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DIY Sailing Ship Tea Towel

by saltwaterdaughters



Katherine here.  Recently, I was down at the pier in Corner Brook to partake in some West Fest fun, and lo and behold, I was lucky enough to see some tall ships from around the world right here in our port!  It was raining a lot and we were like a couple of drowned rats, but they were pretty friggin’ cool.

Fancy pants boat


Topless boat lady and Bull head


Another pretty boat

I have had these flour sack tea towels in my cupboard for roughly 3 years awaiting some sort of DIY design, alas my imagination was less than active.  Well, not anymore, DIY sailing ship tea towels it is!  I’ve also had these Pebeo Setacolor fabric paints hanging around since a failed velvet couch DIY a few years back.  My couch might have been a disaster, but I seriously love this paint.  The colours are so saturated and vibrant, and it comes in an opaque and transparent version.

Read on to learn how to make your own.

To create a wavy sea effect in the background I used a technique called ice-dying, which is kind of like tie-dying.  Usually, powdered fabric dye is used, but I wasn’t about to go buy new dye when I already had the perfect colour on hand.  I drew a stencil of a tall ship with sails and traced it onto paper.  Then, I cut out the stencil, taped it onto the ice dyed towel, and painted the ship design on.  Once the paint was dry, to set the design, I ironed the towel for a few minutes, and voila!  Good to go!

You can find a ship stencil HERE   (or draw your own).  Follow along with the progress pictures, the instructions are below the images. This is the list of supplies you will need:

  • Flour sack tea towels
  • Pebeo Setacolor transparent fabric paint in Ultramarine Blue
  • 1 bag of ice
  • 1 wire rack (to allow the towels to drain)
  • 1 paint tray
  • Tape (to hold stencil in place)
  • Exacto knife (to cut out the stencil)

Get everything into place

Wet your towel and place in an s-shape on top of your wire rack positioned over the paint tray

Cover your towel with ice cubes

Paint the tops of the ice cubes with your paint and let them melt completely.

Place in the sun to dry completely (somewhere you don’t care if dye drips and stains)

Meanwhile, cut out your stencil using an exacto knife (protect your work surface underneath with an old magazine or something)

Lightly brush paint around the outside of the stencil, being careful to make sure your brushmarks follow the same direction

Once dry, set the paint with an iron, and enjoy the pretty tea towels that you made on your own.  Coast on that feeling of self-satisfaction for the rest of the day – I know I did 🙂


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