Friday, April 20, 2012

DIY Monogrammed Tea Towels

  The day my invitation to my own baby shower arrived in the mail, my brain kicked into overdrive. I hadn't been sure, prior to receiving the invitation, who all was going to be involved in hostessing the get together. For several days after seeing the names of the 8 women who were helping out, all I could think about was what I could do, on a limited budget, to express my gratitude for them. Hostess gifts haven't always been something I've given a lot of thought to. I know I've given candles at least once, but honestly I can't really remember what I've given as tokens of appreciation for most of the showers I've been blessed with.

  This time was different, though. Many of the gals who helped out with Cora's shower, also helped out with showers for Liam a mere two years ago. They are dear friends who have given so generously to me over the past couple of years: they helped keep my family fed for a full month after Liam was born, they have watched him for me when I've been in a pinch with work or doctor's appointments, they have pitched in to give me amazing spa gift cards for my birthday .... I could go on and on. They are the best. Sadly, I didn't have the budget to get them all the sorts of hostess gifts I would have loved to, but I was determined to figure out something that would be meaningful.

  After searching stores at the mall on my lunch breaks from work and scouring Pinterest and Etsy for ideas and coming up dry, I finally came up with a plan of my own. First, I found these little mini candles at Bath and Body Works:

Bath & Body Works

   The price was right and I was able to find a couple of scents that reminded me of spring, which was the feel I was going for in my gifts: light, airy & happy. My next stop was Target. I have found that the $1 aisle just inside the front door of our Target is often the perfect place to find cheap, cute ways to package gifts. They almost always have some sort of basket, bucket, crate, or box that (with some modification) can be a darling way to present a gift. I was not disappointed, as I was able to find 8 metal buckets that I knew would be perfect, as soon as I covered up the bright pink & blue paint. At Target I was also able to find the plain, flour sack tea towels that I needed for my project. Finally, after a trip to Hobby Lobby for a neutral colored spray paint and a handful of different colors of embroidery floss, I was ready to get to work. Here's a look at what I did.

DIY Monogrammed Tea Towels

  I've been doing a lot of embroidery lately, as I've worked on the alphabet sampler project for Cora's room that I blogged about here. I decided that I would just use the letters from the sampler as my pattern and embroider each hostesses last initial onto a towel. 

   I spray painted my little buckets the almond color, and then I got to work on the towels. I washed, dried, and ironed the towels first, because I wasn't sure if there would be any shrinkage and didn't want the monograms to end up warped after their first washing. Then I traced the designs for the different letters onto the towels. After centering the initials onto the bottom of the towels, I free-handed a simple laurel wreath-like design to give the monogram a more complete look. Cora's sampler is being embroidered in crewel wool, but for this project I chose to use DMC embroidery floss, because I thought it might hold up a little better with multiple washings than wool.

  I started working on these about 10 days before the shower, so during that period of time I did absolutely nothing else during Liam's naps and the evenings, after he had gone to bed. Our house was a little messier than normal, the ironing piled up, and projects for Cora's room came to a halt, but I had so much fun working on them. I loved picking out the color combinations and watching them pop to life. I wish I had thought to take pictures of each of them, but here is one finished product:

 When I was finished with the embroidery, I rolled the candles into the towels, arranged them in the buckets so the initials were visible, and then added a little raffia bow with some leftover silk flowers from my spring wreath as a final touch.

  I loved how these turned out, and for only about $6/gift, I felt that they met both of my requirements: affordable & (hopefully) having some personal significance. Note: Sorry to any of my hostesses who read this for being a little tacky & saying how much I spent on your gift. This project was pretty convenient, since I already had a cute pattern to follow for each letter and since I had learned quite a few embroidery stitches through my work on Cora's sampler. However, if you haven't hand-embroidered before and would like to embark on a project of this sort, there are tons of tutorials with pictures or videos out there. Just google "how to embroidery stitches" and you'll find all you could want to know. Once you know some stitches, you could just find some fun fonts, blow up the letters you need to an appropriate size, print them off, trace them onto your fabric, and then use whatever stitches or embellishments you'd like to complete them. A great thing about hand embroidery is that it is basically doodling with thread on fabric, so once you know some stitches, you can easily create any pattern you like - either by tracing letters/pictures onto fabric, or by free-handing a design.

  Or, you could do what I did and purchase this pattern from Rosy Little Things ( I promise, I'm not getting paid for raving about this pattern, it's just been really fun for me to work on).

  It was well worth the $6 that I paid, even if I wasn't planning on making the whole sampler, just to have the different letter designs for various projects, as well as the illustrated instructions on how to work a number of different types of stitches. I'd highly recommend it if this is the sort of thing you're interested in learning to do.

  So there you have it - necessity really is the mother of invention. What about you? I'd love to hear about ideas that you've used and loved for homemade gifts!


BrookeS said...

Love this post! I got all inspired over my lunch break today, thanks :)

Mark and Megan said...

Love them! So creative and an even better gift because it wasn't just bought but "made with love." Cheesey I know, but those are the best gifts.