How to make in-the-hoop towel toppers

By on December 10th, 2021
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It seems like every time I walk in our kitchen, there is at least one towel on the floor as well as 4 or 5 wadded up in different locations around the kitchen.  Mostly, I blame my 3 teenage roommates. But, in their defense, we don’t really have a great place for them to hang them up.  Sure, we have a handle on a dishwasher that often serves as a towel rack. But, as soon as you open the dishwasher the towels end up on the floor. (And yes – sometimes – not often – a teenager will open a dishwasher.)  Determined to take matters into my own hands, I’ve decided to create some in-the-hoop towel toppers to secure our kitchen towels on the dishwasher handle and keep them off the floor.  Oh – and since it’s December, I decided to incorporate a festive, holiday design in this little towel topper. 

In this post, I’ll show you exactly how I did it and show you some of my other favorite in-the-hoop towel topper patterns. 

What is an in-the-hoop towel topper? 

An in-the-hoop towel topper is (typically) two pieces of fabric stitched together with part of a towel sandwiched in between.  Towel toppers can incorporate a design or a monogram. And, in some cases these towel toppers are even quilted.  

In-the-hoop towel toppers come in many different forms.

Types of in-the-hoop towel toppers

There are a few different types of in-the-hoop towel toppers. The type you make should depend on how you want to hang up your towel. 

Style 1: in-the-hoop towel toppers with holes integrated

This style is ideal when you have some type of hook on which to hang your towel.  The upside of this style of in-the-hoop towel topper is that you don’t need any extra hardware to finish the project. 

Style 2: in-the-hoop towel toppers for towels to go through

This style of in-the-hoop towel toppers is not attached to the towel itself. It’s an independent element with a slot in it. You simply feed the towel through the slot in the towel topper.  To attach the towel topper to a bar, you will need to install a snap to connect the towel topper to the bar. 

Style 3: in-the-hoop towel topper with strap attached

This style of in-the-hoop towel has a strap fully integrated. You will need to attach a snap to the strap in order to secure it over a towel bar.  Typically they will required a slightly larger hoop because the design part and the strap part is just larger. 

How to make in-the-hoop towel toppers

The example that I am going to demonstrate is a design of my own creation.  Actually, this is a set of two designs: a Santa Claus towel topper and a Mrs. Claus towel topper. Both are sized similarly and will fit in even the smallest (4″ x 4″) embroidery hoop. 

Supplies

Water soluble stabilizer

Because this design has raw edges, I suggest using water soluble stabilizer so that you can wash it away when you are done and you don’t see the stabilizer along the edge of the tag.

Scrap fabric

In order to make these tags you will need two pieces of 4″ x 4“ of fabric.  I used two pieces of green cotton broadcloth.  Keep in mind that the colors in the design are intended to be flesh color, red and white. Therefore, I would suggest a dark green or black for your towel topper fabric. 

HeatnBond Lite

I like to fuse a piece of HeatnBond Lite to the back of my towel topper fabric to keep it from raveling. It also helps it stick in place. 

12″ of 1/2″ ribbon

You will need a small piece of 1/2″ ribbon to secure the towel topper to your dishwasher handle. 

Machine Embroidery Thread 

You can, of course, use any embroidery thread color you want.  However, the threads I used to create a Santa and Mrs. Claus face were: green, red, white, flesh, white and black. 

Dish towel

I bought my dish towels at the Dollar Store, but I would not give them a great review.  If you are going to bother stitching out this towel topper on a towel, use some descent kitchen towels

Steps

Set up

The first thing that you want to do is to change your bobbin thread color to match your top embroidery thread. Since my towel topper fabric was dark green, I chose a dark green embroidery thread and wound a bobbin in that same thread color. 

Prepare your two fabric pieces by cutting them to be at least 4″ x 4″ and fuse a piece of HeatnBond Lite onto the back of each one. 

Next, hoop a piece of the water soluble stabilizer making sure that is very taut in the hoop.

hooped water soluble stabilizer for in-the-hoop towel topper

Stitch your towel and appliqué fabric in place

Load in your embroidery design and start stitching out the first color. This stitching will serve as a placement line for your towel.

placement stitching for in-the-hoop towel topper

Next lay down your towel. I like to attach my in-the-hoop towel topper in the middle of the long end of the kitchen towel. That way, if I attach it to the handle of my dishwasher, it won’t droop down too far and touch the floor when the door is open. 

I also suggest spraying a bit of temporary adhesive onto the part of the towel that will stick to the hooped stabilizer. This is simply to hold it in place for a few minutes until it’s sewn down. You can also use a bit of fabric glue if you don’t like to use the spray.

in-the-hoop towel topper - laying down towel fabric

Start stitching out this next thread color which will secure your towel to the hooped stabilizer.  

tack down stitching for towel

After this is done, lay down your prepared top fabric over the stitching lines and start the next round of stitching which will secure the top fabric to the towel.

in-the-hoop towel topper - laying down top fabric

tack down stitchcing of top fabric

Embroider the face details

The next few thread colors you stitch out will be the face details for Mr. or Mrs. Claus. For Santa, these thread colors will be the flesh face color, then the red hat, then the black or blue eyes, and finally the white trim on the hat and white beard. For Mrs. Claus, the thread order will be the flesh face color, then the eyes and mouth, glasses, white hair and red bow. 

stitching out face design

Add the back towel topper fabric

When you are done embroidering the face details, then you need to remove the embroidery hoop from the embroidery machine and trim the top fabric around the circle outline. Then, flip the embroidery hoop over and tape your other piece of fabric onto the back of the hoop, completely covering all of the visible stitching.

in-the-hoop towel topper - taping the fabric to the back of the hooped stabilizer

Return the embroidery hoop to the machine and begin stitching the next thread color which will secure this back fabric to the rest of the project and create the reinforcement stitching for the hole at the top. 

attaching front to back - in-the-hoop towel topper

Remove the embroidery hoop from the machine one more time and trim the back fabric around the outer circle. In addition, cut out the hole at the top. This can be a little tricky. Start by creating a small slit with a seam ripper, then insert your appliqué scissors and cut out the hole.  

stitching back to front - in-the-hoop towel topper

Before returning the embroidery hoop to the machine, tape a piece of water soluble stabilizer over the top hole so that the satin stitching has something to “bite” into.  Make sure that you don’t tape over any of the stitch lines of the outer circle. 

covering hole in back with water soluble stabilizer

Return the embroidery hoop to the embroidery machine and start the last thread color.  This is the final satin stitching around the perimeter of the towel topper and the satin stitching around the hole at the top. 

in-the-hoop towel topper done

Finishing details

When this is done, you are ready to remove the project from the hoop, clean it up and put this cute towel into use.  Trim your jump stitches. Then, trim away any excess water soluble stabilizer. Finally, soak the towel to dissolve any excess water soluble stabilizer. 

If you don’t have a hook on which to hang these cute little dish towels, thread a 1/2″ ribbon through the hole and tie it around your dishwasher handle. You can also make a ribbon loop with a snap closure to secure your cute new towel to your dishwasher handle. 

in-the-hoop towel topper

All done

And that’s a wrap! Isn’t it great when you can solve a problem (towels on the floor) while adding a bit of fun and whimsy in the process? I hope these designs help you as much as they have helped me.

Other styles of in-the-hoop towel toppers to make on your embroidery machine

Ok, so let’s say that you are not so into to the whole holiday theme for your towel topper. There are a lot of other options.  Here are some of my favs. 

Puppy tail in-the-hoop towel topper

Here’s a cute little in-the-hoop puppy towel topper that would be perfect for a little kid’s wash cloth.  The darling little puppy has a tail that curls around to create a hook for the towel. 

Bear and balloon in-the-hoop towel topper

Don’t like puppies? Check out this bear and balloon in-the-hoop towel topper.  Use it to make a darling baby shower gift

Snowflake in-the-hoop towel topper

Got a kid who is Frozen obsessed? Then stitch out this snowflake in-the-hoop towel topper on her bath towel.  It will keep the towel off the floor, so she can focus on singing the next verse of “Let it Go.” 

Unicorn and rainbow in-the-hoop towel topper

Oh my goodness this one is so cute.  This rainbow and unicorn in-the-hoop towel topper is definitely for the princess obsessed. 

Flower in-the-hoop towel topper

Looking for a more grown up in-the-hoop towel topper? This pretty flower in-the-hoop towel topper will add a bit a whimsy to your kitchen decor.  If flowers are your thing – you will probably also like this in-the-hoop hibiscus towel topper or this cherry blossom version

Ready to make some in-the-hoop towel toppers?

text here. 

xo

Julie

Holiday kitchen towels

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