Hi there. Mama here.
So here I am, relaxing in my living room, feeling pretty good about all I've accomplished today...but then there's this nagging feeling like something's not right, like I'm forgetting something, but what? ... ... ... Ah! I was supposed to make a potholder for Week 5 of my "30 Weeks" series and I've only got three hours before the midnight deadline! 

Now I have to either pull myself together and make that darn potholder or finish my lazy evening and endure the icky feeling of being a total slacker, thus causing me to fall behind and leak over into time already slotted for Week 6. The thing that makes this decision so difficult is that I knew this wouldn't just be a quick cut-and-sew project because my goal was to make a potholder with pockets. So I can't just make a regular square or quilted or even just a flat, heart-shaped potholder, no sirree. It has to have pocketses, Precious! 

So what am I going to do? Well, if you know me at all (and if you can see the potholder at the top of this post), it should be fairly easy for you to guess what I've decided: it's POTHOLDER TIME!

[3 hours later]

Done! You can click "Read More" below to see the full photo tutorial. The pictures are dark and shadowy because I was doing this at night and most of the time I try to avoid using the flash at all costs. But flashy or not, making the tutorial took a whole lot of time and energy. And you know what? I've realized something: 

I do not like making photo tutorials.

There. I said it.

In real life, I am a really good teacher. But this photo tutorial thing is really time-consuming for me because naturally I'm more of a writer than a photographer, and I become really long-winded when I try to write out all the steps I took to do something. I honestly think the tutorials I find and use do a better job of explaining the steps than I do, so this might be the last time I chronicle my goals with a myriad of step-by-step photos and complicated explanations. I hope you're not too crushed. ;)

For Week 6, I'm going to learn "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'" on my son's harmonica (granted, that's if I can find it in the toy-laden abyss that we lovingly call his room). Yes, you read that right. I'm not sure if I'll post a picture of myself playing it and you'll just have to take my word for it, or if I'll be brave and post a video, but either way, this is happening. 

Do you have any harmonica-playing tips? Or are you brave enough to make your own pocketed potholder? If so, leave a comment below with advice or a link to your finished piece--I'd love to hear from you!

-- Mama

This post is #5/30 in my "30 Goals In 30 Weeks" series. I'm working on one goal a week for the 30 weeks leading up to my 30th birthday. Join me by setting goals of your own! You don't need to have a special theme or specific time frame in mind, just choose something simple that you think will make you happy, and go for it!

Juicy Fruit Potholder with Pockets inspired by this tutorial

takes 2-3 hours (for a beginner), makes 1 potholder

What you'll need:

-2 different colored fabrics, about a square foot of each (I used cheap-o dollar bin fabric)
-bias tape (Don't have any handy? Use leftover fabric and make your own with this awesome tutorial!)
-needle and thread
-sewing machine
-quilt batting or another insulating-type product
-cardboard (1 cereal box works fine)
-fabric pen or regular pen
-picture to copy for pattern shapes

1. Set out your fabrics in a huge mess on the table. Decide which fabrics look cool together and separate them (while at the same time dreaming about what you're going to do in the near future with that adorable red and green apple pattern!). I chose the multi-fruit mix and the wordy one that seemed to match well. Wash and iron your fabric if it isn't already (mine was).
2. Grab your cereal box or a piece of thick cardboard to make a pattern piece with. Trace an oval shape onto the cardboard, roughly the length of your open hand from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky. I guess-timated  the size and printed one from the computer to trace onto my cereal box. 

3. Cut out the oval and then use it as a pattern to trace and cut out a second oval on more cardboard (i.e. the other side of the cereal box). You should have 2 cardboard oval pieces now. Set one oval aside, and use the other to cut out smaller "pocket" shape patterns (see the pics below). I didn't measure, but basically you want your pocket shape to be wide enough so that when you slide your hand into the finished potholder, the pockets should cover your stretched out fingers up to your knuckles. 

After I completed the project, I realized my pockets were too small, so I would suggest just cutting your second oval in half, using the entire half of the oval and rounding the inner edges in a wide arc (rather than cutting them smaller like I did), and using those pieces as your pocket patterns.
4. Using your cardboard patterns to trace shapes onto the wrong side of your fabric, make 2 oval shapes from one fabric and 4 pocket shapes from the other.

5. Use your patterns to cut pieces for the inner layer of insulation. You want 1 oval and 2 pocket-sized pieces of insulation. I used Warm & Natural batting (this was a little thin, I think, so if you use it make sure to double or triple the layers), but you could also use Insul Bright or even a piece of thick felt. Set these pieces aside.
6. Layer 2 of your pocket fabric pieces together with wrong sides facing each other. Repeat with the other 2 pieces so that you now have 2 pockets of fabric.

7. Time to sew! Sew the inner (straighter) edges of the 2 pockets with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam. (Some people may be super picky about the length of the seam, but I'm not.) 

It was at this point I realized that once the finished pockets were flipped right side out and facing each other, the fabric pattern would be upside down on one side. Oops! So, I quickly cut out another piece, this time flipping the cardboard pattern over instead of just lining it up in a row with the others like I'd done at first. 

8. Turn your pockets right-side-out and press them with an iron set to the proper fabric setting. As an FYI, I absolutely love my Panasonic iron. It's really cute, works great, and has *gasp!* a retractable cord! No one paid me to say that (but hey Panasonic, if you want to, I'd be happy to be your little iron-promoting-and-getting-paid-for-it minion). 

9. Now with the right side up, sew another seam on each pocket about 5 mm from the folded sewn edge. Stick your pocket insulation pieces inside the pockets and trim if necessary so that the insulation doesn't stick out the side.
Okay, now you have to really pay attention. In this step, you're going to stack all of your fabric and insulation, then pin it and sew it all together. The challenging part is making sure you stack it in the right order, all facing the proper direction. 

10. Figure out what you want the potholder to look like when it's finished and stack it that way. The order should be as follows: Insulation oval, one fabric oval with right side facing up, two insulation-filled pockets with sewn edges facing inward and right sides facing up, then your other fabric oval on top with right side facing down. Since the potholder will be reversible (something I didn't realize until I was all done), it doesn't matter which side you start with as long as you've lined it all up the way you want it. Pin it all around.
11. Oooh! This isn't in the original tutorial, but as I was going along I figured it couldn't be that hard to add a loop made out of bias tape...so that's what I did! If you want to add a loop to hang the potholder, cut a piece of bias tape about 3 inches long, sew along the open edge as close to the edge as you can get, then fold it in half and slide it into the top middle part of your fabric sandwich, leaving about half an inch of each end sticking out. Pin.
12. Are you ready to sew it all together? Using a a 1/4 or 1/2 inch stitch, start at the bottom, right where the pocket edge meets the open space. Sew around the entire oval (you can reverse stitch once or twice over the bias tape edges for added strength), stopping when you get to the edge of the pocket opposite the one you started with. You want to LEAVE THAT BOTTOM MIDDLE SPACE OPEN so you can pull it all right-side-out through the hole. Trim the bias tape close to the seam. 
13. Now for the big reveal! Are you ready? Pull all of the fabric out through that 1-2 inch space in the middle aaaand...voila! It worked! (Hopefully yours worked, too.)
14. Now for my least favorite part...the hand sewing. Hand-stitch the open seam shut using whatever method you find easiest. I have no idea how to properly hand-sew (if there is such a thing), so I just fake this part and do my best to make it look straight and hide the stitches. I sewed up to the inside of the pocket to hide my stitches better.
Am I really done? Does it work? Yes! I can put my hands in it and fold it in half! And all before midnight! Woo hoo! (Oh, and just so there's no confusion, I am making an A-OK hand sign, not a satanic one. I wanted to show that everything was "A-OK" because I finished before midnight, and I wanted to show the clock for proof!)
So to summarize the things I learned that will hopefully help me next time:
1. Bigger pockets or a smaller base. The finished potholder is a little too big for my hands, but perfect for my husband's.
2. Awareness that it's reversible so I could have made both sides "pretty".
3. Thicker insulation. One layer of the Warm & Natural batting is a little too thin to really protect my hand.

And now for a purely gratuitous pic of my oldest using the potholder as he "cooks" a meal for his little brother and his cronies (stuffed animals) the next morning. So. Freakin'. Cute. 

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