This post is about something you’ve all seen before. It’s been all over the Internet with a few variations for several years. When I first saw it, I made plans to sew a few, and I’ve had it on my to-do list since. Every time I use my microwave oven, I think about making them but never follow up on that thought. I have decided to actually make this project so I can cross it off my list and quit thinking about one more thing to do. I’m also making it so I can quit burning my fingers when I’m using the microwave oven.
I’m talking about sewing bowl cozies that make it easy to handle warm/hot bowls as you take them out of the microwave. It is also great for cradling a bowl of ice cream to keep your hands from freezing as you indulge. This is a simple project that is really useful so I am through procrastinating, and I thought I would share this with you (motivation and accountability), just in case you haven’t made it either.
This project is fairly simple and there are several ways to make it. There are lots of patterns and templates on the Internet, some free and some for purchase. The method I’m using has four darts to shape the bowl and I think this is the original way it was made. It was definitely the first one I saw, and it made me want to sew one. Having said that, I made a “practice” cozy that I was less than happy with it. With two layers of batting, it felt bulky along the edges. I also thought it needed a little more quilting in the bottom. So, I tweaked a couple of steps to make it slightly easier to sew and a little more functional. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what I did to simplify the process.
These two presser feet are great for making the bowl cozy. I started with a clear all-purpose presser foot so I could see the stitches being formed under the foot. The all-purpose foot can actually be used for the entire project but I switched to an open embroidery foot to sew my edgestitching because I use it as a guide to sew parallel to the edge.
Here’s what you need to make one bowl cozy:
- Two 10” fabric squares, 100% cotton
- One 10” square of 100% cotton Wrap-N-Zap batting (see below)
- Fabric Marker
- Point Turner
The Keyword is Cotton
Everything in the project has to be 100% cotton: fabric, batting, and thread. This makes it safe to heat it in the microwave. Some fibers such as polyester may melt, and other fibers may actually catch fire. So please select your materials carefully, especially the batting. Some battings are 100% cotton but have an almost invisible netting (called a scrim) over the surface that is not cotton. To make sure I am not using one of those, I used a Pellon batting called Wrap-N-Zap – all cotton, no scrim. My supply list calls for only one layer of batting, which is different from the other instructions I’ve seen. The Wrap-N-Zap batting is slightly thicker than other cotton battings and one piece seems to be enough to act as a heat or cold barrier. This reduces the bulk in the edges and makes it a bit easier to turn the cozy and edgestitch the sides.
Using a fabric marker, draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner to form a large X on the fabric square that you want for the inner bowl. Place the batting behind the fabric square. Straight stitch over each drawn line. I call this minimalistic quilting. You are stitching through the layers of fabric and batting to hold them together, but just barely. Because this is a utilitarian project, you don’t really need pretty quilting for it to be useful.
Darts are what gives the bowl its shape. One dart at the center mark of each side of the fabric squares – 8 darts in total. Fold the fabric/batting piece in half, right sides together. Measure 2” from the raw edge along the fold and mark. Measure 1” up from the fold at the raw edge and mark. Draw a line to connect the two marks. With the fabric still folded, stitch over the drawn line. Make a second dart on the opposite edge. Refold the fabric and make 2 more darts in the same way. You should now have 4 darts on this piece of fabric/batting. I cut the dart open on the fold so I could press the seam open and reduce the bulk. I also trimmed the batting to about 1/4″. Repeat with the second piece of fabric that has no batting – for this piece I pressed the dart to one side.
Joining the Inner and Outer Fabrics
Place one bowl in the other bowl with right sides together. Use clips at each dart to hold the layers together. Stitch along the all four sides using a ¼” seam and leaving a 2”-3” opening for turning. Trim the corners and then turn the cozy right side out, using a turning tool to push the corners out.
Fold the edges of the opening to the inside and press. Attach the Open Embroidery Foot to the machine. Place the cozy under the foot, aligning the edge with the inside toe of the foot. Adjust the needle position to edgestitch 1/8” from the edge along all edges, closing the opening in the process.
One Last Thing
Even though I said earlier that the simple X stitched was enough to quilt the fabric and batting together, I just wanted a little more. I added more lines of stitching in the bottom of the cozy, stitching through all the layers. This just flattened the fabric a bit and made the bottom of the cozy a little more stable.
One of the things I love about sewing is that you make something to suit your taste, your skill level, and your preference. If you haven’t made any bowl cozies yet, try it. They’re fun to make and so useful! As always,