Finally I'm able to share one of my projects: pot holders for my bookgroup. We have an annual holiday party (last year I knit clunky hats) and cookie exchange: one moved-away member even drives five hours to join us. These women are some of my dearest friends—we met when some of us still had babies and now those babies are seniors in high school and freshmen in college and one of our members is a grandmother.
The nice thing about our gift exchange is it's a totally no-pressure event. Some years people hand-make gifts: Julie knit us each a scarf one year and Maureen appliqued and quilted holiday table runners. Emily makes fabulous truffles and Anne, a former caterer, whips up chocolate-covered toffee that my children anticipate annually. But if it's a year when you've been busy with work or if you're not the handy type, you can give whatever you want...you can even give nothing. (We might excommunicate you however, if you didn't bring cookies.)
These potholders had their genesis in a purchase of wonderful Japanese charm squares I snagged at Quilt Market. I got them from Bunny Designs (whose web site has been under construction for some time). I gave one set to my friend Anne and kept a set for myself. The little tea pots and wonderful polka dots seemed perfect for pot holders.
I learned a bit along the way to completing a baker's dozen. I tried piecing a front and back for the first one, then quilted and bound as I would a quilt (albeit I tried machine binding). It was problematic: the mitered corners wouldn't miter and the binding didn't cover the machine stitching as well as I'd liked. So instead I pieced a front and back and then sewed them right sides together, left an opening so that I could turn inside out, stuffed each with a piece of cotton batting and a piece of Inuslbright, and top-stitched around the edge, securing the opening. I then did a bit of simple quilting, more or less following the shape of the square.
I learned that less stitching works better than too much (the Insulbright would invariably bunch up if I stitched too close to the top-stitching) and that a walking foot made all the difference in keeping the batting smooth. I also made a little tube of fabric and stitched that into the seam when I sewed the front and back together to create a loop for hanging.
Each pot holder is slightly different than the rest, largely as a result of learning as I went along and ultimately running out of fabric. They took a bit longer to make than I anticipated (doesn't everything?), but the finished stack is highly satisfying...
Must run...time to eat cookies and give gifts!