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Easy DIY Gift Idea for Mom: Block Print Tea Towels and Bandanas

A box wrapped with a hand-stamped tea towel and a tag that reads,
This step-by-step guide shows you how to create your own pretty, printed tea towels to give as a gift for Mom this Mother's Day. We'll even show you a few ways to use them as gift wrap, for a thoughtful bundle she'll love.
Crafter level: Beginner
Time needed: 2 hours

Inspired? Create and share by tagging @HallmarkStores.

Even as an adult, it’s fun to give your mom a handmade gift to celebrate her on Mother’s Day, her birthday or just because. Block printing—also called rubber stamping and linocut printing—is a simple way to add a colorful personal touch to always-useful tea-towels and bandanas. 

Even better: You can use the stamp you make to create multiples, like bandanas in different colors or a monogrammed set of tea towels. Hallmark designers made a batch to show us how it’s done. 

Even Easier DIY Towels

We’ve simplified the whole process with Tea Towel Handprint Kits. You’ll get everything you need to add your family’s handprints to cute towels (on purpose and in cute colors instead of dirt for once).  

Materials

  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • Soft Cut or Speedball "Speedy Carve" linoleum blocks, 2" x 2" square
  • Linoleum cutter or rubber stamp carving tools
  • White tea towels or bandanas
  • Fabric paint
  • Brayer or foam paint brush
  • Paper plate

Directions

Step one:

Make some 2” squares on your tracing paper and sketch some simple designs: Try flowers, hearts, rainbows, flowers, stars leaves, geometric shapes or letters.

When you like your sketch, go over it with the pencil again, pressing down harder. Then flip the tracing paper over, sketch side down, on a piece of the linoleum block and rub over the lines with your pencil so the lead on the transfers to the rubber.

A hand sketching with a stamp design with a pencil on a piece of paper.

Step two:

Use the cutting tools to carve out the rubber where you don’t want color. Try the larger cutting tools to carve out bigger spaces and smaller ones to get close to the shapes you’re going to leave.

When you’re hollowing out your stamp, don’t worry about being perfect. Block printing looks great when backgrounds have little bits of color where you left some rubber. 

Hands carving out a design on a rubber stamp.

Step three:

Your stamp is ready! Squirt a little fabric paint on to a paper plate and roll the brayer until it’s completely—but thinly—covered. If you’re using a foam brush, don’t overload it.

Before you block print on the towel or bandana, practice stamping on plain paper or scrap fabric to see how much paint coverage you’ll need and how you want to space your design. You can also wipe off the stamp and cut out more rubber if you need to.

A hand applying paint to a carved rubber stamp with a roller.

Step four:

To print, carefully press the stamp on to the fabric and lift it off slowly. If you’re stamping more than once, apply more paint each time.

Here are some different ways to make different designs with the same stamp: 

  • Stamp your design once, in a cluster, in a row or all over. 
  • Keep the design aligned the same way for every stamp or rotate it one turn clockwise and make the second print right next to the first. Repeat to cover the whole surface.
  • Use different, complementary colors—just be sure to wipe the stamp clean before applying a new hue.
  • Paint different parts of your stamp different colors.

 

Or add another stamp with a new color for lots more options!

Hands applying a rubber stamp to a tea towel.

Step five:

Let your design dry while you make more. Why stop at just one? When you finish, follow the instructions on the fabric paint to make sure it sets permanently. 

Now they’re ready to give as gifts and use to wrap presents. Ideas on that below!

A finished hand-stamped tea towel with the rubber stamps carved to create it sitting nearby.

Ways to give your block print gifts

 

You can give your linocut bandanas and tea towels in approximately a gazillion ways. Here are a few we love.

 

Tie together a set of color-coordinated towels, napkins or bandanas

 

  • Fold the towels or bandanas neatly. (You can iron them, if you’re that person.)
  • Stack them up and tie them with a piece of twine, yarn or ribbon.  
  • Add a gift tag or pom poms, or tuck a card under the bow.

Three different examples of block print tea towels.

Wrap up a box of chocolates, a book or two, or a homemade treat

 

  • Lay the towel or bandana printed side down. 
  • Center the box or book with its straight edges lined up with the corners of the fabric.
  • Fold two opposite corners over the gift. You’ll get the tidiest results if the edges of the fabric run parallel to each other.
  • Pull up the remaining two corners and tie them in a single or double knot. (You might have to try a few different arrangements to get it just right. The good news is, this wrap is reusable.)
  • Add a gift tag or tuck in a card.

 

Two examples of using tea towels to wrap gifts—one a simple box with the corners tied on top, the other a bottle with the corners tied around the neck of the bottle.

Give a bottle of her favorite beverage

 

  • Lay the towel or bandana printed side down. 
  • Stand the bottle in the center of the fabric.
  • Pull two opposite sides up and hold them against the bottle. 
  • One at a time, pull up each corner, folding the remaining straight sides in as you do.
  • Use a rubber band to hold the fabric around the neck of the bottle, then secure it by tying on a gift tag with twine or a ribbon. (You can remove the rubber band or not.)

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