Stenciled Dish Towels

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Wet dishes never had it so good! A decorated towel mixes function and fun in a unique project that will delight just about anybody on your list (who's not a kid, of course). Your designs can be as beautiful, comical, or whimsical as you like. You can print on almost any cloth -- napkins, aprons, tote bags, T-shirts -- but dish towels are an easy and inexpensive place to start.

What you'll need

  • printed clip art (search Google Images for "clip art silhouettes")
  • masking tape
  • cutting mats or flat cardboard
  • craft knives (adults only)
  • paper towels
  • fabric paint
  • paper and pencil
  • clear plastic report cover
  • washed and ironed cotton -- not terry -- dish towels (sometimes called flour sack towels)
  • paper plate
  • round foam brush
Helpful Tip:

LETTERING: Create an ink pad for letter stamps by brushing a thin layer of paint on a paper plate. Stamp gently and wipe the paint from the stamp with a paper towel after each use, as the paint can clog the stamp. A piece of tape makes a nice, removable guideline for straight writing.

FREEHAND: If younger artists want to paint a picture right on the cloth, consider marking off a 3- by 3-inch square with masking tape to contain the design.

How to make it

  1. Draw a simple design on the paper or choose a piece of clip art, then tape the report cover over it. Working on a cutting mat or cardboard, use a craft knife to cut out the design.

  2. Lay the dish towel flat, with a paper towel beneath the area you'll be printing on. Secure the report-cover stencil to it with masking tape.

  3. Pour a small amount of fabric paint on the paper plate, then paint the dish towel with firm dabbing motions from the outside edge of the stencil to the center. (Don't brush back and forth or the paint will seep under the stencil.)

  4. Peel off the stencil and move the dish towel to the drying area. Follow instructions for setting the paint (check the paint label).

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