Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Long Awaited Denim Potholder Tutorial

Who knew writing down all the steps to make something really simple could be so much work?? Kudos to all the bloggers out there who routinely set up how-to tutorials.

The first step to making your potholder is to decide how big you want it to be and then make a template. My template is a puzzle box that is 6 3/4 inches by 8 inches. To make two potholders you will need four squares that look like this.

I use a rectangular shape because it works well with the legs of jeans, causing minimal waste. You can choose whatever shape tickles your fancy. Despite this, I am going to continue to refer to "the denim square" throughout this post.

The next step is to make a template for your insulating layer. It should be at least 1/2 inch smaller all around than your denim square. I use old blankets, fleece scraps or sweatshirt material for this. Use whatever is handy and will provide enough insulation so you don't burn your hands. Center this smaller square on the larger one and pin in place like this.

I like to pin opposite edges first to keep things centered. Once that is done, pin the other two sides so it looks like this.

Don't let the corners intimidate you. Just fold them under to create a fold. Don't do any fancy folding or you'll create a huge lump that will be impossible to sew through.

Repeat this with your second potholder. Now you have two that look like this.

I chose to the pockets of the jeans so here's what the back of my squares look like.

WARNING: Incorporating the pockets into the potholder is a pain in the ass and best not attempted the first time to avoid frustration. It is difficult centering the pocket and sewing through the extra layers of material. Wait until you've made a few and are comfortable before attempting.

Now its time to stitch the denim and insulation layers together. I'm a fan of hand sewing while watching movies with my hubby but a sewing machine would work as well. Once you've sewn these, set them aside.

I opted to add a design to the remaining two squares, this is totally up to you. To add a cross stitched piece, like the ladybug below, fold all the raw edges in and pin as shown. (I centered mine on the lace pattern of the jeans rather than the square itself, which was probably a mistake.)

I stitched the square of cross stitch fabric onto the denim square using red embroidery thread to create a border. Here's the two sides of the potholder ready to be put together.

Now, flip the side that doesn't have the insulation sewn in over and center the side that does have the insulation on it. The wrong sides of the fabric will be facing each other. Pin the opposite sides in place.

Flip the potholder over so the side without the insulation is on top. Starting with the two unpinned sides, begin folding the raw edge under, making it even with the side you've already sewn, and pin in place. Take out the two pins we put in in the last step. Fold under and pin these sides as well. Pin the edges last, remembering to fold these edges under the opposite way of the edge it faces. This will avoid creating a lumpy corner.

Before we begin sewing the two sides together, we need to add a loop of some sort to hang this potholder up. I've used clean shoe laces, those goofy around the waist ties that re in so many pajama pants but always fall out and numerous other things. This time, I used a scrap of denim to create the loop. I cut two equal rectangular lengths of denim, then folded the raw edges in and stitched.

I folded this in half and centered mine. You can also fold it in half and then slide the bottom edges apart (it will look sort of like a triangle) and sew it in place. It will lay flat against whatever it is hung on if you use this method instead.

I stitched the two sides together using a dark blue thread and then did a decorative stitch with red embroidery thread. I like to do the final decorative stitch not only for decoration but to reinforce as well. Here's the edge.

I also usually add a knot or two, just as you would when quilting, to make sure the insulation layer doesn't shift. Here's the final product.


Chile said...

I'll try this at some point. Thanks for the great tutorial.

As per your request for more info on treadle sewing machines, there's a whole new post about it at my place. :)

Ruthie said...

Katie ~

AWESOME tutorial! I can't wait to try it... but even more... I can't wait to find out if that R stands for someone's name that I know who happens to have a ladybug tattoo :-) :-)