A little bit of retro combined with a contemporary frugal touch.
Vintage fabric and denim acorn potholders.

This is a relatively simple project that you can do with any scraps of fabric you have. The only 'must have' is Insul-Bright as part of the batting sandwich in order to provide heat resistance during use. There may be other products like it, but I use potholders made with Insul-Bright and they work just fine. If you don't have regular batting to use in the center, that's fine; you can use another piece of denim, a double layer of receiving blanket or old flannel shirt, or something equally as thing and flexible. The instructions given are a starting point. You can take the instructions and run with them. You can purchase fabric and bias tape or you can use what you have on hand and make your own. You can put a small hanger on your finished potholder or you can leave it off. You can upcycle an old or new dish towel to match. Let your imagination be your guide. Update: We've added pictures of other potholders for which we used the same basic process as the acorn ones. Use your imagination and match your other accessories or do something completely different.
July 2009/May 2011


It started with a coloring page that I saw on the internet. I printed and then adjusted the picture to fit an 8" potholder. I happened to use a coloring page (you can do a quick Google search for these); you could use a picture your child has drawn or any other design that you like. I was in a 70s retro mood.

The picture was traced onto Wonder Under, the Wonder Undertransferred to vintage fabrics, the designs cut and fused to the denim.

I created an approximately 8" square 9-patch design using the fabrics used for the acorn, twig, and leaves to serve as the back of the potholder.

The square seams were reinforced with a zig-zag stitch so the piece could be washed and dried with confidence.

Bias tape was made using scraps of two of the vintage fabrics. It started out as 2" bias strips, and after the strips were joined, the tape was folded in half and rolled up for later use.

I set my sewing machine for a tight satin stitch and began the process of stitching around each piece of the acorn, stick, and leaves, with an accent down the center of the leaves.

After the twig, it was time to finish up the leaves with the satin stitch.

And now, it was time to start the sandwich which would become the potholder. I turned the back with the wrong side up.

Then a layer of Insul-Bright and batting (I pieced leftover batting for this one).

And then, the potholder face, right side up. I pinned close to the appliques to hold them for future machine quilting.

You can see the machine quilting here. It is a scant 1/8" from each applique and goes through all layers of the potholder sandwich.

The quilted potholder was then turned over and a zig-zag stitch was taken around the edge to provide reinforcement. Then the edge was trimmed close.

I opened and pinned the bias tape to the front, right sides together. This was machine stitched by machine, taking care not to stretch the tape too far and making sure the corners were rounded without bunching of the tape.

The bias tape was turned to the back side of the potholder.

The bias binding was turned to the back of the potholder and the edge turned under, and then it was pinned and hand stitched. (I prefer this method. An alternate method would be to machine stitch this side with a zig-zag stitch.)
There you have it - an easy to make set of potholders. Go for it and enjoy! Here are a few others I've made:









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