How to Make a Pot Holder: Easy Sew Gift Idea!

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In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make some cute diy pot holders that make the perfect homemade gift for any occasion.

This simple sewing project is great for using up scrap fabric and a good starting project for beginner quilters.

potholder set

We are going to make square pot holders in this tutorial but I have another tutorial coming soon about how to make two-handed oven mitts so look out for that once you’ve mastered this one!

Easy Quilted Potholder: Materials List

supply list
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
  • Scrap fabric in strips (roughly 1.5″ wide to 3″ wide) and one focus square or rectangle scrap of fabric for the center. For the strips, I used one solid background fabric and 1 or 2 ‘accent’ fabrics with a color taken from the focus scrap – see photos below).
  • 8″ x 8″ piece of backing fabric
  • 8″ x 8″ piece of quilt batting
  • 8″ x 8″ piece of insul bright heat-resistant batting (optional – you can also use 1-2 additional layers of quilt batting in place of this).
  • Double-fold bias tape or leftover quilt binding strips (approx 40″ long)

Note: You can use the instructions below to make any size potholder you like – I made two this size (the tea cup ones) and 1 slightly larger (the otter one).

Step 1: Quilt-as-you-go Pieced Pot Holder

To start we are going to take the batting and insul bright if you are using it and layer it on top of each other with the layer of insul-bright on the bottom (the side that will touch your hot dishes).

You can baste these layers with pins, spray baste, or just hold them securely with your hands since this project is so small.

Note: We will be cutting these potholders down before we bind them so it is okay if the batting slips a tiny bit and isn’t lined up perfectly at the edges.

Now we are going to use our scrap fabric and ‘quilt-as-we-go’.

You can include the backing fabric in this sandwich if you wish – if so place it right side down at the bottom of your batting pile. OR you can leave it aside like I did and it in the next step to give a cleaner look on the back of your pot holder.

To start take a ‘focus scrap’ – this can be a square or a rectangle.

focus scrap fabric
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

What is a focus scrap? It can be an abstract print or a solid but I tend to use an image. Think of this as a small scrap from one of your favorite fabrics.

For my pot holders I used some Tula Pink Tea Time Sugar fabric scraps (a cute tea cup design) and another Tula Pink scrap with an Otter on it. I don’t know the fabric line for that one but I found a cute shop selling Tula Pink Scrap Bags which would be great as focus scraps for this.

Whatever you cut as your focus scrap make sure you have a 1/4″ inch seam allowance around the image that you want to be shown.

For another fun idea about what to do with your focus scraps check out my Framed Scraps Quilt Block Tutorial.

Place your focus scrap roughly in the center of your 8″ x 8″ stack of batting. It doesn’t need to be exact.

square pot holder tutorial
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Next, take a background scrap of a coordinating color (I used a mix of grey solids) that is approximately the same length as the top side of your focus scrap.

Put this scrap right side down on top of your focus scrap and sew with a 1/4″ seam throw all of your layers.

qayg pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Finger press the seam and top stitch with a 3 stitch length on the scrap you just added.

top stitching
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I use my presser foot to line up with the seam to do this but there is no set rule how far from the seam line your top stitch should be – the more important thing is to be consistent each time you do it.

top stitching pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Repeat the same steps as above now on the right-hand side of your focus scrap and the scrap you just added.

By this I mean, find a strip that is as long as the right-hand side of the fabric that is now sewn down on. your potholder (so if your focus scrap is 2″ tall and your second scrap is 2″ tall then your next strip needs to be 4″ tall – watch the video tutorial below if this bit doesn’t make sense!).

stitch and flip pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Next, do the same along the bottom, then the left-hand side, etc. We are basically adding scraps going around our original scrap in a log cabin sort of style.

stitch and flip qayg pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Keep adding new background strips until the entire square of batting is covered.

untrimmed pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I didn’t measure any of my strips or scraps ahead of time so some of my pot holders have more rotations of scraps than others – that is part of the improv no stress fun of this method. If you prefer you can absolutely do some quilt math to cut your strips to size ahead of time.

This is what the back will look like before you add your backing fabric:

back of potholder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Step 2: Trim and Add Backing Fabric

Once the front of the pot holder is completely covered take your piece away from the sewing machine and trim the whole thing down to roughly 7.5″ square.

Next, take your backing fabric and place it wrong sides to wrong sides with your pot holder.

trimmed pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Flip this over so you can see the smaller pot holder on top and the larger backing fabric on the bottom.

Note: I cut the backing fabric bigger so that I don’t get cut short (I trim it down once its attached) but if you are super precise you are welcome to cut your backing fabric to the exact size of your trimmed potholder top.

Stitch around the edge with a scant 1/4″ seam (which just means as close to the edge as you can in this case – we will be securing it later with our binding but it is easier to do this if it is already attached!).

pot holder with backing before trimming
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
backing fabric pot holder
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Then trim off the excess backing fabric.

Step 3: Make your Hanging Loop

Next cut 4-5″ of either your bias tape or your quilt binding strips.

I used 1″ wide bias tape for my pot holders but you can experiment with different widths.

pot holder hanging loop
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Fold in the raw edges and stitch down the folded edges to close it.

Fold this loop in half and set it aside for now.

Step 4: Add your Hanging Loop and Bind your Pot Holder

We are almost finished!

Decide which corner you want your hanging loop to be on (or you can center it on the top if you prefer). Pin the loop in place with the raw edge facing the raw edge of your pot holder.

With the backing fabric facing up, attach your binding or bias tape to the back of your pot holder.

If you are using quilt binding just sew with the regular 1/4″ seam. Raw edges to raw edges.

If you are using double-fold bias tape unfold the short side of the bias tape – open up the folded short side and align it with the raw edge of your pot holder and stitch along the crease line.

bias tape
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

It’s hard to tell without a measuring tool but one fold on the bias tape will be slightly wider than the other.

Your potholder loop should be under your binding or bias tape wherever you want to add it.

See my YouTube Tutorial below for a visual of this whole process if you have never used bias tape before and also for how to join the ends of the bias tape when they meet.

Next, flip your potholder over and fold your bias tape or quilt binding around to the front.

Also, pin or clip your hanging loop so that it is pointing up (away from the backing fabric).

Stitch your binding down on the front as close to the edge of your binding or bias tape as possible. I always use a 3 stitch length for this.

Make sure to catch the hanging loop in your stitch as you pass it and I also often stop and sew into the corner to further secure the loop in place and then continue on (See video if that isn’t clear!).

Video Tutorial – Easy Pot Holder

Finished Pot Holders

set of potholders
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

This is a set of pot holders I made for my sister. They are mostly grey (her favorite color!) with hints of brighter colors (my favorites!).

The two with pink binding were down with bias tape.

potholder set
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

The one with grey binding was done with leftover 2.5″ grey quilt binding strips.

potholder large
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I made her a matching double oven mitt which I will write a separate post about and link to here when it is done.

potholder set
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and can use it to make yourself some cute new potholders or to make some impressive handmade gifts for your friends and family.

Top Tips

  • If you don’t have any fancy fabric scraps you can skip the piecing and use straight-line quilting on a solid piece of fabric over the batting and follow the finishing instructions in the same way. Why not fussy cut a motif from your favorite tea towels that are going ragged at the edges and use that as the front of your pot holder?
  • If you want to make your own bias tape you can buy a bias tape maker to make your own. I tend to buy other people’s bias tape remnants off ebay and thrift stores too.
  • Make pot holders in different colors to compliment your friend’s kitchen decor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a pot holder without binding?

To make this pot holder without binding, simply place the backing fabric and quilted pot holder right sides to right sides (instead of wrong sides to wrong sides as described above), and sew all the way around with a 1/4″ seam leaving a 2-3″ turning gap.

Use the turning gap to turn your potholder right side out, turn in the raw edges of the turning gap and top stitch closed.

You can still add a hanging loop by using a piece of ribbon or twill tape and securing the end of the loop with a cute button or other embellishment.

To see this method for adding your backing fabric on another project see my QAYG coaster tutorial here or my Denim Placemat Tutorial Here.

What type of batting should I use for pot holders?

Ideally you should use one layer of heat-resistant batting – I use Insulbright – and one layer of another batting – 100% cotton is great but you can also use 80/20 or even polyester as long as the heat-resistant batting is on the side of the pot holder that will be used to touch the hot dishes.

Alternative batting options include:
– cut up old towels
– scraps of old cotton blankets
– multiple batting layers (some folk swear by using 3 layers of cotton batting).

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