If you've ever taken a cruise or stayed in a family-friendly resort, you've likely encountered towel animals, also known as towel origami. The housekeeping staff of a hotel or ship may put in some extra effort, and create a towel animal or two for your bed or bathroom. These pretty accents can be duplicated at home and displayed in a bedroom or bathroom. The best tips for towel origami include ideas for choosing the best towels and washcloths, ways to prepare these textiles for folding, and creative accent ideas for finished pieces.
Top materials to use for towel origami are square washcloths and rectangular hand towels. Having both a square and a rectangle to work with increases the number of designs and styles you can create. Full-sized bath towels are likely too large to fold well; bathmats and other towel-like textiles may be too thick or textured to use.
Books on paper origami or on oshibori art (folding washcloths) are useful for finding new techniques and ideas for towel origami. Many of the techniques used for napkin folding can be adapted to towels as well. Most paper techniques can be modified to use for towel origami; shapes that require a strong crease may be problematic to reproduce using towels.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best textiles to use for towel origami are low-quality, thin towels and washcloths. Good-quality items are designed to be fluffy and dense, so they do not fold well. Choosing inexpensive and thin towels will make it easier to complete complex folds and projects. The white washcloths sold as bar cloths are particularly good for towel folding projects, since they are square and very thin.
Bath textiles to be used for towel origami should be washed without fabric softener. Line drying towels and washcloths will make them slightly stiff, which is helpful for setting folds and creases. Spray starch and an iron can be used to create crisp folds and edges when preparing a piece.
Inexpensive additions like ribbon, google eyes — the white and black wiggly eyes sold in kids' craft sections of stores — stickers, and pipe cleaners can be used to add character and accents to completed towel origami pieces. Ribbons can be tied in bows to accent any piece, while towel animals can get a lot of extra appeal by adding stick-on eyes and features. Pipe cleaners can be used to add legs and details to finished pieces, or to support and shape different towel animal parts.