Make a cherished gift with your family’s time-honored handwritten recipes printed on tea towels. 

handwritten recipes printed on tea towels


By now you all surely know that part of my love for baking comes from fond memories of my grandma on my mom’s side. I remember on almost every trip to my grandparents’ farm for a family weekend visit or when I got to spend a week there by myself in the summers, that we would bake something nearly every day. Biscuits, donuts, cookies, pies, and the list goes on. When I bake, I think of my grandma. This year for Christmas, I decided to transfer some of my grandma’s handwritten recipes on to tea towels for my mom.

I posted earlier this week about my failed attempt at trying to transfer them using freezer paper. I wasn’t willing to give up on the idea of getting the recipes onto the tea towels, so I decided to try tracing them with a Sharpie. Success!


  • Flour sack tea towels. I cut mine in fourths
  • Print outs of handwritten recipes.
  • Black Sharpie – King size. (or you could use a permanent fabric pen)
  • Sewing machine or thread for hemming edges.
  • Optional: Ingredients for homemade Bubblejet solution (helps with fading).

transferring handwritten recipes to tea towels

Pretreating (optional):

I had already pre-treated my fabric with the DIY Bubblejet solution when I tried the freezer paper transfer method, so my fabric was prepped. I cut my flour sack tea towels into fourths (they were huge the way I purchased them).

Print Recipe

I scanned my recipes in and increased the images before printing them on 11×14 paper. One recipe was the front and back of a recipe card and one was just on the front, so the sizes and orientation were varied for each.


I taped my flour sack material to my printed recipe so it wouldn’t move around and get out of alignment while tracing.

transferring handwritten recipes to a tea towel

Then I carefully traced my grandmother’s handwriting onto the tea towel using the Sharpie. I have a light box from my card making days, so I used that to help make it easier to trace. I’m not going to lie, this took a few attempts.

transferring handwritten recipes to a tea towel

transferring handwritten recipes to a tea towel


Finally, I sewed the two edges that I had originally cut. I double folded the edges and ironed them down before sewing with my sewing machine, trying to match the other two finished sides.


I rinsed the fabric in cold water and then washed on gentle in my washing machine. Here are pictures of before and after a single washing. I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t fade out too much when they were washed. I was hoping they would fade just a little though to make them look a little older and worn – which they did!

Before washing.

handwritten recipes printed on tea towel
After washing.

handwritten recipes printed on tea towel

Here is the other recipe I transferred. It brings me back to see her use “oleo” for margarine.

transferring handwritten recipes to a tea towel

To give them to my mom, I folded them and tied them up with a bow. Mom recognized grandma’s writing right away. Being the crafter she is, she always appreciates a thoughtful handmade gift.

handwritten recipes on tea towels

I love how you can immediately recognize some people’s handwriting. Both my grandmas have handwriting I can always identify on sight and it reminds me not only of their handwritten recipes I’ve seen or used but also of the wonderful cards and letters I’ve received over the years from them. My mom’s mom passed away 5 years ago. My dad’s mom is an amazing 94 year old who lives in her own home and still manages to bake a cake or Christmas goodies periodically. I’ve been truly blessed to have them in my life as long as I have.


  • Lori
    Posted January 10, 2014 7:09 pm 0Likes

    What a great gift idea Erin and I love how these turned out.I know just who would love these and I will add it to my to do list ~ pinning it!

  • Erin @
    Posted January 10, 2014 7:26 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Lori! I enjoyed making them (once I figured out my “plan b”).

  • Jill Parks
    Posted January 14, 2014 11:01 am 0Likes

    What a great idea!!!I would LOVE to try and make a few.Thanks for sharing how!

  • Mommy on Demand
    Posted January 14, 2014 9:22 pm 0Likes

    Great gift idea, especially with grandparents recipes! Thanks for sharing at The Weekend Retreat, hope to see you back on Thursday!

  • kim@toomuchtime
    Posted January 18, 2014 12:21 pm 0Likes

    This is such a wonderful idea!!!! I am going to try this and give the tea towels to my mom and aunt’s for Mother’s Day!

  • Erin @ sometimes-homemade
    Posted January 19, 2014 8:52 am 0Likes

    Thanks Kim! My mom loved seeing my grandma’s handwriting. I’m sure your family will love them too!

  • kim@toomuchtime
    Posted January 21, 2014 6:20 pm 0Likes

    And, I would totally feature you this week, but my mom and Aunts read my blog and I don’t want to give away the secret!!!

  • Erin @ sometimes-homemade
    Posted January 21, 2014 6:23 pm 0Likes

    Ha! I can relate. I have to pin any gift ideas for my mom or sister in law to a secret board on Pinterest for the same reason!

  • Cathy
    Posted January 24, 2014 8:35 am 0Likes

    These are just too cute – I am sure I am going to make some… I pinned it.. cAthy

  • Katie
    Posted January 25, 2014 6:50 pm 0Likes

    I love your towels!This is such a cute and fun idea.

  • Julie
    Posted April 10, 2014 3:25 am 0Likes

    What a beautiful idea and such a kind and thoughtful thing to do for your Mum.

  • Heather
    Posted June 13, 2014 6:21 am 0Likes

    I do not know if it would work with this but I read somewhere that if you let item dry thoroughly , then soak in vinegar and then heat set it will not come out or fade

  • Crystal
    Posted October 18, 2015 3:17 pm 0Likes

    Do you make these for people or just yourself?

  • Erin @
    Posted October 19, 2015 6:43 am 0Likes

    Hi Crystal – unfortunately I don’t have time to take on paid projects. It’s relatively easy though if you want to give it a try. There’s also a company called Spoonful that does this as a service.

  • Crystal
    Posted October 19, 2015 8:23 am 0Likes

    Thanks so much!

  • Pam stifflemire
    Posted April 6, 2016 8:37 pm 0Likes

    Do you make these for people?I would love to give my sisters these for Mother’s Day as our Mom has passed.

  • Erin @
    Posted April 20, 2016 7:36 pm 0Likes

    Hi Pam – I don’t unfortunately I can’t commit to any sales due to work and family commitments. I believe the site Spoonflower makes them though.

  • Carmen
    Posted August 4, 2016 2:36 pm 0Likes

    These are so wonderful! I was wondering if you suggest a way of setting the ink so it won’t come out, or if there are special washing instructions?

  • Erin @
    Posted August 4, 2016 2:55 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Carmen! I soaked mine in a vinegar/water solution before washing. Make sure to prewash and dry your fabric. You may also want to try using fabric markers.

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