Wendy Buss creates and shares unique embroidery designs at Thimblenest. Today she has a mix-and-match embroidery project for Father’s Day, for you to give to your favorite Burly Man. Learn more about Wendy in her introduction, and take a look at Thimblenest for more free embroidery patterns.

Need a refresher on embroidery stitches? Download our Pocket Stitch Book.

Burly Man Shaving Towels

Father’s Day can be a challenging prospect if you want to sew a gift for the dads in your life. These customizable Burly Man Shaving Towels will add some humor to your special guy’s shaving regimen.

Choose from a variety of sayings, shaving tools and caricature features to embellish two styles of towels, Photo Frame and Bias Strip.


  • 18” x 25” piece of terry cloth or other toweling fabric (1 per towel)
  • Fabric note: If buying terry cloth from the fabric store, get at least 20”. Between an uneven cut at the cutting counter and shrinking after prewashing, the fabric I originally bought lost at least an inch. You could also use store-bought towels or cut old or thrifted towels to the correct size.

  • Cotton, linen, or blend fabric scraps large enough to comfortably fit your chosen embroidery designs and an embroidery hoop.
  • For Photo Frame towel: coordinating piece of quilting cotton roughly 4.5” x 6” (If using the “Tom” caricature you will need to make this larger.)
  • For Bias Strip towels: two 19” strips of ½” single-fold bias tape
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Iron-on embroidery transfer pencil (or materials for your desired method of transferring the designs)
  • Water-soluble fabric pen
  • Copy paper
  • Needle
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Burly Man Shaving Towels Embroidery Designs PDF

Prepare Towel Fabric
Serge, overlock stitch or zigzag all edges of the 18” x 25” piece of fabric.

Prepare Embroidery Fabric
Preparing to embroider and then actually embroidering your chosen designs will be the most time-consuming part of this project. Once the embroidery is finished, everything comes together very quickly.

To make it easier to center embroidery designs before transferring them, and to ensure they will fit within the boundaries of the finished fabric pieces, transfer the outline of the pieces you will embroider, including the cutting and stitching lines.

For the “Photo Frame” towel (like the “Cowboy” towel) use the provided pattern piece. (Be sure to choose the correct size if you are embroidering a face.)

For the “Bias Strip” towel (like the “Bearded Wonder” towel), draw a rectangle that measures 19” x 3.5”. On the long sides of the rectangle draw ¼” seam allowances; on the short ends draw ½” seam allowances.

On the right-hand side of the 19” x 3.5” rectangle, make centering marks on the stitching lines. In the middle of the short end at 1.5”, and on the top and bottom stitching lines at 4.5” and 9” from the right hand end of the piece.

Prepare Embroidery Designs
Tracing Faces: Assembling the caricature/facial design you want for your towel is similar to playing with paper dolls.

1. Trace the entire basic head and face (Tom, Dick, or Harry) onto the rectangular pattern piece you used for tracing onto the fabric earlier or print a new one.

2. Move the frame with the basic face around to trace other facial elements (glasses, moustache, etc.) onto your caricature.
– Be sure you use the hair, glasses, beard, etc. from the same page as the original face. Even though they all look similar, each has been sized to fit their accompanying head.
– Position hair by placing it over the ears; sideburns are meant to come down at least slightly below the top of the ears. Hair should extend above the top skull line to some extent.
– For glasses, center eyes in the middle of the lenses; ears can help you on this one, too.
– Beards should extend below the jawline; the mustache that accompanies the beard sits just below the nose.

3. If you want, add a name or nickname above or below your completed face. To print a name other than those provided in the PDF, use the free font “Parisish” in size 48.

4. Erase!?!— Once the entire caricature is in place, erase the following:
– After tracing on hair, erase the skull line of the top of the head.
– After tracing on a beard, erase the jawline and chin dimple from the original face.

5. Flip the finished design over and trace over the entire back of the picture (and name) with an iron on transfer pencil.

Tracing all other designs:
1. Print your chosen designs from the Burly Man PDF.

2. Flip the paper over and use the iron-on transfer pencil to trace over the design on the back side of the paper.
– If the design will be used with the rectangle piece, trace onto the pattern piece first then flip over the trace with transfer pencil.
– If using the “frame,” designs can be traced in either portrait or landscape orientation.
– Cut out close to traced design or rectangle pattern piece.

Transfer Designs to Fabric

Center the paper with the embroidery design within the seam allowance you traced onto your fabric and use a hot iron to transfer the embroidery designs onto the fabric.

All of the designs can be stitched with just the backstitch and satin stitch. Other fill stitches can be used to add more character. Most of the designs can be embroidered using two strands of embroidery thread; however, use your best judgment/personal preference.

Assembling a Photo Frame Towel
Using the lines you traced as guides, cut out your embroidered piece. Mark centers.

Also, using the provided pattern piece cut out the “picture frame” from coordinating quilting cotton; mark centers.

Press edges of embroidered fabric under ¼”.

With right sides facing up, center embroidered fabric on top of quilting cotton. Pin together and edgestitch around all four sides of embroidery.

Press edges of quilting cotton “frame” under ¼”. Mark centers.

Mark placement of frame in bottom right hand corner of towel:
– Center of frame should be 4.5” from the right hand edge of towel.
– Bottom of frame should be 2.0” above bottom edge of towel.

Pin in place.

Depending on the thickness of your fabrics, you may want to switch to a heavier duty needle (such as one intended for denim) at this point. Edgestitch around quilting cotton, securing photo frame to towel.

Assembling a Bias Strip Towel
Note: Due to an “unfortunate incident” the example photos show the phrase “BEARDED WONDER” spliced into the longer complete piece that will be attached to the towel. Your embroidered piece will not have any piecework, unless of course you too are sewing in the company of a 2- and 5-year old.

Using the lines you traced as guides, cut out your embroidered piece. (Strip measuring 3.5” x 19”)

Unwrap and iron out your store-bought bias tape or prepare your own by cutting two 19” x 1” strips of quilting cotton, then iron them in half lengthwise.

With right side of embroidered fabric facing up, align the raw edges of one strip of bias tape with the top long side of the embroidered fabric. Pin and stitch using a 1/8” seam allowance.

Repeat with the bottom side.

Flip folded edges of bias tape to outside of fabric strip. Press seam allowances toward fabric.

Lay prepared terry cloth out flat. Place embroidered strip 3” above bottom edge of towel; left and right short ends of the strip should extend 1/2” over the edges of the towel. Pin in place.

Depending on the thickness of your fabrics, you may want to switch to a heavier duty needle (such as one intended for denim) at this point. Edgestitch to the left of the seamline between the bias tape and embroidered fabric along the top and bottom of the fabric strip.

Press short ends of strip under ¼”.

Pull around to back of towel, secure and stitch in place.

Tip: As needed, remove water-soluble fabric pen using a paintbrush dipped in water.

Happy Father’s Day!