DIY: Upcycle Old Towels into a New Bath Mat

DIY Terrycloth Bath Mat

My kids’ bathroom needed a new bath mat. I had a few old towels in my fabric stash.

It was a match made in Heaven!

An old towel with worn parts, bleach stains, or other flaws that take it out of service still has a lot of love, or rather fabric, to give. I cut up several old towels to piece together a cute applique mushroom, quilted it onto a couple other old towels, and now have a brand-new custom bath mat that the kids and I are delighted with.

Here’s how I did it!

To upcycle a bath mat from old towels, you will need:

Organic Terrycloth Hooded Towel

Yeah, that little peanut is taller than me now, and that off-white organic terrycloth is hanging out in my fabric stash along with a few black, navy, and white towels in various states of disrepair.

  • sewing needles. I used a universal needle for the applique, then switched to a jeans needle for the binding.
  • measuring and cutting supplies. And a vacuum, because cutting terrycloth is messy!

Step 1: Make a pattern.

DIY Terrycloth Bath Mat

Measure out your space to get the ideal dimensions for your bath mat. My kids’ bathroom is pretty tight, which is another good reason to DIY their bath mat–I can make it the perfect tiny size of 20″x24″!

I cut a top piece to those dimensions, then asked that artistic little non-peanut in the photo above to make me a template to applique. She’s obsessed with drawing mushrooms these days, so she drew me a giant mushroom onto newspaper, and I cut the pieces out.

If you don’t have a live-in artist, I have a lot of look searching for line drawings via Google Image. Find a relatively simple coloring page-style image and you can often use it as an applique template the same way I did with my kiddo’s mushroom.

Step 2: Cut the pattern pieces from fabric.

 Ugh, cutting terrycloth is SO MESSY!

I cut the following pieces:

  • black terrycloth, 20″x24″. This will be the top of the bath mat.
  • navy terrycloth, 24″x28″. This will be the bottom, with enough additional room to sew a back-to-front binding.
  • white terrycloth mushroom top.
  • off-white organic terrycloth mushroom bottom.
  • navy terrycloth mushroom stem.

Then I vacuumed all the five million little… I don’t know what you call the fabric loops that make up terrycloth, but I call them “terries”… from off every single surface in my entire house. They’re probably all over the yard, too, but whatever.

Step 3: Pin the top and bottom, and place the applique pieces.

DIY Terrycloth Bath Mat

Center the top piece of the bath mat on the bottom, wrong sides facing, and pin or baste.

Pin the applique pieces to the top of this bath mat sandwich; you’ll be appliqueing them directly to both layers.

Step 4: Applique the pieces to the bath mat.

DIY Terrycloth Bath Mat

Set your stitch to a zigzag on the widest setting, and something around a 2 for length. You don’t want your stitches to be quite as close as they would be with a satin stitch, but still close enough to give good coverage of those raw edges.

Stich around all the raw edges of your applique pieces.

Step 4: Bind the bath mat.

DIY Terrycloth Bath Mat

Clip the corners of the bath mat bottom, then fold the edges over once and pin. Normally, you’d fold over twice to encase the raw edges of the binding, but instead change to a jeans needle and use the same stitch you used for Step 4 to attach the binding to the bath mat.

Step 5: Add a non-slip surface to the bottom of the mat.

Wash and dry your new bath mat (for one thing, it will get all those loose terries off it!), then decide what you want to do about adding a non-slip surface to the bottom. You can tack an entire non-slip rug backing to the bottom of the mat, or just add a few strips of non-slip fabric tape.

The easiest solution, and the one that I chose, is to use my hot glue gun to run a few lines of hot glue down the back of the bath mat. Depending on the temperature at which this bath mat is washed, I might have to add more hot glue every now and then, but it saves me from having to buy anything new for this project!

DIY Terrycloth Bath Mat

I’m stoked that my kids’ new bath mat is the perfect size for their room, and my kids are stoked that it’s to their exact taste. I’m kind of thinking now, though, that their bathroom really needs MORE mushroom decor.

Stay tuned for my 70s-era children’s bathroom, coming to a blog post near you!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

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