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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Patterns

Free Leaf Embroidery Pattern

Today I have a free Leaf Embroidery Pattern for you!

Free Leaf Embroidery Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

I designed this leafy branch embroidery pattern for another project that I’ll be sharing later this week over at the Oliver + S blog. It’s a simple design that would look nice as hoop art, as an embellishment on a bag, or as a hand-stitched detail on a skirt or blouse.

Free Leaf Embroidery Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

The pattern includes the design mirror images. You can transfer by tracing if your fabric is somewhat sheer. If your fabric is opaque or needs stabilizing, try using something like Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (affiliate link). You’ll need an 8″ hoop if you use the design at full size, or you can scale it down when printing for a smaller size.

To stitch the design as I have, fill in the leaf shapes with horizontal running stitches. You can make several stitches at once by weaving your needle in and out of the fabric before pulling it all the way through. I used 3 strands of embroidery floss on white linen for this sample.

Free Leaf Embroidery Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

For a different look, you can experiment with other stitches or stitch around the outlines.  My philosophy on embroidery is that the imperfections are what make the design unique. Don’t worry too much about getting all of the stitches straight or perfectly spaced. Just enjoy the process and add some love to your handmade projects!

Free Leaf Embroidery Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Download the pattern here!

For more help with Sashiko style running stitches, look at this round-up of Sashiko tutorials.

If you like this embroidery project, you might want to browse through more of my embroidery projects & tutorials!

(I’ve also linked this post to the Homemaking Link-up, DIY Crush, Sew Can She & Craftastic Monday.)

Sewing, Tutorials

Denim Pocket With Grommets {Tote Bag Upgrade}

Here’s another tote bag upgrade tutorial! This one features a denim pocket with grommets and a sliding shoulder strap. With all of the Birkin Flares and Ginger Jeans everyone is making, I figured a lot of people have denim scraps that need to be used. If you aren’t into making your own jeans, you can probably cut up an old pair of jeans to use for this tutorial. You might have to piece together the strap, but it would be a fun way to use up those hole-in-the-knee jeans you’ve been hoarding in your sewing closet “just in case” you want to make something with them.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio
(This post includes affiliate links. Thanks for helping to support my business!)

Both the pocket and the strap are really simple additions that only require straight stitching. You can also use the strap and pocket tutorials separately, or mix and match them with other upgrade ideas I have shared. I used topstitching thread (practice for the jeans I’m planning to make next week…) but you can use whatever you have on hand. The grommet detail on the pocket is just for fun. If you’ve been scared to try grommets, this is low-risk way to experiment with them.

Materials:

• canvas tote bag
• 1/3 yd or scraps of denim
• 3 grommets size 7/16″ or 3/8″ (I like to buy the starter set that includes the tools. You’ll also need a hammer.)
• 1 d-ring size 1″
• 1 strap slide size 1″
• scrap of medium or heavy-weight fusible interfacing
• topstitching thread (optional)

Cutting & Preparation:

Cut from denim:

• (2) 8″ squares (I used a printed fabric for the inside of my pocket. Feel free to use any fabric you like.)
• (2) rectangles 3″ x the width of your bag plus 1″ (for example, my bag was 15″ wide, so my rectangles were 3″ x 16″)
• (1) rectangle 60″ x 4″ (If you have 56″ wide fabric, that’s probably plenty. For 44″ wide fabric, you can piece together 2 strips.)

Cut from interfacing:

• 2″ x 6″ rectangle

Sew a Denim Pocket With Grommets:

1. Place the 8″ square pocket pieces right sides together. Stitch around the outside using a 1/4″ seam allowance, pivoting at the corners, and leaving a 3″ opening in one side. Fuse the strip of interfacing to the wrong side of the denim, centering it over the area where the grommets will be positioned, 1 1/2″ from the top edge. Trim the corners and turn right side out through the opening. Use a blunt pointed object ( I like to use a knitting needle) to push out the corners. Press all of the seams and corners, tucking in the extra seam allowance at the opening to make the edge straight.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

2. Mark the grommet holes using chalk or water-soluble marker. Fold the pocket in half to find the center. Mark the first hole at the center point and 1 1/2″ from the top edge. Mark the side grommets by folding each side to the center point and marking the hole halfway between the center grommet and the side at 1 1/2″ from the top edge.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

3. Cut out a 3/8″ circle at each marking. I find that it is easiest to cut a plus sign and then work around, cutting out the excess. The circles do not have to be exact.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

4. Apply the grommets to each hole. Place the stud through the front of the pocket, and place the flat side down on the anvil. Place the washer over the stud, put the setter in place, and tap with a hammer several times. It’s best to do this step outside on a hard surface like concrete. If you need more detailed directions, see my beach tote tutorial post.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

5. Topstitch along the top edge of the pocket at 1/8″ and 3/8″.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

6. Place the pocket onto the tote bag about 4″ from the top edge and centered across the width of the bag. Secure it with pins. Topstitch around the side and bottom of the pocket edges, pivoting at the corners, and backstitching at the top. You’ll have to maneuver the fabric around under the presser foot which can be kind of tricky. Just sew slowly and smooth out the part of the bag you are sewing as you go.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

The pocket is finished! You can leave the bag as it is, or move on to the shoulder strap.

Add a Sliding Shoulder Strap to Your Tote Bag:

7. Cut off the original tote bag straps. Use a 3″ piece of strap to create a loop around the d-ring.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

8. Now create the strap. (If you are using a material that is lighter weight than denim, you’ll need to add some interfacing to the strap piece at this point.) For the strap piece (60″ x 4″) in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and press. Fold the lengthwise raw edges in toward the center to meet the crease. Press again. You should have 4 even sections.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

9. With the raw edges folded in to the center crease, fold the center crease so that the right side of the fabric are facing. Stitch across one short end with 1/4″ seam allowance. Trim and turn right side out. Press.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

10. Finish the strap by topstitching the long edges.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

11. Place the 3″ strips right sides together. Stitch on each short end with a 1/2″ seam allowance, creating a loop. Press under 1/2″ on one of the raw edges.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

12. Turn the tote bag inside out. Place the 3″ loop around the tote bag with the right side of the strip to the wrong side of the bag. It’s best to sew under the pre-made hem, which is usually about an inch wide. Line up the unfolded edge of the loop about 1/2″ below the top edge of the bag. At one side seam, insert the raw edge strap end. At the other side seam, insert the strap with the d-ring attached. Stitch around the top of the bag, just below the original hem stitch (usually about 1″ from the top of the bag).

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

13. With the raw edge of the denim band folded under, topstitch both edges of the denim band all the way around the bag.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

14. Thread the finished end of the strap through the strap slide and then through the d-ring (outside to inside). Thread the end back through the strap slide, under the first strap. Fold the finished end back on itself (about 1″) and stitch it down.

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

And you are finished!

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Denim Pocket with Grommets and Denim Shoulder Strap| Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

If you make a bag, I’d love to see it. Tag it with #totebagupgrade on Instagram!

This post is also linked at Craftastic Monday, Sew Can She, and Made by You Monday.

Sewing Tips, Tutorials

How to Sew Perfect Scallops

I’ve been sewing a lot of projects with scalloped edges recently, and my new Highland Avenue House pattern features a scalloped roof. The pattern contains sewing tips to help you create clean and professional scallops. But there’s no reason not to share my tips with everyone. Would you like to learn how to sew perfect scallops? (Okay. We all know our sewing won’t be perfect, but that’s what people are searching for, right?)

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Sewing Scalloped Edges | 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!)

I’ll be using the top scallop from the Highland Avenue House to demonstrate, but the technique works for any scallops. You can even make your own scalloped edge using a cup or other round item. I won’t cover that in detail, but it’s pretty easy if you can measure precisely. (Or, check out this awesome quilting ruler that helps you to create perfect scalloped edges!)

Highland Avenue House Pillow Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

You’ll need your fabric, a hem gauge or ruler, a marking tool, and blunt pointed object to push out the edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

At the peak of each scallop, make a mark directly above the point. My seam allowance is 1/4″ so my mark is 1/4″ from the point. This will be your pivot point. If you are comfortable sewing an even curved line, that should be all of the marking you need.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

If you need a better guideline to get an even curve, go ahead and make a dotted line by measuring in 1/4″ and making dots along the edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Using a short straight stitch, begin sewing along the first curve using the dotted line as a guide. At the peak, where you marked the pivot point, leave your needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot and turn the fabric to sew the next curve. Continue to the end.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

When you finish sewing, clip the curves. If the seam allowance is more than 1/4″, trim that as well. Clip into the peaks, as close to the stitches as you can, and cut the excess fabric out around each peak.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Turn the scallops right side out. The scallops will not look even yet. If you haphazardly press them at this point, you’ll have a very uneven scalloped edge. Don’t just plop the iron down on top of it!

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

To even out the curved seams, use a thin blunt object such as a paintbrush end or knitting needle.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Push the curves out using your pointed tool. It’s best if you can stretch each curve a little bit to get the seams lined up properly. I work in small sections, pushing out the curve, holding it in place, and pressing as I go. Working slowly and methodically while pressing is the key to getting (nearly) perfect scalloped edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Continue along the curved edge until you reach the end, working to get the curves as smooth as possible.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

If you like, you can also topstitch along the scalloped edge. Then add your scalloped detail to your sewing project!

You can use my Mini Highland House pattern to practice sewing scalloped edges. It’s a free gift when you subscribe to my newsletter!

Mini Highland House Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Or try the Highland Avenue House Pattern

How to Sew Perfect Scalloped Edges | Radiant Home Studio

Highland Avenue House Pillow Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

P. S. If you can’t stop sewing scallops and want some more sewing ideas, you’ll love 18 Beautiful Scalloped Craft Projects!

Sewing, Tutorials

Autumn Running Stitch {Tote Bag Upgrade}

I love how a simple embroidery stitch can make a plain tote bag feel like a special gift. This tote bag upgrade is quick and easy, yet your friends will feel appreciated and loved when they see the care you put into to making a hand-stitched gift. (It makes a great gift, but you can definitely make one for yourself too!)

running stitch tote bag-4

I chose autumn-colored embroidery floss, but any colors will look nice. I can imagine rainbow-colored stripes would be fun, or for a more subtle look, you could try an ombre effect.

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Materials (includes materials needed for pocket and straps):

• canvas tote bag
• 6 skeins of embroidery floss & embroidery needle

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag Tutorial:

Mark your bag using a water soluble fabric marker or chalk pencil. Starting at about 2″ from the side, make 6 vertical lines about 1/4″ apart. About 2″ from the top, make 6 horizontal lines about 1/4″ apart.

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Organize your threads in the order desired and begin stitching across the lines.

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

You can make several stitches at a time if you use a long needle, as you can see in the photo below. (I used a sashiko needle, which is longer than a traditional embroidery needle.) Make the stitches about 1/4″ long with equal length spaces. You can eyeball the length or try Mollie’s method for neat, even stitches.

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

To get the stitches at the overlapping section to look interwoven, stitch under the first intersection, over the next, under the next, and so on, as though you are weaving. Start the second row of stitching so that is opposite the first. Push the needle down through the fabric where you went up on the first row. and start weaving under and over the intersections opposite the first row. It sounds complicated, but you’ll catch on easily if you study the photos closely!

When you stitch the perpendicular rows, just weave in and out of the open spaces.

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I was able to stitch this in less than an hour. It’s very easy. If you are one of those people that like to keep your hands busy during a movie or in the car, this is a great project for idle hands. It could also be a fun project for kids that are learning to embroider. Wonky looking stitches will just add character. (See my comments regarding crooked stitches on the Kantha tote bag pocket post!)

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I’m hoping to add some leather straps to this bag, so watch for another tote bag upgrade tutorial for adding leather straps with rivets! And if you would like to add a lining, check out this post.

Autumn Running Stitch Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio