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How to Make an Heirloom Guest Towel

Harddanger Rainbows

Nancy's Jacobean Cutwork


This is how I make an heirloom guest towel.  I like to embroider these for gifts or simply dress up our bathroom.

What’s more, 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 fabric artist, chances are you do have everything right at your fingertips...or maybe in one of your stashes. Smiles

The edges are decorated with lace, crochet, or tatting. In this instance, I used lace purchased at my local fabric store. Of course, should you have machine embroidery lace designs amongst your stash, consider kicking up that creative edge a notch or two, by making your own customized, color-coordinated lace, for that travel or baby no other.


  • 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

Pillowcases Collection



  • Wash and dry the fabric
  • Starch and press the fabric
  • Cut out fabric 22 x 15 inches
  • Set up the sewing machine for a straight stitch at 2.5 mm 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 the lace.
  • Repeat with the other end of the lace.

Change the machine setting to a tiny zigzag 2 x 1.5 mm (length x width)

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.


How To make a pillowcase using two heirloom towels

Nancy's Jacobean Cutwork

  • 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 both 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

If you have any words of wisdom to add, please email me. I am always open to learning new ideas and better ways to sew.

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Copyright © Laura Waterfield 2017/2018




Laura's Sewing Studio embroidery designs and any instructions are for personal use. Designs and copyrighted images are intended for private, non-commercial use. Laura's Sewing Studio entitles the purchaser only to make projects for personal use. The embroidery designs and any instructions are the copyrighted property of Laura M. Waterfield. No design, documentation, or associated graphic distributed as part of this collection may be shared, re-sold individually, re-packaged, or used in any commercial endeavor or instructional presentation without the written consent of Laura's Sewing Studio. Any modifications of these embroidery designs or instructions are for the personal non-commercial use of the purchaser only and may not be sold or distributed under this licensing agreement.
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Laura Waterfield

Copyright Laura M. Waterfield 2002-2018

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