Upcycled Sweater Pot Holders

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These "Cutie-Pie Pot Holders" are an upcycled sweater project that you can make useful every day while cooking. They can really add a bright, inexpensive handmade spark to a kitchen. Making pot holders is quick and simple, and they are a great gift any time of year. Plus, because these are constructed with wool, they are fire retardant and insulating, making them super functional yet cute.
The simplest design is to use a single 7" × 7" square top. Once you’ve learned the basic technique, try patching pieces together to make colorful tops, such as the ones pictured at right.
- Felted wool sweater
- Sharp fabric scissors
- Rotary cutter, pad, and extra blades or a 7" × 7" pattern made from cardboard
- Permanent felt-tip marker
- One 7" square of woven cotton cloth for backing (an interesting patterned cloth is nice)
- One 1" × 6" strip of nonraveling cotton jersey (such as T-shirt material)
- Extra-long straight pins
- A size 16 yarn darner needle
- Persian wool or embroidery floss

Step 1

For each pot holder, carefully cut a 7" × 7" square from both the felted sweater and the woven cotton material you have selected. If the felt is thin, cut two or three squares to increase the thickness. (If you have traced around a cardboard pattern with a marker, be sure to cut just inside the line so no marker shows on the square itself.)

Step 2

Place the wool and cotton squares wrong sides together with the -cotton on top. If you are using more than one wool square, stack them together, carefully matching edges, and then add the cotton square to the top of the pile, right side up.

Step 3

To make a loop for hanging the pot holder, fold the 1" × 6" rectangle of cotton jersey in half, short ends together. Insert 1½" of the two short ends in one corner between stacked layers. Pin all four corners in place, being certain that you have “caught” both ends of the hanging loop.

Step 4

Thread your needle with a 2-yard length of Persian wool or embroidery floss. Beginning at the corner with the hanging loop, insert your needle under the -cotton top layer and push down through the hanger and the wool bottom layer(s) of fabric. Pull yarn through to the bottom of the pot holder, concealing the knot under the top cotton layer.

Step 5

Make a reinforced X stitch (see page 32) through the hanger and all layers in that corner. Stitches should be neat and strong and can show on both sides of the pot holder. This stitch will anchor the hanger and keep the layers in place; it also allows pin removal in this corner, making it easier to hold and work on the next steps.

Step 6

Finish your X stitch with thread coming out of the fabric about ½" in from the cut edges of the layers, and begin to blanket stitch (see page 31) around the edges of the pot holder. Be sure you are catching all the layers with each stitch. Keep your corners neat and square by double stitching the first and last stitches of each side seam.

Step 7

When you get back to where you started, tie an overhand knot close to the surface of the material. Run the needle and yarn between the layers about 1" to conceal it. Snip the yarn off at the surface of the pot holder.

Step 8

Iron the finished pot holder with lots of steam to make a nice flat finish.

Step 9

Once you’ve mastered the single-square pot holder tops pictured at right, you can create a playful look by patching together a variety of fabrics. Begin with four squares all cut to the same size. Cut one of the squares into four shapes of your choosing. Use these pieces as patterns to cut the other squares into the same shapes. Now mix-and-match the shaped pieces like a puzzle to form four complete squares. Join the -pieces together with -either ladder stitch variation or edge-to-edge X stitch to make a new set of four pot holder tops. Fun fabrics for the backing of your pot holders are often easily found either around the house — look through your old clothes, tablecloths, or other items no longer being used — or at the thrift shop. Any type of garment will work as long as the fabric is not polyester or another synthetic that is prone to melting with prolonged heat exposure. Just look for a pattern or palette you like.

Step 10

Excerpted from "The Sweater Chop Shop" (c) by Crispina ffrench, used with permission from Storey Publishing. Main Image: Illustration by (c) Marguertie Sauvage, incorporating photo by Kevin Kennefick. How-to illustrations by (c) Crispina ffrench. Flat pot holders photo by Mars Vilaubi. Folded pot holders photo by (c) Kevin Kennefick.

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