Scrap-Busting Holiday Potholder Tutorial

What are you sewing this week? I’ve been pretty busy at the sewing machine! In addition to a quilted throw for my sister’s birthday, I’ve been working on my contribution to the Sewing District Holiday Potholder Swap:

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It’s been really fun seeing everyone’s handiwork in the forum. We have three palettes to choose from to make our potholders, and my swap buddy said she’d like any of them. So, I chose to use the “Holly” theme of reds, greens and white when I found some cute Christmas-print fabrics (Joy by Kate Spain for Moda). I also decided to try a classic quilting technique called string quilting to make a mix-and-match block. String quilting is a fun and easy way to use up scraps from your stash, and I got inspired when I saw our sister publication Quiltmaker’s Pinterest board called “String Quilting 101.”

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Here’s how to sew this easy potholder, which will soon be on its way to my Swap Buddy!

String-Quilted Holiday Potholder

(Use 1/4″ seam allowances. The finished potholder is 8 1/2″-square,  so it can also be used as a trivet.)

Start with four 4 1/2″ squares of muslin or another plain base fabric. You’ll use these squares as a foundation for the strip piecing. You’ll need a variety of several fabric strips between 3/4″ and 3″ wide. The strips can be all different lengths, since you’ll be trimming them to fit each small square.

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With right sides together, align two strips along one long edge. Position the two strips diagonally across a muslin square. Make sure the strips extend at least slightly beyond the square edges. Stitch along the matched strip edges through all the layers.

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Press open the strips. Repeat to stitch another strip to the center-strip opposite edge.

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Press the strip open, and then repeat the process until the entire muslin square is covered. Use shorter strips as you approach the square corners. It’s also good to use slightly wider strips as you approach the corners, so they don’t get lost in the design after you stitch together the blocks.

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Use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim the strips to match the muslin square edges.

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Here’s the pieced square after trimming:

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Repeat the process to piece the remaining three squares, alternating the fabrics however you like. Part of the fun is mixing and matching the strip widths and colors. Arrange the squares in two rows of two.

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Stitch each row pair with right sides together; press the seam allowances in opposite direction. Stitch the two rows with right sides together, making sure to nest the seam allowances.

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Your block is done! Next, cut a square of heat-resistant batting, such as Insul-Bright, and a square of backing fabric the same size as the block.

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Layer the block over the batting and the batting over the backing, lining up the outer edges to make a quilt sandwich. Pin the layers together and quilt them whatever manner you prefer. I stitched in the ditch of every seam, but you could free-motion quilt the entire sandwich or hand quilt it instead.

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Evenly trim the edges of the quilt sandwich. To round the corners, trace the edge of something round, such as a large thread spool or spray adhesive can, onto each each corner, and then trim.

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The next step is binding and an optional hanging loop. You can use ready-made double-fold bias binding, or you can create your own. To make your own, cut 2 1/2″ bias strips to equal about 34″ including 1/4″ seam allowances. If you want to add a hanging loop, cut a 2 1/2″x8″ strip of fabric, and then fold each long edge 1/4″ toward the wrong side; press. Fold the strip in half lengthwise to enclose the raw edges; press. Stitch the long open edge, and then set aside the strip.

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Piece together the bias strip short ends with right sides together; press open the seam. Trim the short ends to be straight, and then fold one short end 1/2″ toward the wrong side; press. With right sides together, position the bias strip around the quilt sandwich perimeter, matching the raw edges; pin. Gently manipulate the strip to stretch around the curved corners.

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Lap the binding raw short end over the folded short end so it will be hidden after the binding is folded toward the right side. Stitch the perimeter, and then fold the binding toward the potholder backing to enclose the raw edges. Fold the long raw edge 1/2″ toward the wrong side, and then pin the folded edge in place on the backing fabric.  To add the hanging loop, fold the loop in half widthwise, aligning the short ends. Position the short ends 1/2″ under the binding fold at one corner on the potholder backing side; pin.

Slipstitch the binding fold to the backing, manipulating the binding corners to be as smooth as possible. (Here are slipstitch instructions if you need them!)

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When you reach the hanging loop, stitch it in place to the binding, and then fold it upward. Hand stitch the strip lower edges in place again through all of the layers.

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Turn the potholder over and give it a good pressing. We’re all finished–hurray! The potholder is ready to give to a friend or brighten up your own kitchen.

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For more potholder tutorials and inspiration, check out our Potholder Swap Ideas Pinterest board!

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One Response to Scrap-Busting Holiday Potholder Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Free Sewing Pattern: Scrap-Busting Holiday Potholder Tutorial | DailyCraft - Your Daily Dose of Arts & Crafts Tips, Projects, & Inspiration. Quilting, Sewing, Knitting, Scrapbooking, Card Making and more!

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