Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to make pretty pot holders.

I needed some new pot holders, but it's not the kind of thing I get excited about shopping for. Unlike shoe shopping... I'd love to get my feet into some of those tan leather, wooden clog type shoes. You know the ones that have a mid height heel so I'd be a little taller but still able to walk? They're awesome. But I'm getting distracted. Back to pot holders.  I figured they can't be too hard to make, so I gave it a go.  Here's how I did so you can give it a try too.

To make 2 pot holders you will need:
- 100% cotton fabric in 3 different prints/colours that you like and that look pretty together.  (Just because pot holders are useful doesn't mean they have to be ugly!)  Quilting fabrics are great because they're usually all cotton and come in all sorts of fancy prints.
- thread to match your fabrics
- batting/wadding - a batting made from cotton, wool, or a cotton/bamboo blend will be fine, or you could even use an old woolen blanket.  Just don't use a synthetic batting (e.g. polyester) as it melts when it gets too hot.  I'm not sure if use as an pot holder would cause it to get hot enough to melt, but I'm not about to risk it!

From fabric A (this will be used for the back and a little bit for the front), cut 2 big squares 22cm x 22cm, cut 8 small squares 5cm x 5cm, and cut 2 rectangles measuring 11cm x 4cm.  Cut these 2 rectangles on the bias.  All of the other pieces are to be cut on the straight grain of the fabric.

From fabric B cut 8 rectangles 16cm x 5cm.

From fabric C cut 2 squares 16cm x 16cm.  These will form the main focus of the front of your pot holders.

All the pieces cut from fabric include 1cm seam allowance

Cut batting 20cm x 20cm (the finished size of the pot holders).  Depending on the thickness of the batting you may need several layers for each pot holder.  The batting I used was fairly thin so I used 3 layers for each pot holder.  Keep in mind that once you stitch through the batting and iron it, it will flatten a little.

Let's make one pot holder at a time, shall we?
Take one of the rectangles cut in fabric A (this rectangle was cut on the bias), fold it in half lengthwise and sew the length of the rectangle.  Trim away some of the seam allowance, turn it through to the right side (so the seam allowance is hidden inside) and give it a press.  This is your handle loop.
Take one of the squares cut from fabric C and take 2 of the rectangles from fabric B, pinning 1 each to opposite sides of the square and sew with a 1cm seam. Take 2 more of the fabric B rectangles and pin a small square (from fabric A) to each of the short ends. Sew in place with a 1cm seam and press all the seams open so they are nice and flat. 
Your pieces for your first pot holder should look something like this:

Now join the 2 narrow rectangles to the long sides of the larger rectangle, as per the layout above. Press the seams open and your pot holder should now look like this:

Turn it over and lay your batting in the middle of the square.  There should be about a 1cm gap all the way around your wadding. Pin the wadding to the fabric.  Hand sew the wadding to the fabric, removing the pins as you go.  This doesn't  have to be neat.  In fact it's best if you use big stitches as you will be taking the stitches out later.  It's just to hold the wadding to the fabric.  This is called basting.
Head to your sewing machine and working from the right side (fabric side), very carefully stitch along your seam lines through all the layers.  
The stitches will be almost invisible from the outside, but the inside will look like this:
Flip the square over so the fabric is facing up and pin the 2 ends of the handle loop about 2cm either side of one of the corners and stitch in place 8mm from the edge.

Take one of your large square from fabric A and pin it to the right side of the fabric square you've made.  
Sew around the edge of the square (1cm from the edge), leaving a gap of about 10cm on one side.  Trim away any big bits of batting that are sticking out into the seam allowance.
Turn your pot holder through to the right side through the gap you left in the seam and give it a good press.  It should look more like a pot holder now!  Now you can unpick your hand basting and then hand stitch the gap in the seam using a neat ladder stitch.

Stitch through all the layers all the way around your pot holder, about 5-6mm from the edge.  Give it another press and now you've finished your first pot holder!

Once you have finished your second pot holder, cook up something yummy and try them out!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shh! Don't tell anyone, but I'm wearing my Gran's dressing gown!

This light weight dressing gown used to belong to my Gran. I've kept it because I love the fabric, but I've never worn it. The arrival of Spring makes me dream of sunny days wearing floaty floral dresses so I thought I'd alter the gown and change it into a dress that's a bit more flattering for me.

First up, something had to be done about the length...
Secondly, those sleeves weren't doing me any favours.
Bye bye sleeves!
But some kind of sleeve would be nice. Lucky I have lots of fabric to work with from what I cut off the hem.
New floaty sleeve.
Now for some internal buttons, so a gust of wind won't cause me to expose myself!
Sneaky button.
Okay, so the hems shortened, new sleeves are in, hidden buttons are sewn on and buttonholes are done.  Hope this has worked...

Ta da!

Now if only the weather was warm enough for me to actually wear it.