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How to Decorate Bathroom Towels

White hand towel with 3 rows of blue and yellow plaid ribbon added to make it more decorative. It is hanging on a chrome towel ring in a bathroom.

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Did you know that one of the most overlooked items when it comes to home decor are the towels hanging in a bathroom? When decorating a bathroom, shower curtains, bath mats, and other bath accessories get all the attention, but no more. It is time to give your plain bath towels a colorful and stylish detail.

plain white bathroom hand towel hanging on a towel ring.

I will show you how to decorate plain bathroom towels that will easily add a punch of color and style where there was none before. All that you need is ribbon, scrap pieces of fabric and maybe even a pretty button or two to give your hand and bath towels the attention they deserve.

Adding pretty ribbon or fabric trim to your bath towels and more is the one way to use unused ribbon and fabric scraps you may have stashed in a drawer in your home.

When I started Spring cleaning the 3 bathrooms in my house last week, I took notice that the hand towels I have on the towel rings by the sinks were looking old and dingy. It was time to get a few new ones.

I went in search for a few at HomeGoods, Target and Walmart. There wasn’t much of a selection at any of the stores so I came home empty handed.

When this happens, I know it’s time to put on my “designer hat” to create what I envision myself using what I already own.

close up of a blue towel with ribbon and fabric added to it to make it more interesting and to coordinate with the decor.

With a few pieces of ribbon from my ribbon stash and leftover fabric from previous projects I was able to add some color and pattern to the hand towels I use in my home.

pink and white stripe ribbon sewn onto a bathroom hand towel.

Here is a plain bath towel I had with striped grosgrain ribbon added.

I used both wired ribbon and grosgrain to embellish these two towels.

close up ot added ribbon on white bath towels.

I didn’t think the wired lavender check ribbon would work, but it worked great- even better than other ribbons I used on the bath towels.

How to Decorate Bathroom Towels

ribbons used to decorate bathroom towels

supplies needed:

  • Ribbon or fabric – any style, even wired ribbon works. The length needed will be determined by how wide the towel is.
  • Thread to match towel or ribbon/fabric
  • Sewing machine or fabric glue
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins

Before You Get Started

Before beginning to embellish your bath towels with colorful ribbon and fabric make sure to wash and dry the fabric first. If the towel is new, then also wash it before proceeding. Doing this allows for shrinkage.

What you don’t want to happen is to sew fabric onto a towel and then wash it in hot water. The fabric will shrink and look puckered. Better to wash the fabric and a new towel before adding to a towel.

Should You Sew or Glue Fabric/Ribbon Onto Bath Towels

close up of two hand towels with decorative ribbon added for embellishment.

There are a few options when it comes to attaching ribbon and fabric to bath towels.

I found 6 yards of the vintage purple flower ribbon shown above at a thrift store for $1.00. At the time I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but it was too cute to pass up. It looks perfect as a decorative springtime detail for a bath towel.

Sewing the flower ribbon on to the hand towel would have been difficult, so I opted to attach it to the towel using fabric glue. If you are not familiar with fabric glue, it works very well and can even be laundered with no problems.

Blue flower fabric and gingham ribbon being pinned onto a bath towel before sewing.

If you own a sewing machine, you can pin and sew on the ribbon and fabric embellishments to a towel.

no sew bathroom towel trim.

Fabric Glue I Recommend

No matter if you use glue or sew the embellishment on to your bath towels, you will need the same length of ribbon or fabric. If using fabric, you get to decide how wide you want the fabric to be.

sky blue hand towel hanging from a towel ring. Decorative fabric was added to the bottom edge of the towel to embellish it.

On this towel, I cut a scrap piece of fabric to 3-inches x the width of the towel.

I turned the edges of the fabric under and pressed them with a steam iron. Once pressed, I centered and pinned the fabric on the towel 2″ above the bottom edge of the towel.

vintage purple and white flower ribbon sewn onto a hand towel hanging from towel ring in a bathroom.

When using towels that have the same color as the towel woven design near the bottom edges as many do, I attached the ribbon in the center of the woven section.

How To Finish the Ends of the Ribbon or Fabric on a Bath Towel

showing 2 ways to how to attach ribbon to a bathroom towel.

I finished the ends of the attached ribbon using two different methods.

Hem Finish – The first method was to fold the end of the ribbon under the top ribbon on top of the towel to line up with the front edge of the towel and press it to hold the fold in place. Then sew a vertical seam down the length.

Wrap Around – The second method was to wrap about an inch of ribbon around to the back of the towel, fold the raw end under, press and sew it down.

As another ribbon/fabric end finished option, you could add the ribbon to the back as well as the front using one long piece of ribbon. Wrap the ribbon around the entire front and back of the towel and bring the two ends of the ribbon to one back edge and sew a vertical line of stitches to finish the ends.

What to Avoid Doing When Adding Ribbon to a Bath Towel

white hand towel with blue plaid ribbon embellishment.

Most of the ribbon and fabric I used were easy to attach to the towels. I did have a problem with this plaid ribbon though. It had a bit of stretch to it. When I sewed it on, the plaid pattern got skewed.

The best way to avoid this from happening is to make sure to use heavier ribbon like grosgrain or even wired ribbon.

White hand towel with 3 rows of blue and yellow plaid ribbon added to make it more decorative. It is hanging on a chrome towel ring in a bathroom.

I ended up ripping the skewed ribbon off. Since I really liked the ribbon, I decided to glue 3 lengths of it on to the white towel to add more design interest.

5 More Bathroom Towel Decorating Ideas

You can add the same style of detail I showed with my bath towels to other soft furnishings in your home.

Bed pillowcase trimmed with ribbon.

These ideas can be used on any towel, but also could be added to embellish pillows, drapery panels, a bed skirt, bed pillowcases and even to decorate your bookshelves.

Below are 5 more embellishment ideas to inspire you that are made using ribbon and buttons.

1. How to Make Decorative Ribbon Loop Trim

This decorative ribbon trim is simply made by folding 4-inch or pieces of ribbon in half.

How to use ribbon to make decorative trim for a pillow.

Then pinning and sewing each loop onto a long length of ribbon to create decorative trim inexpensively. No hoity-toity passementerie needed.

How to idea to make your own decorative loop trim for towels, pillows and more.

1.  Cut 4” lengths from ribbon. Fold each in half. Line them up on a long piece of ribbon that is cut to desired length needed for your project and pin the loops to the ribbon. You can stitch or use fabric glue to attach the loops to the length of ribbon.  Space evenly or overlap the loops for different looks.

Use fabric glue or sew the looped ribbon to the edge of your project.

Variation: Use cord and add buttons for a fun and whimsical style.

2. How to Make Pleated Trim Using Ribbon

How to idea to make your own decorative pleated trim for towels, pillows and more.

This pleated ribbon trim works well on the bottom edge of a bath towel, a tablecloth, lampshade or pillow.

1. Measure the length of trim you need for your project. Multiply that measurement by 3 and cut a piece of ribbon to that measurement.

2. Using your hands, pleat and pin the ribbon as shown in the illustration above.  Once pinned, sew along the top edge of the ribbon on a sewing machine to hold pleats in place.

3. Once you have the pleats sewn into place, sew or glue it to your project. You can leave the pleated trim plain or stitch or glue a little bead above each pleat. (see illustration above)

3. How to Make Fabric Yo Yo Rosette Trim

How to idea to make your own decorative fabric or ribbon rosette trim for towels, pillows and more.

Fabric yo-yo rosettes add a touch of pretty when added to a length of ribbon or when sewn on separately.

1. Cut a 3” diameter circle from fabric.

2. Thread a needle with matching thread and knot the end. Sew around the outer edge of the circle as shown in the illustration above and then pull the thread tight. This will make the fabric bunch up and form the yo-yo. Secure the thread by making a few knots and cut the excess thread.

3. Glue a button to the center of the gathered side of the yo-yo.

4. Glue a yo-yo Rosette every few inches along a length of ribbon.

5. Sew or glue the length of ribbon onto your project.

Variation: Use wide ribbon instead of a circle of fabric to make a rosette instead of a yo-yo. Sew a line of stitches along bottom edge of ribbon. Pull taut and keep pulling until the rosette is formed. Knot thread to secure. Hot glue a button to the center.

4. How to Make Stacked Button Tassel Trim

How to idea to make your own decorative beaded trim for towels, pillows and more.

You can thread a stack of buttons on thread with a knotted end at the bottom to hold the buttons on or use jewelry making endpins to create these cute little button and bead tassels.

  • If using thread – leave enough thread at the top of each stack to sew onto the edge of your project.
  • If using an jewelry making endpin. Create a loop with the excess wire on the top of the stack of buttons. Use thread to sew the tassel to your project.

5. How to Make Button Ribbon Trim 

How to idea to make your own decorative ribbon and button trim for towels, pillows and more.

1.  Hot glue a collection of buttons along a length of ribbon or sew each on individually spaced. Hot glue the trim to your project.

How Would You Decorate Towels for Your Bathroom?

The ideas in this post are only a few ways that I could think of to bring my plain bathroom towels back to life. I am sure you can think of a few other ways to easily and inexpensively decorate your bathroom towels. Let me know in the comments and I will add them to this post.

More Bath Towel Decorating Ideas

Blue and white hand towel. Copy says Bath towel decorating ideas.

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