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BellaOnline's Sewing Editor


Sewing A Basic Pot Holder

Guest Author - Tamara Bostwick

Cutting Instructions:

  • Outside fabric: cut two squares of fabric for the outside of the potholder that are 7 inches square. This will make a finished pot holder that is 7 inches square. If you would like a larger or smaller hot pad, cut the squares to your desired finished size.

  • Insulating layer: cut your insulating pieces at 7 inches square (or the desired finished size).

  • Hang tab: cut a piece of fabric that is 4 1/2 inches long by 2 inches wide.

Make the Hanging Tab

  • Fold the hang tab piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Fold each raw edge in toward the center fold and press. Stitch along both sides close to the edge to finish. See photos below. Set aside when done.

    How to fold hang tab I have already pressed this, but have opened it so you can see how the outside edges fold toward the middle.

    folded hang tab Here is how the tab will look after it is folded and pressed.

    Tab sewn The hang tab has been stitched along both edges to seal the tab shut and give it extra strength for hanging.

Stacking and Stitching the Potholder

  • Make a stack as follows: lay one of your outside fabric pieces right side down, layer your filler squares on top, and place your second outside fabric square on top, right side up. Even up the edges and pin in the middle through all of the layers. Take the pinned stack to your sewing machine and sew some lines of stitching through all of the layers. Essentially, you will be quilting the square to keep the layers from separating. It does not have to be complicated quilting. Try doing a simple grid or an intersecting "X" pattern.

    Quilted Pot Holder On this pot holder square, I used the vertical lines as a guide for stitching the quilting lines. I could also have stitched diagonally from corner to corner and then sewn another "X" across the middle from top to bottom and side to side.

Binding the Edges

  • I like to round the corners so I don't have to fuss with mitering the bias binding. To do this, I simply find a small circular item like a spool of ribbon or a drinking glass and trace the curve as shown below.

    Trace Pot Holder Corners You can simply use a pencil to trace the curve, it won't show under the bias binding once it is sewn.

    Trimmed Pot Holder Corners Here is the pot holder after the corners have been trimmed. Please ignore the bump on the bottom there. I fixed it before sewing, but didn't take a new photo.

  • With the side that you wish to be the back facing up, fold your hang tab in half and pin it at the center of the top edge so that the raw edges are even with the raw edges of the potholder. The folded edge will be pointing toward the middle of the pot holder.

  • Then open up the bias tape with your fingers so that one side is opened out completely (see photo below). Fold the short end over 1/4 inch toward the wrong side and beginning near the middle of one side, lay the bias tape on top of the pot holder so that the edges are even with each other as seen in the photo. Start sewing tape in place, stitching in the fold. Make sure the beginning of the tape is folded over when you start sewing (this wraps over the end of the tape, finishing the edge). As you approach the corner, ease the bias tape around the curve. Sew slowly and lift the presser foot as you go around the corner to relieve pressure and prevent pleating or puckering. This is the beauty of bias tape because it can stretch and fit curves well.

    Easing Pot Holder Corners Here you can see how I fit the bias tape around the curved corner. Notice that the pinched folds at the inside corner do not go across the stitching line into the other side. This prevents any pleats from being sewn into the seam. It may seem tricky at first, but with a little practice, it is pretty easy to do.

  • Continue sewing on the bias tape, easing the corners as you go. When you reach the end, trim tape so that it overlaps the beginning by 1/2 inch and sew down. Remove from machine and clip threads.

    Bias Tape Sewn on This is what the pot holder will look like after the bias tape is sewn on. Note how the folded edge of the bias tape covers the end. It may not look like much now, but It will look great after a session with the iron.

  • Now it is time to press the bias tape into place on the other side to prepare it for being sewn down. You are going to use the iron and some steam to ease the corners neatly into place. With the right side facing up, pull the bias tape around the raw edges of the pot holder. You want to make sure it comes around enough to cover the first stitching line. Using your fingers and thumb, hold the bias tape in place on either side of a corner as shown below. See how the bias tape appears to be gapping up? This is what you will be easing with the iron. Make sure your iron is set at a steam setting and hold the point of the iron just above the gapping fabric. The steam coming from the iron will begin to shrink the gap a bit. Using just the tip of the iron, press gently in spots along the curved edge to press the bias tape flat. Do not move the iron back and forth! This will stretch the bias tape out, which is the opposite of what you want. Repeat this process on all of the corners until the bias tape is flat on the corners and then press the bias tape flat on the straight edges. Always do the corners first and then the sides. This keeps the bias tape from stretching and twisting around the edge.

    Pressing the Corners By having my fingers and thumb on either side of the corner, I can keep the bias tape straight and determine how much to ease it in. Take your time with this step so that your corners look nice and neat.


  • Sew bias tape down close to the edge, making sure to not catch the hang tab in the stitching.

    Finished Pot Holder Finished and ready for some hot action!.

Happy Sewing!

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Content copyright © 2015 by Tamara Bostwick. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.


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