Applique Decorative Dish Towel

Last week my blogging friend, Carrie, at Making Lemonade, tweeted me to tell me that our favorite $1 a yard fabric place, JoMar, was closing.  This is sad news.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I have found a lot of great fabric there.   Online fabric shopping has become the popular fabric buying option, but since I am a visual girl, I like to be able to see and touch fabric before I actually buy it. I also like to browse the bolts to get inspired.  Luckily, I still have JoAnns Fabrics where I can see, touch, and feel the fabric.  That is where I found the almost perfect dishtowel last week for my kitchen.


I say almost perfect, since it is hard sometimes to find decorative items that are truly a perfect fit.

I have been lucky enough to have been able to write and get a DIY decorating book published – my next lifetime dream would be to design a line of home merchandise all perfectly aligned with my aesthetic. Until that day comes, I will enjoy tweaking what others have designed – my term for it – semi-designing – sort of like semi-homemade where you take something already made and mass merchandised and tweak it to your liking.  That is why I love DIY’ing so much. I don’t want to live with someone else’s style, when with a little effort I can change something to be in my own style.   Doing this makes me happy.

So that is what I did to the dishtowel – I semi-designed it.  I loved the orange pom-pom trim and fabric, but not the embroidered pumpkins on the dishtowel.  I wanted to see something bolder.  Sold right next to this dishtowel was the other design – one with owls – very colorful, but it had grey/blue in the design – not in my color scheme.  The thought went through my mind – Why didn’t they put one of the owls on this towel since they are so hip and trendy right now? Both towels were made by the same company.   “I will just have to do it myself.”  So with my 40% off coupon, I bought both towels and took them home to make myself a semi-designed Autumn dishtowel.

Easy-no Sew applique tutorial

The side of my kitchen island can be seen from my family room and I always like to place some color there.    The dishtowel is purely for decoration and will never meet up with a wet dish. I change what I hang here seasonally.




I made this a truly simple project. If you sew, then you could truly applique the owl onto the towel by sewing it on. I went the no-sew route since this is just for decoration.

supplies needed:

  • Dishtowel
  • Cut-out fabric design/image. Fabrics with a tight weave will work better since they don’t fray when cut.
  • Scissors
  • Heat N’ Bond Adhesive
  • Iron
  • Optional:  White glue and a fine-tipped paint brush or puffy paint in the same color as your fabric if your fabric will fray

1.   Cut out image you want from fabric.  I was going to cut the owl out with 1/4” of extra fabric all around to turn under, but there was too much detail around the ears that made it hard, so I just cut the owl image out.

2.  I cut out a piece of Heat N’ Bond adhesive and placed it sticky side up. I then laid the cut-out owl on top of it.   Heat N’Bond comes with paper backing. You can use leftover scraps of it or a white cloth as a pressing cloth.  Place it over your cut-out to protect it while you press with a hot iron.

How to make a no-sew applique

3. Once it is cool, cut the excess Heat N’ Bond away.

How to make a no sew applique

4. Peel off the paper backing.

Heat N'Bond Adhesive

Since the owl image by itself did not cover the embroidered design on the pom-pom trimmed towel, I cut two owl tails from another owl image on the towel and placed them on the sides of the cut-out owl. I added Heat N’ Bond to the back of each one.

No Sew Decorating IDeas

5. Position the cut-out where you want it. Cover with a pressing cloth or the paper and press.  The time it will take to adhere will depend on the thickness of your fabric.  This only took a few seconds. Let it cool.

No Sew applique idea

If your cut-out image edges look like they might fray,  dab a little bit of white glue over the edges with a fine-tipped paint brush.  You only need a little bit and it dries clear. You can also cover the edges with a line of of puffy paint in the same color as the image.   It will resemble a line of raised applique stitches. 

Now I have a semi-designed and perfect-for-me decorative dishtowel hanging in my kitchen.

No Sew Applique tutorial






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  1. Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips says:

    Great idea. I’m the same way — always tweaking whatever I bring home because I want things around me that are unique and personal. It’s the same with clothes; they never fit just right, so if I didn’t sew I would look really schlumpy all the time.

    I don’t blame you for grieving over the disappearance of a $1 a yard source!

  2. Theresa @DearCreatives says:

    I feel the same way I rather see fabrics in person, but since we only have boutique quilt /fabric stores (which are expensive) & no Joann’s…online is my only option. I love this little idea & when they are easy it’s even better!

  3. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Oh I so want the same towel. I am going to try Wal-Mart today and see what they have so I can attempt to copy it. You know I love all your ideas and I have to say that Banquette you built is still one of my favorites……. list is getting longer.

  4. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Great quickie project, Diane! I love how the owl looks on that towel, too. Love the pompom fringe, too.

  5. Lovee' says:

    I’m like you, I like going through the fabric. The little picture on-line makes it hard for me to commit. Great eye in seeing the Owl looked better on the pumpkin fabric. I’m sure you will be doing more with these cuties.

  6. Yvonne @ StoneGable says:

    Diane, Your tea towels are just darling! Thanks for the easy and well written and photographed tutorial. I love the little appliques and the fun ball fringe!!!
    I hope you will share this at TUTORIALS TIPS AND TIDBITS. Link goes live Wednesday evening at 8:00.
    I think these would be a lovely hostess gift… as long as I make one for myself too!