How to Make an Heirloom Guest Towel




This is how I make an heirloom guest towel.  I like to embroidery these for gifts, for our guest bath, and make other items with them.

Two towels top stitched together are the perfect size for a pillowcase for a travel pillow form and a baby pillow form. See the pillowcase above I made with two towels using Nancy's Jacobean Cutwork designs

These guest towels are quick and easy to make – assuming you have all the materials on hand. If you are a long time sewer chances are you do have everything needed on hand. Smiles

The edge is decorated with purchased lace, crochet, or tatting. Machine Embroidered lace can also be used.


  • Fabric - I use good quality woven cotton, huck cloth, or linen
  • Cotton thread to match the color of the fabric
  • Lace or alternate decoration for the bottom edge - 1-1.5 inches wide

How much of each

  • 45 inch fabric (after prewashing) makes 4 towels
  • Lace 1-1.5 inches wide x 15 inches

Appliqued Butterflies



  • Wash and dry the fabric
  • Starch and press the fabric
  • Cut out fabric 22 inches x 15 inches
  • Set up the sewing machine for a straight stitch at 2.5mm length
  • Use size 10 - 12 topstitch needle

The sides of the towel

  • Fold each long edge 1/4 inch and press
  • Fold again 1/4 inch and press
  • Sew down the hems on each long edge


The bottom of the towel - this is where the lace will be applied

  • Fold one of the short ends 1/4 inch and press
  • Fold 1/4 inch again and press
  • Sew down the hem on the bottom edge

The top of the hand towel

  • Fold the other short end of the towel 1/2 inch and press
  • Fold it again, this time 1 inch and press
  • Sew down the hem. This is the top of the towel.

Lace Trim

  • Cut lace 15 inches long
  • Fold down the end 1/4 inch and press
  • Fold it again 1/4 inch and press
  • Hand sew the hem in place or with the machine. If using the machine use a smaller needle size 8 or 9 depending on how dense is the lace.
  • Repeat with the other end of the lace.

Change the machine setting to a tiny zigzag 2 mm length x 1.5 mm wide

Use the same color thread in the top as the lace

Use the same color thread in the bobbin as the fabric

  • Pin lace onto the hem of the bottom of the towel. Pin the two ends and at least two more pins along the center
  • Start sewing about 1 inch from the edge and zigzag sew the lace onto the towel all the way through the end.
  • Stop and back sew about 8-10 stitches.
  • Trim thread tails.
  • Turn the project around.
  • Begin sewing where you began applying the lace. Zigzag sew the other end of the lace to the towel.
  • Stop at the end. Back sew about 8-10 inches. 
  • Trim thread tails

The towel is now finished. Embellish as desired.


To make a pillowcase using two heirloom towels

  • Set up the sewing machine with a size 10-12 topstitch  needle and straight stitch 2.5 mm length
  • Place two guest towels together wrong sides together.
  • Pin in place along the two long sides and the top of the towels. Keep the corners and lace trim even with each other.
  • Top stitch along the top and two sides about 1/8 inch from the edge of the towel.

Optional: sew the laces together by hand or machine.


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Laura Waterfield

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Copyright © Laura Waterfield 2017/2018




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Laura Waterfield

Copyright Laura M. Waterfield 2002-2018

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