Here’s a fun bunch of creative ways to make pot holders that features both retro and modern designs…each providing 100% free patterns and tutorials!
I’ve combined all crafty techniques on this page to make one master collection (sewing, crochet, knitting and loom tutorials) along with a few vintage patterns peppered throughout from my personal collection.
Pot holders are a simple way to add a pop of color to your kitchen, making them inexpensive decorative elements but they’re also a great homemade gift idea.
Stuff oven mitts with assorted kitchen utensils (such as wooden spoons, chopsticks, measuring spoons, whisks, etc.), tie it all together with ribbon and voila! you now have a wonderful bridal shower gift.
I’ve seen some clever repurposing ideas for batting & lining alternatives (which helps reduce costs & household waste):
- Old blankets & towels
- Sew lines every inch or so through several layers of stacked fabrics cut from old garments & household items then cut to size for lining
- Felted old wool sweaters
These projects are also a terrific way to go through your fabric stash for patchwork squares or cute appliques. Also great for putting those pretty fat quarters you’ve been itching to work with to good use.
The thing to keep in mind: use materials & fiber contents that will hold up to regular laundering and avoid those that will melt in high heat (such high polyester or acrylic content).
Pot holders can be as simple or as fancy as you like. You can transform a plain square hotpad by adding a bit of rickrack or ruffled trim across the top or go a little “extra” by hand stitching charming motifs using basic embroidery stitches.
You can also combine crafting techniques. For example, I’ve included a few projects that add a fabric backing to a knit square, or a piece can be trimmed with crochet edging (you’ll find some lovely options on this page: 50+ Free Crochet Edging Patterns: Decorative Borders & Trims).
Here’s a sweet example of using hand embroidery to elevate a project, it’s a set of six different panholders from a loose sheet I had stashed away in my collection. I believe it’s from the 1940s-1950s.
Some is simple stitchery, others involve a bit of embroidery or appliqué work–there’s something for everyone in this lot!
The six different styles:
- A round panholder with a pair of singing birds on one side and sleeping birds on the other (how cute!)
- Oven Mitt: Too many Cooks Spoil the Broth
- Oven Mitt: The way To a Man’s Heart Is Thru His Stomach
- Coffee Pot: Old-time style (look for the little spot by the handle to cut out)
- Tea Kettle: Old-time style (look for the two spots by the top handle to cut out)
Click the image to the right to download the free pattern file (pdf). You’ll find the instructions on the first page. These won’t print off true to original size, just enlarge them to whatever dimensions you like.
How To Make A Pot Holder
Before getting started with all the goodies, here’s a quick general guide from my vintage pattern files for making basic potholders…
These are always a necessity in the kitchen and they may be made in many shapes and forms. Use bright scraps of washable materials such as gingham and percale. Cotton batting or scraps of woolen fabric are used for padding.
Material (for two):
- 1/4 yd. Plain or printed percale or gingham
- 2 yds percale bias trim or a bias strip cut from fabric (same or contrasting color)
- 1/4 yd. cotton batting or scraps of heavy woolen material
- Round: 2 circles of fabric, each 8″ in diameter, and 1 similar circle of cotton batting or of several thicknesses of woolen material.
- Square: two 8″ squares of fabric and 1 similar square of cotton batting or of several thicknesses of woolen material.
- Place batting or woolen pieces between two fabric pieces (right sides out) and baste through all thicknesses close to edge.
- Bind edges with bias trim or bias strip.
- Make two or more rows of machine stitching 1/2″ apart toward center, following edge of binding as a guide.
Source: The New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing (1946)
Freebie Collection Notes:
These are my hand picked favorites from around the ‘net and as always here on Tipnut, directions for each are provided hassle-free (no emails to submit or memberships to signup for). If that has changed since being added to this page, please let me know in the comments section below so I can remove it.
You’ll find full written instructions on their web page or by pdf download, some also make available video tutorials for extra guidance.
There are five sections for easier browsing:
- Free Crochet Patterns
- Free Knitting Patterns
- Sewing Projects & Tutorials
- How To: Loom Tutorials
- More Vintage Pattern Freebies
Directions: Click on images to view project page, a new browser tab will open & save your spot here
Free Crochet Patterns
Climbing Trellis Hexagon
Based on a grandmother’s cotton thread potholder, the design is recreated with a light dk cotton yarn (or a size 3 or 5 thread) & a size C/2 (2.75 mm) hook. If you’ve ever tried making a vintage pattern with crochet thread, you’ll appreciate the upgrade ;).
Two different patterns provided, one is a “block color” style, the other is diagonal. I like both & the double thickness is ideal for pulling hot baking pans from the oven. Final stitching together & hanging loop are made with the yarn tail so it’s all in one piece.
One of my favorites, this is another cutie based on a vintage design. Easy to whip up, the finished size is 8″ wide & 5″ long using Number 10 Crochet Thread (in both white & green) & a steel size 7 (1.65mm) hook.
Super Thick Granny Squares
I think every kitchen needs a pair of these oldies but goodies! Features a pretty (but simplified) pico edging, these are super quick to make & suitable for Beginners. The back piece is solid so there are no big open holes to potentially get burned from. Finishes at 8″ square.
Dress & Bloomers
If you’ve long looked for these cuties to replicate, here they are. Details for both are provided in full on the web page but there’s also a link provided for a free pdf download that doesn’t work for me…I found it on her ravelry page here if you’re interested: Cobblers Cabin Ravelry.
African Flower – Round
This is a quick tutorial on how to transform the African Flower pattern found here (look to bottom of page): https://www.flickr.com/groups/africanflowers/ into an “ornamental” potholder. Ornamental because they’re so pretty you might not want to use them lol…but they’re nice ‘n thick & ready to be put to work.
Another style that brings me back to my childhood, these are very easy to make & use a size 7 steel hook & size 10 crochet cotton thread.
Features layers of frilly petals that are sure to protect fingers from getting burned, these will finish at about 7.5″ across & are made with 100% dk weight cottons in bright & bold colors. Difficulty Rating: Easy…this should be suitable for Beginners.
If you grew up in the 70’s, this will remind you of the woven pads we made back in the day at summer camp. Nice & thick, this is crocheted with strips of t-shirt yarn & finishes at 9″ square.
Aren’t these pretty? Make sure to check the project page where she has a nice variety of samples done up in an array of bright & beautiful colors. The pdf pattern is no longer available from source so link is to the web archive (found here).
Kitschy Crochet Teacups (Retro)
*First published October 30, 2011 and moved to this page for better organization
Oh I had fun whipping these up! If you like kitschy kitchen stuff, you’ll want to tuck this into your files…they’re surprisingly easy and quick.
They measure a generous 9″ wide and 7 3/4″ tall (widest points, excluding handles) and are a double layer for extra protection (two pieces each and sewn together). You can line them with extra padding if you wish (I didn’t). The teacup handle functions as its hanger.
(made with dishcloth cotton yarn)
- Starting at bottom with 1st color, ch 14.
- 1st row: H dc in 3rd ch from hook, sc in same ch, sc in each ch across, in last ch make sc and h dc (14 sts). Ch 3, turn.
- 2nd, 3rd and 4th rows: In first st make h dc and sc; sc in each st across, making sc, h dc and dc in last st or turning ch, as the case may be. Ch 3, turn. At the end of the 4th row, ch 1 (instead of ch 3), turn.
- 5th row: 2 sc in 1st st, sc in each st across. Ch 1, turn. Repeat 5th row until there are 37 sts on row. Work straight for 5 rows. Fasten off. Attach 2nd color. Ch 3, turn.
- 1st row: 2 dc in same place where 2nd color was attached (half shell), * skip 2 sts, sc in next st, skip 2 sts, 5 dc in next st (shell). Repeat from * across, ending with 3 dc in last st (half shell). Ch 1, turn.
- 2nd row: Sc in 1st dc, * shell in next sc, sc in center st of next shell. Repeat from * across, ending with sc in top st of turning ch. Ch 3, turn.
- 3rd row: Half shell in sc, * sc in center st of next shell, shell in next sc. Repeat from * across, ending with half shell. Ch 1, turn. Repeat 2nd and 3rd rows again. Fasten off 2nd color. Attach 1st color, ch 2, turn.
- Next row: Work sc in each dc and h dc in each sc across (37 sts). Ch 1, turn.
- Following row: Sc in each st across. Ch 1, turn. Repeat last row 2 times. Fasten off.
- Embroider lazy daisy flowers on edges of border (I just did three petals in the example pieces). Work another piece same as this.
- With 1st color ch 6.
- 1st row: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across (5 sts). Ch 1, turn.
- 2nd row: Sc in each st across. Ch 1, turn. Repeat 2nd row until piece measures 6″. Fasten off. Fold in half and whip long edges together.
Place padding between two pieces (optional). Pin ends of handle in place and whip edges together neatly, using self colors.
Work another the same as this, reversing colors.
Source: This is based on a vintage design from 1943 that was designed to use crochet thread, I’ve made some tweaks so that it will work with today’s cotton yarn.
Update: Whoops! I didn’t note the hook size…I’m sure I used an “H” 5.00 mm but it may have been a “G” 4.00 mm since I have both hooks in that project bag (was intending on starting another set). I’m sorry I missed that, I’ll be more careful to note the hook size in the future!
Free Knitting Patterns
I’m afraid this section is a little sparse atm, but I do plan on expanding it. Here are a few goodies to work with in the meantime :).
A few options to knit squares (Honeycomb, Stockinette, Basketweave) then back them with pretty cotton fabric (line with batting).
Same idea as above, a 7″ square is knit in seedstitch then covered with a block of patchwork using cotton fabric scraps.
Sewing Projects & Tutorials
Hot Stuff: Patchwork
I love this idea, vintage cocktail napkins are made into cute hot pads with a bit of batting & fabric scraps (for the patchwork).
The tutorial is in two parts, you’ll find instructions for making the templates on this page. Heat reflective fleece is quilted between two layers of fabric (main body pieces), bias binding finishes off the raw edges once it’s all assembled. Super cute!
You’ll need four circles of fabric (any size, she made 9″), Warm & Natural batting and Insul-Bright. Once assembled as directed, pieces are quilted & stitched together. Part of the instructions are in red font so it’s hard to read, just use your mouse to click & highlight so it’s more legible.
These couldn’t be easier to make! Woven cotton dishtowels from the dollar store are trimmed, folded then stitched into clever little padded squares that are certainly gift-worthy. A piece of ribbon (or scraps from the trimmings) is used to make the loop for hanging.
Old sweaters or wool blankets can be used for this project. After felting, pieces are cut then stitched by hand (blanket stitch) in an array of shapes & embellished with simple embroidery. Trimming loops for hanging. Free pdf tutorial to download.
The Ohio Star block is on top, finished size measures 8″ square. You’ll need some coordinating fabrics to cut out all the squares & for a nice contrast binding & loop. Ideal for beginners as the tutorial is quite nicely done with lots of pictures.
A colorful addition to any kitchen, these are quite unique. Another well done tutorial with lots of pictures & assembly help. Promises to be quick & easy to make!
Quilted Easy Pockets
A great stashbuster that can be used as potholders or as “mitts” since they have big pockets for your hands to slide into. Nice little project suitable for beginners.
Another favorite of mine, this shows how pretty you can make them using odd little crafty bits found around the home (such as doilies, vintage scraps, etc.). So lovely!
A great way to upcycle some old jeans! She also provides a free pdf template to download, this is for the oval design shown on the right but she includes a link to the tutorial for the square one as well.
What a charming idea! Get old family recipes printed onto fabric (Spoonflower or DIY) then whip them up into potholders as gifts. For home printing, suggestions can be found at The Graphics Fairy.
Retro Chicken Pot Holder
Finished Size: About 8″ from beak to tail
- Scraps of fabric for top, underside and padding
- Cotton batting
- 3/4 yard bias tape
- 2 buttons
- Scouring pad
Click the grid to view full size, right click on it, select “Save Picture As” and save it to your computer’s desktop. Then open the image file on your computer and click “Print”. I’ve blown this up so it should print off for you in perfect scale (squares are 1″). If you try printing it directly from the web page, it’s a bit too small (I don’t know why that happens).
- Following whole pattern and adding seam allowances, cut 2 top pieces; follow from fold line down to cut underside and padding. Cut 1 1/4″ x 2″ strip for comb.
- Fold, pleat and pin comb to one head. Right sides together, seam top pieces from A, across back, to tail. Turn; stuff head and neck with cotton.
- Pin padding and underside to open wings. Bind with tape, making a loop for hanging.
- Sew on button eyes. Set chicken on scouring pad.
Source: Woman’s Day Magazine, 100 Christmas Gifts To Make, November 1969
How To: Loom Tutorials
Just a couple so far but this is all that’s needed. They are super simple to whip up, I’ve also highlighted this technique on 60+ Kitchen Chore Scrubby Patterns To Crochet, Knit & Sew.
Oven Mitts, Casserole Carriers & Mini Microwave Mitts
Double Oven Mitt (Vintage Pattern)
- 1/2 yard plain or printed percale or gingham
- 2 yards (same or contrasting color) percale bias trim or a bias strip cut from fabric
- 1/2 yard cotton batting or scraps of heavy woolen material
Directions For Cutting:
- Piece No. IV: 4 pieces of fabric, 2 pieces of cotton batting or several thicknesses of woolen material.
- Piece No. V: 2 pieces of fabric.
Directions For Making:
- Join two No. IV pieces with a plain seam (1/4″) along straight edge and press seam open. Repeat for the other two No. IV pieces.
- Place batting between these two pieces and baste through all thicknesses close to edge.
- Pin rounded edges of No. V pieces to rounded edges of No. IV pieces, easing in fullness and baste.
- Cut a 4″ strip of bias trim, fold in half and stitch folded edges together. Baste at center seam for loop. Ends are caught in binding.
- Bind all around with bias trim or bias strip.
Source: The New Encyclopedia Of Modern Sewing (1946)
More Vintage Pattern Freebies
Pretty Tea Set (Sewing & Embroidery)
Two lovely goodies to add to your collection, one is a creamer and the other is a sugar bowl–each decorated on one side with embroidered flowers and leaves. These are from the 1940s and are stuffed with batting and finished off with binding.
Each measures between 10″ – 11″ from farthest edges but they can be increased in size if you wish. Just click the pictures to get your copies, directions are down below.
Material Requirements: (for two)
- Scraps or 3/8 yard 18 inch material
- 3/8 yard quilted padding
- 1 1/2 yards bias binding
- Embroidery Cotton
- Cutting: Cut out on solid lines; cut padding without seam for each.
- Embroidery: Work single lines, single stitch; broken lines, running stitch; continuous lines, outline stitch; dots, French knots or fine satin stitch; loops, lazy daisy stitch.
- Assembly: Embroider; insert padding between pieces and seam on right side; bind with bias binding; make a loop by using a 2 1/2 inch length of bias binding and fasten at dot at top.
Teapot Holder: Cup & Saucer
- Transfer design onto felt material. Cut out felt, cutting along the inner edge of the stamped line. Cut another piece the same size for back. Cut another pair from contrasting felt for the inside facing.
- Pin the front section over a contrasting facing section and join entire edges together with buttonhole stitch. Use embroidery wool split to half its thickness for all work. Face the back section in same manner.
- Work all long lines in outline stitch and short lines in single straight stitches. Work flowers in French knots and lazy daisy stitch.
- All ends of wool may be hidden between the 2 thicknesses of felt by taking a long stitch, pulling thread between the felt to start and clipping wool close when finishing.
- Join the front and back together around the upper edge starting under the handle (catch stitching the buttonhole edges together with wool) and finishing at corner on opposite side of cup. Leave lower edge of saucer free.
- Download the file here (jpg), right click on the image and save to your desktop.
- Open file to print, this should come out true to size (original measures just shy of 4″ from top of teacup edge to bottom saucer edge).
Source: McCall’s (1936)