Free Design: Embroidered Appliqués on Towels

January 4, 2017By Joanne BankoAppliqué, Embroidery, Home Decor 26 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

Looking for a quick way to update your décor? This classy set of towels is trimmed with nothing more than a bit of fabric and a stylish Brother embroidery design. A simple change of thread colors gives the design a whole new look! These instructions show how to trim the towel with the diamond shaped appliqués. Take a look at the companion Foot of the Month project for complete instructions on trimming the hand towel with strips of fabric. Pair these two projects together and beautify your bath with a luxurious, yet economical embroidered set!

Close-Up of Appliques
Close-Up of Appliqués

Materials and Supplies:

Fabric requirements for each embroidered appliqué:

  • One piece of cotton measuring 8-inches square for each embroidered piece.
  • One piece of cotton measuring 4-inches square for lining each embroidered piece.
Note: Fuse lightweight interfacing to the wrong side of each 8-inch square piece.
Original Design Colors (left) vs. Modified Design Colors (right)

Steps to Create Embroidered Appliqués

  1. Choose various thread colors to coordinate with your color scheme. See Figure #1.
Figure #1

Tip: Select prominent colors from a fabric print. If you are making the coordinating hand towel you can use one or more of these coordinating fabrics as a guide. Notice that the selvedge edge of fabric often includes dots of colors included in the print. Experiment with different color schemes and don’t be afraid to minimize colors by eliminating some and repeating the same thread color more than once. See Figure #2.

Figure #2

If your machine includes the Color Shuffling™ option you can “pin” selected colors and let the machine work it’s magic to mix and match colors right before your very eyes!

  1. Place interfaced 8-inch square of fabric in 4-inch hoop. Embroider design in the center. See Figure #3.
Figure #3
  1. To create the actual appliqué begin by adding a square frame from the frame shape menu. See Figure #4.
Figure #4

Resize the triple stitch frame as desired, making sure to keep it at a maximum of 3.89” X 3.89”.

Note: In this example the center square is 3.02” X 3.02” and the two additional squares are 3.89” X 3.89”.
  1. Next, center the 4-inch square lining piece on top of the embroidered design, having right sides together. Tape edges to keep lining from moving. Stitch square frame shape in the center. See Figure #5.
Figure #5
  1. Pinch the lining layer with your fingers and cut small slits in a crisscross fashion, taking care to cut lining layer only. See Figure #6.
Figure #6
  1. Turn right side out through slits, and carefully push out points. See Figure #7.
Figure #7
  1. Press flat from right side. Repeat steps 2-6 for each appliqué.

Steps to Attach Appliqués

  1. Turn squares on point. Position prepared appliqué pieces along towel band, working from the center outward and pinning each one in place.

  1. Attach to towel using a narrow zigzag or a blanket style stitch, setting the stitch width to just catch the finished edge of the piece. Use foot “N” or use a clear view foot for better visibility. See Figure #8.
Figure #8
  1. Lightly press the appliqués.

You are finished! Enjoy!


  • So, are you not using stabilizer in the hoop along with the interfaced fabric?
    I don’t see it in the list of supplies. Will the interfacing be enough to stabilize such a dense design?

    • Hi Sandra! You are correct, I did not use any stabilizer for this particular project – just the fabric with fusible interfacing on the back. I didn’t want to have a stiff appliqué when I finished. You could add a layer of water soluble stabilizer for an extra boost if you like. Two additional points to consider:
      1). I purchased good quality “quilt makers” cotton and this type of fabric is more stable in and of itself.
      2). I am accustomed to testing designs and I made sure this “recipe” worked on a fabric remnant before I created the entire project.

    • Hello Christy,

      In the Materials and Supplies list at the beginning of the post, click on the line “Brother Free Design of the Month-Decorative Motif”. A download window will pop up and a Zipfile containing the design will download.
      Please be sure to share photos of your creations with us on Instagram and Facebook and tag us @Brothersews and #StitchingSewcial! We’d love to see what you make!

      • Hi,
        I asked the question in the first post regarding whether or not you also used stabilizer in the hoop along with the interfaced fabric for stitching out the downloaded designs.

        If not, can you be more specific on the type (brand) of interfacing you used. Your results are so nice looking, and I was under the impression that if you didn’t use stabilizer, the design could look puckered.

        Did you do any adjustments to the tension on the machine?

        • Hi Sandra, great questions! This requires a bit of a lengthy answer 🙂 We’ll have to work on getting tutorial posted with tips for stabilizing and preparing fabrics for embroidery. Below are some answers for here and now:

          To answer your question about tension adjustment my simple answer is no I do not find that necessary. You are correct in your impression about the need for stabilizer. When embroidery is added to a ready made garment or other item it is standard to use various stabilizers, i.e. cut-away, tear-away, wash-away, and sometimes a combination of stabilizers. You can view the variety in the Brother line here:

          In certain situations fusible interfacing can be used in place of, or along with stabilizer. Generally speaking experience has taught me when I can use one or the other, or both. If in doubt I “test it out” by stitching a sample of the design and then add whatever is necessary. When I embroider appliqué style I often use interfacing since this would be a common practice of mine for traditional machine appliqué. I have some personal favorites when it comes to interfacing. For a softer hand I like fusible tricot, knit style interfacing and also fusible lightweight weft insertion style. When I need something a little more firm I choose fusible interfacing designed for collars, cuffs, and plackets on shirts.

          When these projects are created they are tested and designed to give you a recipe for success! I hope this helps!

  • Where do I get the free design for the towel, it is beautiful. I want to try it on some towels I’m giving as a gift.

    • Hi Donna,
      In the Materials and Supplies list at the beginning of the post, please CLICK on the line “Brother Free Design of the Month-Decorative Motif”. A download window will pop up and a Zipfile containing the design will download.
      Please be sure to share photos of your creations with us on Instagram and Facebook and tag us @Brothersews and #StitchingSewcial! We’d love to see what you make!

    • You are right Karen! Towels make wonderful gifts! It’s something everyone can use, they come in so many colors and sizes, and it’s a cinch to decorate them with embroidery!!!

      I particularly like the idea of embroidering on fabric and then adding it to a towel by means of an appliqué. This avoids the possibility of having the stitches sink into towels that are more plush. A lot of ready-made towels use this technique. The added fabric helps to tie together a color scheme and coordinate with other home decor items for a beautiful bath set. Imagine making a valance and shower curtain to match. In no time at all you could create a designer style “powder room.”

  • I am new to the Brother machines (I have LB6800 PRW) I don’t understand if you have lining fabric on top how your embroidery pattern comes put on the right fabric?

    • Hi Connie! Let me try to help. If you look at figure 6 you will see that only the lining is cut open. This allows you to turn the square right side out. When the piece is attached to the towel the side that is cut open becomes the backside and it does not show. You end up with beautifully turned edges on the right side! Quilters use this method for lots of appliqués and it’s a one of my favorite ways to get a neatly finished edge.

  • My Quattro 2 came with many feet that are still sitting, labeled, but I tend to use only a couple of them. I like to see the different things we can do with each foot. I look forward to seeing what next month will bring.

  • I am NEW to the embroidery family, will be purchasing a PE770 in the next week or so. I understand that most of the emb. designs are PES files, and want to know if these can be saved on my computer as Acrobat files for my computer to read and open up. I’m using Windows 8.

    • Hi Gradene, you are going to have a great time with your PE770!!! To answer your question, PES files are not readable as an Acrobat format. To put it into simple terms they are stitch files that only a machine or some form of embroidery software will read. You will be also able to see the designs and design information on the screen of your machine once you load them into the machine. iBroidery designs include important color and size details on the download screen.
      Many other downloadable designs come with information for the size and thread color changes, and may include this info as a .pdf file. Be aware that there are many different options for computerized software to coordinate with your machine. These include options for adding lettering, printing templates, changing colors, and more!!! To learn more about software options visit the Brothersews software section below:

      Feel free to write again if I can help any further! Enjoy your new Brother embroidery machine!

  • I have an older Brother embroidery machine a SE 270D which does not have a USB port is there any way for me to use these designs? I’d love to have more designs than are built into the machine.

    • Hello Susan,

      YES! There is a way!! You can add designs to a card with PED-Basic software and then put the card into the card reader in your SE270D.
      PED-Basic is available online at Walmart. <-- click right on that sentence as I've linked it to the product. This sewing machine software is designed for downloading embroidery designs from the Internet to use with your Brother home embroidery machine. Additional information about this product is available HERE.

  • Be forewarned! If your machine includes the Color Shuffle™ option you will probably want to play on your machine for a considerable amount of time. It is endlessly entertaining to watch the machine come up with so many artistic combinations. If you find one or more that you like be sure to save it to memory. The random shuffling may not produce the same result twice!!!

  • Another ingenious technique by Joanne! Love this turning the appliqué for a finished look. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Kathi! Your comment is much appreciated! While certainly not a new idea, this is a simple one but it works. Quilters sometimes use this idea of lining the fabric so that intricate shapes can be easily appliquéd. So I said to myself, “why not” use it for embroidery shapes as well! Good techniques can be repeated on sooooo many different projects!

    • Hi Aimee!
      It was so nice to get your note! I’m glad this idea was helpful for you. The idea of using frame shapes and creating appliqué shapes is something I’ve used for many different projects. Have fun stitching your own embroidered creations!!!

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