A potholder is one indispensable thing in any kitchen that works; even for those kitchens that do not see much action other than making the occasional coffee on the coffee maker or the heating of readymade meals on the microwave, a potholder makes for a pretty decoration- not the readymade, dull or otherwise maroon colored boring ones that you get in the supermarket near you.
I am talking about the pretty kind – ones you can whip up in half an hour or less and will make handling dishes a delight.
Potholders – How to make them
In this article I will cover:
Basically, a potholder is one of the easiest things to sew. Just keep two small 6 to 8 or 9-inch fabric pieces with a thick inner piece like batting or flannel piece inside for insulation; bind the edges and you have just the thing you need to protect your hands from heat when holding pans/pots or whatever.
If needed, you can also add a loop to hang it and keep it safe between holding pans and pots.
But there are many different ways to finish it – which is what I am trying to explain here. Each of the potholder tutorials given below explains a different technique for sewing the potholder.
Maybe you need just one, maybe you need all of these.
Note : Typically a potholder is an 8-inch square. But then it is your convenience.
1. Bias bound potholder
This is the most common type – quilted potholder with bound edges. Here I will explain how to bind the edges of the potholder with a double folded bias tape – that too with mitered corners.
If you do not know how to make a bias tape check out this tutorial – 3 ways to make bias tape. The bias tape should be long enough to go around the 4 edges and then 1.5 inch extra for overlap and turning under.
Once you have cut the bias tape, join to the required length, fold it by the middle and then bring the edges to the center – you have a double folded bias tape
How to make the potholder.
Step 1. Layer your fabric pieces; the top fabric inner pieces /batting and the back piece should be layered and then quilted together
Step 2. Take your bias tape and keep the edge ( any edge) of the potholder inside the bias tape and stitch from the top. I usually start from the middle of an edge.
The stitching should catch the back edge of the bias tape as well. Stitch till the very end
Step 3. Now turn the bias tape to the other edge ; manipulate the corner so that it looks like a mitered corner .
You will have to adjust the fold at the corner with your hand
Step 4. Stitch in place. Continue for all corners. When you reach the end you will have to overlap the starting bias tape end; turn under the bias tape end, overlap and continue stitching
You may want to keep a loop for hanging; insert it inside the bias tape edge.
2. DIY Potholder With self loop
Here the edge binding makes its own look.
Cut out the potholder body (many layers of fabric, quilted layers etc) pieces in 6 inch square dimensions or the size you want. Binding strip ( fabric cut in width of 1 1/2 inches and length equalling 4 * side length plus 3 1/4 inches.
Fold the fabric strip 1/4 inch to the inside from both the sides. Press in place.
Now press the strip by the middle. This is your binding strip.
Start binding from one side. Just keep the edge inside the binding strip and sew in place along the edge.
When you reach the corner do the same thing you did earlier.
When you reach the end, after finishing the 3 corners and 4 sides, stop stitching 2 inches from the end.
You will have an extra tail of 3 inches.
Finish the edge of this tail by sewing the edge. Fold the extra tail to the back and tuck to the inside of the binding there. See the picture below. Sew the edge and finish it neatly.
3. Hand sewn potholder
Just as easily as you can machine sew a potholder you can hand sew it. I have done some sashiko embroidery to jazz up my hand sewn potholder. You can use ribbons or elastic tape as loop for convenience.
Sashiko embroidery is a Japanese stitch which is basically running stitches. These stitches can be used to hold fabric layers together in your potholder and this beautiful and easy to do embroidery brings a lot of hand sewn charm to your kitchen.
I have worked the sashiko stitches with the batting and top piece ; you can alternatively do the sashiko after the potholder is made and then these tiny running stitches will join the full layers of the potholder together
The loop is three yarns braided together. You can use ribbons or even elastic piece as the loop, other than fabric tubes
This is what I have done to make this potholder
Step 1. Do the sashiko work with the top fabric piece and batting.( keep the inner batting piece basted to the front piece and treat as one).
Step 2. Keep the top and back pieces right sides together. Sandwich the loop inside. Make back stitches along the edges. Leave 2 inches unstitched for turning the potholder inside out.
Do not forget to clip the corner of your seam allowance before turning inside out – otherwise, your corners will not look as good.
Step 3. Turn the thing right side out and stitch the opening closed with ladder stitches
Step 4. Add some more sashiko stitches to join the whole sandwich together.
4. Pieced fabric scrap potholder
Piecing is an art as well as a science- some people have perfected it. As I have not, this is not the most perfect way but an easy way to piece fabric scrap pieces. With even small pieces of fabric, you can piece fabric that looks beautiful.A square in a square is one of the easiest piece work you can do.
Simply cut 3 numbers 4-inch squares; one square piece of 4 inch for the middle square and two square pieces of 4 inches for the outside square. (If you want a bigger potholder cut 5 inch squares)
Cut the outer squares ( the fabric you want as the border – the square outside) into two by the diagonal so that you get 4 triangles.
Stitch the triangle pieces along the edges of the square piece one by one so that it ends up looking like this. You have the top piece of your potholder
Now to make the potholder.
I will make this without binding the edge – this is an easier way of making potholders – the same way the hand-stitched potholder was made.
Simply keep the inner and outer pieces right sides together and stitch together the edges. Clip the corners. Keep the loop sandwiched between the layers. Leave a 2-inch gap unstitched- turn the potholder right side out through this gap. Poke the corners neatly out with a sharp tool. Now quilt stitch -ie stitch the fabric layers together any way you want.
5. Mitt shaped potholder
This is a potholder which will comfortably fit your hands – very good to take out dishes from the oven etc. but you need two of these to hold the dishes/pans with it
Cut out 4 pieces of fabric in the shape of a mitt ( outline your hand); two pieces should be shorter than the other two – this comes to the inside of the hand.
Stitch 2 shaped pot holders with these (do not forget to add the fleece/batting inside for heat insulation).After the piece is stitched and turned inside out , finish the lower edge – turn under the edge to the inside and top stitch together.
Join these two pieces together at the top edge. The lower end is kept open for you to insert your hand and hold dishes.
6. Recycled denim pot holder
I never do more than I absolutely do not have to – which is why an old jeans is a blessing in my sewing. All parts of the jeans can be used in so many projects – it has beautiful topstitching and embellishments which can be used in your projects – here the pocket brings an extra layer of protection for your hands and it sure does look pretty
How to make this potholder
Step 1 To make this one, Cut out the jeans pockets with enough fabric on the outer edge to stitch – it should preferably be with minimum bulk so that you can stitch the denim easily
Step 2. Keep the jeans piece on a fabric which is bigger 1″ along all edges.Cut it out. This bigger piece is your back piece and binding all in one.
Turn under the edges of the fabric piece once and stitch. Keep the denim and batting/fleece on this fabric piece correctly centered.
Turn the corners as in the picture above. ( If you are confused about this step for making mitered corner you can check out the post on making a mitered corner)
Now turn the edges to the top of the denim piece. The mitered corner will automatically be formed. Adjust the corner nicely and pin in place.My potholder turned a little wonky because I used a bias fabric scrap piece, which stretched with every edge.