Monday, April 12, 2010

Tutorial: Pot Holders


Here's a little tutorial for a quick and easy project that comes in quite handy: pot holders!

Do you remember how, before our trip to Europe last summer, I frantically sewed 2 dozen of these to give as gifts to the friends and family who would host us? Let's just say I became a bit of an expert on how to make these puppies! I'd also like to add that they make a great gift since *everyone* who cooks (even if it's just sticking frozen food or ready-made cookies in the oven) needs a good pot holder or two in their life!

Jenny: Pot Holder

Things you'll need (for 1 pot holder):

- 2 squares of fabric, 9 x 9 inches
- 2 squares of batting, 9 x 9 inches (I used some insulated batting, but you can use regular batting if it seems thick enough to be heat-resistant)
- Scissors, or rotary cutter and mat
- Double-fold bias tape or ribbon, 6 inches
- Pins, thread, sewing machine

For my pot holders, I usually use coordinating fabrics for the front and back. For my latest batch, I seem to have been drawn to a combination of pears and stripes.


Once your fabric and batting are cut into 9 x 9 inch squares, the first step is to stack them in the right order. Ultimately, the batting will be sandwiched between the fabric. To sew, you put your squares of fabric right sides together, then sandwich them between the 2 squares of batting. If you are using the insulated batting, the shiny/metallic side should go toward the wrong side of the fabric (I recommend you read and follow the manufacturer's instructions).


Prep your bias tape or ribbon: you need 6 inches. If using bias tape, stitch along the edge to "close" it. If using ribbon, you're good to go.


Fold the tape or ribbon in half and insert the loop end into the corner of your layered squares of fabric and batting. Make sure that the loop is between the two right sides of the fabric. Pin the loop in place, the tail ends of the tape/ribbon should be poking out of the square slightly. Pin all around the square. Then sew all around the square with a 1/2 inch allowance, leaving a 3- to 4-inch opening in the middle of one side.


Trim the excess seam allowance all around the square, except for the opening. Flip the square inside out, then gently poke the corners out with a chopstick or other such pointy instrument.


You now have what is beginning to resemble a pot holder, aside from that gaping hole. First things first, iron it nice and flat.


Next step is to take care of that opening. Fold the edges in and pin the opening shut. Then top-stitch all around the square about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the edge, thereby stitching the opening closed.

This top-stitching step is not the easiest thing with a regular sewing machine and a regular foot. Take it slow, especially in the corners, gently but firmly helping the layers of fabric through. (See photo below for the result of a speedy corner.) I believe a walking foot makes this type of task a breeze.


When you're done top-stitching, use your iron to neatly press your pot holders.


Now it's time to quilt! Using a water-washable fabric marker (or chalk if your fabric is dark), draw the design you want to quilt. Anything goes: straight, squiggly, wonky. I tend to stick to straight lines for this project, either lined up with the edges or diagonal. Once your design is drawn, top-stitch over it with the machine. Make sure to briefly back-stitch at both ends of each line of stitching to make the quilting durable (for washing in the machine, etc).


Spray some water on the marker lines to make them disappear. Iron your pot holder one last time and ta-da! You are ready to gift it or put it to good use. I'm proud to say the pair of pot holders I made us a few weeks ago (you see them on the hook in that last picture) are keeping our hands safe on a daily basis and already have stains to show for it!


Angel-mini-button Two dozen?  Wow!  I had no idea you made that many.  No wonder you were so busy!  I have lots of scraps I could use to make these, what an awesome gift.  I'll bet everyone in France loved them!


  1. This sounds like a fun project for a swap or sew-along. I've added these to the to-do list. Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Thank you and you're welcome. Send me a pic when you make them, I wanna see!

  3. Wow very nice designs. Like it very much. Looking forward to see more creative designs from you.

  4. I am so going to make these for all my besties for Christmas! Love them! Need to look into getting a walker foot - thanks so much for sharing this tute!

  5. I am so glad I "stumbled" across your blog, and I'm adding you to my reader. Can't wait to see more great ideas!

  6. Thank you so much Mary! Please post photos in our Flickr pool, we'd love to see your pot holders. :)

  7. I just tried to upload the mittens I made using your fabric but I don't think it took. It is, however, on my Flickr, MsRedo, if you can find that. Sorry but when you're elderly like me :) it seems there's a lot to learn and the learning ain't so easy!

  8. That, my dear, is the simplest, easiest-to-follow potholder tutorial I've ever seen! Thanks for sharing! I see some potholders under my Christmas tree this year...

  9. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! I really enjoyed the pictures, directions, and how quick this project is!
    I made a set for a house warming gift :)

  10. Thanks so much. I always had huge trouble with the binding. But doing it like that is simply genius!

  11. Another great way to mark straight quilting lines is using blue painters tape. You position it where you want and stitch right next to the tape. It is repositional too and you don't have to worry about getting the marking pen marks out.

  12. Thanks for the tutorial. I am super new to sewing and cant wait to make these for Christmas gifts!


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