After the kitchen was remodeled, I tried to find potholders to match the browns in the marble and cabinets and the all the rich, red accent pieces I used. When I couldn’t find anything I liked, I decided to make my own potholders.
How to Make Potholders from Old T-Shirts
I also wanted the durability of cotton, because nylon will sometimes melt and scorch if it gets too close to the flame on the gas stove. Since I couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere, I decided to make my own damn loops!
What you will need:
- clean, old T-shirts (or tank tops, turtlenecks, or any cotton jersey fabric) in colours to match your kitchen
- a potholder loom
- curtain rings
Making potholder loops
Flatten out the first T-shirt on the table, and cut across the shirt right under the sleeves. For making loops, you will only be using the top half of the shirt. (Save the bottom part of the shirt, because I have a great project for using the remaining pieces of the T-shirts!)
Each shirt is going to have a different amount of stretch to it, so there isn’t an exact measurement to use for the next step. What I do, is hold a section of the shirt over the loom, and stretch it to see how much fabric is needed to go from the pin on one side of the loom over to the pin on the other side – with a little bit of “give” for weaving. You don’t want the loops to be so taunt that you can’t weave them! The loops I made are roughly 3 1/2″ long.
Steps for cutting the loops
- Cut 36 rectangles in your choice of colours – (cutting them across the shirts, not from neckline down) that will stretch from one side of the loom to the other
- Fold each rectangle in half, and cut down the center, ending about 1/4″ from the end of the rectangle
- With your scissors, round off the ends of the rectangles
- You now have a finished potholder loop!
Adding loops to the loom
Once you have put on the first layer of loops, add the top layer.
Loops can be added in random colours, or you can make a pattern by grouping colours, or alternating the colours evenly. For this potholder, I put the loops on in random order, but didn’t put two of the same colour next to each other.
And now to weave!
Take the first loop on the top layer, and weave it under the RIGHT side of each loop on the lower layer.
With the next loop on the top layer, weave it under the LEFT side of each loop on the lower layer. You’ll notice that the side of the loop that you want to pick up and weave under will be a little lower than the side you just wove in the previous row.
Keep weaving all the rows by alternating going under the right side of the lower loop in the row, then going under the left side of the lower loop in the row.
Occasionally, squish the woven rows together pushing them up in case you are weaving too loosely.
Finishing the edges and removing the potholder from the loom
First, sit back and admire your work! Doesn’t that look great? Now let’s finish the potholder and take it off the loom.
If you are familiar with crochet, finishing is basically a chain stitch. Starting from one corner, take the second loop, and push it through the center of the first loop. Continue by pushing the third loop through the loop you are holding. Keep going all around the loom.
As you go around the loom chaining the loops the remaining loops may try to slip off the frame. To keep your weaving stabilized, grab a finished corner and hook it onto the pins of the loom. Once you are done finishing off the loops, you can pull the potholder back into shape if it looks a little warped.
All done finishing, and the potholder is off the loom!
Add a curtain ring to the last loop
To finish off the potholder, you may want to add a curtain ring so you can hang your potholder on a hook above the stove. Sometimes rings are hard to find, so that’s why I’ve provided this link to Amazon.
Finishing up and some trimming
You are almost done!
Some of the loops may have extra fabric that needs a little trimming. With your scissors, carefully cut off the ragged ends.
Admire your handiwork!
In reading through the above tutorial, this may sound like a complicated project – but it’s not! I started making potholder when I was about 7 years old, and this is a great project for kids to do!
What do I love about handwoven potholders?
- They wear like iron! I still have some that I made for my mom when I was a little kid. The colours don’t match the kitchen, but the potholders themselves are still in perfect condition.
- These potholders go into the washer and dryer with the rest of the clothes. Since we made them from old T-shirts, there is no shrinkage and the colours won’t run
- The weaving makes them dense, so you won’t burn your fingers when handling hot cookware.
- Custom. Colours.
- great for gift-giving too!