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On the spur of the moment I decided to take on a last-minute December sewing project, making gifts for some of the near and dear on my Christmas list.

It started when I took up the offer presented by Maria Shell, who was giving away patterns for her Artful Oven Mitts. She has made a slew of them and they are really fun and funky looking.

Oven Mitts final batch blog

These have all the qualities of a great gift – they are artful and functional, hand made with love and care, and you don’t have to go to the mall!

Maria is still giving away patterns if you’re interested in making some yourself. The pattern comes with well written instructions; in addition Maria has a good tutorial on her blog so I won’t spell out instructions here.

I will show you a couple of things I did slightly differently and offer a few suggestions gleaned from my experience in stitching these.

First of all, don’t make a dumb math mistake like I did. I had nine people on my gift list. So I prepared enough fabric for 18 mitt sides. Quilted everything up and started cutting out the mitts. I assembled some mitts and then came my DOH! moment (similar to an A-HA! moment, except for dumb stuff).

See, I wanted to give pairs of mitts. And 18 mitt sides makes 9 mitts, which equals 4 ½ pairs.

Most people have two hands. Fortunately, everyone on my list has two hands. And giving just one mitt to a person seems inadequate. They need to have a pair of mitts.

I am neither math challenged nor math averse, yet for some reason I kept having trouble visualizing and planning how many pieces I needed for each one gift. So….. do your math properly!

4 pieces (2 left and 2 right) = 2 mitts = ONE PAIR!

My list was quickly shortened, because as I mentioned, I started this all at the last minute. I’m sorry if you didn’t make the cut. Really, I am. I meant well.

ONWARD! .......

I love the patchwork mitts, but you can also make them with whole cloth. I made some with these fun retro prints. One upside to the whole cloth is that they’re a little easier to turn right side out.

           Oven Mitts 50s kitchen blog  Oven Mitts retro housework blog


Maria’s pattern has a very squared-off thumb crotch. I modified my pattern and rounded off the thumb crotch. I found it easier to turn and I like the line better.

Oven Mitts squared crotch blog  Oven Mitts rounded blog


Stay stitch the edge inside the cutting line before cutting out the mitts.

Oven Mitts staystich edges blog


With a laundry marker I drew laundering instruction symbols on one side of each mitt. Mark it enough distance from the edge that the binding doesn’t cover it, about 5/8” up.

Oven Mitts laundry symbols blog

Although the instructions do not call for it, I finished my seams with an overcast edge. I used a simple zigzag stitch to finish the seams. If you have a serger now would be a good time to use it.

Also – I did not use pins. I rarely use pins when sewing. By the time you layer and quilt the fabric it is sturdy and stiff enough that you can simply lay the 2 mitt sides (right sides) together and seam them. A walking foot or dual-feed is good for this. Use a ¼” seam.

Speaking of layers, I added an extra layer of low loft cotton batting to the insulating Insul-Bright layer. Maria’s instructions do not include the cotton batt, but the Insul-Bright package recommends it, so I used it.

Referencing Maria’s pattern/instructions for the hanging tab: I cut and stitch one long piece for the tabs and cut the 5” lengths from this.

For the edge binding: use Maria’s pattern – cut exactly and use an exact ¼” seam to join the ends. Once again – I do not use pins to attach the binding. Hopefully for this step you have a free arm, or what I call a sleeve arm, on your sewing machine. Set the binding inside the mitt, right sides together, place around the free arm and start stitching with a 3/8" seam. TRUST that the binding is going to fit! It will appear too big/long, but it is not. It fits exactly and as you go around the edge and turn it on the free arm, what looks like excess binding is going to ease in to a perfect fit. Trust it.


Turning these things right side out is a bitch! The whole cloth mitts turn more easily than the patchwork mitts with their multiple seams and, at least in my case, heavier home décor fabrics. Turn over a “cuff” first and go from there. I found that kind of rolling them out from the heavy side seams worked well. Turn the larger “hand” part first, then the thumb. Maria uses a screw driver to help poke out the thumb. I was reluctant to do that and managed it with my fingers.

Oven Mitts turn cuff blog


Expect a lot of waste after cutting out the mitts. I am typically a saver of every scrap and this is hard for me. Now that the fabric is layered and quilted I’m not sure I can use the excess for something else. Then again, I might just find a way! Or, I might just have to throw it away. It’s too bad so much gets cut away, but it is necessary. Oh, well ……

Scraps from cutting mitts blog

I really enjoyed making and gifting these Artful Oven Mitts. I even made a pair for myself. Maria sells them at a gallery near her and they are priced at $60. each – yes, each, as in per mitt. Considering the materials and time that go into them I agree with her pricing and think it is totally fair. That said, I’m not convinced most people will pay $60. for one oven mitt, even as cool and beautiful as they are. So for me they will be made as a labor of love and gifted to those who will appreciate them.

As for how well they work? Well, no one has broken down and used them yet! Including me.  I actually mended and washed my crappy old oven mitts to avoid messing up my new Artful Oven Mitts! But I will use them one day soon, I promise.

Remember, you can get a free pattern from Maria to make your own mitts. She is aiming to give away 100 patterns. (Scroll down to the bottom of her post to see how to request a pattern.)


Until next time -



P.S. I'm linking up over at Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays". Why not click on over to see how others are wrapping up 2013 and diving into 2014!

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