The Quest for the Perfect Oven Mitt

Kitchen harmony took a dive on the weekend, when it was declared that the two (mis-matched) oven mitts currently in service were “unfit for purpose”.

Maybe yours are in the same sad state as ours?

I made the one on the left years ago, and the Harrods one was a gift.

I’ve been meaning to make some new ones for ages. Sure, I could buy some, but I could make some using what I already have.

Oven mitts tend to fall into two types, both of which we have an example of.

One is simple flat mitt which looks like a loose tracing around a hand in a mitten shape. Cut 2, sew around the edges, bind the opening and you’re done.

The predecessors to the current mitts were both this type – I found them in the rag bag.
The pattern was based on an oven mitt Mum had.

The other type is 3-dimesional like a hand puppet, same as the Harrods mitt.

I made face washers in this style for my children when they were young, but it made them spend more time playing and less time washing.

I have no particular preference for either type, but I like mitts that are long with a gauntlet to protect bare arms from touching oven racks.

There is, I’ve just remembered, another type, which is the classic square quilted potholder. Sometimes two are joined and you slip a hand through each end, like the one below. In my childhood, American moms on TV always seemed to be removing pot roasts from the oven wearing these.

As one gets older and more discerning with kitchen equipment (for example, having a favourite hot plate – front left, please! – or a favourite spatula), oven mitts also have a criteria to pass. Here’s mine:

Design brief:
Gauntlet-style to protect one’s wrists
Zero waste if possible – modular?
Minimal seams due to BULK
Either mitt or hand-puppet style
Preferably dark patterned fabric for outer to hide scorch marks
Outer fabric to be STRONG eg cotton drill not quilting cotton

I’m going to try for a zero or minimal waste pattern.

As well, part of zero waste is designing for longevity, so I’ll dig around for a durable outer fabric and I’m planning to use wool for the padding.

I came up with several potential ideas for a pattern; these are the two best:

Idea #1

I thought of using a long trapezium shape, which is folded and stitched to make a hand-puppet type mitt.

Trapeziums will naturally interlock with zero waste if they’re top-and-tailed:

I made a pattern and tried it out pinning the paper together. I showed my children, who said it “looked a bit papery”.

I feel like it’s a bit top-heavy, with lots of room for the fingers (which might work out to be a good thing?). I cut out one in fabric and pinned it together, tapered the corners.

I think it has potential, with a bit more work. I really like the way the back curves around to the front.

Idea #2

The other idea I had was for a flat mitt type, with a tessellating pattern piece.

The original little sketch from my sketchbook.

I made an actual full-size pattern piece for it, but here’s a miniature version to show how it works:

Notice this produces a piece which isn’t paired – it’s the same shape rotated. That’s okay, because it can be placed on 2 layers of fabric right sides together when it’s cut out.

The folded-up corner triangle you see on each piece I’ll cut off and try to use for a hanging loop.

I’ll probably tweak this a bit more – I’m unsure whether the thumb is too long.

So, that’s the current WIP. I plan to make each oven mitt and try them out.

To be continued…..



  1. Michelle Shaffer on July 18, 2022 at 9:02 pm

    I found this post to be very interesting. It gave me a basic blueprint of the thought process for creating a pattern, especially a zero waste pattern. Thanks!

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 11:48 am

      Many thanks for your interest – others have totally different thought processes for making zw patterns, and all so interesting.

  2. Sue on July 18, 2022 at 11:39 pm

    I’m in the market for some oven mitts. I surveyed the cook and he likes the mitten style, so I’m following with interest here.

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 10:40 am

      Mr H is also following with interest. He said: Are you going to make some that actually fit my hand? So pretty soon he’ll be starting a dream job as a hand model!

  3. Janelle on July 19, 2022 at 12:38 am

    I don’t understand why the triangle piece needs to be removed. I have made pot holders and mitts and find that the seam allowance needs to be a bit more due to the thickness of the layers used. The thumb looks too short if anything to me at first glance. I feel deeper thumbs give more dexterity. Are you planning to use a layer of insulbrite or the Ausie equivalent? Thin but reflective protection.

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 10:37 am

      I wondered if a corner might be too bulky with the seam allowances, thus the triangle removal, which I might round off to be a smooth flowing curve. All the details you mention – thumb, seam allowance – will get resolved this week and I’ll report back! Planning to use Aussie wool for the padding.

  4. Laurinda on July 19, 2022 at 12:53 am

    Consider felted wool (hello thrift shop) for them. Wool is self extinguishing, & felted is obviously machine washable & dry-able.
    Depending on how thick the wool is, you’d only need one layer.

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 10:28 am

      I’ve got some ex-clothing factory wool melton scraps lined up, but I’ll definitely need two layers. When I’ve used that, I’ve got a blanket offcut, which might only need one layer.

  5. Michelle Cahill on July 19, 2022 at 7:40 am

    Pot holders have been on my sewing to-do list for several months. Really interested to see how yours turn out.

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 7:37 pm

      This could work for both of us!
      I got down to using the wrist part of our mitts to hold hot things, because all the fingers are worn through.

  6. Elaine on July 19, 2022 at 8:59 am

    I have the “American Mom” style pot holder for getting things out of the oven for exactly the reason you suggest. I like having my whole hand in without the need for the thumb pocket. Mine were a gift many years ago and thankfully still going strong.

    If I were to require a new one in the future, I’d be digging into my patchwork box and making something with my own made patchwork. I’m sure you have lots of lovely scraps to choose from.

    It’s funny how these types of questions are such a personal thing with everyone liking something different for a variety of reasons. We humans are a funny lot.

    Have a great day.

    Elaine in Brisbane

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 11:37 am

      It’s funny how personal it gets, isn’t it? The American Mom style potholder hasn’t found favour in our household – they all like a thumb and tell me they want the flexibility to choose whether they want a potholder for both or only one hand. So I will be interested in what they think of mine.
      I have admired other people’s beautiful patchwork pot holders. Hmmm….

  7. Helen Sherriff on July 19, 2022 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for your good, well considered ideas, especially the gauntlet aspect. I have 2 burns on my left wrist!

    • lizhaywood on July 19, 2022 at 7:38 pm

      I now think gauntlet-style is essential!

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