Applique on a Towel

I’ve been asked a few times what I do/use to applique (not monogram) a towel (=terry loopy fabric). I was doing an applique on a towel today, so here you go!

First, I iron on “Iron-on Tearaway” stabilizer. This happens to be Sulky brand, but any will do. I iron it on and it sticks long enough for me to hoop. As you can see on the corners, it doesn’t stick much, which is a good thing when it’s time to remove it. 

 On top I use (and hoop) a water soluble topper. This particular stabilizer is by Pellon and I got it at Joann. I have always used Sulky Solvy, but they hardly carry it at Joann anymore so I got the Pellon which works fine. Again, any water soluble topper will do. I don’t do a TON of towels (or blankets, etc), so it’s not something I keep in bulk. So I have iron on tearaway, then towel on top, then “Solvy” on top and all 3 are hooped.

 This is actually the corner of a wrap-around towel “sarong”, so I didn’t mark my center. I simply hooped the bottom corner where the applique was to go and started sewing. This is a Dotty “A” from Embroidery-Boutique. This particular A is 5.81″ wide X 6.63″ tall, so it is big. This applique alpha also comes in other finishes (vintage, zig zag and satin). So here I have done step 1, which is the marking stitch. It stitches right on top of the water soluble topper (aka Solvy).

 Since I’m doing an applique and using fabric (with Heat N Bond Lite on it), I’m going to remove the water soluble topper INSIDE the A only. That way the fabric with HNBL on it will be flush against the terry towel. This will come in handy when I’m done and am ironing the finished applique A. I started by poking a hole with my scissors and most of the “solvy” was removed by pulling it away inside the stitching. If it won’t pull away so easily, then just trim inside the stitching with your scissors. These are scissors that came with one of my machines.

Remove all of the Solvy inside but leave it outside the stitching, which will come in handy when you are doing the satin stitch. If you’ve ever monogrammed a towel with no Solvy on top you may know what I mean (I am guilty!). The satin stitch may or may not sink in to the terry loops. The applique fabric helps, but stick with Solvy too just in case.

I’m now ready for some fabric.

Ironing my fabric so it’s nice and flat.

Ironing my HNBL on to my fabric.

Peel away the HNBL paper which will leave the shiny HNBL layer on the back side of the fabric.

I’m now ready for step 2, the tackdown stitch.

I am now ready to trim around the tackdown stitch.

I use Gingher 4″ curved scissors (from Joann). I’ve also heard that Havels work well. I trim closely around the satin stitch. The HNBL helps it to be a “clean cut” as you can see.

I also removed the little triangle inside the “A”. I am now ready for the satin stitch. You’ll notice the Solvy is still around the applique.

Ready for step 3, the satin stitch.

Sewing complete!

I now unhoop the towel and pull away the water soluble topper (aka Solvy) around the A.

I also remove the tearaway from the back. It pulls away very easily! Remove it from around the A as well as inside the A.

My applique is done and ready to iron. This will “set” the HNBL and fuse the fabric to the towel.

Here is the finished product! This is a graduation gift for a customer.

This is the ever-so-popular Hobby Lobby fabric I found several months ago (and bought 1/2 yard of). It’s no where to be found that I know of!

Here’s the packaging for the “Sarong”. Bed Bath and Beyyyoooonnnnddddd for $19.99 ~ always take a coupon! It’s a nice gift for any girl going off to college.

I hope this helps! As always, this is my way, not the only way! This seems to work well for me so I thought I’d share. Have a great day!

p.s. I forgot to mention this is a Durkee 9×9 hoop that I used! Check out Helpful Posts to read more about the Durkee hoops. 


  1. brittany lambert says

    ive never taken the solvy off of the inside of the applique…why i havent thought of that i have clue! thanks for sharing! helpful and inspiring as always!

  2. That is cute fabric!! Thanks for sharing your method! I appreciate your blog very much!

  3. Thanks for the post! I appreciate your blog. Do you know if they (BBB) carried different colors of that sarong? I want to make a few for my daughter for college. I was actually going to buy large towels and make the wrap but wow..if I could buy it!

  4. Thanks so much. I was just getting ready to do an applique on a towel for the first time and wondered if and how to use the solvy.

  5. i got one of these as a gift when I graduated in 2000! I still have it and wear it every. single. day! i love it because it is white and I can bleach it when it gets dingy! Just thought I would add a “review”.

  6. If you were to Applique a design that has multiple layers of fabric, would you only use the heat-n-bond lite on only the bottom or initial fabric?

    • I would use HNBL on all fabrics. See this post ~ I usually “cut out” the inside when I’m layering fabrics.

      • Thanks, I had looked for a post like that, but was looking under the right side, under stuff like “fabric” or “how to”. These are very good tutorials & look forward to trying them out. Just an FYI- you can fold a piece of aluminum foil several times & then cut through it with your scissors to several times to sharpen them.

        • This might be an odd question. But, I feel that I am the queen of keeping scraps of fabric. Do you store the fabric that has the heat-n-bond on it, the same way as the other fabric?

          • I usually throw it away unless it’s a big piece. If it has HNBL on it and it gets wrinkled, you can’t iron it until it’s the applique is done, so you would be appliqueing with wrinkled fabric. If you can keep it straight then keep it! I just have so much fabric that I usually toss it!

  7. My HL has TONS of that cute fabric. If you’re interested, I’d be happy to send you some. Your blog has been SO helpful to me in getting started in my embriodery adventures!! 🙂

  8. Thanks for the great tutorial. I need to do a couple of towel appliques tomorrow.

    Very clear instructions.


  9. First off, thank you SOOOO much for these awesome tutorials! I was wondering what type of fabric you used in this tutorial for the applique?



  10. DO you do the heat and bond on everything you applique or just on towels or certain fabrics? Does it just hold it in place? Very new to all this and trying to figure it out. Thanks

  11. Becky Fern says

    Any advice on hooping thick towels…..not st

  12. Gloria Wright says

    Thank you for the tutorial! What font is the Block A?

  13. Do you trim around your applique fabric while still hooped and attached to your embroidery machine? I have a commercial embroidery machine and it does not give me much “working” room for trimming.

  14. Cristin Miller says

    I am new to monogramming and purchased a Brother pr650e a few months ago. I use Monogram Wizzard Plus as my software. I am trying to figure out how to purchase other fonts and motifs and download to try and use them. I also have clients that want like their ranch logo on shirts. Is this possible with monogram wizzard? I have done some research and can’t figure it out. Any tips would be HUGE! Thank you!!

    • With MWP you can only use their fonts ( unless you have their Extended Features where you can merge in fonts. You could do the ranch logo if you can match the font in MWP?

  15. Catherine Firth says

    I believe this is the same fabric. You are able to buy it online at hobby lobby. The fabric name is APT3-21 Bodilla Packed Medallion Fabric

  16. Carolina Harker says

    Why remove the wash away sulvy? Do you wash when done before giving to client? What is the benefit to hooping the wash away? I usually just lay it on top of the area? I am newbie so any help would be appreciatied. I usually now adays have found it easier to do a sticky back stabilizer or use basting spray and not hoop the towel or blanket anymore.. Less time.

    • I don’t wash anything before or after I do it so I pulled the solvy off before I gave it back to my niece. And, I hoop everything! No reason for hooping the solvy other than it keeps it in place vs floating it on top.

  17. What if you only have an old 5 stitch sewing machine at your disposal? Can I just heat n bond the fabric to the towel and then zig zag stitch the edges? I have no idea what Sulky Solvy is, do you really need it?

    • You could do applique that way! A lot of people do neat things with just fabric and a sewing machine if you have a steady hand! Sulky is a brand – solvy is water soluble stabilizer.

  18. I am new to machine applique/monograming. Two areas I struggle with are what size monograms/ appliques to do and placement. any suggestions will be appreciated.
    Also, I have MW and MW Plus, if I purchase the MW Extended are you saying I will be able to merge alphabets I’ve purchased online into the program the MW program? That would be so helpful. Would they show up in the drop box with the MW fonts?
    Your blog has very helpful information thank you for taking the time to do this.

    • As far as size, it depends on the size shirt and what you are able to hoop – 4×4 or 5×7. Some people love BIG and some people are fine w/ regular size. In my programs you can format what you are doing and print a copy that’s true to size. I do that sometimes if I’m not sure about the size. I use 5×7 most of the time – 4×4 if it’s a baby item or small shirt. Placement – I would say no more than 2-3 inches below the neckline. You don’t want it to end up on the belly! I used to do work for a lady who liked the appliques 1-1.5″ below the neckline so I could mark a spot and make sure the top hit it! I would suggest Sew What Pro vs. Extended features. Both allow you to merge letters together but in EF you are limited to 5 letters (Layers) I think. SWP is cheaper too.

  19. Good Morning! I know this blog post is older but I happened across it this morning and have a question as I am about to applique on towels today. Does the hoop leave marks on the towel? I have to do 3 beach towels that are kind of velour-ish and was afraid of hoop marks and how to remove them if I get them.

    • It may create a little hoop burn, but you can usually squirt a little water over it w/ your iron and iron over it and brush over it w/ your fingers. It usually goes away or is unnoticeable.

  20. Great tutorial! I’ve never done this until this week. I have completed 3 beach towels! This is so fun and so simple! Thank you!!!!

  21. I have just read your instructions for the applique & would like to say thank you very much. I have been looking for someone to explain clearly and that is what you have done. Great job 🙂

  22. Thank You so much for this tutorial, This is going to be my first time doing applique on a towel and I was kind of scare to do it. But with your instructions and seeing how its done. Its easy. Thanks to you. I will be trying it. And thank you so much for taking out the time in showing all of us like me, in how to do applique on a towel.
    You have done a great job in explaining and showing us step by step. Thanks alot!!

  23. Gloria Baker says

    Hi Rosemary!

    I’m ordering MWP from you 🙂 Hoping it doesn’t take too long to come. I’m DYING to start! Do you happen to have a quick reference guide for the tensions needed for certain fabrics? Wondering if there’s something out there that says “xx” for towels and “yy” for cotton etc without doing tests for each fabric. I peeked through your helpful posts and didn’t see anything.

    Thanks so much!

    • You should have your MWP by Thursday – will ship tomorrow! As far as tension, I don’t really adjust it for different projects. I DO adjust the boldness – make the monogram thinner or thicker depending on the project.

  24. Thank you for this great tutorial. I was wondering how you felt appliqué held up on towels? I know they are something that get washed a lot and I am curious how this will hold up. Thanks!

    • I think if you use HNBL on the fabric, it would hold up like anything else. The colors may fade with lots of washing, but I think the applique would hold up.

  25. Hi there – thank you for this! This is exactly the guidance I was looking for.
    One question though – when you’re at the part where you’ve laid down the applique fabric and before you start the tackdown stitch, how can you see to trace your original outline?

  26. Thank you for this information. I am excited to do my first applique on a towel. I had no idea how to begin. But with your clear instructions I can do it. Thank you for this clear information.