Are you looking for the perfect quick and easy handmade gift idea for the holidays? Or maybe you just want a simple sewing project to make a useful item for your home? A potholder is a great beginner sewing project that you can complete in less than an hour.
In this step-by-step sewing tutorial, you will learn how to make a potholder from scratch.
First, here’s what you’ll need to make your potholder!
What do you need for a potholder project
- ¼ yard heavy cotton fabric
- ¼ yard Insul-Bright insulated batting
- straight-edge ruler
- sewing pins
- rotary cutter or scissors
- fabric chalk or marker
- sewing machine needle
- sewing machine (I used my Brother CP100X, you can use your favorite one)
What fabric is best for potholders?
Before we get into the details of how to sew your beautiful potholders, let’s talk a bit about what types of fabric can be used for them.
For the main outer fabric, you will want to choose a mid- to heavy-weight 100% cotton fabric, such as cotton canvas or denim. Synthetic fibers like polyester will melt when they come into contact with heat – which is definitely a no-go for a potholder.
For the padding, I use Insul-Bright insulated batting. It’s heat resistant, which prevents your hands from burning when grabbing a hot tray or pan from the oven. You can either use a double layer of Insul-Bright, as I did, or use one layer of Insul-Bright combined with one or two layers of regular cotton batting.
My 5 steps to make a potholder
- Cut your pieces.
- Attach the insulated batting.
- Sew the potholder together.
- Turn the potholder right sides out.
- Finish and quilt the potholder.
Step One: Cut your pieces
As with any sewing project, the first step is to cut out your pieces. You can decide how large you want your potholder to be and cut the pieces in squares that are that size, plus 1 inch for seam allowance. For example, I wanted a 6 x 6 inch potholder, so I cut my pieces in 7 x 7 inch squares.
Cut two squares from the outer fabric and two from the Insul-Bright batting.
Step Two: Attach the insulated batting
Next, pin one piece of Insul-Bright to the wrong side (the less pretty side) of each piece of outer fabric.
Take these two pieces to your sewing machine and sew around all four edges of each square with a regular straight stitch, sewing ¼ inch in from the cut edge. This will attach the insulated batting to the outer fabric pieces.
Step Three: Sew the potholder together
Now we can start putting together the actual potholder. Pin the two pieces with right sides together – meaning, pin them with the outer fabric touching.
Next, sew around the edges with a straight stitch, sewing ½ inch in from the raw edge. Sew around three of the sides and about 1 inch in on either edge of the fourth side.
This will leave about a 4-inch opening, which we will use to turn the potholder right sides out later.
Step Four: Turn the potholder right side out
We are now almost ready to turn this potholder right sides out – but first, we will need to trim the seam allowances.
Cut down the seam allowances (the excess fabric to the outside of your ½ inch stitching line) to ¼ inch wide. Make sure to trim your seam allowances only on the portions you sewed, not across the opening that you left.
Next, to further reduce any bulkiness in your potholder, trim the seam allowances close to the stitching on either side of each corner. This will help make sure that the corners will be sharper than they would be with a bulkier seam allowance.
With the seam allowances cut down, you can now turn your potholder right sides out through the opening you left in one side. Simply pull the fabric through the opening until it is right sides out.
Once it has been turned, push the corners out with your finger or with the eraser end of a pencil. The goal is to get the corners as sharp and crisp as possible for a more professional look.
Of course, with thick fabric layers like this it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get perfectly crisp corners – but just do the best you can!
Step Five: Finish and quilt the potholder
We now have something that is starting to look a lot like a potholder. The next step is to push the two raw edges of the opening to the inside of the potholder and pin them in place to form a continuous straight edge, while hiding the cut edges of the fabric.
Here is what is looks like from the edge of the potholder:
Next, take the potholder to your sewing machine and use a straight stitch to sew around all four sides, stitching ¼ inch in from the folder outer edge. This will secure all the raw edges inside of the potholder.
At this point, we have a useable potholder – you can stop here if you like. But if you want to go the extra mile to give your potholder a more professional look and a more durable finish, you will want to quilt the inside of the square.
You can choose any design you want to quilt onto your potholder. You can go with a traditional parallel line or grid design or even an artistic shape. Simply draw in your design onto the fabric with tailor’s chalk or a fabric marker.
I decided to quilt my potholder with a simple double-lined square in the center. So, I used my ruler to draw in a small square with a larger square around it onto the fabric.
Next, sew through all four layers of fabric, following the lines of your design. Here’s how mine looked from the marked side:
And here’s how it looked from the non-marked side:
The fabric markings will come out the first time you wash your potholder as long as you used a marking tool made specifically for fabric.
Now go on and make yourself (and maybe everyone you know) a potholder! Grab yourself some fun cotton fabrics and enjoy sewing some quick and easy potholders this year!
Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.