How to Make Kitchen Towels

How-To, Relish Style
on June 1, 2010

Fresh, new table linens are the quickest way to dress up your summer table settings. And when you make your own, they’re economical, too. Create monograms or prints to suit your mood or décor.

What you will need:

  • 100 percent cotton or linen dinner napkins in white or ivory—washed and ironed.
  • Decorative copyright-free images (check out online sources such as as well as public libraries and bookstores).
  • Iron-on transfer paper (available at most craft stores such as Michael’s and Jo-Ann as well as most office supply stores such as Office Depot and Staples). This paper is most commonly used to make printed T-shirts but works great when you want to create your own signature linens. The transfer papers are available for light-colored fabrics and for dark-colored fabrics—be sure to buy the kind you need.
  • Scissors.
  • An iron that allows you to turn off the steam function.

To do:

  • Using a computer and printer, download the images you want to use and print onto transfer paper using an inkjet printer, following paper manufacturer’s directions very closely.
  • Cut around the images to remove extra paper, leaving about 1/8 inch around the image so that you have an edge to hold onto when removing the paper backing.
  • Try a few samples on scrap fabric until you get your pressing, transferring and paper backing removal techniques perfected.
  • When you’re ready to print your napkins, proceed according to instructions on the transfer paper package.


  • Launder iron-on transfer-printed fabrics and cold water on the gentle cycle. Line or air dry.
  • Iron-on transfers will be a bit stiff but will soften with use.
  • Some Dover Publications collections are available with a CD image disk.

—By Teresa Blackburn, Prop and Food Stylist.

Found in: How-To, Relish Style