Well Being

12 Days of DIY: Ombre-Striped Flour Sack Dish Towels

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Hand-painted flour sack towels make a lovely homemade holiday gift. For day five of Blisstree’s “12 Days of DIY,” we bring you instructions on painting your own ombre-striped flour sack dish towels.

What's a flour sack towel? Once upon a time, dry goods like flour and rice were sold in large, tightly woven cotton sacks, which were then recycled into towels, pillow stuffing and linens. Actual flour sacks are hard to come by these days, but “flour sack” kitchen towels made out of the same absorbent material as their vintage brethren are easy to find at stores and will only run you about $3 to $5 for a pack of several towels.

Flour sack towels come in handy in the kitchen for a number of reasons — they're thin, so they dry quickly, and they're tightly woven, making them better than your average kitchen towel for covering bread dough or baked goods (no leaving lint). They can be substituted for cheesecloth, table napkins or bibs. And if you fancy them up a little bit — try embroidery or paint — flour sack kitchen towels even make great homemade gifts.

Painted Ombre Flour Sack Towels

This painted flour sack towel tutorial comes from blogger and mom Jennifer Curtis, of alwaysinwonder.com. “This is a really easy and inexpensive way to add some color and personality to your plain white flour sack towels,” writes Curtis, “and I think they’d even make a fun gift to give to a friend.”

Materials: Plain white flour sack dish towels; masking tape; (fabric) paint and paint brushes


1. Lay towel flat on a flat surface. If you don't want paint to get on the surface, cover it with newspaper or an old table cloth/sheet.

2. Use the masking tape to tape lines across the towel (like so).

3. Paint between the lines of tape (like so). Curtis recommends Tulip's soft fabric paint, Plaid's ‘simply screen' water-based screen printing paint and Martha Stewart's multi-surface acrylic craft paint and medium fabric paint.

You can use whatever colors of paint you like, of course, but to get the ombre effect you'll want to paint progressively darker stripes of the same color as you go down the towel. To do this, you could use three different shades of the same hued paint. Or, paint the first stripe with unadulterated paint, then add a little bit of white, and a little more and a little more for each progressive stripe.

4. When you're done painting the stripes, pull the tape off right away and hang towels somewhere to dry.

5. Once paint is completely dry, use iron on the towels to heat set the paint. Do not wash for a few days.

how to decorate towels