Beach Towels


Why have I never thought to do this before??
To make my own beach towel!
(well, a semi-homemade towel…with CUTE FABRIC ATTACHED?)

Maybe it’s been done before and I’m just now arriving at the towel party.
But I’m totally loving it!
It’s like a quilt, but a towel. And it’s super easy.
And dude, those pom-poms. Can they look any cuter all rolled up???

My kids are already excited about their new towels (and that summer is only one month away. Yay!)

For this project, I’m using my newest fabric collection called SUMMER SIDE, which just hit stores this week. It encompasses everything I love about summer: bright colors, stripes, sunglasses, hanging by the pool or the beach.Β  Summer time is my ultimate happy place.

You can purchase Summer Side fabrics here, or search online fabric shops (or just do a google search for “Dana Willard fabric”).

And if you can believe it, this is also my first time sewing with pom-pom trim. Whaaaaa? Not sure how that happened. Or, didn’t happen. But it’s such a darling trim. And I learned a few things along the way….so I’ll share my tips.

Let’s make beach towels.

β€’ 1 bath towel, any color (appx 27 x 52 inches) OR 1 1/2 yards of terry cloth
β€’ 1 1/2 yards of a fun fabric ( I recommend the Summer Side of life)
β€’ 2 yards of pom-pom trim

There are a few different ways you can make your towel. You don’t need to use a bath towel for this—you can simply use terry cloth fabric (found at most fabric shops). And if you plan to make a larger size towel, I would recommend doing that, since bath towels are typically only 27×52 inches (appx). But I do love the ease of picking up a simple white towel when I’m at the store. Do what works for you!

The basic concept is this: it’s like we’re making a giant burp cloth.
Sort of. Here’s what I like to do:

1. Cut your towel and fabric pieces.
– Trim off the edges of the towel (to reduce bulk in your seams) and square up the sides and corners of the towel (since most towels are not perfect rectangles).
– With right sides of the fabric and towel together, spread your fabric over the towel and smooth it out as best as you can. Pin the two layers together with about 8-10 safety pins around the surface. This will help keep the layers from shifting as you cut and sew.
– Cut your fabric piece to the same size as the towel piece. I like to do it in this order because when I’m using a directional print, I want to make sure I’m cutting nice straight lines with the sunglasses on my fabric. But, you could flip flop the steps and lay the fabric down first, with towel on top, and trim around both layers at once. Just do what works for you!
– When your pieces are cut, pin the layers together along the two long sides of the towel. Leave a 10-inch gap/opening on one of the sides. This is where you will turn the whole thing right-side out when we’re done sewing. I like to mark this with double pins so I remember not to sew in that area.

2. Attach the pom-pom trim.
– Cut two pieces of pom-pom trim the length of the short sides of the towel.
– You want to sandwich the trim between the towel and fabric layers, with the pom-poms pointing IN, so the trim is sewn right into the seam. The best way to do this is to baste/sew it to the fabric edge first. Trust me, this will make the process SO much easier (rather than sandwiching and winging it, which I’m often prone to do. But don’t skip this step!)
– Sew the pom-pom trim to the two short ends of the fabric first. (I prefer to keep the fabric and towel layers pinned together for this step since everything is so nicely matched up right now). Sew down the middle of the trim piece, and I found that a ZIPPER FOOT is super helpful here. You don’t need one, but my standard presser foot kept catching on the pom-poms as I sewed. So a zipper foot works great.

3. Sew down the two short sides of the towel.
– With the pom-pom trim in place, sandwich the towel/fabric layers back together and pin them in place.
– Still using your zipper foot, sew down the two short sides with the pom-pom trim. Go slow here, stopping periodically to make sure the pom-poms are smoothly tucked inside, so they are sewn evenly into the seam. Use your right hand to tuck them in as you sew from pin to pin.
– Make sure you are using a seam allowance wide enough to hide the trim piece inside the seam. When you’re done, only the strings and pom-poms should be poking out of the towel. You can see in the image below, I sew about 1/4 inch over from the first line where I attached the pom-pom trim.

4. Sew down the two long sides of the towel, leaving an opening.
– Now switch to your standard presser foot. This foot gives you more control because it has a wider surface area to press down on your fabric.
– Sew down the two long sides of the towel, leaving the 10 inch gap/opening on one of the sides! Just sew down, and when you get to the double-pins, do a forward and back stitch. Then move down to the other double pins, forward and backstitch, and start sewing again to the end.

5. Turn the towel right-side out and pin the opening closed.
– Use your hand to poke the corners out, smooth everything out, and do a quality inspection before pinning or sewing anything closed. Make sure the pom-pom trim looks good, and that the trim edge is hidden in the seam. If there are any mishaps, no big deal! Just pick them open with a seam ripper and sew that area again.
– Trim any excess pom-poms from the corners.
– Fold the open edges into the towel, and pin the opening closed.

6. Add a Hanging Loop.
This step is totally optional, but I think it’s fun to have a small loop in the towel for hanging on a hook, or even in a bathroom. How cute would these look in a BATHROOM??– Cut a small piece of trim, twill tape, ribbon, or bias tape (sewn closed). About 5-6 inches long.
– Find the middle point of the towel, on the long side with the opening. Tuck the ends of the trim piece into the opening so it makes a small loop/hanging piece, and pin in place.
– Sew a top stitch around the entire towel, about 1/8 inch from the edge of the towel, sewing the opening closed as you go.

7. Sew two quilting lines on top of the towel, to help hold the layers together.
This is optional. I like to measure and mark the towel into thirds, sewing a line at each 1/3 section.

With this particular fabric print, it’s easy to eye-ball a straight line. But if your print does not make an obvious line, you can measure and draw one with a fabric marker. Or I like to measure and pin, creating a line that I can sew right down:

And….drum roll….or pom-pom shake??
You’re done!
Go get cozy by the pool.

Or share with a friend.
Oh these two girls. I realized the other day that only have five more summers of Lucy at home till she’s off to college. And suddenly the count-down is on to do ALL the summer things.

Happy sewing my friends!

  1. 1) Michelle

    Everything is more fun with pompoms! What a fun project!!

    • 2) Dana

      Thanks Michelle! I hope you make some!

  2. 3) PENNY

    Super summery cute! I look forward to trying the Pom Pom trim; thanks for the easy instructions! Love your fabric line!

    • 4) Dana

      Thanks Penny! These are so fun to make….I can see many more in the future πŸ™‚

  3. 5) kathy

    YOU have a teenager! ??

    • 6) Dana

      Haha. I know right?? Lucy turned 13 this year! Time sure flies.

  4. 7) Judy

    I can’t wait to make beac towels! Love your videos and have made several drawstring bags, backpacks, bias tape. So fun.

    • 8) Dana

      Awww Thanks Judy! It would be so cute to have one of these towels IN a drawstring backpack….hmmmm…..Time to sew πŸ™‚

  5. 9) Jenni

    Hi Dana, I ALWAYS love your ideas and bright colors! This beach towel tutorial is great. Thank you!! Before I try it out, I was curious how the pompoms did in the wash. Any suggestions?

    • 10) Dana

      Thank Jenni πŸ™‚ I actually haven’t washed it yet, so I will try that and report back to you πŸ™‚

  6. 11) Lauren

    Oh my gosh, the Swimsuit Soiree and the Popsicle Party fabrics are so cute! I need to own a real life swimsuit like the yellow one on that print! I know several people with summer birthdays, so I think I know what I’m getting them!

    • 12) Dana

      Hahaha. I was thinking the same thing…that I need that style of swimsuit! πŸ˜‚ Thank you Lauren, have fun sewing!

  7. 13) Tonia Levens

    Very Cute! Did you use cotton or knit for the top fabric?

    • 14) Dana

      The top fabric is a standard quilting cotton.

  8. 15) anne

    Just love your new collection, we’ve just gone into autumn here in New Zealand , so I will have to wait till Spring. But will be making the Beach towels for the family for Xmas presents.

    Enjoy your summer, ours was long and beautiful and hot, Winter only gets down to 12c so it’s not too bad.

    • 16) Dana

      Thank you Anne! Christmas presents is a brilliant idea. Love it!

  9. 17) Avital

    This is soooo cute. Love it. I’m curious how the pom-poms will fare with wear. My kids beach towels get pretty trashed after a summer of heavy use. You’ll have to update us after they’ve been used a washed a few times!

    • 18) Dana

      I’ve washed the towel quite a few times now, and some of the pom poms have fallen off. But most of them have stayed! So I think it just depends on the quality of the pom pom trim. Good luck!

  10. 19) kaybee cee

    You are always the best Dana. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
    I have learned another new sewing project from you.
    Thank you so much. 😊

    Been waiting for your next sewing project on you YouTube. πŸ’–

    • 20) Dana

      Thank you. You are so sweet πŸ™‚ Have fun sewing!

  11. 21) Kathy Brinkman

    Dana,love all of your patterns! Thank you for sharing ! I do still have difficulty due to lupus messing with eyes and brain! Can remember anything long term but short term is in bad shape! Love the beautiful vest on older infants and toddlers. Just can’t recall if you had tutorials on it. Very happy if someone would! God bless you!

  12. 22) Mariette

    Hi! I love your fabrics! This beach towel is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  13. 23) Anne

    Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! I can’t wait to make some for my kids and as gifts!

  14. 24) Janet Harding

    Hi Dana, Thank you for your tutorials, they are so easy to follow.
    My only problem is (and I’m a beginner so maybe doing something wrong) both with the towel and the burp cloths the towelling seems to stretch. how can I hold it so it doesn’t? Thanks again, love the tutorials and your really happy disposition.

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