TUTORIAL: String Pieced Potholders

My mother recently remarked that she needed some new potholders. Well, I certainly have fabric. And pieces of batting. And an idea.

I wanted something that was pretty, but not too pretty to use. Also, large enough to protect hands and tables and very sturdy. The results pleased me enough that I am sharing them here and thinking about a set for me. I hope you will like them, too.


MATERIALS NEEDED (for a set of four)

1 Fat Quarter focus fabric (mine is the cowboy boots), cut into 4 8-1/2″ squares.  You can cut the leftovers into 1-1/2″ strips and use them on the front, too.

4 8-1/2″ squares muslin

several matching/coordinating 1-1/2″ strips (at least 10 is nice to give that scrappy feeling)

12  8-1/2″ squares cotton batting. That gives three layers per potholder. This gives you a very sturdy potholder.  An alternative would be to use one square cotton batting and one square insul-brite per potholder.

4 2-1/2″ WOF strips for binding (You really need 2-1/2″ because of the thickness of the potholder.  I usually 2-1/4″ on a regular quilt, but it isn’t good for this application.)


1. Using your muslin squares as a foundation, you will piece the diagonal strings.  To do this place one string face up on the diagonal. Leave a bit hanging over the edge of the muslin square.  Do not cut short. You will be sad.

2. Lay a second piece face down on top of the first string. Again, leave a bit hanging over.

3. Stitch through all three layers using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

4. Iron open.

5. Contine to add strings until the entire square is covered.

6. Trim your square to 8-inches.

7. Layer the focus fabric face down, then add your batting squares, then your pieced block face up on top. Center up very carefully. Pin in a few places to prepare for quilting.

8. Quilt by stitching in the ditch across every other seam (so your quilting will is 2″ apart)

9. Turn the potholder 90-degrees and quilt every two inches across the potholder.

10.  Apply the binding using your favorite method.  I machine stitch the front and hand stitch the backs.  Note that I didn’t put a loop on these because noone I know actually hangs their potholders.  But, the WOF strips are long enough that you can add a loop if you desire.

11. Ta-dah!  Finished potholders.

 Enjoy!  I can hardly wait to get these to my mother.  I would love to see any you create.


Karin’s Version

And, some more from Karin

Some of Kay J in Paradise (CA)’s very nice efforts

40 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: String Pieced Potholders

  1. i love them!!!! i have pieces of batting that i was trying to figure out what to do with and now i know!!!! i know what i am going to do this afternoon!! thanks for the idea and the tutorial..

  2. Just yesterday I cut out 30 muslin squares for Christmas gifts.
    Thanks for the tutorial. A great review as I am started to piece together tonight. Love the idea of having a solid focue piece.
    Linda in Houma, LA.

  3. I’ve been wanting to try string blocks and this is the perfect way to do that without commiting to an entire quilt and who doesn’t need potholders?! Thank you for sharing these. Your mom will love them!

  4. This is great for a beginning string quilter. I’m going to make one of these this weekend. I do have a question, however. Since I’ve never done string quilting, what does one do with the ‘trimmings’? Thanks for your concise instructions.

    1. I am not sure what you mean by “trimmings,” but if it is the little pieces you cut off when you trim to 8″, I just throw them away (GASP!). Yes, sometimes I decide the scraps are too small to keep. Does that answer your question? Just let me know. I would love to see how yours turn out. ENJOY!

  5. Thank you for such a wonderfully inspiring tutorial. I cant wait to make some using up some of my string pieces that I cant bear to throw out.

  6. Thanks! I haven’t made potholders from my scrappy string collection, and yours are so adorable, I feel some Christmas presents coming on! I like the idea of a focus fabric for the back, too.

  7. I was given a clear Christmas tree ornament filled with itty bitty scraps of fabric and thought what a unique way to utilize every little bit of left-over fabric. Craft shows, anyone?

  8. This is a great idea!
    I made an apron for my daughter-in-law, and then did a set of potholders to match…but I really like the piece work in your version 🙂

  9. What a great way to use up scraps of fabric!!! Thanks so much for sharing how you made these. Your tutorial is so easy to follow. These will make fabulous gifts!!!

  10. Mine had a pocket on the back to put your hand in, which makes it easier to use as you don’t have to hold the pot holder and the pot.

  11. One could save a step by using the quilt-as-you-go method when sewing the strips on the foundation. Just put the batting and backing on at the same time as the foundation layer.

  12. How cute is this?? I’m thinking string on both sides…You can also use old towels that can’t pass muster as batting

  13. I have made potholders using the old ironing board cover that had a stain or scorch mark on it. Great way to reuse, and the protection from heat is superb.

  14. Instead of measuring every 2 ” for quilting…I have found out that the width of a 12″ ruler is easier and faster to mark for these potholders….making it a whole faster in my book

    1. Thanks for the technique suggestion. I have learned a lot from readers and from the quilting world generally that would make some of these early tutorials much more user friendly. Your ideas are valued!

  15. OK – I’m hooked! These look like they make great mug rugs too, one of my latest interests. I particularly like the bluebirds & butterflies one, and the chickens & pumpkins – oh, and the birdhouses one…and………

  16. Use one layer of batting and layer of Insul-Bright, Insulated lining protects your hand from getting burned.

  17. My mom, years ago, made a Coat of Colors quilt for one of my boys. It is gone now, but I cut out what I could save of the squares. (about 5″ finished) I trimmed them down, bound them, and we used them for coasters. Sorry I do not have any to show you. I love the idea about the potholders and plan to try it. Yours are lovely.

  18. It’s me, Ruth, back again. Just had an idea. I have made quilts for each of my children and grand children. Thought it would be fun to use the fabric coordinating with the quilts for the potholders.

  19. Great tutorial! I love string piecing, and have made several pin cushions of medium size for myself and also like to give them as love gifts to others. Thanks for sharing! Mary E. Barr

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