Make Them: Heirloom Tea Towels with Recipes

When we use the word heirloom it truly means the world. Heirloom recipes that have been in our families for years, no, decades upon decades, bring back memories of happy holidays, birthdays, and just every day dinners, spent enjoying and laughing with our loved ones. Our recipe box contains the best of both of our families: Parisian Wafers from Aleah’s grandma {we’re sharing this top secret recipe this week!}, Sunday dinner ideas from Nick’s grandma, plum tortes from Aleah’s dad, gourmet Mac and Cheese from Aleah’s mom….each strikes a chord of happiness.

Our family means oh-so much to us, especially during this time of year, and the thought of not celebrating with Aleah’s departed grandpa or Nick’s departed grandparents does weigh heavy. But starting new traditions and honoring traditions past helps us honor them and celebrate the season with our incredible families. While we’ve been wanting to create this projects with old family recipes on tea towels and aprons, for some time, we spotted a similar project on  Spoonflower Blog and it inspired us to just make a bunch. Here’s our how-to:


old {or new!} recipe | printer transfer paper for t-shirts or cotton {and ink} | an iron | pre-washed tea towels

how to print recipes on tea towels


Step 1. find the perfect recipe and scan it to your computer {we chose to print two to an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of transfer paper}

Step 2. go into Picasa or Photo Shop and create a new full page document. Insert your photos to scale and clean them up a bit {darkening the print really helps}. Then reverse the images so they will transfer properly.

Step 3. print out your images on normal paper before you waste transfer paper. Once it’s all good print out on your transfer paper.

Step 4. trim the images out as you like and follow the direction on the paper. Here’s what we did:

how to print recipes on tea towels

Step 5. lay out a pre-washed tea towel and iron flat. Place your transfer paper in the center and iron on to print recipes on tea towels

Step 6. let the transfer image cool on the tea towel for a few minutes and carefully remove. how to print recipes on tea towels

how to print recipes on tea towels

Yahoo! Package a stack of two or four and cinch with a pretty holiday ribbon. how to print recipes on tea towels

how to print recipes on tea towelsPhotos and project: Valley & Co.

Okay, do you think this is as special of a project as we do? We can see these as sweet gifts for Mother’s Day, even Valentine’s Day or any celebration. Who would you make a set of these for?


  1. Diana says

    So gorgeous!! I love personalized and thoughtful gifts, they really tell the person who is receiving them that you care about them. Beautiful idea! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kristen says

    What an awesome project! Wish I saw this earlier to make these in time for Christmas! Next year’s project it is. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. says

    Hi there! I was wondering if the iron-on transfer on the tea towels has a rubbery or plastic feel. That’s a lot of space to cover with iron on transfer, and I think it would make the towels not wick up moisture. Just curious.


    • says

      Hi Annie!
      We haven’t had this issue by using the tea towels. If you’re using them for dish towels then you might have an issue, but for use as actual tea towels the iron-on transfer feels smooth. It does have a different texture than the actual towels – you can feel that there is something there. You could try to purchase a higher grade transfer from a printery if you’re concerned with the feeling. There are options for a more industrial-grade.

      We’ve used this method for tea towels and canvas totes and they are pretty durable. We hope that helps!

  4. Ninja Nana says

    I am thinking of using recipes from my husband’s mother on her 80th birthday as one way of honoring her amazing life! She was an amazing cook and her mother was an unbelievable baker. It will be awesome to hand out some of the favorites on a apron or cotton cloth like this to her children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.

    • says

      We are so happy to hear this! They really do become treasures. We made these for our moms and aunts a few Christmases ago and one has them hanging in her kitchen, one set of parents uses the towels in the kitchen each day, and some aunts have them on display as well.

  5. Jayna Powell says

    Have you washed these? I want to make them for all my nieces but want to know if they can actually “use” them as towels or should I say they are just for show. I want them to be able to use them! So many of the people who have done this send the recipes away and have them done professionally but I want to do it myself.
    Thoughts on this?

    • says

      Hi Jayna! We have used ours – and a couple years later, though faded, they still look great! We gifted some to aunts {of a grandma’s recipe} who all preserved theirs and just put them on display in their kitchens. Aleah’s parents have used theirs and they are a bit faded, as would be expected with a print. So we say they can use them! They actually look better with age, in our opinion! Just like the recipe cards themselves. Enjoy! Such a great keepsake gift!


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