Monday, October 21, 2013

Quilted Leaf Potholders {Tutorial}

I was undecided about writing up a tutorial for these, but I received a ton of emails asking me if I would after posting my original leaf potholders two weeks ago.  I had made three for myself, but really wasn't up to making any more.  However, when someone asked me to make them a pair?  I finally had a reason to make some and take some pictures for you!

 I have finally been able to create a .pdf for this tutorial.  Please go HERE for the .pdf for download.

Leaf Potholder Tutorial
This tutorial yields two potholders.


Fabric scraps (preferably strips with lengths approx. 14"long)
2 Batting pieces (10"x12")
2 Insul-Bright pieces (10"x12")
1 Fat Quarter (backing fabric)
1/2 yd fabric (binding fabric)
Ruler/Rotary cutter
Sewing Machine


Gather fabric scraps in all the colors you would like.  For these, I was shooting for "Fall".  I also think it would be fun to do a leaf in different colorways.
Either find or cut strips that are 1 to 2.5 inches wide and approx 14 inches long.
 I found some slightly shorter strips in my collection that I really wanted to use.  If this is the case, try to keep those at the ends. 

Piece all the strips together. I centered each strip as I went along. Your final "rectangle" or stack, like mine, should be about 14 inches tall.   Press your seams.

Layout your "rectangle" and grab your ruler, preferably with a 60 degree angle on it.

Take both your rectangles and make a 60 degree cut.  If you have never used your ruler angles, the simplest explanation is to place the 60 degree line (highlighted in white) at the bottom or with a strip that is parallel to the bottom, like the photo.  

Make sure that you have the angle going one direction on the first piece and the other direction on the second piece like the photo below.

If you are all of a sudden panicked because you don't have your ruler? Do not fear.  I placed lines on the pattern, just in case.  They are not necessarily 60 degrees, but they work. Line up the leaf on the stack of strips at a pleasing angle and place your ruler at that angle and cut away!

 (excuse the mess on my original pattern. I like to re-use printer paper when I am experimenting!)

 After your two cuts, swap one piece from each cut rectangle.
 Layout the strips at an angle like the photo below.
 Piece with a 1/4 seam allowance.  Press your seam allowance to the side.

Print and cut out the Leaf Potholder .pdf.  
I gave myself approximately an 3/8" seam allowance around the solid line.

Using your pattern with the extra seam allowance, cut two leaf patterns from your fat quarter backing, two leaf patterns from your batting, two leaf patterns from your insul-bright.  I extended my rough cuts another 3/4" to 1 inch past.
Line the pattern up with the lines on the seam line. 
(Note: the angles on the leaf .pdf are not exactly 60 degree angles, 
just focus on the center "vein" line)

Cut out a rough leaf pattern...extending it approx. 3/4" to 1 inch past the seam allowance just like the other pieces.


Layer your pieces in this order.  Backing fabric (wrong side up), insul-bright (metallic side down), batting, and stripped piece (right side up).  I use a quick dusting of spray adhesive to baste all of my pieces together.

Take your quilt sandwich to the sewing machine.  Using a complementary thread color and walking foot, mimic the straight center "vein". I chose to sew 1/4" on each side of the vein.

After that, gradual swirls from the center to the outside give the movement of the leaf veins.  I did not use my FMQ foot, but still used my walking foot.   If you shy away from anything but straight, you could just echo the strips themselves.  Either way, it will still look like a leaf when you are a done.

When you are finished, lay your leaf pattern on top and cut the leaf out.  In this photo, you can see that I was very generous with my strip lengths and just cut my leaf another 1/2 inch from my pattern (including the seam allowance).   However, I have a few at the size of the original pattern, and it is a very adequate size.

 Living in Texas the past year has just caused me to embrace "Everything is bigger in Texas".

Bias binding.

 Yes.  It makes some of the sturdiest of quilters run screaming into the nearest woods.  I do not pretend to be an expert, so please feel free to google a few tutorials.  One day, I do plan on doing a meticulous tutorial on continuous binding, however, I will have to return from the woods to do so.  

In the meantime...a short explanation for the beginners.  Bias binding gives you "stretch".  A straight cut, WOF (width of fabric) cut binding will not give you the stretch that is necessary for curves.  I caution you to not use any straight binding on this project because you will be quite frustrated.

But don't fear.  Here is my simplistic quick binding that you can use.  I would not recommend this to be used on a full quilt, but on a small project like this one? This works!


First,  I just simply cut a triangle from the 1/2 yd of fabric I pulled from my stash.

(Top Left) I then proceeded to cut 2.5" strips from the diagonal end of the triangle, opposite of the 90 degree angle.  (Top Right) After I had strips, 45 degree angles were already created at the ends.  I snipped off the selvage ends and then pieced two long strips together, as pictured.  Layer the two ends so that you have slight dog ears on each side.  (Bottom left) Stitch 1/4" seam allowance (Bottom right) Press the seam to one side. Press the strip in half, lengthwise.

Attach the binding as you would any other project.  Note:  I do not pin my bias binding.  I maneuver it on the curves as I stitch it on.  I find that I can manage the curves while stretching it to fit.  This is not necessarily the "correct" way.  If you would prefer to pin, I will not scoff at you!


Once you have attached your binding by machine and before folding your binding over for hand-sewing (or machine if that is what you prefer) it is a good time to add a loop.

Grab a 10-12" piece of strip from your bias strip leftovers.  (Top Left) Fold the two sides in to the center and press.  (Bottom Left) Fold the piece in half and press.  (Right) Stich the open side closed.

Cut your piece into two 5" pieces.

Grab and loop your 5"piece. 
I like to make it create a scoop, of sorts, by making sure the stitched ends meet. I find things are easier to hang on hooks if you do so, because the loop is naturally open. No fumbling for me!

Stitch on with a straight stitch, towards the "stem" end of your leaf.  Make sure that you do not put it directly at the top, but approximately 3/4" away from the point.  Otherwise, it could be tricky binding the point with your folds.  After I straight stitched it on at the same line of the binding, I added a zig-zag stitch to reinforce.

Fold over the binding and hand sew your binding to the back.

When you get to the loop, I recommend sewing the binding to the loop at the front.  

Then stitch the backside of the loop to the backing fabric. 
 It keeps it from pulling the binding at that point.

I am still in love with these potholders.  And when a potholder gets the stamp of approval from hubby?  I can certainly smile when I take them out to use them!

 I had some quilter friends that said "Thanksgiving Host gift idea!".  And I totally agree!  Too bad I am the hostess this year?  I also think they would be great as a housewarming party gift if the family was moving in at this time of the year, and there is always the newly married couple! 



  1. Great tutorial! Just ordered fabric for these, my mother saw yours on my IG feed and wanted some straight away. Thank you for sharing:-)

  2. Love these! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  3. Thank you so much for the tutorial and pattern....i will try some tomorrow!

  4. I think it's wonderful that you are willing to share this for nothing. Thank you!

  5. Muy claro el tutorial,me encanto.

  6. I have been looking for a pattern like this and "yeah" here it is. Great tutorial. Your instructions and pictures are clear and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I'm sure this is probably obvious to all but me. I guess all thread, fabric, and batting must be cotton.

    1. GREAT question Karen! I normally am not a stickler about materials, but on this project, I would recommend cotton materials. Some nylons and mixed media fabrics could melt from contact with the heat.

  8. What a great idea! What I'm most impressed with are your extremely detailed and close up photos of every step. along the way and look forward to seeing more tutorials from you. Thanks so much.

  9. What a great tutorial! I have everything I need to make these, just needed some inspiration! Thank you.....

    1. Awesome! It really is a great scrap-buster!!!!

  10. They look great, will have to try making them

  11. These are great! Your tutorial is excellent. Thanks so much for taking the time!

  12. These are absolutely wonderful! Thanks for sharing this tutorial!
    I linked to it from my blog, you can see it here

  13. What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing !!!

  14. Thank you for this tutorial. I love it. Christmas presents for several members of my family.

  15. Can you please tell me the *finished* size?

  16. love this. thank you so much. I hope I can make this.

  17. What a great project and tutorial. Thanks very much

  18. I love these i'm going to give this a try. they are so cute. i can understand about the boys. My son was like having 10 little indians.

  19. Can use the template, etc. and substitute the strips of fabric with NFL football fabric to make a football potholder by straightening out the one side that isn't straight and putting the loop at the top end point instead of leaving it off sides .. Just a suggestion to make similar to the ones I am making up using local NFL football fabric to make same... I hang mine off of one of those banana tree holders to display same on my counter, next to my stove for display and to grab quickly to use.


  20. I can't see where you get the pattern?? It must be there in all the wonderful instructions but I just cant see it.

    1. Hi!! Click on the image or go to "my patterns" in the title bar and you will be taken to My Craftsy pattern store.

  21. Many thanks for the pdf pattern for your leaf potholder. Will make lovely gifts. Your tutorial is beautifully set up.

  22. Thanks for your tutorial. I used it for inspiration for a mini-quilt I made. I linked back to here.

  23. Thank you for such a wonderfully comprehensive tutorial

  24. I just love leaves. In the new year, I am going to try and take the size up to a placemat. This is so clever and I love the mini quilt that one of your readers designed. Thank you for your inspiration!

  25. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely tutorial!

  26. I would love to make this. Looks so great. Thanks for the idea.

    Heard about Belden VFD Motor Supply Cable

  27. Love this work, I am definitely trying them!

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