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December 16, 2014

stenciled tea towels

Since Heather's birthday was this past week & because she is a practical person, I wanted to give her something useful & thoughtful. I stenciled these tea towels for her using lyrics from her all-time favorite band, Tegan & Sara. If you're unfamiliar with their music, the majority of the songs are based in break-ups & lost love. Fortunately for me (& my tea towel project) their most recent album is full of cheesy cute love songs, so I was able to use happy lyrics from those songs! Although, based on Heather's reaction, I could've just scrawled the name of the band on the towels & she would have been just as happy. She seriously loves those gals.

Stenciled tea towels make for an excellent last-minute DIY gift. You could use quotes from the gift-receiver's favorite TV show or movie. You could do as I did & use song lyrics, or for a more versatile gift you could use an image. Either way the method used in this tutorial will work for all kinds of stenciling, & it only takes about an hour total. 

To make your own, you'll need:

  • A stencil (I used lettering which can be created in any text program on your computer)
  • Tea towels (washed & ironed)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Dura-Lar (also known as mylar)
  • Foam brush
  • Small paintbrush (optional - for lettering)
  • Masking tape
  • X-acto knife
  • A cutting surface (either a cutting board or a large piece of cardboard)
  • An iron & a dryer

Step 1. // Decide what you'd like stenciled on your tea towel. I wanted lettering only, so I printed out my phrases in the desired font & size. Tape your stencil onto your cutting surface. Lay a piece of dura-lar on top of your stencil, & tape into place.

Step 2. // Cut out your stencil with an x-acto knife. Be careful with letters like "O" & "A" as the middle of the letter needs to be preserved. I left a section of mylar uncut connecting the middle of the letter to the main stencil, as seen above.

Step 3. // Position your stencil over your tea towel. Using a foam brush, dab your stencil with acrylic paint.

If you want lines running across your tea towel, like mine, tape off your lines one at a time. After the first line has been painted & the paint has dried, remove the tape. Then tape down the second line, & paint. You can avoid having to do them one at a time if you use very thin masking tape. 

Step 4. // If you had to convert any of your lettering into a stencil shape (i.e. A's & O's), fill in the unpainted areas using a small paintbrush. Wait for paint to dry. A hairdryer can speed up this process.

Step 5. // After the paint has completely dried, heat-set with a dry iron on a cotton setting. Further heat-set by running in the dryer for about 10-15 minutes.


Related // Need more DIY gift ideas? How about a homemade apron?


  1. You make it look so easy! This would be a bloodbath in my apartment.

    1. This is why I didn't takes photos of my hands, covered in bandages. :)

  2. I have discovered your website today! I have enjoyed avoiding my schedule for the morning to spend time looking at all your fun diy projects. I love this tutorial! I only have one thing to add... you can actually use freezer paper as a stencil. The "waxy" side of the paper can be ironed on fabric then removed when the paint dries. Unfortunately, you still have to do all the cutting :(

    1. Yes! I've heard about the magic of freezer paper but have yet to test it out! Thanks for the tip!


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