Easy Pot Holder Pattern (Turn and Topstitch)

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Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Welcome back to the Learn to Machine Sew series here on Cucicucicoo! As promised, today we have the practice tutorial for last week’s lesson on how to turn and topstitch. If you need to brush up on that technique or if you want to learn some little tricks to topstitching with small seam allowances, read the lesson before starting this tutorial. Because today we’ll be turning and topstitching to create simple pot holders!

These make a great gift and are so cute as a set with matching fabric, so why not sew up a bunch of them for Christmas gifts? Read on for the free pattern and instructions!

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

You can make whatever shapes you want, but I’ve done square, circle and heart potholders in order to practice clipping and notching corners and curves in different shapes. I’ve created a free easy pot holder pattern, which includes all three shapes, that you can download here or from my free download page.

I will soon be publishing a tutorial on how to prepare PDF sewing patterns, (update: here it is!) but for now all you need to do is 1) save the file to your computer, 2) print the file at 100% (no scaling), 3) check the size of the test square in the corner of the first page with a ruler and 4) cut out the three shapes with regular paper scissors. If you don’t want to use my pattern pieces, just cut out whatever shapes you want that are at least 15 cm wide.

Here is what you will need:

  • Some cute woven cotton fabric (I don’t suggest using synthetics because they could melt)
  • Some cotton terry cloth or other thick non-synthetic fabric (be eco-friendly and use old towels, like I did!)
  • 13 cm of ribbon or cord PER POT HOLDER
  • Thread to match the woven cotton fabric
  • Size 110/18 machine needle for woven fabric

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

If you look at each pattern piece, you will see that you need to cut 2 pieces of woven cotton and 2 pieces of terry cloth (or thick fabric). When you position the pattern piece over the fabric, make sure that the grain of the fabric follows the grainline arrow on the pattern piece. (Don’t know what fabric grain is? Take a look at this sewing lesson!)

Note that most towels have a folded edge along the long sides so, if you are upcycling towels for your terry cloth, make sure that you don’t include that folded edge. In the photo above you can see that I’ve avoided it.

By the way, I will soon be publishing a lesson on cutting out fabric from pattern pieces, too, but for now you don’t really need it.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Cut out all four pieces for each pot holder you will sew. I used Robert Kaufman‘s “Fruit Basket” fabric, which I also used years ago for my clothespin apron (which has since then changed owner and is much used and loved by my mother). I figured that this was a good kitchen-y fabric, though in hindsight I think that it probably would’ve been better to use a smaller design.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

And cut a 13-cm-long piece of cording, ribbon, twill tape or whatever you want that looks nice with your woven cotton fabric. I am sewing all three shapes, hence three pieces. This ribbon will be the hanger for the pot holders.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

I’ll show you two different ways to attach the ribbon loop. Let’s first sew the square pot holder with pretty much the same method used in the turn and topstitch lesson, just with additional layers.

  1. Place one woven cotton piece right side up.
  2. Position the other woven cotton piece on top of it, wrong side up. If your fabric has a design on it, make sure that they are going in the same direction.
  3. Position the two terry cloth pieces on top of the two woven cotton pieces.
  4. Pin the four layers together, using double pins to mark where your opening will be in the middle of the TOP EDGE.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Sew around the edges, using a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance and a thick needle (I used 110/18). Remember to leave the part between the double pins unsewn. Then clip the corners.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Stick your fingers between the two layers of woven cotton fabric and turn the square right side out through the opening, poking out the corners completely. Iron the square flat on both sides, folding the open edges inward. Then take out your ribbon.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Join the two ribbon ends like you can see above to form a loop. (You can tell it’s nearly winter by my horribly dried-up fingers…)

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Stick the ribbon ends inside the opening in the square to match up with the fabric edge. Center it and pin it in place.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

If the opening is not staying folded shut very well, feel free to close it with additional pins (left), but this is not usually necessary. Topstitch all around the edges with a seam allowance that is less than 1 cm (3/8″). The closer you can sew to the edge, the better, but it’s not always easy because of the bulk of all the layers of fabric (right).

And the opening is closed up with the ribbon loop inside! Easy, right?

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Well, it’s not always so simple. In shapes with rounded or pointed edges, it isn’t as easy to close up the opening smoothly. So it’s actually easier to just sew the ribbon in right when sewing the shape itself.

Let’s start with the circle. (Oh, and by the way, don’t pay any attention to the lines of holes you can see in the circle and heart pieces. I got distracted and forgot to sew in the ribbon loops, so I had to pull out all the stitching with my seam ripper. The larger-than-usual needle left larger-than-usual holes, but I then sewed right over them again so they aren’t visible in the end.) The process is pretty much the same as with the square above, but adding in the ribbon.

  1. Place one woven cotton piece right side up, with the fabric design going in the right direction. Place the ribbon loop UPSIDE DOWN with the ribbon ends lining up with the very top center of the circle’s fabric edge. It’s very important that the ribbon point to the CENTER, not outwards.
  2. Position the other woven cotton piece on top, wrong side up. Again, make sure that the fabric design is going in the right direction.
  3. Position the two terry cloth pieces on top of the two woven cotton pieces.
  4. Flip the four layers over all together, so that you can see both where the ribbon is and how your fabric design is. Pin the four layers together, using double pins to mark where your opening will be in the middle of the BOTTOM, using the position of the ribbon and the fabric design to help you find the bottom.  I chose the bottom for the opening because a) there are no straight edges and b) a less regular curve will be noticed less on the bottom.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Let’s do the same thing with the heart. In this case, the bottom sides of have straight edges, so we will leave the opening for turning on one of those.

      1. Place one woven cotton piece right side up. Place the ribbon loop UPSIDE DOWN with the ribbon ends lining up with the fabric edge at the inside point. It’s very important that the ribbon point to the CENTER, not outwards.
      2. Position the other woven cotton piece on top, wrong side up.
      3. Position the two terry cloth pieces on top of the two woven cotton pieces.
      4. In this case there’s really no need to flip the fabric over to see where to position the opening, but I prefer sewing with the terry on the bottom, so I did flip it.  Pin the four layers together, using double pins to mark where your opening will be on one straight edge.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Sew all around with your 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance, remembering to leave the opening open and to backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitching. As detailed in the turning and topstitching lesson, cut notches all around the circle and around the top curves of the heart. One little trick I often use is to cut around curved edges with pinking shears (those zig-zag fabric scissors), VERY close to the stitching. I’m lazy, so I prefer doing this to cutting notches. You can see that I used this shortcut with the circle pot holder. Then clip the corner at the bottom of the heart (being a tighter corner, I made two diagonal cuts instead of one, to further reduce the bulk) and cut directly into the inside corner at the top of the heart, getting as close as possible to the stitching. You will also be cutting into the ends of the ribbon loop.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

Turn the shapes (again, by sticking your fingers between the two layers of woven cotton fabric), iron and topstitch close to the fabric edges, and YOU’RE DONE! See how perfect the shapes are? And the loops are sewn in perfectly!

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

And hey, while you’re at it, why not also sew a larger pot holder to use as a trivet under your pots and pans? I simply cut out 22 cm (8.5″) squares and sewed the ribbon directly into the pot holder (as we did with the circle and heart ones) very close to one top corner, taking into account the 1 cm (5/8″) seam allowance.

Free Tutorial: Easy pot holder pattern using the method Turn and Topstitch. Part of the "Learn to Machine Sew" series on www.cucicucicoo.com!

This set of pot holders is so easy to make, but so useful! Yah! And, like I said, with cute fabrics these make a great holiday gift!

This easy potholder DIY tutorial is part of the syllabus of Cucicucicoo’s beginner’s sewing course! Don’t forget to share pictures of your work on the Cucicucicoo Creations Flickr Group!Learn to Machine Sew with Cucicucicoo: a free sewing course for beginners

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17 Responses

  1. Le stoffe di Robert Kaufman vanno bene a prescindere :) bel tutorial Lisa, e mi piace in particolar modo il fatto che anche tu usi gli asciugamani vecchi come riempitivo!

    • E’ vero, Chiara… non si può sbagliare con Robert Kaufman! :) E sì, uso spesso gli asciugamani vecchi. Lo so che esiste anche un tessuto termoresistente per questo tipo di oggetto, ma preferisco usare quello che ho!

  2. Credo che copierò questo tutorial e che creerò dei pensieri natalizi!!
    Grazie mille

    un bacino
    Sara
    This is Sara

  3. So nice ! A very good idea for christmas present ! Thanks

  4. Grazie per la bella idea! Anche io ci proverò per fare qualche pensierino per Natale.
    Trovo molto utili i tuoi tutorial.

  5. Ciao Lisa,
    prima di tutto t faccio tanti complimenti x tutte queste idee!
    Volevo realizzare qst presine, essendo alle prime armi vorrei farti una domanda.
    Io ho una macchina singer 1120.. qui indichi come ago da utilizzare il 110/18, ma io nn lo ho, andrebbe bene lo stesso il 90/14 o il 100/16?
    Spero m possa rispondere al più presto!!
    Grazie!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] projects! And in the next couple of days I’ll have the tutorial for this lesson ready: a simple project using turning and topstitching, in addition to any of the techniques we’ve covered so far in this course! So stay tuned! […]

  2. […] cm (3/8″) seam allowance. You do not need to leave an opening for turning, as we did with our easy potholders, because of the opening left between the two back […]

  3. […] a rectangular piece of fabric. I used this scrap piece left over from the potholder tutorial that went along with the turning and topstitching lesson. Use a piece with a relatively long side […]

  4. […] can fit onto a single page, it’s super easy to prepare your pattern. This was the case for my easy potholder pattern, which was a practice tutorial for my turning and topstitching lesson. Now look in the bottom left […]

  5. […] the two practice pieces together with the two pieces of jeans or other thick fabric as we did with these other easy potholders. Place the four pieces on top of each other, with the two pieces of jeans on the bottom, one […]

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