Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Tea Towel Collection: February Edition

Folks, I have a confession to make.  I have a tea towel addiction.  I was innocently surfing my own personal crack favorite shopping website, etsy, when I noticed the amazing abundance of truly awesome tea towels.  For those of you not in the know, etsy is a place where crafters can easily and safely sell their wares directly to the consumer.  I'm all about the hand crafted stuff and I try to use it wherever I can in my life, but there was just something about tea towels that really struck a chord with me.  I guess it's because I love fun domestic items, and what could be more domestic than a tea towel?  Plus they're a relatively cheap and easy way to change up the decor of your kitchen.  So I began snapping up tea towels from a lot of my favorite crafters on etsy.  Then I discovered the world of vintage tea towels. Before I knew it, I had amassed quite the tea towel collection.  What I didn't have was a place to display them.  Till now:

Imagine the music when Indy is gazing upon the idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark playing softly in the background here.

One of the wonderful things about designing your own kitchen from scratch is that you can add in whatever weird feature that you want, including bars to display your crazy perfectly reasonable tea towel collection (the open shelves are for my perfectly reasonable Pyrex, Glasbake, and Texasware collections, but more on that in a later post).  My plan is to change the tea towels that I display every month, so that my kitchen has a fresh, seasonal look all year round.  I thought it might be fun to do a post every month too, showing the changing tea towel display (or maybe I'm just a wee bit tea towel obsessed).  Anyhoo, here's my display for the month of February:

From left to right: snowflakes block printed on natural linen from etsy seller PonyAndPoppy, vintage embroidered puppy days of the week, vintage pea soup from vintage linen etsy seller Neatokeen, upcycled vintage embroidered heart from etsy seller TwoGirlsLaughing, vintage rebus tomato and lettuce from Neatokeen.

 A more detailed view of the puppy day of the week tea towel.  This was most likely done from an Aunt Martha iron-on embroidery transfer pattern.  Aunt Martha made thousands of these patterns for home crafters for the past 70 years, and I think they're still producing some (although the brand has most likely changed hands to a different company).  If you'd like to try your hand at one of these vintage patterns, I recommend you check out the selection at Pattern Bee.  Vicki Haninger has taken old patterns, cleaned them up, and made them available again as iron-on transfers or PDFs.  I've bought many neat patterns from her that I plan to embroider myself some day...when I have free time again...after the renovation.

 A more detailed view of the vintage embroidered heart tea towel.  I love collecting vintage embroidery.  I like looking at it and thinking about the person who sat down to do this project.  What made them choose the heart pattern?  Why did they go with the colors that they chose?  A lot of love went into every stitch of this towel, and it makes me happy to give it a good home where it will be appreciated again.  The ladies of the etsy shop TwoGirlsLaughing share that mindset.  They rescue bits of vintage embroidery and sew them into tea towels.  This heart embroidery most likely started it's life as a pillowcase.

From left to right:  winter from etsy seller claudiagpearson, vintage chicken in a stew from Neatokeen, a tea towel I embroidered myself  from the Sublime Stitching Krazy Kitchen iron-on transfer embroidery pattern, Valentine's Day dachshund from etsy seller persnicketypelican, folk hearts from etsy seller PonyAndPoppy.

 Detail of my embroidered tea towel.  This was my first attempt at embroidery, and I think it came out great.  A large part of that was due to the clear instructions of Jenny Hart, the Queen of the cool, hip, trendy embroidery revival.  If you're interested in embroidering some tea towels for yourself, but you prefer designs that are more modern than Aunt Martha, I can't recommend Sublime Stitching enough.  Jenny has tons of neat, offbeat patterns to choose from, and her embroidery tutorials make the whole process easy for even the most novice crafter.  Seriously, go check her stuff out!

Well that's it for this time folks.  If you're interested in starting your own tea towel collection, I suggest that you search over at etsy.  There you'll find not only unique, artistic, handmade tea towels, but lots of vintage treasures too.  Tune in next time when I share my vintage valentine collection (I meant to post it sooner, but we've had no good light for photography this week), and coming soon, more renovation progress.  Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Hi Chris, what a wonderful display! I love tea towels too and have spent the last six years decorating them to sell online. Take a look at my Flickr site where I showcase pictures of them all. You might drool a bit.......LOL Look forward to exploring your blog in more detail. Regards Cath, from Australia.
    and more about me at

  2. Thank you so much Cath! I love how you mix the colors and patterns in your tea towels, they are simply beautiful.

  3. I don't have a collection... I wonder if I should start collecting something.

  4. Also, your kitchen makes me jealous.

  5. loved the towels' design,its so cute..Do you even use all of this?or is this just for display?lovely collection..:)

  6. Lovely collection of towels! Especially the embroidered vintage ones and the one you embroidered with SS patterns... very cute!

  7. Chris, I know this is several years post your last entry, but I can across your. Log when I was searching for homes that were the color "Soulful Blue." We are down to the wire on picking a paint and it's between this and Vesper Violet. I would really LOVE to see your home's exterior in person. I live in Kirkwood, so I'm thinking we are close by. I swear I'm not a stalker and I would just drive by really slowly to check out the color. Could you please text/call me at 770.608.9315? Thanks!