Free Design: Embroidered Redwork Tea Towel with Decorative Trim

March 1, 2019By Joanne BankoEmbroidery, Free Design of the Month, Projects 28 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

Craft your own “farmhouse chic” look and dress up your kitchen with this Redwork towel. In this project, you’ll see how to add decorative elongation stitches to the Brother Free Design of the Month, a classic Redwork rooster design.

Materials and Supplies:

  • Brother Sewing and Embroidery Machine with 4-inch hoop capability.
  • Brother Embroidery Thread, featured embroidery thread is Candy Apple Red, ETP 0020.
  • Brother Bobbin Thread.
  • SA5818, heavy weight tear-away stabilizer for decorative stitching.
  • Presser foot “N” for decorative stitching, included with machine accessories.
  • Blank Tea towel. Note: In this example towel measures 17-inches wide X 27-inches long.
  • Spray starch, or liquid wash-out fabric stabilizer for stiffening towel fabric. You can also consider layering wash-away stabilizer with the towel when hooping.
  • Basic sewing notions including pins and a removeable marker for fabric.
  • One strip of cotton fabric measuring 2-inches wide X the width of the towel, plus one additional inch.
  • Brother Free Design of the Month: Redwork Rooster.pes See Figure #1.

Brother Free Design of the Month

Redwork Rooster.pes
  • 2.87” Wide X 3.23” High

Steps to Create Decorative Tea Towel

  1. Set machine for embroidery and transfer free design to your machine. Starch and iron the towel or apply stiffener so you can embroider without added stabilizer. Embroider on towel, leaving room for decorative stitching below the design.
Note: In this example the design is centered 8-inches from the lower edge. The combination of the starched towel and the lightweight characteristics of this design produce a smooth finish without added stabilizer. See Figure #2a and #2b.
Figure #2a
Figure #2b
  1. Set up machine for standard sewing with thread to match your fabric strip. Fold under ½-inch along each long edge of strip, folding toward the center to form a strip finishing at 1-inch wide. Length of strip should cover the width of the towel with ½-inch for turning under at each short end. See Figure #3.
Figure #3
  1. Position strip on towel, leaving room for rows of decorative stitching. In this example, trim is positioned 3-inches from the lower edge. See Figure #4.
Figure #4

Pin trim in place. See Figure #5.

Figure #5
  1. Select an appliqué stitch and neatly sew trim to towel, turning under short raw edges at each end. See settings and example of stitch below:

  1. Attach the “N” foot. Thread machine with decorative thread in the top and bobbin. Place a strip of tear-away stabilizer under the towel, making sure strip completely covers area designated for decorative stitching. See Figure #6.
Figure #6
  1. Access the menu of elongation stitches. See below:

  1. Select the decorative stitch that mimics a checker board pattern. See example of stitch and settings below:

  1. Sew a row along edge of strip, using edge of the presser foot as a guide. See Figure #7.

Repeat decorative pattern on the opposite side of the strip.

  1. Select the diamond shaped decorative stitch. Sew rows next to each of the previous decorative stitches. See settings below:

  1. Carefully tear away excess stabilizer and press towel.
Tip: When removing tear-away keep your thumb pressed on stitches and remove stabilizer with your opposite hand. This helps to keep stitches from distorting and makes it easier to pull out excess stabilizer. Don’t be concerned with the small bits remaining under the stitches.
  1. You are finished! Stand back and admire your handiwork! See Figure #8 for a close-up of finished towel.


    • Hi Lynda! Glad you liked the project! I’ve been a fan of rooster and chicken designs for a long time but they are really very trendy right now. I’m sure your girlfriend will love your thoughtful gift!

    • Hi Mary!
      Go for it!!! This project won’t take long to stitch and you’ll have something really special when you’re finished 🙂

  • How do I down load this! I have a password for I brooder. But I can’t get to the free monthly designs!

    • Hi Meryl,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Under the ‘Materials and Supplies’ list on this blog, the last bullet is labeled ‘Brother Free Design of the Month:’ You would click on the ‘Redwork Rooster.pes’ and it should download to your computer.

      Hope this helps!

      Happy Sewing!

      The Brother Sews Team

  • Any time I have tried to decorate something evenly across the bottom of a towel it tends to go up or down across width of the towel. I would have never thought to use one of my quilting rulers to be sure everything is even across the bottom! Thanks for the great idea!

    • Hello Gailete!
      I’m all about using tricks and tools to keep things neat and even. I’m super glad to know this was helpful 🙂

  • That is lovely. It is amazing how with just a few rows of deco stitching and a simple embroidery the plain towel is elevated to an artistic level.

    Where did you get the towel blank with the pretty hemstitch edge, and what are those tiny pins you used to set the fabric strip?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Speattle!

      Yes indeed! This project proves that embroidery combined with decorative stitches adds an upscale look with very little effort. I’m so glad to know you liked the finished product.

      The blank towel is a Dunroven brand cotton/linen blend tea towel. You may find a craft store or quilt shop in your area that carries this brand. The tiny pins are labeled as applique pins with dipped heads. They’re ideal for pinning narrow trims. The length of the pin doesn’t distort the fabric and they don’t take up much space on the fabric piece.

      By the way, you could add a little more embellishment to the hem by running narrow ribbon through the hemstitching.

  • Marilou says,
    The artistic work on the tea towel is beautiful, lovely added touches. This will be so much fun to try on my New Brother Machine.

    • Hi Marilou!

      It was so nice to hear from you and see your comments here 🙂 You’re going to have a lot of fun with that new machine! I hope you’ll check in here often and see more projects that interest you. Happy Stitching!!!

    • Hi Linda!

      Thanks for leaving such a kind comment. I’m so glad to know that the project was appealing to you. Stay tuned for some additional kitchen creations coming to you during the month of March. Happy stitching!

  • Hi Joanne
    I didn’t know I could use starch or stiffener on towels I thought to do the embroidery on my machine I had to use tearaway or wash away stabilizer. Thanks for this great tip

    • Hi Gloria! Thanks for taking the time to write. I like this option when designs are lightweight and the fabric is a nice sturdy weave. Skipping the added layer makes it really easy to hoop the item and depending on the stiffener it may not even show up on the towel, making this idea work well for gift giving. Of course the starch will all come out in the first washing.

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