Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to: Make Potholders

Have you ever made potholders? I am going to give you directions and tips on how to make these practical potholders. I thought that these would be an adequate gift for Mrs. Wales, who, I am told, cooks for her new hubby. You know him, The Prince of Wales. But I was out of the Wales tartan and I wasn't invited to the wedding. So my project will go to some other cook.
I wonder if Mrs. Wales can sew. She didn't make her wedding gown, but that wouldn't mean much when you are marrying a prince, I suppose. Just a reminder that while I do sew, I do not give sewing lessons. These directions are for a very simple project, but are written with the assumption that you know how to sew. Also, I use very good equipment. Strong, sharp, shears and pins and a good sewing machine make projects come together easier.
If you like to use a pattern, they are easy to make. I like a pattern of 11 inches square. Here I am using butcher paper, but you can use newspaper if the ink doesn't smudge.
Never cut paper with good shears. Use paper scissors to cut out the pattern. Then fold the pattern into fourths and round the corners.
You can opt to use a fat quarter of fabric, which will yield two rectangular potholders.
Fold the fat quarter into fourths, then in fourths again keeping track of the unfolded corners.
Pin the pattern on the unfolded corner and round them. The is all the waste you will have from your fat quarter.
Open the fabric and cut from rounded corner across to rounded corner.
You now have four pieces that are approximately 9x11 inches each.
Use one rectangle of fabric as a pattern for your filling. I have old flannel sheets to use inside the potholder. Old flannel or dishtowels work well. How many layers will depend on the thickness of each layer. If they are printed, turn that inside to be sure it won't show through the outer layer.
I often use two layers of quilt batting. I prefer 80% cotton and 20% polyester. Nearly any soft batting or old cotton fabric will do, just be sure the finished thickness will protect your hand from the heat in the kitchen. Use what you have.
If you want to hang the holders, fold a strip of fabric or a piece of bias tape and press.
Then stitch near the folded edges.
Pin the padding to the wrong side of your printed fabric.
 Stitch from corner to corner to secure the padding. You can stitch in any pattern that is easy for you: lines, a square, or a more detailed design all serve the purpose adequately. 
Loop a piece of your hanging tape and hold it (or pin) to one corner of the potholder on the right side of the fabric. 
Place the other piece of fabric and pin around the potholder. The pretty sides of the fabric are face to face and the back sides are showing. 
 Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance and stitch around the outside of the potholder. Fasten the loop securely by backstitching on that curve.
End your stitching about three inches from where you started so that there is a spot to turn the potholder right side out. 
Trim seam to 1/4 inch. 
If you went around the potholder, and didn't back stitch your hanging loop, you can do it now.
I leave the opening on the side untrimmed, which makes it easier to close. 
Press the potholder, making sure to neatly fold in opening. 
Topstitch around the outside of the potholder a scat 1/4 inch from the edge. Be sure to catch the fabric of your opening and stitch it closed.
The potholder will give years of service, even in a busy kitchen. More tomorrow.


  1. wondered if you could put batting between the old towel on the inside to make it thicker?

  2. I believe that you could, but be sure to quilt it securely. You wouldn't want it to shift and get lumpy in the wash.