Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sewing For Kids: Pudgy Pumpkin Potholders!

Pudgy potholder pairs - plump pumpkins and sneaky spiders - serve several purposes. They're a kids' learn-to-sew adventure introducing basic running stitching coupled with hand quilting basics. And, results make charming decorative gifts for mommy - so much fun to have on hand while easing mummy meringues out of a hot oven during this giddy season of anything-goes craziness!

I've just begun to sew with grandkids; six and nine year old girls are anxious to learn. But there's a surprise in the crowd, too! Four year old Austin doesn't mind one bit being the only dude to hone the trade. He's working on a small stuffed cat now, sandwich-stitch-inching his way around the perimeter of a simple felt shape. For that, he's earned his own post. And it's coming soon! (I'll direct it at his future mom-in-law saying, "You're very welcome!" in advance!) But for now, little ladies are sole producers of Halloween potholders - with some (okay - a lot!) finishing touch contribution from good "old-ish" grandma!

Here's how we made them, starting with a few tips to make intro sewing a fun first experience:

1. Keep projects small and appealing. Kids like to see results quickly, and the repetitiveness of sewing triggers boredom.

2. If possible, show a completed sample so kids see a goal worth poking along for!

3. Expect thread to tangle and pull off the needle. Have threaded extras ready to go.

4. Kaylee, (at left) handles holding and sewing quite well, but if needed, hold the fabric for your child while he/she moves the needle.

5. Avoid jumping in to fix every wayward stitch! (This is hard - sometimes I wait til they're not looking! 😏)

6. Don't worry about whisking the project off for finishing touches. Good results mean next time they'll want to do more for themselves.

I build my originally designed potholders over Dollar Tree purchases for reasons of economy and less work. The 2-in-a-pack ready-made purchase means there's no need to assemble an insulating layer. I found some (pictured below) with solid black backs, also eliminating a complimenting seasonal print back cover (more "less work!"). Here's the link to step by step instructions from a past post featuring turkey handprints on potholders gifted to mommy seven years ago! That's where you'll go to complete this project once you've assembled the hand pieced tops shown above:

1. Begin each potholder with a 6" square - orange or black. Cut 4 squares, 2.5" each, from contrasting color and position in all corners (one shown). Draw a diagonal sewing line on each one.

2. Sew each small square along traced line in a running stitch.

3. Clip corners and press open. This 6" square is now spider or pumpkin shaped and ready to decorate.

4. For spider:

a. Cut 8 ribbon lengths, about 5" each, and knot close to ends for legs. Pin them to sides of body, laying inward. Cut 2 lengths of contrasting fabric, each 2.5" x 6" and sew them to sides (right sides together) with a running stitch, enclosing ribbon legs. Press open. Cut a long narrow strip of ribbon about 12" long for web line (used for potholder hanger) and pin to center top, folded downward. Cut 2 more strips, each 2.5" x 8" and sew them to top, enclosing ribbon hanger, and bottom. Press open.

b. Make a sandwich of thin cotton batting between assembled square and an 8" square of scrap fabric. Use quilting thread to hand stitch, outlining triangles and body shape.

c. Iron fusible web to scrap of white fabric and cut 2 circles, approximately 1.5" each. Apply them to body for eyes. Sew black 1/2" buttons on top.

d. Finish potholder following assembly directions found here. Stitch a 5/8" ribbon bow to center top of completed potholder.

5. For pumpkin:

a. Cut 2 contrasting fabric strips 2.5" x 6" and 2 more 2.5" x 8". Sew 6" strips to sides with running stitch. Press open. Fold a 6" green ribbon scrap (5/8") in half for stem, and pin to top center, folded downward. Sew 8" strips to top, enclosing ribbon, and bottom. Press open.

b. Sew black buttons to face. Iron fusible web to scrap of black print or solid fabric and cut and apply triangle nose.

c. See step "b" above for spider to hand quilt the square, then sew a smile in running stitch through all 3 layers.

d. See step "d" above for spider to complete pumpkin potholder.

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Thank you!


  1. Wow! Love how you’ve made this so clear and easy to follow! I was a sewer once, this intrigues me now. I’m going to do with my older grands...they’ve learned cooking and card games with their other grama!
    But this I can do!
    Thanks for great tips and easy to follow directions!


  2. This looks like a fun craft!
    Thanks for sharing at

  3. This is a great craft, and a wonderful gift for Mom. Learning to sew will provide options in the future for these curious minds, girls and boys. Being able to negotiate a needle and thread is a skill they will always be able to use even if it is to sew on a loose button or pursue other more complicate projects. Grandma Joyce you did good.