top of page
  • Irina

New denim potholders from old jeans

Week 2 of the Summer Sew Along "Ideas and Inspirations for working with recycled materials" for Sip Tea and EPP with Larisa @stitchingnotes and Irina @nordiccrafter is all about working with denim. Old jeans are one of my favourite materials for recycling. I like turning them into useful and practical items: pouches, bags, pillows, coasters and... potholders! If you follow me for a while you know my love for curves and all kinds of circles. For this week of the Sew Easy SAL I designed modern minimalistic potholders. If you are intimidated by curved piecing, I hope this project will teach you a new skill and eliminate your fear of curves. These pot holders can be made entirely from recycled materials. All you need is old jeans, a woollen jumper/sweater or cardigan that got felted in the wash, a small piece of leather and some Perle cotton. I promise it is an easy and quick make! Let's start!

Download the templates here. Please, note that the templates do not include seam allowances (SA), so add 1/4" (0.6cm) SA when cutting pieces A and B. Arrows indicate the fabric grain direction.

Cutting instructions for one potholder (all measurements are width x height)

(1) Denim arch, Template A, add 1/4" (0.6cm) SA

(1) Denim quarter circle, Template B, add 1/4" (0.6cm) SA

(1) Leather loop 1/2" x 1 1/2" (1.3 x 3.8cm)

(1) Denim loop 1" x 13" (2.5 x 33cm)

(2) 100% wool layer 8 1/4" x 8 1/4" (21 x 21cm)

(1) Denim backing 8 1/4" x 8 1/4" (21 x 21cm)

In my opinion, a "wool" layer for heat insulation is the best. You can use 100% old wool clothing (sweaters, cardigans, jumpers, coats etc) that got felted in the wash or old felted wool blankets). Depending on the thickness of the wool pieces you might need to adjust the number of layers. For example , if using a blanket you might need 1 layer, if using rather thin garments, 3-4 pieces. If you don´t have wool, you can also use regular batting (3 layers) or 2-3 layers of cotton cut from old bathroom towels.

1. Trace the templates onto the wrong side (WS) of denim pieces, add 1/4" SA and cut the pieces.

2. Fold the pieces A, B in half along the curves and mark the centre by finger pressing a crease into the fabric.

3. Place the pieces RS together, align the centre creases on both pieces and pin at the centre crease, first. Align the ends and pin. Then add a pin in between the end and the centre.

4. Sew the pieces together along the curve with a 1/4" (0.6cm) seam allowance. Back stitch at the beginning and the end of the seam. Go slowly and adjust the pieces, if necessary, to stitch a smooth curve.

5. Press the seam open.

6. Using a water soluble marker, mark two 3/8" lines from both edges on piece B. You can add any "sashiko" style design inside the marked area.

7. Stitch the marked design with Perle cotton using simple running stitch. Try to keep your stitches small and even.

8. Fold leather tag in half and baste at 1/8" to the top of piece B at 3/8" from the edge as shown in the photo above.

9. Place 2 layers of felted wool (I used a sleeve from an old 100% wool cardigan), add Denim backing RS up, then place the top wrong side up. Pin all layers together. Mark a 2" (5 cm) opening at the bottom of the potholder. Stitch around the potholder at 1/4" (0.6cm) from the edge leaving the opening unstitched.

10. Cut excess wool close to the seam except for the opening, trim seam allowances to 1/4" around the potholder with pinking shears and cut the corners.

11. Turn the potholder RS out through the opening, push the corners out with a pointy tool and give it a good press with hot iron with steam. Sew the opening closed with ladder stitch.

12. Using Perle cotton and running stitch add some finishing stitches around the pot holder stitching only through the top layer of fabric. Your stitching should not be visible from the back.

13. Make the hanging loop. Fold the denim piece in half along the long side and press. Then fold again towards the centre and press.

Fold again in half and press, then the piece should measure 1/4" x 13". Top stitch the loop very close to the edge using thread colour matching or close to the colour of Perle cotton we used for "sashiko" style stitching. Not that the short edges are raw.

14. Thread the denim hanging loop though the leather piece and make a knot at the top.

Your potholder is ready! I think it took me longer to write this tutorial than to make the actual potholder!

For the second version, I mirrored the placement of the leather loop and used the same "sashiko" style stitching but on the arch.

I am very happy with my new potholders from the old jeans and so looking forward to seeing your versions! As always, this project is the base and you are the artist, so let your imagination fly and add what feels right for you - applique, embroidery, use another fabric for the piece B or, alternatively, don´t stitch anything there. Don´t forget to use hashtag #SewEasySAL and #sipteaandepp and tag Larisa @stitchingnotes and me @nordiccrafter so we can see your posts and comment.

Please, kindly, respect the time and effort we put in to create this free project for you. You can make these potholders for yourself or as a gift but not for sale.

Happy Sewing!❤

2,099 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Jul 29, 2022

Thank you so much for this wonderful idea and pattern! I will be making some of these for sure.

Love, Deborah Panos Meyer

bottom of page