Sew a Patchwork Pumpkin Potholder

A pumpkin potholder will be your seasonal favorite. (photos by Bob Farley)

Pull out your scrap fabric bins again for a DIY patchwork pumpkin potholder. It is pumpkin season from now until Thanksgiving, so I am busy thinking of ways to make fun and functional decorations that are seasonal rather than holiday specific. Handmade potholders are a great way to add flair to the kitchen without cluttering up the workspace.

Instead of traditional methods or typical fabric and patterns, I like to do things differently. Denim, twill, canvas, and cotton prints, patchwork and all mix-matched is my way to use my favorite leftovers and create treasures instead of trash. With the holidays coming up, I can think of several designs that would be appropriate — stars, trees, leaves, fruits and vegetables. Make a stack of these fun one-of-a-kind patchwork potholders, and you’ll have the perfect handmade gifts for family and friends.

The back of this patchwork pumpkin is as cute as the front!

How-To Tip: Click on the corners of the images below to see a gallery of instructional photos up-close.

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Step 1

 Open GalleryGather your materials for the pattern, the patchwork, the stem, the back, and for the base layer of the pumpkin potholder. For the base layer, an old matelasse bedspread or an old quilt is perfect. The thickness of the base layer is key here to insulate from the heat. You’ll need three or four different fabrics for the body of the patchwork pumpkin, a contrasting fabric for the stem, and plain canvas or muslin to make your patterns. I like to make my patterns out of fabric so I can store them in the pattern drawer and they will last a good long time. Make sure the body and stem fabric can stand up to high heat. Cotton is best, and the thicker, the better. You’ll also need a loop for the hanger. You can cut a belt loop off of an old pair of jeans or make your own with binding tape. Old jeans or cargo pants would also be good choices for the patchwork. Use what you have!

Step 2

 Open GalleryMake your patterns. You’ll need to make a base pattern and the pumpkin part patterns. To make your patterns, draw a pumpkin on a piece of muslin or canvas (practice on paper before drawing on fabric if needed). Draw the pumpkin the size you would like the potholder to be. Freehand drawing is better as it is authentically you and nobody else. This will be your one-of-a-kind piece of pumpkin art! Starting with the stem, draw the stem and instead of just squaring off the bottom of the stem, add three little triangles to the base of the stem. Draw the pumpkin round, slightly oblong, or whatever shape of pumpkin you like best and don’t forget the bottom indention (the blossom end) of the pumpkin. Draw four curved lines for the ribs of the pumpkin, evenly spacing them apart and keeping with the curve of the outer lines on each side so that the middle rib has the correct perspective. Cut out the pumpkin and lay this pattern on top of another piece of muslin or canvas and cut out a second pattern. Do not draw lines on the second piece. Now, cut along the lines of the first pattern so you will have individual pumpkin parts patterns. When cutting out the pumpkin ribs, you can extend past the stem cutouts so that the pieces are whole crescents instead of cut into at the tops. Mark each piece so you will know which is right-side-up.

Step 3

 Open GalleryCut out all of the components. Using the whole pumpkin pattern, cut out the base layer (matelasse or quilt) pumpkin. Also use the whole-pumpkin pattern for cutting out a solid or decorative back layer. To cut the back layer, you’ll need to put the right side of the fabric facing down and the pattern on the wrong side. Arrange the order of your patchwork fabrics as you would like to see them on the potholder and lay your pumpkin rib patterns on top of the fabrics. Adjust the patterns and line up as you like. Cut out each of the ribs. Use your stem pattern for the stem piece.

Step 4

 Open GallerySew on the back layer. Lay the back layer right-side-out on top of the thicker base layer and line up to match edges. Pin in place. Using a zigzag stitch set on 1.5 stitch length, sew around the perimeter. I like to use a good strong thread that is the same color of the base layer to match where it shows through on the edges or the ribs. Always make sure to start and end a stitch length with several forward and backward straight stitches to lock in the stitch.

Step 5

 Open GallerySew on the ribs. Turn the potholder over and place your ribs in place working from the outer ribs to the center rib. Use the zigzag stitch to sew the patchwork ribs sewing the perimeter of each individual rib at a time. The zigzag at the 1.5 setting will give you defined lines but still allow for the desired frayed edge look. In some places, you may go over the same stitch line more than once if you try to sew all of the edges with one stitch line and if you missed something the first time around. That is okay — it gives it a fun look and heavier more defined lines. Sometimes I will repeat the same lines more than twice just for the drawn-by-stitch effect.

Step 6

 Open GallerySew on the stem. Pin and sew the stem in place and then finish off the potholder by sewing around the perimeter of the pumpkin one last time.

Step 7

 Open GallerySew on the loop. If you are using an old belt loop, no need to finish the edges. If you are using binding tape or if you make your own loop, finish off the edges by zigzagging or hemming with a straight stitch. Pin and sew on the loop as you like to the top of the stem.

Step 8

 Open GalleryWash to fray. Throw the potholder in the washing machine on a warm/cold setting. The edges will fray a bit so don’t worry about the appearance between the wash and dry step. Tumble dry on regular heat. It will be pretty warped and stringy when you take it out of the dryer so don’t be concerned. Iron to flatten the potholder. Trim all of the strings and frays being careful not to cut into the stitches. Now, you can make stars and trees for the next set of holidays!

Materials

  • old bedspread or quilt
  • leftover fabric or samples
  • denim belt loop
  • contrasting thread

Tools

  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • marker
  • seam ripper
About Michelle Reynolds 

44Posts

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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3 Responses

  1. Soto says:

    Of course it was helpful. It definitely narrowed my search. Thank you for recommendation.

  2. Michelle Reynolds says:

    Of course you can always hand sew but I am too lazy for that, so I use my Janome Schoolmate. It was not cheap but it is tough and can sew through many layers with ease. It is also easy on the thinner materials. It has several stitch options so I can zigzag (can you tell that is my favorite?) and sew buttonholes. I like manual controls rather than computer parts and I like simple rather than confusing when it comes to machines. I am sure there are other machines that are comparable to this one on the market and with varying price points. I hope this helps!

  3. Soto says:

    Great project, I would love to make it but I don't have a sewing machine…
    Could you please, recommended any for beginners? General suggestion is "buy the cheapest one" but maybe it is worth to spend a little bit more and be glad for years than have problems with the cheap one. Though sometimes the cheapest are the best…:)
    I generally need a sewing machine for creative ( hopefully ) clothes mending applications and to sew something small like potholder…
    I would really appreciate your advice.

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