Potholders and an oven mitt
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Potholders and an oven mitt

My grandmother always had these interesting-looking potholders hanging next to the stove in her cottage. They saw regular use as she baked rye bread in the wood-burning oven and cooked delicious meals. When I was a little girl I asked how they were made, after puzzling with the complicated folds of the fabric. Grandmother explained to me, how the shape was built out of simple circles folded and sewn in the right order. I remember then going home and making a few potholders with my mother’s sewing machine.

When I burned my hand a while ago using our threadbare oven mitts I decided it was time to make some new potholders. It had been over 20 years since my grandmother’s advice but I managed to figure out the pattern. Later, I found out that this is, in fact, a common pattern among quilters but the only place I had actually seen these was my grandmother’s kitchen.

Materials

  • quilting cotton in two colours
  • cotton wadding, flannel or wool to insulate
  • matching thread
  • your regular sewing stuff

Making the potholders

You can make either round or rectangular potholders in the same way. With rectangular potholders you need just cut rectangles instead of circles. A small plate makes a wonderful template for the round ones:

You will need a base and the bottom layers, four big circles to make the centre star and eight smaller circles to make the outer part. The smaller circles need to be slightly bigger than half of the big circle. My small circles could have been a bit bigger but I managed to make them work. With rectangular potholders, your corner pieces need to be even bigger than the ones sitting at the centre of the sides of the rectangle. I just used the big rectangle sized pieces for the corners and trimmed away the extra fabric. You will also need to cut one circle/rectangle out of the insulation material you use.

Take the parts that form the quilt pattern and fold them in quarters like this and press:

Mark the base fabric by pressing 4 creases on it. This helps with the placement:

Line up the smaller circles like this and sew along the crease at the centre. Repeat this process. You can have the base fabric underneath or just sew them together without the base fabric. I found out that the centre point is easier to get symmetrical if you first sew the pieces together without the base fabric.

Place the pieces together (now add the base fabric underneath if you didn’t do it before).

Start folding the edges next to the seam line like this:

You should get a cross-shaped thing:

Now we need to complete the star in the middle by adding four missing edge pieces. Sew them in place with two seams running through the middle of the centre star. This is especially important if you didn’t add the base layer early since these seams will now hold the centre of the star in place.

Now it’s time to add the bottom piece and the insulator. My insulator is cotton-viscose felt. Use something out of natural fibres that don’t melt in the heat. You can also add several layers if your material is thinner.

Pin all the layers together and baste around to keep everything together. Trim the edge neat.

To finish the edge, use ready-made bias tape that is about 1″ (2,5 cm) wide or make your own as I did. With rectangular potholders, you need to round three corners to make binding easier. Bind the edge. I prefer to do it in two goes. I first sewed the binding to the wrong side and then turned the binding onto the right side and and stitched close to the edge.

The oven mitt

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the oven mitt as I was constructing it in the middle of the night. I used my hand as a model and drew an approximate shape. Then I measured the length from the tip of my middle finger to the base of my thumb and drew a horizontal line to mark the crease where the thumb begins and sketched on a thumb. The mitt forms out of three basic shapes: the back part, the palm and the front.

I used yellow fabric for the lining and the black and white Nuppu print company cotton as the front fabric. I also added a layer of the cotton-viscose felt. You will need to cut the outer fabric bigger than the lining pieces and the wadding as you will have the bulky seam allowances between the layers.

I first sewed the lining and the wadding pieces together at the edges. Then I could treat them as one. I sewed together the inner parts and trimmed the seam allowances. Then I constructed the outer cover the same way but with smaller seam allowances. I still had to cut the lining/felt pieces a bit smaller as I didn’t make the outer mitt big enough but finally I managed to fit them together. I then finished the wrist edge with bias tape.

The finished potholders and the oven mitt

Here they are all finished and pretty. I threw the old oven mitts to the bin immediately!

Here is the wrong side of the quilted potholders:

This project took a surprisingly long time to finish! Over a day! At some point I did huff to my husband how crazy it was to build simple potholders out of 15 or so pieces as I could have just sewn a few rectangles together and be done with the project! But that is me, doing things the complicated way because I get inspired… Afterwards, I have been happy to use these in my kitchen.

The next time there will be some scandalous underwear pictures! So, subscribe if you haven’t already done so, so that you don’t miss the post! Happy sewing!

Katja

I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.

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