How to Decorate Bathroom Towels

Did you know that one of the most overlooked items when it comes to home decor are the towels hanging in a bathroom? When decorating a bathroom, shower curtains, bath mats, and other bath accessories get all the attention, but no more. It is time to give your plain bath towels a colorful and stylish detail.

plain white bathroom hand towel hanging on a towel ring.

I will show you how to decorate plain bathroom towels that will easily add a punch of color and style where there was none before. All that you need is ribbon, scrap pieces of fabric and maybe even a pretty button or two to give your hand and bath towels the attention they deserve.

Adding pretty ribbon or fabric trim to your bath towels and more is the one way to use unused ribbon and fabric scraps you may have stashed in a drawer in your home.

white bath towel on towel ring in bathroom
plain blue bath towel hanging on a towel ring.

When I started Spring cleaning the 3 bathrooms in my house last week, I took notice that the hand towels I have on the towel rings by the sinks were looking old and dingy. It was time to get a few new ones.

I went in search for a few at HomeGoods, Target and Walmart. There wasn’t much of a selection at any of the stores so I came home empty handed.

When this happens, I know it’s time to put on my “designer hat” to create what I envision myself using what I already own.

close up of a blue towel with ribbon and fabric added to it to make it more interesting and to coordinate with the decor.

With a few pieces of ribbon from my ribbon stash and leftover fabric from previous projects I was able to add some color and pattern to the hand towels I use in my home.

pink and white stripe ribbon sewn onto a bathroom hand towel.

Here is a plain bath towel I had with striped grosgrain ribbon added.

white towel with lavender and white check ribbon trim.
pink and white stripe ribbon sewn onto a bathroom hand towel.

I used both wired ribbon and grosgrain to embellish these two towels.

close up ot added ribbon on white bath towels.

I didn’t think the wired lavender check ribbon would work, but it worked great- even better than other ribbons I used on the bath towels.

How to Decorate Bathroom Towels

ribbons used to decorate bathroom towels

supplies needed:

  • Ribbon or fabric – any style, even wired ribbon works. The length needed will be determined by how wide the towel is.
  • Thread to match towel or ribbon/fabric
  • Sewing machine or fabric glue
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins

Before You Get Started

Before beginning to embellish your bath towels with colorful ribbon and fabric make sure to wash and dry the fabric first. If the towel is new, then also wash it before proceeding. Doing this allows for shrinkage.

What you don’t want to happen is to sew fabric onto a towel and then wash it in hot water. The fabric will shrink and look puckered. Better to wash the fabric and a new towel before adding to a towel.

Should You Sew or Glue Fabric/Ribbon Onto Bath Towels

close up of two hand towels with decorative ribbon added for embellishment.

There are a few options when it comes to attaching ribbon and fabric to bath towels.

I found 6 yards of the vintage purple flower ribbon shown above at a thrift store for $1.00. At the time I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but it was too cute to pass up. It looks perfect as a decorative springtime detail for a bath towel.

Sewing the flower ribbon on to the hand towel would have been difficult, so I opted to attach it to the towel using fabric glue. If you are not familiar with fabric glue, it works very well and can even be laundered with no problems.

Blue flower fabric and gingham ribbon being pinned onto a bath towel before sewing.

If you own a sewing machine, you can pin and sew on the ribbon and fabric embellishments to a towel.

No matter if you use glue or sew the embellishment on to your bath towels, you will need the same length of ribbon or fabric. If using fabric, you get to decide how wide you want the fabric to be.

sky blue hand towel hanging from a towel ring. Decorative fabric was added to the bottom edge of the towel to embellish it.

On this towel, I cut a scrap piece of fabric to 3-inches x the width of the towel.

hemmed fabric pinned to a towel before sewing.
blue fabric being pinned to a bath towel before sewing it on.

I turned the edges of the fabric under and pressed them with a steam iron. Once pressed, I centered and pinned the fabric on the towel 2″ above the bottom edge of the towel.

vintage purple and white flower ribbon sewn onto a hand towel hanging from towel ring in a bathroom.

When using towels that have the same color as the towel woven design near the bottom edges as many do, I attached the ribbon in the center of the woven section.

How To Finish the Ends of the Ribbon or Fabric on a Bath Towel

showing 2 ways to how to attach ribbon to a bathroom towel.

I finished the ends of the attached ribbon using two different methods.

Hem Finish – The first method was to fold the end of the ribbon under the top ribbon on top of the towel to line up with the front edge of the towel and press it to hold the fold in place. Then sew a vertical seam down the length.

Wrap Around – The second method was to wrap about an inch of ribbon around to the back of the towel, fold the raw end under, press and sew it down.

As another ribbon/fabric end finished option, you could add the ribbon to the back as well as the front using one long piece of ribbon. Wrap the ribbon around the entire front and back of the towel and bring the two ends of the ribbon to one back edge and sew a vertical line of stitches to finish the ends.

What to Avoid Doing When Adding Ribbon to a Bath Towel

white hand towel with blue plaid ribbon embellishment.

Most of the ribbon and fabric I used were easy to attach to the towels. I did have a problem with this plaid ribbon though. It had a bit of stretch to it. When I sewed it on, the plaid pattern got skewed.

The best way to avoid this from happening is to make sure to use heavier ribbon like grosgrain or even wired ribbon.

White hand towel with 3 rows of blue and yellow plaid ribbon added to make it more decorative. It is hanging on a chrome towel ring in a bathroom.

I ended up ripping the skewed ribbon off. Since I really liked the ribbon, I decided to glue 3 lengths of it on to the white towel to add more design interest.

5 More Bathroom Towel Decorating Ideas

You can add the same style of detail I showed with my bath towels to other soft furnishings in your home.

Bed pillowcase trimmed with ribbon.

These ideas can be used on any towel, but also could be added to embellish pillows, drapery panels, a bed skirt, bed pillowcases and even to decorate your bookshelves.

Below are 5 more embellishment ideas to inspire you that are made using ribbon and buttons.

1. How to Make Decorative Ribbon Loop Trim

This decorative ribbon trim is simply made by folding 4-inch or pieces of ribbon in half.

How to use ribbon to make decorative trim for a pillow.

Then pinning and sewing each loop onto a long length of ribbon to create decorative trim inexpensively. No hoity-toity passementerie needed.

How to idea to make your own decorative loop trim for towels, pillows and more.

1.  Cut 4” lengths from ribbon. Fold each in half. Line them up on a long piece of ribbon that is cut to desired length needed for your project and pin the loops to the ribbon. You can stitch or use fabric glue to attach the loops to the length of ribbon.  Space evenly or overlap the loops for different looks.

Use fabric glue or sew the looped ribbon to the edge of your project.

Variation: Use cord and add buttons for a fun and whimsical style.

2. How to Make Pleated Trim Using Ribbon

How to idea to make your own decorative pleated trim for towels, pillows and more.

This pleated ribbon trim works well on the bottom edge of a bath towel, a tablecloth, lampshade or pillow.

1. Measure the length of trim you need for your project. Multiply that measurement by 3 and cut a piece of ribbon to that measurement.

2. Using your hands, pleat and pin the ribbon as shown in the illustration above.  Once pinned, sew along the top edge of the ribbon on a sewing machine to hold pleats in place.

3. Once you have the pleats sewn into place, sew or glue it to your project. You can leave the pleated trim plain or stitch or glue a little bead above each pleat. (see illustration above)

3. How to Make Fabric Yo Yo Rosette Trim

How to idea to make your own decorative fabric or ribbon rosette trim for towels, pillows and more.

Fabric yo-yo rosettes add a touch of pretty when added to a length of ribbon or when sewn on separately.

1. Cut a 3” diameter circle from fabric.

2. Thread a needle with matching thread and knot the end. Sew around the outer edge of the circle as shown in the illustration above and then pull the thread tight. This will make the fabric bunch up and form the yo-yo. Secure the thread by making a few knots and cut the excess thread.

3. Glue a button to the center of the gathered side of the yo-yo.

4. Glue a yo-yo Rosette every few inches along a length of ribbon.

5. Sew or glue the length of ribbon onto your project.

Variation: Use wide ribbon instead of a circle of fabric to make a rosette instead of a yo-yo. Sew a line of stitches along bottom edge of ribbon. Pull taut and keep pulling until the rosette is formed. Knot thread to secure. Hot glue a button to the center.

4. How to Make Stacked Button Tassel Trim

How to idea to make your own decorative beaded trim for towels, pillows and more.

You can thread a stack of buttons on thread with a knotted end at the bottom to hold the buttons on or use jewelry making endpins to create these cute little button and bead tassels.

  • If using thread – leave enough thread at the top of each stack to sew onto the edge of your project.
  • If using an jewelry making endpin. Create a loop with the excess wire on the top of the stack of buttons. Use thread to sew the tassel to your project.

5. How to Make Button Ribbon Trim 

How to idea to make your own decorative ribbon and button trim for towels, pillows and more.

1.  Hot glue a collection of buttons along a length of ribbon or sew each on individually spaced. Hot glue the trim to your project.

How Would You Decorate Towels for Your Bathroom?

The ideas in this post are only a few ways that I could think of to bring my plain bathroom towels back to life. I am sure you can think of a few other ways to easily and inexpensively decorate your bathroom towels. Let me know in the comments and I will add them to this post.

Blue and white hand towel. Copy says Bath towel decorating ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. You always have the best ideas. Adorable, yet doable. Love it!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Delanie :-)

  2. What a simple but very creative idea!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Gail – It is one of those simple decor projects we often forget about doing in the big picture of decorating a house. Did you see the Frayed Knot has new owners? It going to be called Do little Watering Hole. We are looking forward to it opening. :-) We have truly missed going there the past few summers. Once it opens we will have to plan to go with you and Joe.

  3. This is not something I ever thought about, what a great idea!

  4. Very creative! A great way to add flair to a plain towel.

  5. Diane,
    Love the edged towels! You used to be able to buy them (the more high end ones) already trimmed out to match bedding, curtains, etc. Still have some fairly elaborate ones! Wired ribbon…. Hmmmm…….I had a wired ribbon bow on an outdoor wreath and with the rain, etc. the wire rusted thru after just one season. I guess you have to be careful with brand/quality of ribbon? On the other hand, I have some bows made with Martha Stewart wired ribbon that have lasted OUTSIDE many years! What are your tips on this type of ribbon??

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi S.Marie – I love wired ribbon. It makes using and creating ribbon so much easier and the ribbon look nicer. I think as you mentioned the quality and thickness of the ribbon itself is what will determine how long it lasts and holds up to the weather and sun when used outdoors. Inside it is pretty much indestructible.

  6. Caye Cooper says:

    Suh a creative way to add some life and pizazz to the ordinary hum drum, Diane. Good job! Thank you for the refreshing ideas.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Caye – Little decor projects like adding ribbon to towels to make them coordinate or add interest are so easy to forget about doing when we get caught up in the bigger parts of decorating our house. They can save us money also which is always nice. :-)

  7. Thanks for the reminder on making your own decorative towels. I did this years ago and forgot about this trick. I like all the ways you demonstrate how to do this.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim – I am in the same boat as you as I forgot about the simple trick to add ribbon to my towels to make them more decorative. Life can get hectic and DIY decor amnesia real. :-)

  8. I love this! I used to do the same thing when I had my first college apartment, and then afterwards when I worked at Laura Ashley. A scrap of fabric turned my Wal-Mart towels into designer towels that matched the LA wall paper I put up in my first married apartment. I have plenty of trim saved up so I should do this again soon.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gina – Your Walmart towels must have looked amazing with the scrap fabric trim. So smart!!! I enjoy little projects like this that are so easy to do and look just like an expensive designer item. I had a Laura Ashley cabbage rose bedroom. Bedding and more. I bet it was fun working at the store.

  9. Sue Bauman says:

    Diane, today’s suggestions are beyond compare! So many easy projects that really do add up to more than the sum of their parts! I cannot wait to try making a few bathroom & kitchen towel upgrades. Thank you for sharing your magic.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue – Thanks :-) I love doing small projects like the towels that able to me to add stylish touches without having to buy all new all the time.

  10. What lovely ideas these are! Last year I gave my sewing machine to my daughter-in-law because I found I don’t have the energy for sewing projects anymore. When I saw the photos in this post I at first felt sad about no longer having a sewing machine, but then I saw the fabric glue option. Thank you for letting me know about fabric glue – I had no idea about it and how useful it can be. What a great alternative. Thanks Diane for another inspiration!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – I love fabric glue – it works very well. When I was making a pin image for the post for Pinterest I had an AI app write up a description for the pin. I loved the description it came up with: Challenging traditional crafting methods, I’m here to tell you that fabric glue can be just as effective as sewing. Especially if you’re attaching vintage flower ribbons or delicate details to your bath towels. Easy to use and sturdy, fabric glue can even handle laundry without any problems! :-)

  11. I am rushing to finish a halloween banner for a party I’m having on Sunday, and found your website. I definitely bookmarked it because I know I’ll be referring back to it again and again!! Thanks!

  12. Jane @ Finding Fabulous says:

    Wow…Diane amazing rooms and decorative trims! You are such a wealth of knowledge…thanks for sharing!

  13. What cute and inexpensive ways to add to pillows and curtains. Very crafty.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Heidi Roylance says:

    The little cedar room looks so cute! I love the hat shelf, and the window. It doesn’t have that 70’s look at all. And I’m loving the idea for the button tassles!

  15. Thanks! I so needed a way to dress up some boooring lamps!

  16. I love you Little Mommy room. It’s a wonder they ever let you paint the cedar board..but it looks absolutely darling! LOVE IT! And I like all your trim ideas too. Darling darling ideas. I have been using a hot glue gun since they first came out…my girlfriend and I were using them before people even knew what they were~sounds like you were too! Hugs- Diana

    1. Hi Diana-
      I didn’t paint the cedar boards – I covered big pieces of cardboard with fabric and stapled them to the walls. I then used the ribbon/rosette treatment to cover all the joints. I did the walls and the ceiling this way. The walls with purple fabric and the ceiling – white fabric. I did paint the vinyl floor. When the Show House was over, I stripped it and the room looked like a cedar closet again. I wish I had more photos, but this is the only one I could find.

  17. The Polka Dot Closet says:

    Those are wonderful ideas! I love your 1997 room redo. I get some of my best ideas from old craft books, they are timeless.


    1. Hi Carol-

      I love going to my local library and looking through all the old craft and decorating books. If you dismiss the fabric and colors and focus on the actual techniques- there are tons of great ideas to be found.

      1. I attend auctions and buy boxes of books there for a buck. Keep a few recycle most through lonly people who come into my life. Great way to make friends. Get skad of wonderful ideas and have fun along the way. Still cannot go the fashions of the 70 or 80 but then who is looking.

  18. Jane's Junk and Treasures says:

    I love the purple room!
    I’m going to save this blog page!

  19. Amanda @ House Revivals says:

    These are just darling ideas, and you are so right that these ideas are just as great today as in 1997. Love this post!

  20. Diane, I wish I liked to sew. I do need to start some time. I have a machine. I just need to clean up the room it is in and finish all my paint projects. Thanks for sharing these great tutorials.

  21. Marty@A Stroll thru Life says:

    Great ideas. I love them all. Looks fabulous. Hugs, Marty