Friday, September 6, 2013

A Good Swap

At our SMQG meeting this week, we had a Potholder Swap. We each were to make a set of pot holders (two oven mitts, two hot-pads, or one mitt and hot-pad combo), and were given some helpful tips:
  • Insul-Bright is made for this type of project or use two layers of cotton or wool batting; don't use polyester batting, as it is not heat safe
  • less is more when considering quilting for anything mitt-like – if it’s too stiff you won’t be able to bend it for easy grabbing
  • include a grommet or some type of loop for easy hanging storage
  • try a new technique, find a use for an orphaned quilt block, practice a new free motion pattern, play with your scraps, or try out a new color way
I opted to make a pair of potholders using Jeni Baker's Nordika and a few coordinating solids. I find Art Gallery fabrics such as Nordika to be slightly thinner than alot of other quilting cottons, and actually kind of smooth and silky. They just have a very nice hand, and the colors in Nordika are really clear and saturated. The solids I included were Kona Canary, Pomegranate, and Medium Gray.
The 'blocks' I created for the potholder fronts were improv log cabins, inspired by Quilting Modern. It's a really fun method, figuring it out as you go along, though neither of mine turned out quite as wonky as I'd originally intended. I especially like inserting "little bits" of contrasting fabrics in an occasional log, such as the pomegranate bit and little flower in the potholder on the right (below). Finished, these measured 10" square.
My normal routine when making potholders is to use 1 layer Insul-Bright + 1 layer of cotton batt. This makes a pretty hefty potholder that seems to work and wash up well. For this pair, I chose to straight-line quilt using an Aurifil Mako 28wt #5006 called Aquabee. It was a lovely match with the Nordika, and helped pull the solids in, palette-wise. I remembered later that the Aurifil site has some helpful hints for various thread uses, and here's what they suggest for my current purpose and thread:

Machine quilting : Good for machine quilting when you desire the thread to add an extra visual impact to the patchwork top. Use a slightly longer stitch length. Use Mako 50wt in the bobbin, loosening the top tension to adjust for the difference in weight. If necessary, tighten the bottom tension by threading the bobbin as if for embroidery (if applicable on your machine). Top Stitch 90/14 needle.

I did use a longer stitch length and 90/14 needle, but didn't think to use a 50wt in the bobbin. Next time I will, as the quilting seemed just a tad tight, and occasionally pulled a bit. (And yes, I did do pretty dense quilting, against the recommendation, but I couldn't help myself, and am hoping they soften up as they are laundered.)
Still, I was super pleased with them, with their dotty hangers, and machine binding ala the Patchwork, Please technique. I was pleased when Arajane chose mine, and just as thrilled to receive a darling pair made by Martha (below). They suit me (and my kitchen) perfectly, and I can't wait to put them to use!

Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday.


  1. Sweet policyholders, pretty and practical what more could you want?

  2. love both sets! what a fun swap

  3. Love the ones that you made, your recipient was pretty darn lucky, but honestly you got pretty lucky yourself, because those you received are pretty darn awesome!

  4. It is a good swap, love both sets.

  5. Yours are great, and I also love the ones you received. The kitchen-y fabric is just your style!

  6. Very cute :o) It probably wouldn't matter how densely ones for me were quilted as I'd be too afraid to use them, so would just hang them up for decoration ;o)

  7. Great swap all round, I think! Both sets of potholders are lovely!

  8. Love the potholders! Really inspires me...when I get done with a couple of other projects--those will be next on my list!
    1. Kid's apron -- any suggestion for a pattern? (headed to JoAnne's someday soon) I've made them without...but this might be more special with one. Using some of Suzanne's fabrics.
    2.Painting--requested by Aunt Merc
    3. Potholders--fun stuff--for friends/family and me!

  9. Both sets are awesome! I really love your Nordika set!