Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Autumn Patchwork Potholders - A Tutorial (sort of)

I spent a fair amount of time this weekend making six autumn-themed potholders for my house. I'm about 85% finished, and hope to wrap them up this weekend (in time for the official start of autumn, Sept 21st!).

I didn't exactly have a pattern for these; it wasn't really necessary. Though I will say that I originally got the idea (and some basics) from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing, and also pulled a couple things from Pretty Litte Patchwork.

First step was of course to gather my fabrics. A dip into my stash, and a subsequent quickie trip to JoAnn Fabrics gave me this pile... previous experiments with the patchwork potholders taught me that more variety is definitely better, I think I ended up with roughly 12 different fabrics altogether. At JoAnn's I limited myself to 1/8 yard pieces, which mostly ended up under $1 each.

I then proceeded to cut the pieces into 2-inch wide strips of varying lengths. My shortest being around 3-4 inches, the longest around 6-7.

I decided that I wanted my finished potholders to be about 10x10 inches square, so when I sewed my strips together in longer lengths, I made them about 33 inches long (the extra 3 inches being 1/2 inch around each edge to eventually be covered by bias tape), so each length would span three potholders.

The whole process was full of guesswork- I just kept my yardstick nearby and would frequently check the length, choosing strips by length as needed. The lengths had to be at least 33 inches (very important) but if they were a bit longer, no worries for now!

I originally laid them out to be 5 lengths tall, but eventually went back and added a 6th to each to account for seam allowances (I didn't snap a photo at that point.)

And then I simply sewed the strips together- making two long (33 inches long) rectangles of 6 strips each. Ironing the seams flat is important at this stage, to keep everything nice & neat.

Once they were all sewn together, I cut each long rectangle into three squares (roughly 10x10), and evened up the sides to they were all straight.

This next step took forever, because I hadn't originally thought about my backing fabric when I went shopping, so I spent a number of hours sifting through my stash, trying out fabrics, patterns & colors. Just when I was about to give up, I found the perfect solid shade. I don't know where it had been hiding all day, but it made an appearance just in time. The photo makes it a little more red then it is- more of a rust brown in real life.

So I meticulously drew my quilting lines onto the fabric with a water-soluble pen (I love these!!).

And then I made my "quilt sandwich" with the patchwork pieces, a heat resistant batting (available at JoAnn's for about $6 a yard), and the base piece I'd drawn my lines on. I find that starting by sewing the center diagonal line and then working out from the middle towards the edges works best and keeps things from bunching up and/or slipping.

As you can see below, I decided against the original criss-crossing lines I drew and just went with the diagonals across once. I figured that since my patchwork was so bright and busy, I didn't need the extra quilted lines. It was just a preference, nothing technique-related.

And then of course, in my excitement at being so close to finished, I made a silly mistake and sewed with the longer edge of my bias tape on top, and ended up completely missing the bottom section in some areas. Whoops!!

So I had to take the bias tape back off (that goodness for seam rippers!).

And that is where I ended for the day! I realize now that I also forgot to snap some photos of the pocket-type things I added to the back... so when I redo the binding, I'll take some time to show that last step too!

This is definitely a project that you can just sort of make up as you go along, adjusting sizes & shapes as needed or desired. I love these kinds best!

1 comment:

Sofiabugmom said...

They're beautiful!

I'm sure your landlord will agree they're perfect with the kitchen's decor. ;)


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