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Turning Recipes Into Tea Towels

Looking for a great idea to create a custom gift for someone special this holiday season with a sentimental touch? Here’s how turning recipes into tea towels created a perfect gift this year.

Do do ever dream of giving the best gift ever?

You know, the kind that when they open it up, they either squeal with delight or cry tears of joy. It’s so awesome that people shake your hand, raise you on their shoulders and break out into song.

Too lofty of a dream?

Maybe a bit – but I did want to give an amazing gift to my rock star Mom. One that I knew she would cherish. I knew it needed to be handmade, sentimental, and affordable!

I stumbled upon this awesome idea from Spoonflower.com.  Spoonflower makes custom fabrics, wallpaper, and decals from your designs. Not only that, but they also have a huge catalog of gorgeous prints you can choose from. You can also order other patterns created from custom designers.

It was this beautiful tutorial from Emma from Hello Beautiful who shared how to turn family recipes into tea towels.

Turning Recipes into Tea Towels - a great idea to create a custom gift this holiday season with a sentimental touch.

Picture from spoonflower.com

Emma gave a wonderful tutorial of how to upload your pictures, the correct format needed for printing the desired amount of fabric.

This gave me a wonderful idea to make for my momma! So here’s what I did to create my DIY tea towels.

Turning Recipes Into Tea Towels

scan in old recipes to create a custom gift

Step One: Choose Your Design

First, I chose a recipe special to my mom. This is a recipe card from my Great Grandmother in her handwriting that was given to my Mother at her bridal shower years ago.

It was a cookie recipe, but what was so special about it was the back.

There were quotes from my Great Grandmother about marriage. For the Bridal shower, they were supposed to give a quotes for the bride to be – recipes for a happy marriage, again in her handwriting.

Isn’t that precious? I just loved this!

So I used those quotes as the second towel.

I had a copy of this for my own recipe book.

My recipe card was a bit bland, so I added the scrapbooking backing and embellishments to add color. 

Turning Recipes into Tea Towels - a great idea to create a custom gift this holiday season with a sentimental touch.

Step Two: Build your PDF

Then I went to my favorite photo design builder, PicMonkey, and created a design that works with the fabric parameters. Simply scan your recipe cards and upload them to PicMonkey. Using their design tool, I was able to play around with my pattern.

I planned on ordering Spoonflower’s linen-cotton canvas for durability. It comes in a 54″ wide area. According to their site, 54” x 36” will fit exactly on one yard of the linen-cotton canvas and will produce 4 tea towels. 

Now for a bit of figuring. You need to add spacing for your cuts and hem lines. I set my PicMonkey design  to fit their fabric parameters. I created a solid background to match my photos and made sure everything was centered and even. Also, turning your pics 90 degrees helps get the most of the fabric.

Once you are satisfied, download your creation in pdf format.

Here’s how my creation looked. (tip – download in a high quality format so that your print doesn’t look pixelated.)

Turning Recipes into Tea Towels - a great idea to create a custom gift this holiday season with a sentimental touch.

Step Three: Order your fabric

Head to Spoonflower, and upload your pdf. Select the amount you want, and the fabric type and add it to your cart.

I ordered a 1 yard cut. 

If you have time, you can order a test swatch to see how it will look before you finalize your order. However, I didn’t have time so this was the first batch.

Step Four: Sew your tea towel

Then I waited.

With baited breath – dreaming of that gift giving moment for my mom.

The fabric arrived in about 10 days and was absolutely GORGEOUS! It was exactly as the design planned. I had two set of tea towels I could now work with – perfect for the just in case mistakes, ya know?

Here is it right out of the package:

I ordered custom fabric using an old recipe card

I simply cut the fabric evenly down the middle and had two working pieces to hem into tea towels.

Next, I pressed the edges and hemmed them.

I am by NO MEANS an seamstress, so I’ll spare you any sewing details, but here’s the gist.

You don’t have to be a pro at sewing.

It was simple straight lines on the sewing machine.

My Great Grandmother’s handwriting looks beautiful on the linen!

And I was so happy using the pops of red as the background.

Turning recipes into tea towels was such a wonderful idea and I knew my mom was going to love this!

I folded and wrapped the towels with a pretty bow.

Here are the two towels side by side.

And yes – I already folded and tied them up before taking pics, so just look past those creases, mkay?

A perfect, sentimental gift to give to someone special, like my Momma!

Here is a close up of each towel.

So how did the gift giving go?

Well, it wasn’t the fanfare, create a parade for Jen type of response, but she did tear up and gush and ooh and aah over her present.

She showed it to all her friends and our family and it made my heart happy to give her something she would cherish.

Not only that, but she ending up ordering more of the fabric and sewed some herself to give to our cousins! So isn’t that the neatest?

So if you are looking for custom gift ideas that are easy, affordable and sure to be a win, turning recipes into tea towels is a perfect idea!

Pin this for later!

Turning Recipes into Tea Towels - a great idea to create a custom gift this holiday season with a sentimental touch.

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  1. Pingback: 75 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas – ChristmasLooks.com
  2. Oh no! I was not aware of that! There are many apps and websites that you can change the dpi. I’m a Mac user and can open my files using Preview and export to a higher dpi. Hope those suggestions help!

  3. Pic monkey no longer creates images with a DPi high enough. I now know after I paid for pro. I still can not figure out how to get an image with a large enough dpi…

  4. I understand your frustration, Helen. It took me a few times to figure it out. I went to spoonflower’s website and searched their recommendations on how to create the proper sizing. They have a great way of explaining it that you can follow step by step. I hope that helps!

  5. I am having trouble getting the graphic the correct size. Could you go into more detail.

  6. Thank you Debby! My Mom (also named Debbie) loved this gift and it’s sure to please anyone. And it would work for any gift giving season – birthdays, Mother’s Day, Grandparents Day, Christmas – even a just because gift! Thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope you found some help getting your fabric ordered!

  7. Absolutely the coolest gift ever. We lost our Mom last year and my sister’s would love this. Thank you for sharing. I’m not a wiz on the computer so I might have to get a kid to help me. I am however a seamstress so I see endless possibilities. Um pillows etc.

  8. It’s a custom fabric I made using Spoonflower – it’s my great grandmother’s recipe in her handwriting. Isn’t that so special? You can create your own fabric the same way!

  9. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Love the fabric you picked. Do you remember what it’s called?

  10. Fab idea! I’ve read about Spoonflower. You’ve got my thoughts going. Now thinking of other unique things I could create since I also draw/paint. Hmmm …

  11. Jen,
    You did good sewing. I love this idea.

  12. Looking forward to following this.

  13. It’s a custom ordered fabric made by Spoonflower. They can reprint any design you want for a great price. Once my fabric arrived, I just hemmed the edges. Hope that helps!

  14. It’s possible I’m just missing something here. Did you sew the recipe fabric onto the tea towels or use a fusible iron on, or did you order it with your recipe fabric printed on the tea towels?

  15. This is just beautiful! I have a book of recipes that were my grandmothers and this would be a great family gift. Thanks for linking up @ Crazy Beautiful Life

  16. Oh my goodness this is such a fabulous idea and so beautifully done! Take care, Laura

  17. i LOVE this idea! My mother died when I was 20 but wrote out tons of her recipes on cards for my brother and I before she passed…I would LOVE to get some of her recipes printed on tea towels for my nieces. What a treasure!

  18. These are awesome too, where have you been hiding from me? I'm pinning these.


  19. Such a lovely and sweet gift – great idea!

  20. These are beautiful….great project for Mother's Day….right around the corner, really!