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Fast Fridays: Fabric Bowl Covers

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Lighten up on the plastic wrap and aluminum foil and go green with these pretty fabric bowl covers. They're great when you're dining outside. Slip them over an open bowl to keep dirt and buggies from invading the contents. It's like a little bowl bonnet, and such a fun way to add a country-fresh look to your table. This is a super fast and easy project anyone can do, which is what our Fast Fridays series is all about: whipping up something wonderful in no time at all! 

We used fat quarters for our samples, but any larger scraps would work well. A length of coordinating rick rack and some tiny elastic are the only additional supplies. 

Our free downloadable circle template will work for bowls up to 10" in diameter. You could certainly go larger by drawing your own template. To do this, place your bowl face down on a large piece of paper and trace. Measure 3" out from this circle, placing dots at several points. Connect these dots to create an outer circle, which will be your cut line. 

Both your fabric and trim should be pre-washed. It's especially important to make sure the bright rick rack doesn't bleed onto your main fabric. For lots of pre-washing/pre-shrinking tips, take a look at our full tutorial on the subject

We mention the pre-washing because that's one of the beauties of these covers: you can wash and re-use them! Since they're all cotton, just pop them in the laundry and they'll be ready to use again in no time.

All-cotton also means they're breathable, which is good for many situations. But if your food item requires an air-tight seal, you may want to cover the bowl first with plastic wrap or a lid and simply use the covers as a pretty topper.

The size of each bowl cover will vary based on the size of the bowl you wish to cover. Ours were approximate 5", 7" and 9" in diameter across the top with a 3" ruffled drop all around. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Scrap or Fat Quarter or ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for each bowl cover; we used three fat quarters from our stash originally from the Petal collection by Tanya Whelan for FreeSpirit Fabrics.
  • Rick rack or similar to fit your various cut circumferences. Reach back to math class and remember that circumference is: pi (3.14) multiplied by the diameter of the circle. If that makes your head hurt, simply gather up your rick rack scraps, pin in place around the perimeter (as shown below), and cut to fit.
  • ⅛" baby elastic to fit your bowls. To determine the length, multiply the diameter of the bowl by 3, then subtract 5" from this measurement.
  • All purpose thread to coordinate with fabric and rick rack
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Download TWO copies of the Circle Template. Each print out is a quarter circle. 
    IMPORTANT: This template is ONE 8½" x 11" pattern sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on the page to make sure your printout is the correct size.
  2. Cut out each quarter circle template along the solid line. Butt them together, do not overlap, and tape together to create a half circle. 
  3. To select the circle size, start with your bowl's diameter and add 6". For example, if your bowl measures 9" across, add 6" to 9". This equals 15", so you would choose the 15" ring to cut your circle. 
  4. With a half circle template, you'll need to cut on the fold as shown in the photo below. Cut the appropriately sized circle for each of your bowls. Press flat. 

    You could also print FOUR copies of the template and create a full circle to use as your pattern. 
  5. Using the measuring instructions above, cut a length of baby elastic and a length of rick rack for each fabric circle. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place your fabric circle right side up on your work surface. 
  2. Position and pin the rick rack around the perimeter. The top waves of the rick rack should be flush with the raw edge of the circle. The ends of the rick rack can simply overlap as shown in the photo below. 
  3. Thread the machine with thread to match the rick rack in the top and bobbin.
  4. Stitch the rick rack in place down the exact center. We used the Janome Satin Stitch foot, which is clear and has a great little red arrow at the front of the foot that makes it easy to keep your stitching straight.
  5. Using the rick rack seam line as a folding guide, turn back the raw edge of the circle all around and press flat. 
  6. The rick rack acts as a facing and creates a clean edge on the inside, and exactly half of the rick rack (is that the rick or the rack?!?) shows all around the edge. 
  7. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top. The bobbin thread should still match the rick rack. Topstitch the hem in place all around. We're still using our Janome Satin Stitch foot for a smooth stitch line.
  8. Flip the circle so it is now wrong side up on your work surface.
  9. Measure 1" in from the valley of the rick rack around all around, marking dots as you go. Connect these dots, drawing a line to form an inner circle. This inner circle will be used for the elastic placement. 
  10. Fold the marked circle into quarters and mark each fold with a pin. This will give you quarter points around the circle, like the points of a clock at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.
  11. Find the length of elastic and divide it into quarters as well, marking each quarter with a pen or pencil. 
  12. Place the circle back under the machine. Place the elastic along the drawn line, starting at a quarter point (matching an elastic quarter point to a circle quarter point). 
  13. Stitch the ⅛" baby elastic along the line with a small zigzag stitch (we used 3.5 mm width, 2.0 mm length), stretching as you go in order to match the elastic quarter marks to the pin quarter marks, following the drawn line all the way around. 
  14. As mentioned above, we used the Janome Beading foot, but a regular presser foot would work as well. With either option, remember to test the width of your zig zag on a scrap first to make sure it effectively swings left to right to wrap the elastic. There is no need to pin. The weight of the foot will hold the little elastic in place and you need the freedom to guide and stretch the elastic.
  15. Overlap the ends and secure with a generous backstitch. 
  16. Your bowl cover is ready to rock. 

Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler


Comments (11)

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

All my Pyrex containers with plastic lids need these covers. Great  project for my new Jan-no-me. I added that last hyphenated word because I hear other sewists say either Janome that rhymes with gnome or Janomay. The DVD that came with the machine says Jan- no - may. A three syllable Japanese pronunciation.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Jane - Thanks! These are such fun little covers. And, yes, you are correct on your very good pronunciation of the Janome brand name. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Judy -- Glad you spotted the info in our instructions. Let us know how your covers turn out. 

judy wentz said:
judy wentz's picture

I Love these bowl covers.  I do have a question.  What diameter do I used to determine the elastic length>  Pattern diameter, diameter inside the 1 inch measurement all around or the diameter of the bowl I want to cover?  Thanks in advance

Evelyn Broadbridge said:
Evelyn Broadbridge's picture

You have a pin so we may save . Not able to choose to pin. Check you on Pinterest this is not available .

anne.adams said:
anne.adams's picture

@Evelyn Broadbridge: You can either pin from the S4H page or from Pinterest. There are a couple of images of this project on Pinterest.com/sew4home on the Fast Fridays board.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Evelyn - we double-checked the Pinterest button and it is working correctly, delivering all the beauty images from which to choose to pin to your fave board. We are simply “sew4home” on Pinterest where all the photo options are also available. We hope you can try again as we are unable to find anything wrong on this end. 

Helen Louise said:
Helen Louise's picture

I have made many of these bowl covers, both for my use and for gifts.  This pattern is the best out there.  Be assured, they look pretty and tidy and "dress up" things nicely.  And the construction is easy!  Thank you Sew4Home!

anne.adams said:
anne.adams's picture

@Helen Louise: Thank you for the kind words! Getting such nice feedback on projects helps make all the work worthwhile. We agree that pretty bowl covers really add to the ambience of the table!  

pjay said:
pjay's picture

Thank you for Sharing this article , this article is very useful for me I learnt to many things