Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sewing for those who {think they} can't: Make your own Potholders!

 Ready to learn something new? Today I’m going to teach you how to make your own potholders!

I enjoy sharing sewing tutorials with you all. Sewing is {obviously} something I really enjoy doing, and sharing it is the icing on the cake. I’ve posted a few tutorials in the past, and have had requests for more - mostly from some readers who are not very adept at the sewing machine.

So, this is the first of hopefully many tutorials in a series I'm calling "Sewing for Those Who {think they} Can't." Because the reality is...anyone can!

Today’s tutorial is a very basic, easy how-to that even a beginner seamstress can succeed at. I’m going to attempt to make things simple and plain, so you’ll be able to understand the steps!

And let me say this: I use an older, basic sewing machine {which I know and love the best}. There are a lot of newer, more complicated machines that I really don’t know anything about. Not all sewing machines are created equal. :) So this tutorial is presented with the assumption that you know the basics of your own sewing machine. If you have any questions, feel free to ask...I might be able to help. =)

Today we are going to make simple, square potholders. Materials you will need:

Your fabric of choice

Thread to match {we will be doing some topstitching so the thread will show}


I picked up this felt at Walmart for about five bucks:

Carefully cut two 10x10” squares of your fabric, and cut two 9x9” squares of felt. I put two layers of felt in the middle so it would be thick enough to be heat resistant...don’t need anyone getting burned!

It is so important that your squares of both the felt and fabric be, well, square...nice, straight lines. I have a fantastic cutting mat that makes it pretty easy {although I’ve found that felt is slippery stuff and never seems to come out perfectly square.} Just do the very best you can.

Lay both pieces of felt on the wrong side (back side) of one piece of fabric. Center the felt so there is ½” of fabric all the way around.

Now you will baste this together, which means to sew it on with your longest stitch. For my machine, it is a 6 on my stitch length dial.

When you baste, don’t let your stitches overlap, to make it easier to pull out later.

My tips for clean stitching:

1. As you prepare to sew a seam, lay your fabric down where you want it and put your presser foot down. Then immediately put the needle down into the fabric. 
2. With your left hand, hold your fabric near the foot, but also hold the ends of your thread down with a finger or two. 
3. Have plenty of excess thread pulled out of the machine to give you plenty to work with in step 2. 
4. Make two stitches, then two backwards, and then resume forwards again. This keeps your stitches from coming out. HOWEVER, in a basting stitch we want our stitches to come out later, so do NOT backstitch.

Pin this layer to the other piece of fabric, right sides {or front sides} together. Sew ½” on 3 sides and around the corners on the fourth side. Leave most of the fourth side open so you can turn this inside out.

Another clean stitching tip:

5. When you are sewing around something square like this, you do not have to backstitch, stop, cut threads, start over every time you get to a corner. Just stop with your needle IN the fabric ½ inch from the edge (or whatever width your seam is). Just eyeball it - you’ll get good at it after a while. Then with your needle IN the fabric (that is sew important!) raise the presser foot.

Turn your fabric on the needle until you are lined up for your next seam

And continue! So much easier then having to stop and backstitch every time!

Moving on…

Clip corners close to the stitching. Check to see if the felt is hanging over the stitching anywhere, and trim that back to reduce bulk. You want all the felt to be inside the square you just sewed. Of course, if you cut absolutely perfect squares of felt like me, you won’t have to trim it back. {I jest}

Turn the entire baby right side out, being especially careful to poke the very corners out. I like to use the tip of my scissors to do that.

Before you do anything else, iron everything down carefully, including the opening. This should lay down pretty easily.

Now its time to pull out those basting stitches. Normally these would pull out without hardly any effort, but because they are sewn through two layers of felt, you might need to enlist some help from Mr. Seam and his ripper. {that sounded way better in my head} Just pull out all that basting thread...you don’t need it anymore.

Now comes the best part of the whole process….TOP STITCHING!!! Ok, not quite, but I seriously love the look a nice straight topstitch gives. I like to go around twice...once right on the edge and once about 3/10” in.

And you are done! =) Give yourself a pat on the back!

While I was at it I decided to make some coasters to match. I just cut 5x5" squares of fabric and 4x4" squares of felt...and then did everything else exactly the same. The only thing different was that I only used one layer of felt inside.

The two rounds of topstitching give a nice, finished look to them, I think. The whole project is easy to do, and costs practically nothing! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

This has been the first lesson in "Sewing for Those Who Can't." Would you pin this and share it with others?

Thanks =)

I linked up with:

The DIY Dreamer

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