Quilted Potholders — Piecing Improv

very first potholder -- Oops!

very first completed potholder with an Oops!

I was baking cornbread for dressing on Thanksgiving and burned my hand on the cast iron skillet as I pulled it out of the oven.  My potholder was basically worn out, not to mention it was old and nasty looking.  I think I  bought the potholders I was using when I first moved here in 1990!  Needless to say, they needed to be replaced.

I had recently purchased a yard of Insul-brite, which is a thin mylar/polyester batting to use to make things like this.  I also had some scrap cotton batting and LOTS of cotton batik fabric scraps.  I had intended to make some potholders at the quilt retreat I went to recently, but just didn’t have time.  So, I put that project on the back burner and forgot all about it until I burned my hand.

the back of the first completed potholder

the back of the first completed potholder

Last night, I decided it was time to make a potholder!  I started improv piecing a 7 and a half-inch square (I pieced three at the same time) by pulling scraps out of a bag and just putting them together.  Then I dug deeper into the bag of scraps and started finding pieced units that I had been given at past retreats.  I always try to get the batik “trash” that my fellow retreaters want to get rid of while working on their projects.  I even found large pieces in my bag that some of the retreaters had thrown out.   The back of the first potholder I completed was one of these pieces.  I finished piecing the front of potholder number one first, so that’s why it was number one.

one side of potholder two

one side of potholder two

I put the walking foot I bought a couple of weeks ago on my featherweight sewing machine and quilted the little “quilt sandwich”.  The first one has the top, a piece of cotton batting, the Insul-brite and the backing fabric in the “sandwich”.  I had never used a walking foot or had much success in machine quilting until this project!  The walking foot made all the difference!  To say I was thrilled, was an understatement!  I even woke up about two hours early today because I was excited to get back to making more!

I finished the first one and put a binding on it.  All the potholders I’ve ever bought had a binding.  Then I realized I had forgotten the hanging loop.  Oops!  So, I just sewed it on.  It’s not pretty, but I love the potholder anyway.

my favorite side of potholder number two

my favorite side of potholder number two

I pretty much had the front and back of potholder number two pieced last night, but since the binding thing was such a fiasco, I decided to leave it off of number two.  So, I used both pieced squares from last night for the next one.  I decided to add another inch to the squares so that I could finish them in a different way.  So, I quilted the front and back separately.  One of the sandwiches had the pieced square, cotton batting and the Insul-brite.  The other had the pieced square and a piece of cotton batting.  I wanted a little extra protection in this one, so that’s why I added the additional batting.  I quilted each side and then put them right sides together, with the hanging loop in between the two pieces, all the raw edges lined up.  Then I sewed them together leaving about four inches open in the middle of the bottom side for turning them right side out.  I also reinforced the corners.  Then when I turned the “quilt sandwich” so that the right sides were out, the hanging loop was in the correct place.  All I had to do then was to close up the opening I had left.

I need a little more practice on closing that opening before I start giving these out as gifts, but over all, I’m happy with them.  I think I’ll make an oven mitt next!

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