Weekend Making: Fabric Shoelaces
Friday's stack

Scrappy Log Cabin Potholder - a tutorial

I just listed bags of my smallest scraps in the shop. Just like the large scraps, I am offering these in warm colors, cool colors and mixed colors. Each bag of scraps has at least 40 small pieces which are perfect for one of my favorite gifts: scrappy log cabin potholders.

Scrappy log cabin potholder copy

To make these fun potholders you will need:

- A variety small scraps in different lengths, anything over 1" wide will work. For this tutorial, I used a bag of mixed color small scraps from my shop.

- Fabric to frame the log cabin. The amount you need will depend on how big your finished log cabin is. An 1/8" of a yard should be sufficient, but I find that using scraps work well here, too. In fact, I used a very small part of a large bag of white scraps from my shop.

- Two pieces of batting, each 9" square. I use one layer of insulated batting (such as Insul-brite) and one layer of cotton batting, but you can use two layers of cotton or poly/cotton batting as well.

- Sewing machine, walking foot, thread, pins, scissors, knitting needle or chopstick, rotary cutter and ruler

Small scraps 1

Start by separating your scraps roughly by size. You want to start building your log cabin with the smallest scraps first.

Small scraps 2

Begin building the log cabin by sewing the scraps around the center piece one at a time, using a 1/4" seam. Trim off excess fabric as necessary. If you like a slightly wonky look, don't square up your edges. Also, you can always cut larger scraps into smaller pieces if you want to.

Small scraps 3

Once you have completed one ring around the center, add a second ring in the same manner.

Small scraps 4

For an even scrappier look, I start adding my second ring of pieces in a different spot. The first ring started with the yellow print and went counter clockwise. The second ring was started on the opposite side (the orange and pink print). I think this gives the log cabin a little more movement, but you can piece it however you like.

Small scraps 5

Once the second ring is finished, add the frame fabric on two opposite sides. The amount of fabric you need will depend on the size of your log cabin. The square should measure 9" with the frame fabric. Take a quick measurement of your block (mine was about 5") and see what you need (I needed at least 2 1/2" on each side). When calculating, don't forget about seam allowances! It is better to err on the larger size and trim the block later.

Small scraps 6

Next add framing fabric to the two remaining sides and trim the block to 9" square. Note that my log cabin is off center - again, I like that look, but do whatever you desire.

Small scraps 7

Make the hanging loop: Take a small rectangle of fabric (at least 1.5" wide and 3.5" long) and press it in half, making a crease down the length as shown.

Small scraps 8

Press the raw edges in so they meet the crease. Fold the strip in half along the crease, enclosing the raw edges and pin closed. Stitch along the edges of both long sides.

Small scraps 10

Fold the hanging loop in half so that the short ends meet. Place the loop about 1.5" inches in from the side of the front of the potholder. Line up the raw edges with the raw edge of the top front of the potholder and pin in place.

Small scraps 16

Assemble the pot holder by stacking your pieces on top of each other in the following order: two layers of backing, potholder front right side up, potholder back right side down. Pin around all four sides. Using a walking foot, sew the layers together with a 1/2" seam starting on the bottom edge and finishing 4" from where you started to leave a hole for turning.

Small scraps 11

Clip the corners and trim the seams to 1/4" except at the opening as shown. Turn the potholder right side out, using a knitting needle or chopstick to help poke out the corners. Press the entire potholder turning the seam allowances at the opening to the inside. Pin the opening shut.

Small scraps 12

Using a walking foot, stitch around the entire potholder 1/8" from the edge, closing the opening as you sew.

Small scraps 15

At this point, you can add some quilting to the potholder if you desire. On this one, I free motion quilted a little flower type motif on the log cabin. On others I have made in the past, I have quilted the entire potholder in a grid, made loopy designs from end to end, sewed concentric squares across the entire potholder or just over the log cabin. The options are endless! Of course, you could leave it as is without quilting and it would look just as adorable.

Another idea for a small scrap potholder is to do a improvisationally pieced one like this.  Piece scraps together until you have a 9" square and assemble as above. You can substitute a ribbon for the loop if you like.

Small scrap bags are in the shop - shipping is free!



What timing! I just made some little comfort quilts (3.5") tonight and just sat down to catch up on some reading. This is such a great tutorial and to read it after having done some similar work is interesting. Thanks very much for this. Take care, Byrd

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I love my potholder, so much I didn't want to use it for the longest time, but now I do and it makes me smile!


Thanks for this tutorial. I may do it with a small group of students who are just learning to sew!

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