Potholders and Hot Pads

I BADLY needed a break from the quilt from hell. So I gave myself a few days to play with a new project. OK, two new projects, actually, but I’m resisting so far making more churn dash blocks for the quilt on the design wall. I need to fill those holes–it’s under 20 blocks.

I have been watching friend Betsy Maislen make adorable pot holders in recent months–and she had fun playing with her machine’s decorative stitches for the quilting. And a year ago, I was also tempted by Debbie Jesse’s post on her A Quilter’s Blog when she made a whole slew of color-dedicated, scrappy potholders using a funky shape from Hannah Haberkern: https://hannahsews.com. Recently Debbie Jesse returned to this funky potholder project–and added a matching mitt. She made these two items, and I fell in love:

I have put links to Debbie Jeske’s posts below this post. And here’s a picture of Hannah Haberkern’s initial funky potholder. Isn’t it fun? She used her walking foot for the quilting.

The insulating product most used for potholders is Insul-Brite–which contains a needle punched fluffy fiber with a poly layer. The product repels both heat and cold.

Info on the package recommends two layers, poly side out, with an inner batting layer that will absorb condensation. So, that’s 3 layers, plus the two outside top/bottom layers. Various people writing about how to use this product also recommend additional batting layers for really good heat control, so I did add one more for the hot pad I also made.

You also need bias binding–which I always do anyway–but many use single-fold bias tape for the binding–and I will try to do that when I get a chance to buy some in colors I like locally.

Confession: I’ve never been able to properly sew down the free edge on binding with my machine and always hand sew the free edge. BUT, I need to rethink and learn to do a good job so that the back and fronts both look nice. I suspect using a glue stick and/or clips would help.

So, here’s what went home with son Mike, who REALLY needed some fresh potholders. And, a big counter hot pad for hot dishes coming out of the oven. Word is he’s already used them and likes them.

I used some Essex Linen I had in my stash as my focal point, some peppered cottons in grays and the one green, and a Carolyn Friedlander print. I made my bias binding from the linen.

I made TWO LAYERS first–doing the front and back layers separately and then combining them. The front layer had the top and the Insul-Brite; the bottom had the back, the Insul-Brite, and a batting layer that would land up in the middle of the potholder. Before quilting each package, I sewed the edges with a bigger basting stitch. Also, before installing the binding, I, again, sewed around all the edges. *Also, I released the foot pressure to handle this thickness. (The linen binding was super stretchy, which made hand sewing the back edge pretty easy.)

Here’s the back.

Here’s the BIG trial counter hot pad–which has 4 inner layers as I added an extra batting piece. I’m also experimenting with this kind of binding where a larger backing comes around to the front, but haven’t quite “got it” yet–in that it’s width is chopping off blocks. It works really well, though, if the top doesn’t contain pieced blocks that need only a 1/4 inch seam. Also, I used my machine to stitch additional lines of quilting here and there as hand-sewing into this thickness was hunt and peck. And, slow.

I could not resist playing with scraps before putting these fabrics away–so I have this hot pad for myself–but with only 3 inner layers. Thus, I can test out how heat protective it is.

The other project is trying out various methods to make placemats from the 3 1/2 inch blocks I have from the Cotton+Steel project where I cut up the whole saved stash. Son Bryan’s family needs new placemats–and granddaughter Ailey is going to help me make some for them.

Next on the potholder project, I’ll try using just two inner layers (Insul-Bright and batting) and bought single-fold bias tape. What a great way to play with scraps and to have some gifts on hand.

Here’s the recent post from A Quilter’s Table:


Here’s the link to Debbie’s scrappy potholders from last year:


Author: louisaenright

I am passionate about whole, nutrient-dense foods, developing local markets, and strengthening communities.

3 thoughts on “Potholders and Hot Pads”

  1. LOVE the potholders! Thank you for the link. Great idea for gifts, even a gift for myself. I’ve found the easiest way to wrangle the binding and stitch down is by using 1/4″ steam-a-seam. Sew binding as usual, iron on the steam-a-seam, then bring the binding over it, iron it down and then sew it down. Won’t shift as you sew. I usually use a fancy zig zag stitch. Always good to get a break from something that is testing our patience. Had a quilt a while back like that. Happy sewing!!!!

  2. Thank you Louisa!! Now I want to play too! Sadly I have a date with the snow shovel 😃and happily a quilt almost finished on the longarm…I need ti book a date with myself and lock myself in my sewing room soon!!

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