How to make a pot holder with recycled jeans and Boro stitching

stitching tutorials upcycling Nov 06, 2020

Last week I put together a list of fun things I would make recycling an old pair of jeans… the list included things like a face mask (an essential fashion item these days), denim tote, pouch, floor rugs and these oven mitts. And of course, I was looking for projects that would combine my love of sashiko stitching and mending.

Once I decide upon an idea, I generally want to make it straight away (plus we were going camping on the weekend and I wanted to use it) so when I looked at the list of materials needed to make oven mitts, I was deterred by the fact that the insulating fabric was made of a plastic fibre. Im looking to reduce my use of anything that will not naturally biodegrade, and Im a big advocate of making do with the things around me, so I started thinking about other alternatives.

Looking around my studio at the creative chaos I just happened to have a piece of freshly felted fleece (used for a demonstration in one of my classes) so I grabbed it. This would be perfect as the insulating layer in my mitts. But it wasn’t big enough, so I decided to change up the project slightly and make a pot holder instead.

So the dimensions are based upon the size of the felted swatch, which was about 8 inches square.

The front side of the pot holder

You can see the layer of wool felt, cotton muslin (calico) topped with jean scraps. On the very bottom is a layer of denim. All the layers have been stitched together using boro / running stitch.

The reverse side of the pot holder. This was once the leg of a pair of jeans.

With pins holding the fabric in place I used a sashiko needle and thread to stitch together the layers of fabric. To my surprise, it was relatively easy to stitch (I was expecting a bit of resistance) and I had it stitched in a couple of hours. There was something oddly satisfying about the quilting effect the running stitch on the fabric….

I decided that the sides were too shabby, and I wanted to create a nice clean edge. With the help of Leah Day and her instructional videos, I attached a binding.

Not too shabby for my first binding attempt!

I finished it in time to take it camping (I wasn’t timing it, but it probably took about 3 hours to make), and it worked remarkably well!

We had stir fry for lunch infused with smoky flavours of the open fire. Yum!