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Blue Jean Potholder Tutorial

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Mother’s Day is coming up soon… are you like me and totally lacking in creative new ideas of what to send both of the moms in your life from your kidlet?  I had the same problem and then…

My soon to be 3 year old daughter had a couple of pairs of blue jeans that either had holes or near holes in the knees and as it is summer (at least here in central Texas) … it was time to cut them off into summer jean shorts.  Toddlers look so cute in jean shorts!

I very nearly threw away the bottoms of the legs… too narrow, not enough fabric… trying not to keep all of this STUFF that I don’t need and won’t use.   Then, it occurred to me … the bottoms were about the size of my potholders!

So, that’s how this idea came about… my need for a few new potholders for myself, a need for grandmother Mother’s Day gifts and a desire to upcycle something that would otherwise go into the landfill.


bleach pen

pair of blue jean leg bottoms

cotton batting or flannel (from an old shirt would be great)

sewing machine

toddler hands

scrap paper


Cut off your jean legs as close to the holes in the knee as possible…  My potholder that I had made before was about 6 x 6 1/2 inches square – so I used that as a starting point for my jean potholder size.

Then, line up the hemmed bottom of the jean and measure up 8 inches on each side.  Draw a line across (I used a black sharpee).  My jean leg was about 6 inches wide at the bottom… I would go a smidge smaller than that or an inch or so bigger, but usually that dimension is pretty good for potholder usage.

Now, measure your jean bottoms to make sure what their measurements are… mine were 6 x 8 inches.  I allowed for a 1/2 inch seam allowance at the top and then sewing the legs shut “in the ditch” above the bottom seam… and then taking a smidge off for volume.

Cut your flannel or cotton batting (only use cotton as it is safer with heat than the polyester is) – my final size was 5 3/4 x 6 3/4.  CUT 2 per leg.

Turn the legs inside out and position the two side seams to where they are both on the same side (the back and front of the legs are different widths) so that there are no seams showing on one side.  Sew a 1/2 inch seam across the top.  Clip the corners.

Turn right side out and iron flat, making sure that the corners are out.

Take the cotton or flannel and fit it up inside of the jean leg.  You will want it all the way to the top of the seam and laying flat… the goal is to not have any showing along the hem line.  BUT, I did… and plan to trim it out with little scissors later on.

Currently, my potholders live in a drawer next to my stove, but I used to always hang them on hooks on my fridge… If you do too, this would be the time to use some bias tape or something to make a loop and position it in the corner.

Now, sew the leg shut just above the hemline.  Sew again 1/2 inch from all edges and the row of stitching above the hemline… this is to lock down the batting/flannel so that it doesn’t shift inside of the jeans (a bit like quilting).

The next part is a bit tricky – getting your toddler to cooperate long enough to trace around their hands on some scrap paper.  I ended up having to trace her hands several times as once she figured out what I was doing, she wanted her own to color.  This also makes a great part of the gift!

Take your sharpee and trace aroud your hand prints and then use another piece of paper to copy the lines onto.   I used notebook paper and it worked just fine.   You will want to keep the original to use again as we all know how much toddlers like to cooperate.

Cut out your second set of hands and place on the backside (seamless side) of the jeans inside of the sewing lines.   (As you can see in the right potholder, I forgot to do that on one of mine!)

Now you should do what I say and not as I did… do a bleach test!  Take your bleach pen and a bit of the scrap jeans that are not potholders and draw a line on it.  Repeat every 5 minutes and wait 5 minutes after the last line is drawn.  I would suggest starting at a 30 minute interval… so 6 lines at 5minutes apart.  Then, rinse the bleach off of the jeans and see what the lines look like.   Bleach pens normally work pretty quickly, but as I discovered, it’s hard to tell how bleached it is while the bleach gel is on it and… I waited 12 minutes and I have since decided that I should have left it on for longer for a more distinct outline.  Learn from my mistakes!  

(My only other bleach pen project was a Valentine’s shirt for Rosie – I used this tutorial.  Please refer to it for better instructions!)

Using the bleach pen, trace around the outline of your paper hands and then let it sit for as long as your previous bleach pen test determined.   Make sure that the edges of the bleach are as you want them as that is what the edges of the white will look like after it’s all washed out!

Carefully remove the paper from the jeans and throw it away (I used a plastic fork to lift it off) and then rinse the bleach gel off.  I had to use a kitchen brush to get it off – be careful that doing that doesn’t smudge your lines!  Now, wash your potholders with a load of towels or sheets or something …

Grandmas will LOVE  having their little hands help them with all of their meals and it’s a nice USEFUL gift that doesn’t cost much in money or time.  You could also stencil other things onto the jeans (I was thinking of  a simple flower outline or a very small doily like in the bleach pen tutorial…) or you can leave the potholders plain.

Have fun – and if you happen to make a pair of these up – I’d love to see pictures of your fnished products!


One response »

  1. toddlers look even cuter naked


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