Hooded Towel Tutorial

Most of you probably know that I love to sew hooded towels. I usually like to make cute animal hooded towels but they can be cute even as just a basic hooded towel. These towels are so handy too because they work great for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even beyond. They are easy to make and cost less than $10. Can’t beat that can you?

Hooded Towels Pattern

And…my 4 year old’s a goof ball and likes to make funny faces in pictures.

So, today I am going to teach you to make a hooded towel. This tutorial will teach you the basics of hooded towel making that can be used to make just a regular hooded towel or one of my animal hooded towels.


Hooded Towel Tutorial:

Supplies Needed:

1 bath towel (any size)

1 coordinating hand towel (you will only use half)

*You might need a heavy duty needle for this. My machine will sew through this just fine, but be warned, your machine might struggle sewing through several layers of towel. If you break a needle you might want to try getting a heavy duty needle.


Start out by cutting your hand towel in half. Then, with the finished edge fold it under about 4 inches or so and sew that in place:

You can decide which side you want to have on the outside of your hood and which you want inside. If you are doing an animal face you need the bottom part-the part to be the face. So NOT the part you see above. Flip that over and use the other side. If you are just doing a basic hooded towel, just choose which part you like best.

If you are doing an animal towel, you will do the face now. Otherwise proceed to the next step.

Now, fold the hand towel in half so that right sides are together (meaning your outside part is inside for now). See the image below. The polkadots are the right side of the fabric so I have fold them together so that they are touching and are on the inside. You are going to do a zigzag stitch up the raw edge to form the hood: (so in this picture you are sewing on the right side)

That’s it. Your hood is done.

Now, on the bath towel, on each of the 2 sides fold the edge under about 4 inches and sew it in place: (this has a decorative stitch-you can use that or just a straight stitch)

Now, find the center of your towel on the long side. You are now going to form a little pleat that looks like this. To do that you are just folding about 1 inch in from each side and pinning it in place:

Zigzag that pleat into place.

Now you need to attach your hood to your towel. Center the hood so that the seam of the back of the hood matches up with the center of the pleat you just made. Pin the rest of the hood in place along the top of the towel and then zigzag it in place:

It should look like this when you are done:

And that’s it. You’ve got yourself a hooded towel!

Hooded Towels Pattern

Now, be sure to check out all the animal hooded towels as well:

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Hey there! I'm Amber, mom of 4 crazy boys, wife of 1 and non-stop, always busy, crazy project doer. (There's a reason why we call it *Crazy* Little Projects.) I love chocolate, reading, sewing and being with people!

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    • Amber says

      This is next week’s project. I needed to have the post up before then so that when the time comes you can all do it. :)

      • traci203 says

        I loved making these towels for my grandkids. I however, used the other half of the hand towel by cuttingnitnin half then making pockets on the inside so they could use them to hold the towel closed and wrapped around them. Note* the pocket is open on the inside. Not the top of the pocket. Works terrific.

    • Amber says

      Really? I didn’t know there were machines like that. But you don’t ever HAVE to use a zig zag, it’s just a more sturdy stitch. So, when it asks for a zigzag just use your straight stitch.

      • Christy S. Lube says

        This is the machine I inherited from my husband’s grandmother, I’m sure all the ones that are newer than 80 have a zigzag… LOL.

        Thanks! :D

  1. Emily says

    Is there a trick to getting the material to fit in the sewing machine better ? My towel was kinda thick and it was tough to pull it through

  2. Andra says

    Dumb question alert!!!!! The step for the bath towel that says “on each side fold the edge under about 4 inches and sew it in place”, is that all four sides, or just the long sides, or just the short sides? Thanks!

  3. says

    could you add the words “hand” and “bath” in wherever it says “towel”? maybe when I have my towels in hand I will understand it better, but for now it is confusing. For example – this part “Now, fold the towel in half so that whichever part you want to have for the outside is on the INSIDE for now.” – is that the bath or the hand? I think its the different towels used in the pics that are confusing me. Thanks! My daughter and I are very excited to try move onto this lesson!

  4. says

    The thickness made it a struggle to start and backstitch without it looking messy. I tried pushing it gently from the front, and pulling from the back and stitching super low, but all of my start/ends look like choppy wiggly satin stitching. Is there something I can do different to make it prettier? Also, sewing the ends of the towel in, four inches, was a little tricky because my presser foot wanted to slide off the “hump” of the thick fabric down to the single layer. My stitching is anything but straight! But I love the lesson and the experience!! I’m anxious to try one face. I want a dragon for my granddaughter! :)

    • Amber says

      Good point. I usually don’t start my stitching completely at the end if it is really, really thick there, I start in about a centimeter. I think keeping the presser foot where you want it just takes practice. You’ll get it!

    • Amber says

      Hamburger. :) I had posted that on another tutorial and someone was like “what in the world is the hamburger way?!” so I am glad you know that terminology.

        • Beth says

          Thanks for the clarification on that! I have had this tutorial up for the past week but was afraid to cut the towel because I wasent sure which way. Lesson learned, read the comments.
          this is so cute!!!!

  5. Victoria C. says

    Update: I did take my Morse Apollo 6400 back to the shop where I had it serviced and he gave me a manual to a Montgomery Ward machine which is similar to mine in features! :) Thank you for that advice. Also for older machines like mine (1950-65) the straight/zig zag stitch are the same you just adjust the width wider and it becomes a zig zag. Mine stays a straight stitch on the 0 setting. I love this series!

  6. Linda says

    Just finished my towel and I even put ears on it. Very proud of myself. Thanks so much for this series. I am learning so much. My burp cloths didn’t turn out to great (but i got the lesson and learned a few things) but my towel is rocking it. Lol My grandson is going to be so excited next time he visits.

  7. Mary Jane says

    I was so anxious to do this–wanted to do a hooded towel for my 18 month old granddaughter. I changed the needle to heavy duty and commence to sewing. Try as I might, gently pushing and pulling, the thick towel would not budge…just kept sewing over and over in the same place until finally my electronic (Brother cS6000i) sewing machine made some scary, awful sounds and totally froze up on me. The error message said tangled thread, but that was not the case…it took a lot of investigation but we finally saw underneath the needle plate the BENT needle. With the needle being bent and not in the correct pathway, and because it was frozen (including the handwheel–would not budge even manually) we could not bring the needle up. Tried to take the needle out and that wouldn’t work since it was wedged tightly and stuck from underneath. Finally, my husband had to cut that sucker out! This took about an hour and 1/2! After that I tried to insert the needle I’d previously taken out and crazily, it wouldn’t go back up all the way (wouldn’t hit the needle stop) and that made no sense (the entire needle HAD come out so that wasn’t the problem). After I tried all I could to make it go in, my husband turned the machine upside down, just so he could get a more detailed look–he then inserted the needle and it went in all the way. (Obviously, I’m not going to be very happy if this is how I have to insert needles from here on out, turning it upside down?! Crazy! Not sure why it went in like that and not the “normal” way). I’m thinking it must have knocked the area around the needle out of alignment or something (despite us being as gentle as possible). My machine seems to be working okay for now, and hope it will continue to do so. I do love this sweet little machine, especially the fact I don’t even have to use a pedal. Obviously, this particular machine will NOT let me do a hooded towel (it has let me sew a rag quilt with no problem), which is too bad. I won’t be trying a towel on thre again…I just hope my machine will keep working and no damage was done (since this machine is fairly new and not used much at all)! I do have another old Singer, which seems to be a real good workhorse, so maybe I could try it with that, but not sure I will. Anyway, not sure why I’m telling you all this…I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to make the towel, not your fault of course…but I’m sticking with your lessons (thank you so much!) and hope I’ll have better luck in the future. I really do want to learn how to sew, it just seems like more times than not the fates are against me in this. I’m wondering if anyone with this machine actually were able to make a hooded towel. I wonder if it would have worked properly had I inserted the walking foot?! Anyway, thank you for all the lessons you are providing us…I’m trying not to give up!

    • Amber says

      Oh wow. I am SO sorry! I have had other readers say they’ve had a hard time getting their fabric through too. I think some machines just handle it better than others. Sorry that happened to yours!

    • Tosha says

      Hi, Mary Jane, I have the same sewing machine and I was able to make one, I am hoping to make 12 more! I was using a regular needle but when it came time to attach the hood to the towel, I also had trouble with the clunking noise and the jamming, I found that if I went very slow and sewed the least thick path, even if that meant giving up some towel space, I was able to get it done. I am hoping a heavy duty needle will work through it easier, but now I am afraid to try because of your experience! Good luck in the future!

    • Sharon says

      Hi, Somehow I just ran into your blog/tutorials through some posts/links on facebook (need to figure that out). I have been making hooded towels using a bath towel and half a hand towel for 20 years. I never made them with the cute faces, ears, etc. I also didn’t turn under the edge of the hand towel (the front part of the hood) and I didn’t pleat the center of the bath towel when attaching the hood. Not having a pleat might help some who are having trouble with the thickness. To make them decorative, I often sewed a decorative ribbon along the front edge of the hood (baby, boy, girl, sport theme ribbons) or sewed on appliques on one side or top of the good or a side of the towel. Just my experience with the same project, just a different way. Hope it helps someone. They are really great for kids, grandkids, and to give as gifts. I’ve even had adults have me make them one using a beach towel and using more than half of the hand towel – works great!.

  8. Hailee says

    Hi, I am so excited to make the monster towel! I just read through the instructions for the basic towel and im just wondering if i need to sew the pleat? Im worried my machine won ‘t sew through all that but also just wondering if it’s necessary to do the pleat? Thankyou!

  9. Cindy says

    First I want to say, this is my very favorite website! I’ve made 3 hooded towels and they are so cute. For those having issues with thickness, I found it easier to decrease the pressure adjustment lever. You may want to give that a try.
    I do have a question, when you sew the hood to the towel, are you putting right sides together and making a seam or are you laying the hood slightly over the towel and just zig-zaging it on (wrong side of hood to right side of towel). I actually put right sides together to form a seam but your pictures look like you may do that differently.
    Thanks so much for all your posts! Just love them!

  10. Donna Beach says

    I don’t understand how you are to attach the hood . I have trouble with patterns I ha e better luck with pi ture showing how to do all the presedure.

    • Amber says

      You just center the hood on the towel with the hood on the outside of the towel and zig zag. Not with right sides together or anything, just one on top of the other. Does that make sense?

  11. Carolyn says

    Thank you for this tutorial! I made Monster Bibs yesterday and this will be the perfect addition to my Monster themed gift for a friend. I am adding Monster Children Books to the package and I know it will be well loved by the new Mommy and Daddy who have been joiking that they are looking forward to their newest little monster.

    By the way a walking foot makes sewing over the multiple layers a breeze.

  12. Melissa says

    Question about the hood…do I only use one half of the hand towel after cutting it in half? It doesn’t seem very big after cutting it.

  13. says

    I have a sewing machine for two years and have only done basic alterations ie hems but can’t wait to try this
    thank you for posting it .

  14. says

    I started this months ago (the day before my son’s birthday and then deciding I had more important things to finish for his birthday—like the cake! :) , making the lion one, and this morning I decided to just do a basic one so I know the process and can get it out of my ‘finish,’ pile! So easy, and so fast. For sure next time I’ll be making an animal one!

  15. Lisa says

    Just started trying out my sewing machine I got a year ago! I have never sewed anything before but really want to start! I made two of the hooded towels, super cute and my kids love them. I do think that if I make them again I will use the entire hand towel instead of half, they are 6 and 4 so they are bigger kids. Am loving your sewing classes and looking forward to doing lesson 3. Thanks so much for this, I am loving this little new hobby!

  16. says

    Hi, Amber

    I am not a great seamstress at all but love crafts and hope I can make the lion. The only part I don’t’ quite get is the cutting of the hand towel (do I cut a short cut (cut in half so almost squares) or do I cut a long cut the long way and make two long rectangles for the hood? I couldn’t interpret the horizontal because I could see both ways being called horizontal, depending. Thanks for the help. I hope mine turns out as cute as yours!

  17. Kelly says

    I wish I could zoom out on the pictures. The close ups are confusing me. I like to see the big picture since I’m not very good at sewing crafts and its easier for me to follow along with pictures.
    I’m really confused on the pleate.

  18. Zoe says

    I love your tutorials. They’re very helpful. I was wondering what sewing machine you use? I’m looking into purchasing a good modern sewing machine. I have a very old singer. .Thanks

  19. Cindy says

    I didn’t see an actual pattern for the crown–could you tell me the length and height of it or do you have the actual pattern to download? Measurements of parts of these hooded towels are the only thing I have a hard time figuring out from your photos. But you do a FANTASTIC job. I’ve made 3 so far and my niece wants the Princess towel for Christmas. Thank you for your time and effort in doing this for all of us uncreative people.

  20. Peggy says

    I am new to sewing and super excited I found you!! My question is do you have a printable version? My computer is at work and sewing machine at home. I can get it on my phone but would rather use for reference and have a printable one to go to. I’m excited to try the hooded towel, my daughter is going to love it!!

  21. erika says

    What adjustments would I need to make or is it possible to make one of these for a 1st grader? The pics and comments seem to be about toddler/preschool aged kids and I’m wondering if this could work for a 7 year old or if it would be too small…

    • says

      My older kids still wear them the way I show you how. My 6 year old definitely does and even my 8 year old still tries. If you want you can choose to NOT cut the hand towel in half. Some of my readers do that.

      • traci203 says

        Answer to your question. I made these towels for my grandkids 3mts – 7 years. The instructions provided gave ample room for the hood. The 7 year old had more than enough room too. Also, I used the other half of the towel that was cut in half and made pockets inside the towel part about halfway down so they could use them to hold their towel closed. Note* the pockets were open on the inside facing the back of the towel not on top like a regular pocket. We live on the lake and I can already see I will be making more for the swim dock. Also, if you find a hand towel with an applique, I just made sure to reverse the side of the hood that needed stitching and made sure to fold right sides together with applique on the inside. You will love these towels.

  22. Renee says

    Hi Amber –
    I am about to embark on the shark towel tutorial. I am so excited!! Do you wash your towels and eye fabrics before you sew?
    Thank you,

  23. Bobbie says

    This was easy and efficient up until pleating the towel. It took me three tries to realize that the pleat was on the outside…. Love the towel though. Thank you!

  24. Lauren says

    This might be dumb but how much harder would it be to see by hand? I don’t know anyone with a sewing machine and I can sew by hand pretty good are there any extra steps I may need to take?

  25. Sarah says

    I have just finished a “Minion” for my six year old – it’s 11:30pm and it is taking a lot of restraint not to wake him up so he can see how clever Mummy is!!!
    I used a full hand towel for the hood. The towels I used were the type where the hems are effectively the selvedge rolled over on itself. When it came to attaching the hood to the towel I overlapped the hems on the bath towel and the hand towel & kind of “stitched in the ditch”. This way I was sewing the thinnest parts of my towels together.
    That might make it easier for some of the less sturdy domestic machines?
    Thanks Amber for the great site – my four year old has demanded a TMNT…. Wish me luck!

  26. Sarah says

    Has anyone made the hood by cutting a full sized towel up into the same size as a hand towel? It was more cost effective to buy full sized towels. I plan on cutting it and serging the edges, but Im not an experienced seamstress and wanted to know if anyone else has done this before?

  27. amanda adrian says

    I just got back into sewing, again. I just couldn’t find the time of day. I am very excited to give this hooded towel a try, for my nephew for a Christmas gift!!!! Thank You for the ideas tutorials!!!!!

  28. says

    Hi Amber,
    Thanks for your gorgeous designs. I have a question about the towels themselves, most towels in the shops seem to have various borders(stripes), where the pile of the toweling varies. Have you come across this? Do you particularly choose towels without these borders? Thanks in advance for your help.

  29. Brandi says

    These towels are super cute! I am in the middle of making a lil monster for my four year old and so far I’m doing pretty good. I am especially thankful to have a pretty nice Janome machine that was gifted to me even though I had absolutely no sewing experience! Anyways thank you so much for these great tutorials. Oh and is there a way to make a bigger one for a teenager?

  30. Cathy says

    I just made my first towel, it turned out so cute! I’ll be making more, this was so easy! Thanks for a well-written, easy to understand tutorial!

  31. Amanda says

    I got confused when you were deciding which side of the hand towel to use depending on whether you were making an animal or not. Could you explain that again? I’m not sure what sides you are referring to. Thanks!!

    • says

      Not sure what you mean. Oh-maybe just that the towel I bought for that picture was not double sided, so I had to be careful to use the right side. Normally you should be fine either way.

  32. Sherry McCall says

    I sew and have for 37 years and I feel like a total idiot the hood part is confusing to me I want to make the dog for my grandson and wondered if you have video tutorials that I can watch I learn much better watching then reading. BTW your work is so beautiful.

  33. Kelly says

    I have a good friend that made a hooded towel for our first little. We LOVE it! I would like to make some more! I like the look of it not having a pointy hood. In a lot of your other lessons (superhero towel) the towel does not have a point. However, in this basic tutorial that you reference for all the other lessons does. Are you able to give instructions to show how you made it without the point?


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