5 Tips for DIY Upcycled Potholders


These star and tree patchwork potholders give my kitchen a down-home comfort during the holidays. (photo by Bob Farley)

My stack of fabric scraps continually inspires new fun projects. This time, it’s a stained red matelassé bedspread and a pair of worn-out old blue jeans that led me to create these tree and star patchwork potholders for the Christmas holidays. Leftover strips of printed cotton in red, green and earth tones, accentuated with bright red stitching makes for a pretty combination.

Follow the tutorial for the pumpkin patchwork potholder to make these pretty things. You can easily adapt the directions to make symbols appropriate for other occasions as well — Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, or even a personal symbol for a friend’s birthday. While you are sewing, make a bunch. You can keep them for yourself or give some of them away as gifts.

Go through your scrap fabric bin, the linen closet or your old clothes to pull fabrics together for the project. Quilts, bedspreads, or even old and worn-out potholders or towels will work well for the thick and heat-resistant layer. Judge for yourself how many layers you’ll need to protect from the heat, but also keep in mind the strength of your sewing machine. Layer your thinner fabrics on top of the thick layer or sandwich the thick layer in between.

Whether you make your potholder in the shape of the symbol or applique the symbol onto a square potholder, follow the directions and you can’t go wrong. Five things should always be the same:

1) Make and keep your own pattern out of canvas or muslin so that you can file away and repeat the same project (but in a slightly different manner) for one-of-a-kind items.

2) The decorative layers should always have a thick layer for resistance to heat.

3) Stitch close to the edge but not too close to overlap. After throwing it in the wash, you’ll want a nice fringed look.

4) Machine quilt the piece for rigidity and sturdiness. The patchwork will usually provide for this, but if not, sew straight or zigzag lines through the potholder (as I did with the star here).

5) The potholder will be very stringy and warped looking after the wash-and-dry process so don’t fret, simply iron and trim. The sky is the limit for fun and creative potholders.

This easy sewing project is great for winter and the holiday season, when, if you’re like me, you’re spending more time indoors cooking. Here’s another great easy sewing project for winter: a log carrier. Enjoy!

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About Michelle Reynolds 


I’m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

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