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Originally published Monday, July 30, 2012 at 11:00 PM

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Jazzed-up kitchen towels

Easy ways to turn plain dish towels into fun, functional art in the kitchen.

Scripps Howard News Service

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Give plain kitchen towels some DIY flavor with image-transfer techniques that range from high-tech to refreshingly simple. All you need to get started is a plain dish towel.

To make the image-transferred towel, first choose an image to transfer and print it out using a laser printer or a laser copier. If your picture contains text, reverse the image before printing or copying. The key is to use a laser machine.

Attach the transfer tip to your heat tool and allow it to warm up. (If you don't have a transfer tool, you can use a hot iron, applying pressure to the paper with the tip of the iron.) Place the image face down on your dish towel and secure in place with a piece of masking tape along one edge. Work over a hard surface, not an ironing board. Burnish the back of the paper with the heat tool, using moderate pressure. Don't move the tool too slowly or you will burn the paper. Keep going until the image is fully transferred. You can peel the paper up as you work to see which areas of the image have transferred.

A painted towel is created by stamping with lettuce. To make this style, cut the lettuce roughly 3 to 5 inches from the stalk end. The cut edge of the stalk end will be your stamp. Firmly blot the cut edge on a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Pour fabric paint on a piece of waxed paper. Place the towel over a piece of wax paper to prevent the paint from bleeding. Press the cut edge of the lettuce into the paint mixture and stamp onto the dish towel. Optional: To create a leaf stamp, hold two or three leaves together in a bunch and press the cut end into green craft paint that has been mixed with textile medium.

To make an embroidered design, choose an image to embroider onto the towel and transfer the image using transfer paper. We used wax-free transfer paper and a serrated tracing wheel. For this method, place the transfer paper colored side down on top of your towel; place your image on top, printed side up. Use the tracing wheel to trace along the lines of your image. Use a pencil or a ballpoint pen to trace the small details of your image. Remove the papers and your image will be transferred onto your towel.

Tighten your towel in the embroidery hoop and start embroidering. Use different stitches and colors for the various areas of your design. When you're not working on your piece, remove it from the hoop to avoid stretching or warping the fabric.

Cathie Filian is a lifestyle expert, Emmy-nominated television host, author and designer. Learn more at her blog at www.cathiefilian.com.

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