By Jessica Wilson
I just moved into a new apartment and there is much I need and want, but what I really needed first was a happy kitchen rug to add a shot of color to the kitchen until I could get everything else unpacked. Over the years, I have picked up a handful of crocheted potholders from the thrift store, and I’ve received some lovely handmade ones as well. I thought, what better way to showcase all the prettiness than in a rug I could see every day?
If you have a plethora of potholders on hand, this is a nifty way to pay tribute to them, all the while using up some of your creative juices in the process. When I began my project, I realized that I needed to pick up more potholders than I had. It seems potholders are not an IN item in thrift stores these days, but I persevered until I scooped up a nice half dozen or so. The larger potholders came from the sale bin at my local big box store, and thankfully those are two-sided to add even more variety to the mix. So dig through your potholder stash and/or hit the thrifts to create a one of a kind bit of whimsy for your kitchen!
10-20 potholders, any size
4-8 fabric coasters or trivets
Half a yard of cotton (or smaller), plain is fine, as no one is going to see it
Roll of rubberized shelf/rug liner
Super strong glue such as E-6000
Step 1: Gather up your assorted potholders. Use your scissors to trim away any hanging loops or other appendages hanging off them. You can make your rug as large or as small as you like. I suggest making your first rug on the smaller side, as wrestling all the wonky bits into your sewing machine can get challenging; my rug is a smidge shy of one yard and about 22″ wide. This is a freeform rug, so having an assortment of sizes will work in your favor – it will quirk it up!
Step 2: Lay out your half yard of fabric (or smaller) and begin to puzzle-piece your potholders on top. You will want your fabric to be smaller than the finished array of potholders. It may take awhile play around until you achieve the look you want. It took me about four attempts before I had something that made me do a happy dance. You do not need or want your potholders to line up perfectly, so feel free to stagger them. Don’t worry about any gaps or holes in between; just make sure to lay out your potholders so that very little fabric backing shows under them. We’ll add some additional pieces later to cover up any small areas of backing that are showing through.
Step 3: Thoroughly pin everything into place, making sure to pin all the way through your fabric backing. We’re talking pin-crazy. I got lazy and tried one pin through each potholder, but there was no way I could manage the whole thing on my sewing machine. So pin, pin, pin!
Bring the pinned rug to your sewing machine. Pick a contrasting thread to add dimension to your rug or go neutral – it’s up to you. You’ll likely be working with potholders of varying thicknesses, so it might be wise to switch your machine’s tension to 5 or 6. Use a wide zig-zag stitch to join all the inside edges of the potholders together. You don’t have to be terribly neat about this; just make sure those edges get sewn to the backing fabric. Some potholders may be too thick to play nice with the others, so use a straight stitch on those instead to get them anchored down.
Take your time, because like I said, wrestling with all these pieces together can get a bit challenging. When you’re done stitching, trim away any loose threads.
Alternatively, if you feel up for it, you can hand-stitch all the potholders together using a blanket or whip stitch. Me? I chose to pick a fight with my sewing machine. But really, it all paid off in the end and came out quite pretty.
Step 4: Gather up your fabric coasters and trivets now, and place them over any gaps where the fabric backing is showing through. Pin, pin, pin them into place. Go for thin trivets and coasters, or whip up a few of your own if you are feeling stitchy. These will be adding yet another layer for your machine to stitch through, so thinner is better.
Step 5: Now, wrestle the whole colorful thing through your machine again, this time going around the outside perimeter of the pieces you just pinned down. (Or, alternatively, hand-stitch them in place.) Trim any excess threads and breathe a contented sigh that you are almost finished.
Step 6: Roll out a bit of your shelf/rug liner and align it with your rug. Trim the liner so it doesn’t show beyond the edges of the rug. Don’t skip this material; it will help anchor your rug and keep it from slip, slip, slipping too much.
Step 7: Flip your rug over so its face-down. Place the liner on top. Attach the liner to the rug by putting a dab of super-strong glue on each corner and along the center. Allow the glue to cure overnight.
Step 8: Once your rug is dry, find a happy place for it and do a little jig. Mine is now adorning the new kitchen and it pleases me every time I see it!
About the Author:
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as “jek in the box” and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.