This project is designed to throw you a few curves. No worries though, we’re talking about beautifully curving circles and semi-circles, and we’re using a great sewing machine attachment to make it super easy to go round and round: the Janome Circular Sewing Attachment.
If you’re brand new to this attachment, take a look at our full, step-by-step tutorial that shows how to set-up and stitch, using a simple straight stitch as we did with these potholders or a series of decorative stitch rings. There are multiple versions of the tool to fit all the different Janome models. Check with your local Janome Dealer to confirm you get the right size Circular Sewing Attachment for your machine.
If you don’t use a Janome (oh no!), you can draw in guide lines to follow with a large compass and a fabric pen or pencil. Or – print extra copies of our patterns and trim them down to trace each ring. Remember, any time you’re working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of any iron.
You need just small cuts of fabric to create each potholder. You may already have exactly what you need in your stash. We used coordinating fabrics from our own saved favorites: the Love and Joy collection by Dena Designs originally for FreeSpirit fabrics. Because we made more than one potholder, we used the same fabric for all the binding in order to tie the pair together into a matching set. Make sure you have enough of your chosen binding fabric so it can be cut on the bias.
One of the especially cute elements of this design is how a featured motif peeks out from the overlapping petal pockets: a sweet trio of birds on one and a gorgeous floral bloom on the other. This is an excellent example of the power of fussy cutting. It does take a bit more fabric, but the end result is worth it.
We used one layer of Insul-Bright insulated fleece between our fabric layers. This is fine for normal use. You could use a double layer for added heat protection, but you’ll want to increase the width of your binding to accommodate the thicker layers. You’ll see below how we cut back the insulated fleece along all the perimeter curves to keep the binding as flat and smooth as possible.
These potholders would make a wonderful gift idea. Bundle up one or more with a few kitchen gadgets, a cookbook and/or your own homemade sweet treats. Our sample potholders have a holiday flair, but the shape and style works throughout the year – just swap out your fabric choices to match the season or occasion.
The potholders finish at approximately 8” in diameter
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Quantities shown are for ONE potholder with binding cut on the bias.
- Scraps or ¼ yard EACH of TWO coordinating 44"+ wide quilting weight cottons for the base and pocket
- Scraps or ½ yard of ONE additional coordinating 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bias binding
- ¼ yard of 20"+ wide thermal batting; we used Insul-Bright by The Warm Company
- All purpose thread to match fabric; many people prefer using 100% cotton thread for any kitchen linens that could encounter heat
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: the Potholder Pattern Set, which consists of two pieces: Potholder Body and Potholder Pocket.
IMPORTANT: This pattern has been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier. It consists of TWO 8½" x 11" sheets. You must print this PDF at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. If possible, we recommend printing the pattern in color so you can see the helpful lines that denote where to cut the thermal batting as well as the exact cut lines and placement lines for the overlapping petal pockets.
- Cut out each half of each pattern along the solid line.
- Using the printed arrows as your guide, match up the two halves of each circle to create both full circle patterns. Butt together and tape; do not overlap.
- From the fabric for the body of the potholder, use the assembled Body pattern to fussy cut TWO.
- As mentioned above, we recommend taking the extra time to center a cute focal motif that will peek up above the overlap of the pocket. And easy way to do this is to fold down the Body pattern circle horizontally along the top of the curved blue pocket guide lines. Align your motif over the center intersecting lines, just like we did with our little bird trio as shown in the photo below.
- Unfold and flatten the paper pattern. Pin in place.
- Cut out the front body pattern. Repeat to cut a matching circle for the body back panel.
NOTE: It’s not critical that the panel for the back exactly match the fussy-cut front panel, but it is a nice touch.
- Using the marked vertical lines at the top of the Body pattern, clip into the top of the body front and back fabric panels along these lines. Just clip in a bit – ¼” is plenty. These are the placement guides for the hanging loop.
- From the fabric for the potholder pocket, use the assembled pattern to cut TWO.
NOTE: Whether or not these panels are fussy cut will depend on your chosen motif. Our motif was fairly random so we simply made sure the repetitive motif was straight.
- Trim the Body panel pattern along the outer red line. Use this trimmed pattern to cut TWO from the insulated fleece.
NOTE: The two circle pattern pieces are the same size, so you can use the one trimmed pattern to cut the fleece for both layers.
- From the fabric for the binding, cut enough 2” wide strips to equal 70”. Whether you are working with fabric cuts or scraps will determine how long your bias strips can be. We always recommend cutting your lengths as long as possible to avoid seams or at least keep them to a minimum. You need the following 2” bias strips:
TWO 8” lengths for the pockets
ONE 5” length for the hanging loop
ONE 48” length for the outer perimeter
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Layer and add the circular quilting stitches on the body panel
- Find the front and back body panels and one of the fleece panels.
- Place the back body panel wrong side up and flat.
- Place the insulating fleece panel on the back body panel so there is ⅜” of fabric showing beyond the fleece all around.
- Place the front body panel over the top, sandwiching the fleece between the layers. These layers are wrong sides together. If you have a directional motif as we did, make sure the front and back panels are aligned correctly so the motif if running right side up on both sides. Pin all around.
- Measure to find the exact center on the body panel. Mark this center point with a pin.
- Attach the Circular Sewing Attachment. There is a special hole in the bed of the machine into which the Circular Sewing Attachment is placed.
- Remove the black cap that covers the sharp center pin on the attachment. Place the exact center point of the body over this pin. The front side of the layered panels should be facing up.
- Replace the black cap over the sharp pin point.
NOTE: The Circular Sewing Attachment is a great optional accessory for Janome machines. If you own a Janome too, we recommend visiting your local authorized Janome retailer to inquire about one. Be sure to know your model as there is more than one variation of the accessory. If you do not own a Janome, you could draw concentric circles to use as your guide.
- Set the circle attachment to stitch the innermost circle first. Our suggested radius is 1” from the exact center point to create a 2” in diameter circle.
- Your machine should be threaded with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin and we suggest a slightly lengthened stitch.
- When the first circle is complete, re-set to stitch the next concentric ring. Our rings are all 1” apart.
- Create four circles; the final circle will be very close to the raw edges of the fabric layers. This ring will be underneath the binding and is done to help stabilize the layers for binding.
NOTE: Check out our full, step-by-step tutorial on the Janome Circular Sewing Attachment for more details.
Layer and add the circular quilting stitches on the pocket panel and trim
- The layering and circular quilting stitches on the pocket panel are done in the exact same manner as the body panel.
- With the quilting complete, find the paper pocket pattern.
- Place the paper pattern over the top of the quilted circle. If you have a directional motif, make sure that motif is aligned with the paper pattern. Pin the pattern in place.
- Trim away the “petal pockets” following the blue shaded curves on the paper pattern.
- Discard the interior sections, leaving just the two petal pocket pieces.
- Remove the paper pattern.
Make the binding
- If necessary, stitch together the bias strips end to end to make continuous lengths. As with all binding, criss-cross the angled ends of the strips. Then, draw a diagonal line across the intersection. Pin together. Stitch along the drawn line. Then, trim back the excess fabric to approximately ¼" and press open the seam.
If you were able to cut continuous binding strips for each of the bound elements (what we did), you can skip this step.
NOTE: Remember, as listed above, you need TWO 8” lengths for the pockets, ONE 5” length for the hanging loop, and ONE 48” length for the outer perimeter.
- Fold each binding length in half, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease line.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Press in one long side ½” so it aligns with the center crease.
- Repeat for each of the binding lengths. The hanging loop length can remain flat.
Place the binding along the top of each petal pocket and overlap the pockets onto the body
- Find one of the 8” lengths.
- Place the un-folded edge along the upper raw edge of one petal pocket panel. Pin in place through all the layers. The right side of the binding should be against the right side of the top panel.
NOTE: We allowed the folded edge of the binding strip to un-fold during the pinning as it was easier to ease the binding along the curve without the stiffness of that fold. You can do the same or leave it folded. The result is the same.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the binding in place through all the layers along the top curved edge.
- Re-fold the loose edge along the original ½” fold line as necessary, then wrap the binding up and over to the back side of the petal pocket.
- Press the binding in place and pin well.
- Hand stitch the binding in place at the back.
- Repeat to bind the second petal pocket panel in the same manner.
- Find the body panel, place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the Body pattern. Place the pattern over the top of the fabric panel. If you trimmed this pattern piece to use it to cut the fleece, make sure the pattern is centered so there is ⅜” of fabric showing beyond the paper pattern on all sides. Lightly pin the paper pattern in place.
- Using the blue guide line curves on the paper pattern, align the two petal pockets into their overlapped position. Pin the pockets in place along their outer edges.
- Un-pin and slip out the paper pattern.
Make the hanging loop
- Find the 5” length of binding. Fold it in half, right sides together and pin along the 5” side.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the 5” side. Both ends remain raw.
- Press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the strip right side out through one of the open ends. Press flat.
- Fold the finished strip in half, aligning the raw ends. Place the loop at the top center of the front body panel, centering it between the two clips you made above. Pin in place.
Bind the perimeter
- Machine baste around the entire perimeter of the potholder, following along in the outermost quilting circle. This secures the outer edges of the petal pocket panels and secures the hanging loop into position.
- Find the 48” length of bias binding. As you did above when binding the top of the petal pockets, fold in one raw edge ½”. Pin the opposite raw edge right sides together against the front of the potholder, sandwiching the pockets and the hanging loop.
- Finish the ends with your chosen method. We joined our ends on the bias, making sure the binding laid flat against the panel prior to seaming. We then trimmed away the excess binding. If you are new to this technique, check out our full tutorial on bias binding. A simple overlap of the ends would also work.
- With the ends finished and the binding completely pinned in place, use a ½” seam allowance to sew all the way around through all the layers.
- Bring the binding up and over to the back side.
- Press the binding in place at the back and pin well all around.
- Hand stitch the binding in place at the back.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to best match the binding fabric.
- Hand tack the petal pockets together at the center overlap point.
- Pull the hanging loop up into position. Hand tack or run a machine stitch across the base, in line with the top of the binding, to hold the loop in its upright position. We hand tacked our loop on the back of the potholder.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild