Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Watercolor Monogram Tea Towels - 2 ways using Dye & Paint

 Working with dye has always been a fun , last summer I did two projects with dye - Triple toned striped shoes and a beach bag. I was thinking I should do something with dye this year too. And also I wanted to try something different with dyes than normal dyeing.

I was going through my pinterest for wedding invitation ideas for my brother and came through some watercolor invites and also some pretty watercolor backgrounds. I fell in love with the look and I wanted to mimic the look with the supplies I already own . As I wanted to try something with dye I thought "Why not use dyes as watercolor to achieve the watercolor effect on fabric ? " Then I took a tea towel and started experimenting with designs and the result was awesome. So , Today I am sharing the technique along with my another try of using a fabric medium and acrylic paint to make same kind of effect.Lets get started. Shall we??

My experiment with dye

Fall leaves using dye

Materials used :
White cotton tea towels
Adhesive Alphabet stencils
Liquid dye of your desired colors
Paint brush
Paper cups and a spoon
A cardboard piece

Step 1: Apply the stencil in the area where you want the monogram. I made my own stencil using my new crafty toy (Silhouette portrait - you would have known about this if you are following me in instagram) but you can get adhesive stencils in craft stores or make your own using freezer paper or clear contact paper or using wax paper and painter's tape like I did for my kitchen storage cabinet makeover.There are a lot of possibilities to make your own.
Have used masking tape on the sides just to show you where I have placed the stencil as it is not visible in the photo.

Step 2: Mix the dyes. To do this, take a very small amount (May be a tsp or two of the liquid dye)dye and mix it with little warm water and a 1/8 tsp of salt. Repeat this for all the colors of dye you are using. Take two cups of clear water.(One for wetting the fabric and one for washing the brush).

Step 3: Place a piece of cardboard underneath the work area. Wet the monogram using paint brush and clear water.

Step 4: Dip the paint brush in the first color of dye you want to use and apply them directly on the places you want the color . A little stroke of dye will be sufficient as little dye will spread automatically when you apply. So, little is the key here. Do a test before you try on the towel to understand this step better.

Step 5: Wash your brush and repeat the same step with second color dye. As I used only two colors, I filled the remaining area with second color. Allow the area to dry and apply two more coats of dye in the same areas and allow it to dry.

Step 6: Once the monograms are dry, remove the stencils.Heat set them for a minute using iron.

Step 7: Wash the towel in warm water first and then in cold water till the water runs clear. Dry them and iron. You are done !! This method gives a washed away look as we are not doing it like the normal method of dyeing. However , the result may vary with the type of dye you are using. (I used Rit dye).So, try different kind of dyes and decide your favorite or if you like this look you can go with using Rit dye. But wait, I have one more idea to achieve the same effect using paint for vibrant look. Lets see how.

Alternate way - using acrylic paint.

Materials used :
White cotton tea towels
Acrylic paint
Fabric Painting medium or textile medium
Paint brush
Paper cups
Adhesive Alphabet stencils
A Cardboard piece
Paper plate or palette for mixing

Steps are almost similar to the above method.

Step 1: Place your adhesive stencil.

Step 2:Mix your colors with textile medium to make it as fabric paint. Follow the instructions specified in the package. My textile medium suggested 2:1 (Acrylic paint : Medium).So I went with 2 drops of acrylic paint and one drop of medium.Mixed well.Yes!! You need only drops of paint for making one or two towels. Multiple the amount of paint according to the amount of towels and the area you are going to paint.

Step 3: Wet the monogram using clear water .

Step 4: Apply the first paint color with small paint strokes using paint brush. Paint will not spread as much as dye .So you can water it down to bring that effect or you can use the paint as such and apply small strokes here and there to bring that effect.

Step 5: Repeat the same steps with second color of paint to complete the look.Remove the stencils.Allow it to dry for 24-48 hrs as specified in the textile medium package.

Step 6: Iron the monogram to set the paint and you are done !! The package suggests to wash the paint fabric in gentle cycle or to hand wash the towels.

Comparison of dye and paint tea towels

Hope you enjoyed this post of making watercolor monogram tea towels. What other medium will you use to bring this watercolor effect on the fabrics? I think permanent markers and rubbing alcohol can also be used to bring this effect. You can also use this effect with use various design stencil or even freehand them like I did when experimenting. There are lot of options you can try. Holiday season is coming soon and these make a great personalized gift for anyone.

Share what you think in the comments below. As always I will be happy to hear from you. :)


  1. Thanks for sharing this on Dream Create and Inspire! Love the towels

  2. These are very pretty. Thanks for the tutorial and for sharing on Snickerdoodle Sunday. Pinned and Tweeted.

  3. I can think of some holiday decorating I could do with this idea. Pinned! #HomeMattersParty

  4. What a fun project! Love the way the towels turned out.

  5. Those are beautiful!! What a great gift idea for friends. Who couldn't always use another towel, right? #HomeMattersParty

  6. Fun project! It's good to see that the stencil left a pretty clean line and that the dye didn't bleed much into the surrounding areas.
    Once again - happy to be co-hosting the #HomeMattersParty with you.

  7. These are so pretty and great for gifts. Great idea. #HomeMattersParty

  8. These look amazing! Great tutorial. Also, great to be co-hosting #HomeMattersParty with you this month!

  9. These are so cool! I love how they turned out. What a fun project:) #HomeMattersParty

  10. I haven't tried anything like this yet so thank you for sharing a great tutorial. #HomeMattersParty

  11. Watercolors are so popular these days, I love how you got the look using dye so it can go onto fabric tea towels. These would make a lovely gift idea. #HomeMattersParty

  12. What a great gift idea, thanks for sharing this. #HomeMattersParty

  13. These towels are so cute! What a fun paint idea. :) #HomeMattersParty

    Life With Lorelai



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