paint dry for about two hours, and then remove the Con-Tact paper.
  11. Touch up any spots carefully with a thin watercolor brush.
  12. In order to be washable, your paint now must be heat-set by ironing the towel's backside. Follow the instructions on your jar of paint to do this.

 

Fini! Clearly, making the stencil takes up most of the time required for this project. But it allows you unlimited choices of typefaces. For a quicker project, you can use a store-bought letter stencil. See photos of each step below!

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