Tutorials

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder for Your Kitchen

I hope you have been enjoying your summer! We’ve been camping and visiting family, but we are back and getting organized at home again. I have several projects around the house that I’m working on, including some decorating in my bedroom and kitchen.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

One small thing I noticed in the kitchen is that many of my towels and potholders, which were wedding gifts 13 years ago, are pretty worn out. I bought some new towels, but I’ve been planning to sew some new potholders. It’s a really quick project and great for using up scraps!

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

I know there are lots of other cute potholder tutorials out there, but I figured I would take some process photos and share my method with you anyway. I chose to sew a simple potholder with a basic square shape and a pocket. I made some more elaborate potholders a few months ago, but I haven’t used them because I didn’t want to ruin them! That’s no good, right? For something that is going to get dirty and needs to be washed regularly, you need to stick with easy construction and durable fabrics.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

(Some links may be affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my business in this way!)

Gather Your Materials:

• Scraps of cotton or linen fabric
• Lightweight cotton quilt batting
• Thermal batting (like Insul-bright)
Bias tape maker  & Wonder Clips (optional, but easier!)
• Coordinating thread

Let’s talk about fabrics. You need to use fabric that is 100% cotton or linen. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester, can’t handle the heat. Polyester will melt (which you may have learned the hard way if you have used a too hot iron on your poly fabric…). So, choose some lightweight canvas, denim, or linen and mix in a little quilting cotton for color. Most of you probably have plenty of scraps that you can use for these!

You also need to make your own bias tape. The bias tape that is most readily available at the craft store is a poly/cotton blend. It does not work for potholders! Bias tape is easy to make. If you need more detailed directions, you can look at my step-by-step bias tape post.

Thermal batting is also an essential part of a safe potholder. It includes a layer of mylar to protect your hands from the heat. Please do not try to use quilt batting alone without the thermal layer!

Ok, I think those are all of the most important things you need to know before you start!

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

How to Sew a Simple Potholder:

1. Cut out the following pieces from your fabric. You can decide which fabric designs to use on each part.

  • cut two 9″ squares from fabric
  • cut two 9″ x 6 1/2″ rectangles from fabric
  • cut one 9″ square from thermal batting
  • cut one 9″ square and one 9″ x 6 1/2″ rectangle from quilt batting
  • cut and make 1/2″ double-fold bias binding about 45″ long (2″ wide when unfolded)

2. Place the squares of fabric wrong sides together. Sandwich the squares of thermal batting and quilt batting between the layers. Quilt through all layers by sewing horizontal lines, spaced about 1 1/2″ apart, across the width of the potholder.

potholder-4

3. Place the smaller rectangles of fabric wrong sides together. Sandwich the rectangle of quilt batting between the layers. Quilt through all layers by sewing horizontal lines, spaced about 1 1/2″ apart, across the width of the potholder. This will be the pocket piece.

4. Trim the uneven edges of the quilted pieces using a rotary cutter. It’s more important to have straight, even edges than to have perfect 9″ squares. If you need to make them a little smaller to even up the edges, don’t worry about it.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

5. Add bias binding to one long edge of the pocket piece. Place one raw edge of the bias binding right sides together with the pocket edge. Stitch with a 1/2″ seam allowance, in the first fold of the bias binding. Press the binding up.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

6. Fold the binding over and line up the folded edge on the back of the pocket so that it covers the stitching line from the front and extends about 1/8″ beyond it. Clip it or pin it in place. On the front side of the pocket, stitch in the ditch (where the seams meet), catching the back side of the binding in the stitching. This can be tricky if you don’t get the back side lined up correctly. I actually prefer to hand-stitch the back side of the binding. If you can’t get a straight line on the binding, try hand-stitching.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

7. Place the pocket on the square potholder piece and pin it in place. Begin sewing the binding to the top left corner of the potholder, right sides together as you did on the pocket. At each corner, stop and fold the fabric 90° and tuck it under the presser foot. Slowly make a couple of stitches catching the folded corner. Leave the needle down and pivot the potholder. Move the binding so that you don’t catch any extra layers as you round the corner. (Yup. I had to pick out the stitches in a couple of the corners because I wasn’t paying attention!) Continue sewing the binding until you reach the first corner. Stop and backstitch right at the edge of the first line of binding.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

8. Trim the corners. Press and fold the binding to the back, lining up the edge about 1/8″ past the first line of binding stitching, as you did with the pocket. I prefer using sewing clips for binding, but you can pin if that’s what you have. Trim the beginning of the binding to meet the edge of the potholder. Trim the end, leaving a 6″ tail. Tuck the beginning edge into the tail binding. Fold the end of the binding tail around and tuck it in the corner to form a loop.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

9. As I said above, I prefer to hand-stitch the back of the binding. It takes less than 15 minutes. Usually, that saves me time. If I miss a spot while machine sewing and have to pick out stitches…that easily takes the 15 minutes. It’s up to you though. If you machine stitch, topstitch along the folded edges of the tail and tuck it back in. Machine stitch on the front of the potholder, in the ditch, all the way around. Try to stop and make nice tucks in the corners as you go. OR Hand-stitch the back of the binding using a ladder stitch. I have a few photos to help you see how it looks. You can also tack down the corners with little hand stitches too. When you get to the loop, hand-stitch all of the loose edges, including the inside of the loop.

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

That’s it! You should be able to make one in less than an hour, using scraps…so don’t feel bad about using them to handle hot food! As quick as they are, they would also make lovely wedding shower or housewarming gifts 🙂

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Learn How to Sew a Simple Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

I’m linking up my tutorial at some of my favorite crafty link-ups!…Raising Homemakers, Tuesday Talk, DIYCrush, SewCanShe, Craftastic Monday

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Book Reviews, Pattern Review, Sewing

Basket from Handmade Style

I’ve been following Anna at Noodlehead for years. When I discovered she was working on a book, I knew it was something I would want to have in my sewing book library. Anna has a great style that mixes modern fabrics with handmade coziness. She uses clean simple lines, but always adds extra details that make her projects unique. After debating which project to make first, I decided on some practical gifts for friends that are getting married soon.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

I’d love to make every single project in the book, but I started with this basket. It’s such a versatile design that I’m sure there are dozens of uses for this around the house. Plus, I love the leather handle detail!

This basket is a gift for a friend that is getting married in a few weeks. I always find it fun to choose fabric for my friends. This friend made it easy by registering for lots of clean, natural looking items with blue accents. I used a navy geometric home dec fabric, with linen and leather accents.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

The basket construction is fairly simple, but be sure to check Noodlehead for the pattern errata. There’s a typo in the cutting measurements, so it’s important to find that before you get started. The trickiest part is trying to press and fuse interfacing to the bottom of the basket after it is formed. I used a rolled piece of fabric on the inside as a makeshift tailor’s ham so that I could press the bottom of the basket.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

I managed to finish one more this week. This one is made from a thick upholstery linen. I think the lighter weight home decor fabric worked a little bit better for this project, but I still love the simplicity of the linen and leather for this one.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

I’d love to make some more to store my own sewing supplies! I’m excited about some of the smaller book projects as well, which I hope to try with my daughter and some of her friends that are learning to sew. Add them to my never-ending list of things I want to make…

Patterns, Sewing, Tutorials

Make a Craft Organizer

I don’t know what it is about the New Year that makes us all want to get organized. As soon as Christmas was over, I spent some time evaluating my year and started working on some business and personal goals for this next year. I feel motivated to get some things around the house organized and get a fresh start on some projects. I also spent some time in my sewing room, trying to get things cleaned and sorted.

I thought I would show you how I used the Water Bottle Tote pattern to make a craft organizer for my sewing room. With the canvas fabric, heavy interfacing, and no straps, the tote makes the perfect organizer for jars or bottles of craft supplies.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Using the Water Bottle Tote pattern, I cut out all of the pieces except for the pocket and straps. I chose canvas and denim fabric for both the exterior and the lining. I also used some sturdy interfacing (Pellon 808) on all of the exterior pieces (including the exterior sides, which you do not stabilize for the tote). I also doubled the interfacing in the divider pieces.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Normally, I center the divider in the lining so that there is equal space above and below it. For the craft organizer version, I moved the divider closer to the bottom of the bag so that paint brushes and small items wouldn’t slide under the divider to a different section. If you make this adjustment, just leave about an inch at the bottom for the seam allowance, plus that little bit of extra space so that you can maneuver the pieces under the presser foot.

Before assembling the exterior, I cut out a simple freezer paper stencil with the word “make” and painted the letters with white screen printing ink. Acrylic fabric paint would also work for stenciling fabric. (If you aren’t sure how to do this, Dana has a helpful tutorial for freezer paper stenciling.)

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Once the fabric ink dries, you can assemble the tote according to the instructions. Just disregard any references to the pocket or strap.

I like to recycle glass jars to hold bits of ribbon, beads, hardware, and other craft supplies. The bag sections are just the right size to keep all of those jars contained. You could also use it to organize small knitting projects or fat quarters of quilt fabric.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

It goes together pretty quickly (especially if you have made a couple and have figured out how to add the divider efficiently…).  Not including the paint drying time, you can easily sew one up during afternoon nap time.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

So, there you have it…the Water Bottle Tote is not just for water bottles!

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

What are your favorite ways to organize craft supplies?

Sewing, Spoonflower, Tutorials

Embroider Over A Fabric Design

So, I’ve had this fabric swatch from one of my Spoonflower designs sitting on my sewing table for weeks. As soon as I received it, I knew I wanted to embroider it. The black lines were begging for some color!

Below, I’ll show you how to embroider over a fabric design with a simple backstitch. You could embellish any number of fabric designs by stitching along the printed design in this way. Choose parts of a print to highlight or stitch over the whole design like I did. Or you could design something specifically for embroidery and use Spoonflower to print it. (Though I’d recommend using a lighter gray color if you want to do that.)

Embroidered Spoonflower Fabric Design | Radiant Home Studio

Once I started, I couldn’t stop…

I started out with this hand-drawn floral in black and white. This is an 8″ x 8″ test swatch on Kona Cotton fabric. (Another example of a fabric design that could be embellished with embroidery is this pretty floral design by Alexia Abegg for Cotton & Steel.)

I did not have a small enough embroidery hoop for this piece of fabric, so I just stitched along without it. The hoop makes it a little easier, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have one on hand.

Black and White Floral Fabric for Embroidery | Radiant Home Studio

Then I just started tracing over the lines with a basic backstitch.

Embroider Over a Fabric Design | Radiant Home Studio

A little further along in the process…

You can see the path of the needle here. This is how you form a backstitch. Each time you go down next to the end of the last stitch and come up two stitch lengths ahead.

Embroidery Design On Spoonflower Printed Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

Using a backstitch, you can cover all of the black lines without gaps showing through between the stitches. If you want the back to look as nice as the front, check out Mollie’s series of post on keeping your embroidery neat and tidy.

Embroider Over a Fabric Design | Radiant Home Studio

So now I just need to decide how to finish it. It could make a really pretty pocket for a tote bag or I could frame it and use as part of a gallery wall I’m planning.

Embroidered Spoonflower Fabric Design | Radiant Home Studio

Would anyone be interested in a downloadable embroidery pattern using these folk flower designs? I’ve been considering adding embroidery patterns to my shop for several months, but just haven’t managed to fit it in. If there is interest though, I’ll bump it up on the priority list…

Tutorials

Sewing Simple Curtains

Last week I decided to make some simple curtains for our living room before holiday guests arrive. I’ve been sewing simple curtains like these for our houses since we were first married. At first, I used basic quilting cottons from the clearance section (usually for $2-3/yd.) At that price, I could make a pair of floor length curtains for less than $20, so I decorated our newlywed apartments very frugally.

Quilting cotton works great for a limited budget, but I recommend using a home decor weight fabric if possible. With sales and coupons, I’ve found some really nice fabric for around $5/yd. Even at $10-15 a yard, you are getting a great deal for custom curtains. Some of my favorite prints are from Premier Prints, through Fabric.com.

I bought an expensive pair of curtains from a popular mail order catalog once…but I won’t do it again. For the price, I expected better quality stitching and a full lining, but what I got was the same basic curtains I’ve been making for years.

Sewing Simple Curtains | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for helping to support my business.)

So, here’s how you can sew simple curtains for your own home! The finished length is about 90″ (which is longer than typical store-bought drapery panels—and I’ll tell you why toward the end of the post).

And…I’ve added extra instructions for no-sew curtains at the end of the post!

Materials Needed for Simple Curtains:

5 1/2 yds of fabric (pre-washed, if you plan to wash them later)

matching thread

iron and ironing board

sewing machine

Step 1:

Cut your 5 1/2 yds of fabric in half across the width.

You should have two equal length pieces. Technically, 5 1/2 yds, cut into two, should leave you with 2 pieces that are 99″ long. After the shrinkage from the wash and squaring off the ends, I found that my fabric measured about 96″.

Start on the selvage edges (lengthwise, on each side) and press 1/2″ toward the wrong side. You can usually use the selvage as a guide. It makes the folding much easier! Fold over and press again to enclose the raw edges.

Press Curtain Edges | Radiant Home Studio

Step 2:

Fold one cut edge to the wrong side (across the width) 1/2″. Then fold over again, 2 1/2″  and press in place. You will do the same thing on each cut edge across the width of the fabric. These folds will form the rod pocket (if you choose to use a rod) and the bottom hem.

Curtain Hem Top and Bottom | Radiant Home Studio

Step 3:

Open up the top and bottom folds, while you stitch along the sides. Use a 1/2″ seam allowance or your folded edge as a guide. Stitch along the each of the long edges.

Sewing Curtains Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

The hardest part about sewing curtains is the mass of fabric that accumulates at the sides of the machine, like this –

Curtain Fabric Bunch | Radiant Home Studio

If you can manage this big fabric pile, the rest of the curtain sewing process is very simple. If your machine has a “needle down” option, this is the perfect place to use it. Each time you stop to adjust the fabric, your needle will stay down and keep everything aligned so you can stay on track. If you don’t have that feature, turn the hand wheel to put the needle down in the fabric while you make adjustments.

Needle Down Sewing Machine | Radiant Home Studio

Step 4:

Fold the top and bottom edges along the creases you made earlier. Use the folded edge as a guide for stitching (about 2 1/2″ seam allowance). With precise measurements during the pressing step, you’ll have a nice even line across the top and bottom.

If you want to include a lining layer, add it before stitching the tops. Follow the same steps above for hemming the edges of the lining layer, (probably a neutral poly/cotton blend), assuming it is the same width. Align the bottom hems (usually the lining layer is a couple of inches shorter, so you may align it to the top edge of the hem). Then trim a couple of inches off the top and slide it in to be caught in the top line of stitching. This will make a lined curtain with free floating layers. Since sewing the lining to the front on all sides usually creates big wrinkles, two separate layers help you to avoid problems and make the curtains look more professional and streamlined.)

Press out any wrinkles and trim all of your loose threads.

Sewing Curtain Hem | Radiant Home Studio

Step 5:

Hang them up!

You can hang your finished curtain panels with clips or you can slide them onto a rod. For a thinner style rod, you may want to add another line of stitching about an inch below the top fold to create a smaller rod pocket. The uppermost section will form a small ruffle, and the curtain rod will fit in the second section.

The finished length of these panels is longer than typical store-bought panels, at about 90″. Home decor experts recommend hanging your curtain rods several inches above the top of the window. The 84″ curtains available at big box stores end up being too short, and 96″ inch panels (which are difficult to find) end up being a bit long if you don’t have 9′ ceilings. So, 90″ seems to be the right length for floor length curtain panels with a rod hung 4-6″ above the window casing. Of course, you should always take your own measurements, but you can adjust the length to fit your needs without too much extra math!

 

Sewing Simple Curtains | Radiant Home Studio

Bonus: No-Sew Curtains

What if you don’t sew? Easy! All you need is an ironing board, iron, and some fusible hem tape. (You’ll need 3 packages of this!)

Follow all of the cutting and pressing directions above. Then instead of sewing, carefully place the hem tape under the folds and press the hems down. Each brand has slightly different instructions, so just read the package carefully and follow the recommendations given.