Sunday, November 9, 2014

California Coffee Tree Potholder Tutorial for Andrew

This tutorial is for my son Andrew, who loved the Coffee Tree in Vacaville, CA.  Sadly it is no longer there but the memories live on!  Along with the Nut Tree, they were an iconic stop on the way to Lake Tahoe for us.

To make this easy, I have created a PDF template to use for fussy cutting your fabric pieces.  No Curved Seams to piece. 

You will need the following materials to make this potholder:

1 - 10" square of background fabric
1 - 10" square of focus fabric for your petals or scraps
1 - 12" square of backing fabric
1 - 12" square of Insulbright Insulated Batting
1 - 12" square of Warm & Natural Batting
Binding - 47" of binding. ( 2.5" wide strips pieced to make the length you need. )

Print out the PDF template of the petal ACTUAL SIZE. This is important!  Do Not resize or size to fit the paper when printing.

Cut four pieces of the Pellon 805 Wonder Under large enough to cover the template.  Lay one of the pieces over your pattern and trace with a permanent marker or a pencil.  Stack and pin all your pieces together as shown.  You only need to trace one.

Remove the thread from your needle and remove the bobbin.  Now stitch on the line through all four sheets of Wonder Under.  This will create a line for you to see without having to trace each one.

Clip away the excess to about 1/4" or so from your line and place your Wonder Under pieces on the Back Side of your focus fabric. You can easily see through the Wonder Under  which will let you place your petal on your focus fabric in a way that you can take advantage of the fabric design.  Just remember, what you see will be reversed when you finally place your petal. 

Following the instructions for the Pellon Wonder Under, press it into place and then cut your pieces out on the line.  For the pieces that you stitched with the machine, you can rub a little colored chalk along the line with your finger and you will see it easily to cut.  

Once you have trimmed away the excess you are ready to place them on your background.  Fold your background piece in half and press, fold it again the opposite way and press.  This will create a grid that will help you line up your petals before you press them down.  Take a pin and scratch across the back of the Wonder Under and this will create a little tear in the paper so you can easily peel it off.  Trying to peel from the edge will only shred your fabric.  Now place your pieces about 1/4" away from the "Grid" lines as shown below.  When you are pleased with the placement, press them according to the instructions for the Wonder Under.

Okay, you are ready to thread your machine and top stitch these pieces in place.  You won't need to pin, they are already attached with the wonder under.  Line your fabric up so that you are stitching on the edge, you can see the needle placement in this photo.  If you will keep your fabric to the inside right edge of your presser foot and use that as a guide you will have a nice perfect line all the way around.  You can back stitch if you like or pull your threads to the other side and tie them off.  Stitch around all four petals.  Give it all a good press.

Now take your backing fabric and lay it down with the wrong side facing up.  Lay your Warm & Natural batting on top of that and then lay your Insulbright batting on top of that (make sure the glossy side is to the bottom and the woolly side to the top) Finally, lay your petal piece on top and center it.  Carefully pin it into place making sure you have all layers smooth.

Stitch around each petal, starting from the center of your potholder, through all layers.  This will "quilt" your potholder together. Once you are done quilting, trim the excess batting and backing fabric away and square up your piece to 10" square.

You are ready to bind.  Take your 2.5" strips and piece them together like this:  Lay one strip right side up in front of you, lay the other strip perpendicular to that one as shown in the photo below.  Place a pin in the corner to hold them together as shown. Using a small ruler or a straight edge, mark across the piece on the diagonal as shown.  This will be your stitching line.  Stitch on that line and then trim away the excess to 1/4" as shown.  Press the seam open to reduce bulk.

Fold your piece in half lengthwise and press to create your binding strip.

On the back side of your potholder, lay your binding strip along one edge, raw edges to the raw edges of your potholder. Leave about 1/2" or so hanging past the starting point and stitch 1/4" from the edge until you come to the first corner.  Stop 1/4" from that edge, leave your needle down and lifting your presser foot, turn your piece to the next side.  Back Stitch OFF that piece.

Now take that loose piece of binding and fold it so that it is straight above your piece as shown.  This will create a little "miter".

Bring that loose binding piece straight down now, folding it right over the top of that "miter".  Place a pin to the left, outside of your stitching area.  

Starting about 1/4" in from the edge, continue to stitch your binding in place until you get to the next corner and repeat.

When you are almost all the way around, Stop.  Fold open the binding that you stitched at the beginning and lay your final binding piece on top of that.  Stitch just to the edge of the seam where they intersect as shown and back stitch to secure.

Remove your piece from the machine and using your iron, press out the binding away from the backing as shown.

Turn to the petal side and you will start to wrap your binding around the edge to cover your 1/4" seam as shown pinning in place. Trim away the excess binding even with the edge of the potholder as shown, only on the one side, you will leave a long 6 inch piece of binding on the other side to finish making your hanging loop.

Pin down to the first corner, take your finger and finger press that corner straight out as shown, this will help to create your miter on the front.  Bring your next side up and they should meet in the corner neatly.  Adjust as needed and place a pin.

Stitch close to the edge and leave your needle down when you reach the corner and turn, continue to stitch your binding in place.

When you get to the last corner, fold the raw edges of the binding in and continue to stitch for about 5-6 inches ash shown.

Make a loop the size that you want from that strip of binding, curling it back on itself to the front as shown.  

Fold the excess back between the potholder and the loop you are creating as shown.

Using a zigzag stitch with your feed dogs dropped, tack your loop in place a couple times as shown.

Trim off the excess binding tab from the back side as shown.

It should look like this when finished.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Debbie, I'm going to do another one in Christmas Fabric this weekend, I have a couple'll have to check back! LOL

  2. What a nice tutorial! Your descriptions and photo's make it very clear. We lived at Travis AFB in the late 1970's and the NUT TREE was a favorite place. Thanks for the reminder. (I loved the train that was there and the resturant). The new shopping center is nice, but certainly not that "country feel" the Nut Tree had!

  3. Love this! Easier than I thought!!