This Year: Handmade, Not Homemade, Potholders: What is Crowning?


Zazu's fun and functional quilted classic

Zazu’s fun and functional quilted classic






I just can’t help myself. Fall wouldn’t be fall around here without stacks and stacks of sewing, but one of Zazu’s first rules has never changed: handmade, not homemade, potholders.

And while I’ve stopped making the quantity and variety of kitchen wares that I have offered in the past, there are still so many great fabrics to make into this kitchen workhorse that I had to go in search again for some great new themed fabrics.

Why not consider sewing some easy and functional gifts that will have loved ones thinking of you fondly each time they work in the kitchen?

A Fresh Crop: So Many Fabrics, So Little Time

Here are a few choice fabrics I found online recently. I know they will make beautiful potholders.

The first step to Handmade, Not Homemade, Potholders is gorgeous fabrics: from left, then clockwise: hamburgers & fries; cardinals; tossed peacock feathers; bacon; books; orange; roosters; more peacocks

The first step to Handmade, Not Homemade, Potholders is great fabrics: clockwise from left: burgers & fries; cardinals; tossed peacock feathers; bacon; books; orange; roosters; more peacocks

The Key to Handmade, Not Homemade

denimsWe know that God and the devil are both in the details. This is also true of the handmade quality we expect from finer craft. I never want my work to just lay there limp…I want it to have a little bit of presence. Crispness. A perky quality. Even the lowly potholder can make a nice statement.

One of my most popular YouTube videos, Sew Perky Denim Potholders entirely by machine | Gift Project | Hot Pads Pot Holder ZSA Tutorials, features a turned construction using a total of 5 layers. Finished, it has a cotton print on the front,  three layers of batting—one Insul-bright, sandwiched between two Warm & Natural—and thin denim on the back.

This video tutorial spends some time discussing a tendency that turned fabric layers have, to do what I call crowning. (There may be another term for this in use out in the world of sewing. If there is, I haven’t run across it—yet.) I have long believed that paying attention to the innate tendencies of our materials is one of the most effective ways to up the game when it comes to beautiful construction. (I’m saying don’t fight your fabric. I am also saying that beautiful construction is its own reward.) Also, for many projects, good old-fashioned pre-washing and drying is what builds longevity into your beautiful work.


Turned potholders: defying convention, we close them with only top-stitching. Speed is a thing.

Layering in a finished potholder:

  1. quilting fabric
  2. cotton batting 
  3. Insul-bright
  4. cotton batting
  5. denim (goes with everything)

Layering for sewing:

  1. Insul-bright 
  2. cotton batting 
  3. quilting fabric—right side faces denim
  4. denim—right side faces cotton
  5. cotton batting

Why I call it Crowning:

Clip Art Crown


Formed by three layers of material above the seam, we want the potholder to look on top like the brown/red velvet part of this crown. Below the seam, we want the potholders to have a slightly less pronounced crown, since it is formed by only two layers of material.

Another time that crowning can make the difference between sharp and sloppy is when making a collar for a garment, but that’s a story for another day…

Thanks, Beth – Zazu


2 thoughts on “This Year: Handmade, Not Homemade, Potholders: What is Crowning?”

    1. Thank you! I don’t know of another pastime that has given me back so much during my life…not even gardening. Please keep in touch and enter the viewer projects drawing if you make anything using any of the tutorial information. Thanks again.

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