How to Make Ruffled Flour Sack Towels with Gorgeous Long Ruffles

This tutorial will show you how to add beautifully lush farmhouse ruffles to inexpensive flour sack towels and an optional vintage inspired stencil for cute cottage decor. Dust off your sewing machine and make gorgeous ruffled towels for your home!
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Do you love ruffles?

I can't help it, ruffles make me swoon a little bit!

I recently came across some gorgeous ruffled flour sack towels and was about to dish out a hefty price to bring them home, but after thinking about it for awhile, decided I'd try to make them myself!

I am so glad I did because they're really not complicated, or expensive, to make. And now I can have beautiful large ruffled towels in every room of our home - sorry Mr DIY 😘 I may just go into the ruffled flour sack towel business, that's how much I adore the ruffly goodness of these towels!

I cannot wait to share this easy DIY with you so you can add some farmhouse ruffled tea towels (or large shabby chic napkins!) to your home too!

Disclaimer: while a no-sew option is a possibility, this tutorial shows how I made the ruffled towels using a sewing machine.

How to make ruffled flour sack towels

The best part of any DIY is when the price is minimal! With less than $10 in supplies, you can make several ruffled towels for you home, or to give as gifts if you can part with them! I spent only $7 on supplies (some of the items I already had in my craft stash like the red check fabric that was leftover from Christmas projects). Use whatever fabric and trim you have to make your ruffled towels unique!


Step One - Rip Fabric

Yes, we are ripping fabric! Why? Well, first of all because it's way easier to get a perfectly straight edge in seconds, than laboriously cutting! But secondly because ripping gives you wonderful frayed edges and we are embracing the frayed edges in these ruffled towels! No hems today, I promise ya!

You can make your ruffles as wide as you want, I chose my ruffles to be about 7" wide. 

How much fabric do I need?

You will measure the flour sack towel (which I think is 21" wide) and then double that to get the length you'll need. You could even double and a quarter it if you want really full ruffles. I was trying to keep this as simple as possible, so I doubled it.

For my white towels, I used another feed sack towel and ripped the two edges off at 7" and then sewed them together to create one super long piece measuring 42".

Make Ruffles 

I finally figured out how to use my sewing machine to make effortless ruffles! I've tried this so many times and it never worked, but after experimenting a little bit, I found the perfect method that worked for me! You will need to experiment with your machine, or maybe you already know how to do this and have been making machine ruffles for years!

The trick to making ruffles on your machine is to have the stitch length set to the longest (usually 4) and the tension on your machine at the highest setting. I'm using my mom's vintage Pfaff sewing machine, straight outta the 70's and the tension goes up to 10. Every time I started sewing, my thread would break. After being persistent with it, I found that the highest tension I could go was between 5-6 and I was producing perfect ruffles in just seconds!

Once you have your settings figured out, you just sew (no back stitches) a straight line and the machine will create ruffles.

Pin to Flour Sack

Find the center of your towel, and the center of the ruffled piece, and pin them together, right sides out. I didn't pin the ruffle right at the edge of the towel, I left about 3" simply because it gives a little extra stability to the ruffles.

Once the center is pinned, pin the sides together. At this point, you may need to adjust your ruffles so that they are spread out evenly.

Sew Ruffled Edge to Towel and Add Trim

Sew the ruffle to the flour sack towel (I left about 3/4" seam allowance so I'd have a little ruffle at the top edge as well). If you're using trim, pin it over the seam and sew to secure using a zig zag stitch.

Note: I added trim to the red check towel but not the white or blue gingham ones.

Add Stencil (optional)

I thought the checked towels would look really cute with a stencil. These grocery store stencils have a vintage vibe to them which works really well with the homespun fabric.

Tip to stencil success on fabric:

  • don't overload your brush with paint!
  • tape the stencil down so it doesn't shift
  • pounce brush up and down, starting at outside edge and working in
Because these towels have a old fashioned, vintage vibe, I wanted my stencil to be soft. I loaded my brush with just a little paint, then pounced most of it off onto a paper plate before taking it to my towel. The result is a soft, worn look that is just perfect!

The only thing left to do is try to decide where you want to display your beautiful ruffled tea towels! The kitchen is an obvious choice, but if you want them to stay pretty, keep them away from the guys in your family lol! My guys are notorious for getting grime all over my favorite towels! I have no idea why they don't appreciate our pretty things 😐

I hung mine from the wall mounted mug rack (I love the vertical decorating power of this piece!) as well as my coffee bar in my kitchen. This way, I'm silently signaling to the fam that my sweet towels are for DECOR ONLY!

I also added one to the pine hutch in our dining room just because it looks so good next to my vintage dishes!

I think saving a couple ruffled towels for a guest bathroom that's rarely used is a great idea too. Or, use them everyday and just bleach them when they get dirty!

I just bought another package of flour sack towels so I can make some more gorgeous ruffled tea towels! Once you see how easy these towels are, I'm sure you'll want multiple for your home too.

flour sack towels with wide ruffles, mug rack, blue and white mugs, ticking stripe stool

I hope you loved this tutorial and are inspired to make some of your own ruffled farmhouse towels! Please let me know in the comments below, your sweet comments keep me going when I'm tired 😉 As always, pinning my images and sharing with friends is encouraged and appreciated!

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  1. I use the flower sack towels from Walmart for curtains at the farmhouse. I think I want to do the ruffle thing. They'd be soooo much cuter! Love each one you did. Happy Summer! pinned

    1. Thanks Cindy, I'm in love with them and they would make the sweetest curtains!

  2. I love this idea, Cindy. Bought my flour sack towels and waiting for my stencil! Thanks for the inspiration! Sandra

  3. Not only do I now need ruffled tea towels, I also want to paint my kitchen cabinets white. Your projects and photos are SO inspiring! These are gorgeous!

    1. Thank you my friend, that's so sweet of you! I am obsessed with these towels and their ruffly goodness!

  4. These are so cute! I also like your raw edges, hems are hard for me, but I can sew a straight seam.


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