Thursday, July 19, 2012

Potholder Recovery

"My name is Mrs. Micawber, and I have hideous potholders." This confession dates from last year, and I'm sorry to say it's still true.

Here's my problem: I hate to throw things out - especially faithful old household linens that have served me well. An item may be worn, torn, stained, or otherwise unlovely - but unless it's positively in shreds, I don't want to get rid of it. (This applies to tee shirts as well.) As long as there's some useful life left, the faithful object stays in circulation, be it towel, washcloth, dishcloth, or potholder. At worst, it will be honourably demoted to the rag drawer for a continued career in the cleaning department. (The contents of my rag drawer could best be described as: "Too bad for Goodwill, too good for the trash.")

But I digress. In that same potholder post, I challenged myself to make some nicer ones - not only to make them, but to use them. So here's another confession: of the two potholders I made last year, neither is living an active, useful life. One, rather dreadful, is highly impractical and sits at the bottom of the drawer. The other is so very nice that I can't bear to handle hot pans with it, with for fear it may be scorched - instead it enjoys a sheltered existence as a mini-placemat under my breakfast plate every morning.

So the hideous potholders are still with me, still in regular use - and their appearance is a daily reproach to my kitchen aesthetic. Here is one of them (prepare to be shocked):

Dreadful, isn't it? (Its twin is even worse and will be dealt with in some later post.)

There's an old saying, often used to justify the application of cosmetics to the female visage: "If the barn needs painting, paint it." I've decided to apply this principle to my ugly potholders, and combine utility with beauty, economy with aesthetics. It's time for a little potholder intervention.

So into the fabric stash for some bits both pretty (calico) and useful (denim):

Now off with the old torn potholder binding.

A new backing is cut from the denim, with about 1" clearance all around.

And now for the makeover.

A small strip of pretty fabric, a little longer than the potholder's width, is sewn right side up to one edge of the potholder...

...and the potholder is placed back on the denim. (All future layers will be stitched through the potholder and the denim together.)

The next fabric is placed  on the first, right sides together, edges matching, and stitched...

...then flipped over to conceal the seam.

Now the second fabric is trimmed at a pleasing angle...

...ready for the application of the next strip (which is placed as before: face down, edges aligned, then stitched):

Another flip. It's starting to look prettier already.

Here it is with all the strips applied:

Since each strip has been sewn through all thicknesses, the potholder has quilted itself in the process.

Now the calico edges are trimmed even with the potholder core (leaving the excess denim intact):

And here we are - almost done. (I forgot to mention that the final fabric edge was sewn to the potholder only - the denim was folded back to allow for this.)

Time to use that extra denim. It's folded over twice, to conceal the potholder edge, and stitched down - opposite sides first:

Opposite sides stitched down first

A bit of each corner is trimmed to eliminate some of the bulk (sorry, no pictures of this part).

Now for the last two hems. But first, a little sewing hint. I keep an old zipper package insert folded up in my sewing machine drawer...

...for just such an occasion as this. Placed behind the presser foot, it gives the extra leverage needed to sew through a very thick seam or hem - like this one. Now the last two sides are hemmed:

Et voilà! Look at the pretty new front...

...and the neatly quilted utilitarian back.

Mission accomplished! And since I wasn't too picky about keeping things perfectly square - quick and dirty was my motto here - it only took about 45 minutes from fabric selection to snipping the last thread.

I have attained potholder recovery, and am happy to report that this potholder has already seen active duty in the heat of kitchen battle.

The best part? If it gets scorched or stained, I can cover it again. And again. I have LOTS of fabric scraps to use up.

Do you have trouble throwing things out? Do you ever avoid using things for fear of ruining them? If so, tell all. It will make me feel much better. : )

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  1. This is awesome! Too cute to scorch or stain..but then again there's always that fabric stash and 45 minutes. ;-)

    1. Thanks Astri! As long as I don't trim the edging off every time, it should be good for lots more facelifts. (I only trimmed it this time because the denim piece wasn't big enough to wrap around it binding and all, and I wanted to avoid adding a separate binding. Although I could have pieced the denim together to make a larger square ... hmmm. Next time perhaps.)

  2. It looks great, much improved. It would have taken me a lot longer than 45 minutes though.
    I have two potholders I love and use all the time. They have an extra piece of fabric sewn onto the back (a square minus one corner)to create a pocket for your hand and makes the potholders so much easier to use. I haven't been able to find others like them, though I expect even I could sew a piece of fabric onto the back of a another potholder to make a similar pocket.

    1. That's a fantastic idea, Anne - I must file it away (mentally) for possible future use. :)

  3. I haven't a clue what you are talking about can't look in my drawer where all the tea cloths that I have bought/ been given by all sorts of people from all over the world...celebrating all sorts of events and showing beautiful scenery....reside in their frayed and holy splendour! Joan

    1. I'd love to see inside that drawer of yours, Joan. "Frayed and holy" just about describes much of our household linen too! :)

  4. Ohhhh you crafty people!

    As to old, ratty stuff in my kitchen drawer, where I keep the mitts and pot holders....... Guilty as charged! -sigh- And even worse, I keep 'em when I know our hand might get burned, if we don't double 'em over or something. In other words, not only ugly-stained-are-they! But somewhat useless! Now... THAT is silly! -moan-


    1. Yep, guilty as charged here as well. The other potholder actually has holes in it - I'll post a fix as soon as I figure one out. Glad I'm not the only one!

  5. Re: your comment in my blog, about "with age comes conservative ear rings...." Mmmmmmmm.... Methinks you haven't seen the ear rings which this 75 year old "Nana" wears!!! -gigggles-

    My teen Granddaughter likes to get ear rings from me, 'cause I love funky ones, myself. ,-)

    But.... Admittedly, not AS cute/funky as she can wear. But... Close.

    Remember, my hair is cut off to about and inch all over my head, so I have to have lipstick and ear rings on, to show... my old but still true female condition. ,-)))))

  6. Yes I have that kind of trouble too. Some of my potholders wre made by my late Mother-in-law and I'll probably use them till they fall apart. I made pot holders for my daughter and sister, I need to make me some.

    1. Let me know what you use for filler - the best tip I've seen so far is to use old towels (since polyester batting can melt).

    2. I bought insulated batting made for pot holders and inside it I put regular batting.

  7. I am glad that you can't see my pot holders. They are nasty.
    Now, the sewing tip here for starting on a thick seam is the best tip I have ever read and I can't wait to put it into practice. Thanks!

  8. I have pretty potholders,and I have nasty ones. They are nasty because I can't bear to use the pretty ones in case I spoil them. I love yours, I shall expect to see photos of stains/burns etc to prove you've been using them!

    1. I have a few decent potholders too - they hardly ever see the light of the oven. :)

  9. You are a genius. Although, I must admit I was kind of sad to see the old potholder go because that one edge there at the bottom looked rather like a goat had chewed on it. Perhaps an Alpine, by the looks of it.

  10. I have actually gotten rid of potholders. BUT there were completely horrid and no longer protected my hands from the heat. I usually keep them until they are plain gross.
    (Now I will just give them a facelift).
    P.S. use insulbright inside your potholders.

  11. I love my clothes the most when they are worn out. My sister calls my style of fashion "texaid". Texaid collects old clothes and texiles either for charity shops (if good and wearable) or industry (if not wearable anymore). I hate to throw things away. I think of all the work that went into it and think things are worth mending.
    Once my son came to me with a borken item. He didn't suggest to throw it away and buy a new one but asked me if I could fix it. :-) It's not only because of the money. I believe that we should be cautious about resources.

    1. Yes! Yes to everything you said. The "disposable" mentality of our time is very frustrating. Thanks, Regula.

  12. Brilliant. And I have plenty of snowflake fabric to cover up my hideous, greasy, stained and parched snowflake fabric on the oldest potholders!


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