Making Simple Pot Holders

Making pot holders is a perfect little machine-quilted project and even though the project isn’t demanding, making pot holders is a nifty project to do — they’re easy to make and quick to finish. I’ve been making pot holders most of my life, so I admit that I might be a little biased about making pot holders.  My first pot holders were made when I was 7 years old. They were woven (remember those woven pot holders?) and made with colorful fabric strips woven on a small metal loom designed for a child’s craft. I’ll never forget those pot holders — they were my first textile craft. 

Recently I made a bunch of pot holders, including some Crazy Cat pot holders for my daughter-in-law. Making these were so fun — I loved the bright colors. And who could avoid smiling at those crazy cats? They kept staring at me !!

Making simple pot holders is a frugal way to enjoy sewing while making something that’s functional. Make the pot holders with your stash, and if you have a theme fabric (or some wild looking fat quarters), this is the perfect little project to have fun going domestic! You can also make pot holders with leftover patchwork blocks or scrap fabrics. Use imagination and what you have on hand…and have some fun with this project.

These pot holders are about 8″ square, have a hanging loop, and are finished with applied bindings. If you need to practice mitering your binding corners, this is a good project to practice with!

The inner padding of the pot holder is made with terrycloth, so get one of your aging towels for this project. I had two purple bath towels that served their main purpose years ago, so they were cut for this project.

Here are the simple directions:

Square pot holders measure between 7″ – 9″.  For these directions, I’ll use an 8″ square, but the size can be increased or decreased, depending on the size you need.

For each potholder:

Cut two 8″ squares of cotton fabric – 1 front and 1 back. Use 100% cotton fabric, nothing synthetic. These are pot holders!

Cut one 8″ square of terrycloth as the inner insulating pad.

Determine how the pot holder will be machine quilted. For these pot holders, I marked a 1-inch diagonal grid starting in the middle, from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. Mark quilting lines. 

Assemble the pot holder, placing the terrycloth square in the center. Make sure the front and back of the potholder are right-side-out.  Following the quilting lines, begin machine quilting. (Doncha love those crazy cats?!!)

To sew more efficiently, I stitched along the pot holder edge as I finished one diagonal line and was ready to begin stitching another. See the below photograph. 

After the pot holder has been machine quilted, it’s time to finish the raw edges. Trim off any excess, while trying to keep the potholder square. (Wonky works, but squaring up makes good practice!) 

Before the binding is stitched onto the pot holder, make a hanging loop for the pot holder. Cut a 1 1/4″ x 6″ strip of matching fabric or coordinating fabric. Lay strip on ironing cloth with wrong side up, then turn both long edges inward 1/4″ to butt into each other. Press edges.

Once the edges of the loop are pressed in 1/4″, fold in half with the folded edges meeting along the edge. Press. Pin in place and stitch edges together. I hand stitched mine, but the loop strip can be closed with machine stitching.

Fold the hanging loop in half. Pin the ends of the loop along the top-right edge of the front of the pot holder, about an inch from the corner.

Make binding (either straight grain binding or bias binding) with a strip of matching or coordinating cotton fabric. Cut one strip 1 1/2″ x 35″ (make longer if pot holder is larger than 8″).

Time to add the binding. I stitched my binding in 1/4″. Don’t forget to miter the edges!

Once the binding has been stitched to the potholder, it’s time to finish the binding.

Finish stitching the binding just as you would bind a wallhanging or quilt. Turn the binding to the back of the pot holder and pin in place. Hand or machine stitch the binding to the back of the pot holder. Oh, and be sure to miter those edges of your binding!

These kitchen items make super gifts without a great deal of effort. I make them to add into a food basket — they add color and can even dictate a food basket theme. Happy sewing — and don’t forget to have fun!

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16 Responses to “Making Simple Pot Holders”

  1. Gayle Says:

    Hi Lynn-I love how you make your handles for the pot holders! I’ve also never used terry cloth…what a good idea. I am going to try to make a few for the choir’s Christmas raffle table before next week’s concert. I’ll be making a couple of children’s scrap quilts for it as well. I’ll post some pictures on my blog when they are done. :-)I enjoyed your previous post. That is one gorgeous quilt. :-)Happy Holidays, Gayle

  2. Violette Says:

    They look so cool. I haven’t made any potholders yet but have been thinking about it lately.

  3. Barbara L Says:

    Thank you for these clear and direct instructions. (Great pictures also). Now I feel confident enpough to make my own.

  4. Anita Says:

    Thanks so much for these instructions! I just got my first sewing machine and finally figured out how to thread the top and bottom and actually sew with it and I was thinking last night when I was practicing some parallel lines that I should make some potholders! Your instructions are so clear and I even have old towels and some interesting fabric, so now I have a project for the weekend!

  5. Quick and Easy Projects for the Kitchen / Quilting Gallery Says:

    [...] are a couple of great tutorials on making Pot Holders and Cloth [...]

  6. Cheri Says:

    Very nice tutorial! I like the idea of using old towels as the batting.

  7. judy greer Says:

    I am going to make some pot holders like you have instructed, I may put some “insulbrite” i( I may not have the spelling right) the middle. I am in great need of these and they will make great gifts for special people.

  8. pam Says:

    These are much like the potholders my great aunt used to make for everyone every Christmas — thanks for the instructions and sparking the memory. I’ll make one for my sister in memory of Aunt Jessie this Christmas!

  9. Cathy Says:

    Interesting. You can also use old or new ironing board covers (most are treated with Teflon) for the batting and the heat resistant qualities all in one. :)

  10. Mary Says:

    I’,m trying to do the very basic potholder with the the loop amd looms. How many layers? and the corners don’t come together, their too thick. thank you.

  11. Phyllis Says:

    great photos

  12. Michelle Says:

    Thanks for the instructions and the beautiful pictures, I am going to try making it this way for sure. I was wondering if you could explain to me how to make a potholder in the shape of a cupcake?
    Hope to hear from you soon.

  13. Barb Whitney Says:

    Cute fabric, but how do you do miter corners?

  14. Catherine Knewbow Says:

    Thanks for the great instructions. I look forward to trying this project. Can I use insul-bright instead of terrycloth? Will the fabric get brown or black if you put a pot that’s really hot on top or does cotton do okay with the heat? I’ve never made potholders before but enjoy quilting and thought this would be a great Christmas gift for friends.

  15. A Simpler Christmas and Handmade Gifts | OmiNomi Says:

    [...] (yippee!) and the super chef of our family, pot holders loosely followed from this pattern:  simple pot holder pattern.  Again, these were made from fabric scraps and [...]

  16. Earline Ahonima Says:

    I suggest adding a layer of InsulBrite, a heat-resistant batting, in addition to (or instead of) the terrycloth. It’s a MUCH better insulator. I get mine at my local quilt shop. It’s sold by the yard and isn’t expensive.

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