By SALLY COWAN
Last week I wrote about the history of potholders. But there is more to this story. Let me share with you how to make potholders. The most important issue is the material you use to make them. Because you use it to handle hot items, care must be given in selecting the materials. Sturdy cottons are best for the outer fabric, thought blends are acceptable. Binding and backing fabrics are most practical in dark colors, which set off the artwork of the front of the potholder. New miracle products are coming on the market all the time. Good example of this is fusible web. For filler or insulation, most potholder makers prefer natural fiber: layers of worn toweling, or jean denim, or squares cut from old cotton mattress pads. Cotton batting is another option. The layers of the potholder consist of the front or top, the filler and the back. Avoid using too much filler, because your potholder will lose its flexibility. Two filler layers of toweling or denim are sufficient while one layer of toweling with one layer of quilt batting might show quilting to better advantage. Table felt, purchased at fabric stores is a possible filler if you prefer not to use recycled materials. To preshrink it, which is vital, first zigzag the cut edges to prevent reveling and then throw it in the washer and dryer.
There are several varieties of heat-reflective fabrics, some quilted and some not, often used for ironing board covers. These may serve as the outer hot side of your potholder; if you find the color and texture less than pleasing, bury them within the potholder.
The decorative top is the fun part. With your scrap treasures at hand, create with abandon by cutting, adding to, turning at odd angles, or even trying startling color combinations. You really have nothing to lose. Determine the size you want. A diameter of 5½ inches to 6½ inches makes an easily handled potholder.
Here is a great idea! Make a “label” potholder. Gather up all those labels from clothes in your closet. You will need fabric for the back and front. Arange labels on the background and pin them in place. Make it a tight arrangement. Stitch labels to background. Cut batting and a backing fabric the same size as the labeled front. Pin these layers together with right sides out and filler inbetween. Machine quilt between labels. Bind edges allowing for a loop so you can hang the potholder.
This is a great project to learn how to sew. Children love it and they can use their imagination. Nothing is wrong. These make great gift items for your family and friends.