Learn how to make lovely, durable, and inexpensive drop cloth potholders. You can make them for your own use or give them as handmade gifts from the heart.
I’m trying to make a couch cover for our awesome but currently sad, vintage couch out of drop cloth. We’ve had the couch for a few years and the arms are all ripped up. Six kids are hard on furniture! My two year old will now watch cartoons while he absent-mindedly picks fluff out of it. Yikes.
I saw a few people use bleached drop cloth to make furniture covers so I’m going that route. It’s durable and you can bleach the heck out of it, which will come in handy with a million sticky fingers on the loose.
I’ll have to finish it and live with it for a few months before I can form my own opinion about its effectiveness.
Hopefully, I won’t have wasted my time when I’m finished and I’ll share the process with you guys.
As a result of this large sewing project, I have a lot of scrap drop cloth to use up.
Please watch the video along with the tutorial for the drop cloth potholders. It can be a little confusing trying to explain some of the steps but the video clears things up.
Plus you’ll be supporting my Youtube channel and I really appreciate that! 😊
What Kind of Drop Cloth Do I Use?
I use this brand from Amazon. It’s 100% cotton so it won’t melt from the heat of the oven and it bleaches really well.
I got several of the 9×12 size because I need to cover a whole lot of couch but they come in a bunch of different sizes. And you can use the extra for all kinds of things.
Curtains, pillow backs, aprons, tree skirts, furniture covers, rugs, potholders.
All kinds of things, girl.
How to Bleach Drop Cloth in the Bathtub
In order to make these lovely drop cloth potholders you need to bleach your drop cloth.
Watch my short video on how to bleach drop cloth here:
Lisa over at the blog Farmhouse on Boone has a great post all about how to bleach drop cloth before you use it. Here’s a link to her post: How to Bleach Drop Cloth to Make it Perfectly Soft and White.
Bleaching the drop cloth makes it softer, more pliable, and a lot whiter and brighter in color.
I have a front loading washing machine so I followed Lisa’s instructions on how to bleach my drop cloth in the bathtub.
It worked pretty well.
I just filled the bathtub with hot water and poured about a third of the bleach bottle into the water.
Make sure you’ve got good ventilation!
Then I stuck one drop cloth in and made sure all the wrinkles and folds were soaked. I grabbed a big stick to prod everything because there were random air pockets holding fabric out of the water.
Every couple hours I came back and stirred it again, making sure to push all the exposed peaks of fabric back under the water.
I think I left it for 6 or 7 hours.
Then I let it drain and ran it through a hot cycle in the washing machine.
There were still some splotches of tan here and there so I repeated the process the next day and it came out great!
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Things You Might Need For Drop Cloth Potholders
Sewing Machine – I had a Brother sewing machine for over 10 years and it worked really well. Here’s one that’s similar to what I used to have and the price isn’t too steep as far a sewing machines go.
Drop Cloth – (or cotton fabric if you want to go that route instead) – It’s gotta be cotton or it won’t bleach and it might not hold up to the heat of your oven as a potholder.
Bleach – I used the concentrated, low splash kind.
Old Cotton Towel – Just use what you’ve got even if it’s ugly and stained because it will be completely encased in the drop cloth.
Scissors – When I can find them these are like the scissors I like to use to cut fabric. But any scissors will work as long as they can get through the drop cloth ok.
Pins – I buy pins at the store whenever I’m running low so I don’t have the link for the specific ones I’m using but these look very similar. I just go for pins that have large or colorful heads so they’re easy to spot on the carpet.
Embroidery Needle – This is the set I usually get. When I embroider I use the needles that aren’t too thick but have a nice large eye. This is so you can fit all the strands of embroidery thread through the hole easily. So, if you click on the link and look at the second picture where it shows the row of needles, I would go for the ones on the left side but not the 3 all the way to the left.
Embroidery Thread – I like to use DMC thread/floss so here’s a link but it’ll be cheaper to grab just the colors you need at your local craft store.
Pencil – or something to trace shapes onto the fabric that either washed off or rubs off. Pencil lead is actually made of graphite and is non-toxic so it’s safe to use on things you’ll use with food.
Rubber band – I used this to wrap around the needle when it gets a little stuck in the fabric or my hands get a little sweaty and I can’t seem to get a good grip.
Cookie Cutters – This is a great option if you aren’t good at drawing. Just grab a cookie cutter and trace the outline onto the potholder. Then add a few simple details and you’re ready to go!
Reference Pictures – I just searched around on google for simple Christmas shapes and then sketched them out.
Paper for Sketching – You can roughly trace out the potholder and then practice the designs on paper before you commit.
Let’s Talk Thread for a Minute
The link I included above for the embroidery thread is a set with lovely colors and needles are included. I wanted to include the link just in case you can’t get thread locally. I like to use DMC embroidery thread/floss because it’s got a really beautiful luster to it and the colors are really pretty. It’s cotton so it won’t melt and the quality is just really good.
Stay away from anything that is meant for making friendship bracelets because it’s not meant for sewing so it won’t slide through the fabric well or have them same smooth, finished look as embroidery thread.
Let’s Get to Those Drop Cloth Potholders!
Now that you’ve got some bleached drop cloth material, we can get started.
*Side note* You can really use any cotton material you want because it won’t melt when you handle things coming out of the oven. I once made the mistake of using a microfiber hand towel as a pot holder and it very quickly melted as soon as I touched the oven rack.
Start by tracing out the shape of your potholder onto the drop cloth. It’s good to have some sort of template. I just traced another potholder I already had.
Use a pencil and trace two of the same shape.
Then grab an old cotton towel and trace one more of the same shape. I did a double layer of towel at first but it was too thick.
*Side Note* Now is the time to embroider one of the drop cloth squares if you want it to be a little easier. The down side is that the quilted diamond pattern will have to be sewn on top of the embroidery if you do it this way. I prefer to sew everything together and the embroidery is the last thing. This way the embroidery sits on the very top of all the layers.
Sew the layers together around the edge like a towel sandwich. Drop cloth first, towel in the middle and drop cloth last.
Once you’ve got your potholder sewn around the perimeter, it’s time to sew the diamond quilted pattern.
Sew diagonal lines across the potholder.
Don’t sew lines that are parallel to the sides. This will emphasize any wonky lines and you don’t want that. This is why people often put tile down in a diagonal line. Because houses don’t usually have straight walls and angles and the diagonal lines help to hide that.
First sew one way and then the other. Make sure you flip the potholder after every line so the sewing goes in opposite directions. This will prevent the fabric from puckering.
I know this sounds confusing but that’s why I made the video. It makes total sense if you see me do it in the video and it’s not difficult. Just hard to explain.
Let’s Do the Binding
Now you want to cut out a 2 inch strip of drop cloth. The length will depend on how big you made the potholder. It needs to fit all the way around the outside of the potholder, plus several inches to make a loop to hang it.
Pin the strip to the perimeter of the potholder all the way around, leaving one side much longer than the other.
When you get to the part where the ends meet, make sure the long end is under the short end. You want the long end to be against the potholder and the short end to be on top.
That way, when you flip it over to encase the edge, the long end will also encase the raw, short edge and be free to come out on top to make the loop.
I messed up several times trying to figure this part out.
Now I have some “rustic” potholders too.
Sew the strip to the potholder along the edge.
Now flip the free edge of the strip over the raw edge of the potholder and fold the strip in about a quarter of an inch. Then pin it down.
Watch me do it in the video if you’re confused.
Fold the edge over and in all the way around and up the long tail. This might be a little finicky where it meets the potholder but just keep tucking and folding and it will smooth out.
Here’s a picture of how the tail folds together.
Once it’s all folded in and pinned, sew it down. All the way around and up the tail.
There’s probably a more professional way to do them but I just made little pleats at the corners and sewed right over them.
It’s rustic all over the place.
The last thing to do before the pretty part is to make the loop.
Give the tail a little twist and pin it to the back. You can either sew it down and cut off the extra, leaving a raw edge, OR you can cut off the extra, fold it under, and then sew it down.
I like the raw edge. It’s less work and less material to sew through.
How to Draw Shapes on Your Potholder
I knew this material would be a little difficult to embroider just because it’s pretty thick.
Added to that is the fact that I can’t sew through it normally from back to front because I don’t want a bunch of strings and knots hanging out the other side.
So I needed some simple shapes to embroider.
I searched on google for simple Christmas shapes and sketched out the triangle Christmas trees. Can’t get much simpler than those!
Another method I tried was using cookie cutters for the base shape. That’s how I got this cute gingerbread man!
I just traced out the shape and then added a few details in the middle. I never would have sketched out something so symmetrical and even on my own.
The last method I tried was to sketch out a shape of a poinsettia and then I tried to transfer it over using graphite paper.
This is often how I do it when I embroider with an embroidery hoop but it did NOT WORK AT ALL!
The surface was just too bumpy I guess so the entire thing picked up the graphite and just made it really dirty looking.
I ended up just using a pencil to draw it on the potholder too. Thankfully, the graphite all rubbed off eventually.
Once you have your outline on the drop cloth potholder, you’re ready to embroider!
How to Sew and Hide Your knots on Your Drop Cloth Potholder
Using all six strands of the embroidery thread, thread the needle and tie a single knot in the end.
Insert your needle into only the top layer of the drop cloth potholder and make a stitch.
Pull the thread all the way through the fabric and then pop the knot through the entry hole.
Don’t pop it through the exit hole of the stitch.
Now the knot should be inside the potholder with the tail of the thread still sticking out.
Gently tug on the tail of the thread without pulling the knot back out and then snip off the extra with scissors.
Rub the spot the tail used to be until it completely disappears.
Now let’s doing some stitching.
Watch the video for more clarification on the stitching.
Make your first stitch normally by going under the first layer of cloth again and coming back out.
You’ll end up with an empty space in the middle. Don’t panic!
Insert your needle back into the end of your first stitch, run it under the fabric past where the tail is sticking out until the needle comes back out again about a stitch’s length past the tail.
Pull it through and now you have another stitch and another empty space.
Keep this up until you’re ready to tie off the thread.
Let’s Tie Off the Thread
When you’ve reached the point where you need to tie off your thread, tie a single knot in the thread but don’t tie it all the way to the fabric.
Tighten the knot so it sits on the line a little farther up than where you want to insert your needle in the end of the last stitch.
Now insert your needle into the end of your last stitch, like you would normally do.
This time, instead of continuing the line of stitching, have your needle come out somewhere random.
Now pull the thread all the way through until the knot pops into the fabric.
Just like before, tug on the line of thread that is sticking out in the random place and then snip it off.
Rub the tiny tail that is still sticking out until it disappears into the potholder.
Finish your embroidery using these steps.
Now you’ve got a beautiful, hand-stitched drop cloth potholder!
If you like this project, check out my post on making your own simple apron: DIY EASY ONE HOUR APRON |BEGINNER SEWING PROJECT
Don’t forget to pin it!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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