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Monday, June 18, 2018

A Good Steward: the too-thin oven mitt

I repair many household objects, not because I can't afford to replace the items, but because fixing what I already have is much less wasteful, and that makes me feel good. Case in point, our oven mitts had become too thin for comfort in key spots. I only spent $1 each for these mitts (at Dollar Tree), so I know I could replace them cheaply. But I just don't want to throw an item away that could be repaired for free, and in just a little time.

I used some scraps of fleece fabric, leftover from making baby clothing 23 years ago, and assorted thread in colors as close to the sage green of the exterior of my oven mitts.

I turned each oven mitt inside out. I traced around the outside of the mitt on large scraps of fleece, then cut along those trace lines. Using my sewing machine, I sewed the fleece to the inside surface of the mitt, using a tight zig zag stitch along the original seam line of the mitt, sewing through the fleece and both parts of the mitt. I only stitched the sides and fingertip area of the mitt, leaving the opening edge free of stitching, at this point. Then, I turned the mitt right side out, and carefully stitched the fleece to the mitt, along the opening edge, attaching fleece to only one part of the mitt (so as not to close the mitt with stitching).

Due to the limited room inside the existing oven mitt, I only attached fleece to one half of the mitt. For the second mitt, I attached the fleece to the opposing side of the mitt, giving me a left and a right-handed oven mitt. My family now knows that to use these mitts they must put the palm of their hand against the new fleece lining, to get the benefit of additional lining between hand and hot baking dish.

It's not a perfect sewing job, but the mitts can now be used again.


  1. Now that's something I wouldn't have thought about doing. Good for you. It's possible I might have used it as a trivet now that I have Formica counter tops again but I wouldn't have patched it.

    Did you label the mitts right and left? I would have to do that because I mix right and left up all of the time anyway.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I thought of using a Sharpie to make a little L or R on the respective mitts. I told my family members to "feel the fleece on their palms" to know which is which. So far, that has ben working. But I may label each as a precaution. I, too, can be a bit befuddled at times. Thanks for the input!

  2. Hi, Lili--

    We use our oven mitts and hot pads until they're completely ugly and falling apart, and sometimes keep them as "spares" even after, since we only have adults in the family who know to be careful of the worn spots. (If I had young cooks in the house, I don't think I'd risk it.) But I've not mended any, yet.

    We've sewn new ones, and they work well, but my concern has been fabric/padding type, because you want to be sure it can handle the heat. I've used all cotton outer fabric and batting, and I picked up some fancy heat-shield batting once on sale. For a mending job like yours, seems like the fleece would be protected enough from the heat by the "good" parts of the mitt to be okay. Is that what you're finding?

    As for the right and left mitts, we've had some that went bare on one spot, so could be used, but only if you put it on the correct hand, which in our case was based on putting the clean side over your palm. (giggle) Having the tactile "signal" of feeling/not feeling the fleece on your palm seems MUCH easier and more practical! A serendipitous side benefit! Great work!

    Take care-- Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I have kept a couple of back-ups, with the intention of mending them someday. I may still do that with another pair. The fleece seems to be "enough." I'll have to ask family members if they're finding the same to be true. The mitts must've had just enough padding left in them to add to the fleece layer. If I ever do make a pair, I'll use all-cotton batting/fabric, as you say. I haven't noticed heat-shield batting, but I'll keep a look-out for it. Thanks for the tips!

    2. Yes, Lili, I think like yours, ours which aren't really safe to use anymore are mostly just worn in spots or on the one side most often used (that's why I only buy oven mitts that are padded on both sides... so someday they can serve as left-handers for the all-righties we have around here. :))

      So, with quite a bit of the padding/insulating left, you probably just needed a little layer for heat protection for your hands... and the fleece (synthetic) is insulated from the heat which might be too much for it, too, by the other layers. I don't know how much heat fleece CAN take before it's damaged, but since it's not in direct contact with the hot pans, and you're not noticing a lot of heat through, this sounds like a perfect time to use the thickness and insulative values of the fleece.

      I found heat-reflective batting somewhere on sale. The only brand names I can think of are Insul-Bright and Insul-Shine, maybe? I don't remember if mine was one of those or not. It's pricey, but nice if you're making something you don't want to have to make super-duper thick. I have saved mine to use only for the most-appropriate projects.

      I've also made hotpads with just a couple of layers of cotton batting bits and pieces from old projects, and after seeing that some pioneer ancestors used old blankets to fill one of their quilts, it occurs to me that old cotton towels or wool blankets might be useful layered for pot holders or oven mitts... you'd just have to experiment with how much you needed to make them safe. (There's nothing worse than a hot pad or mitt that doesn't keep enough heat out!)


    3. Good information, Sara! I think some of us in this older generation remember our grandmothers using kitchen towels, folded over, in place of an oven mitt or potholder. I still do this myself, with our tea kettle when it's steam makes it too hot to hold and pour into a cup. I fold whatever kitchen towel is hanging from the range and use it to grip the kettle's handle. For me, that's quicker and easier than opening a drawer to get a pot holder out. Lazy, lazy me! But, I can't expect my husband or kids to know how to do this with a second-natured response. Have you sewn oven mitts before? I've thought of making some as gifts, but want to make sure they really are good insulators, plus would be a good fit for most on my gift-giving list.

    4. Hee,hee, Lili! I know what you mean about not digging in a drawer for a mitt/potholder. :) I'm lucky, in this house our wrought iron towel racks have a curly-cue on the end that's perfect for hanging mitts/potholders, so I always have one at-hand by the stovetop or wall ovens.

      And yes, DS and I have made one oven mitt and a couple of hot pads. We didn't use a pattern, just traced his hand; and I'll admit, even with some experience in adding wearing ease and pattern grading, the thickness of the fabric (old blue jeans) and batting made the finished mitt a little smaller than I'd expected. I hate a sloppy mitt, but I went a little too far the other direction, at least for my menfolk to use it.
      I'd actually planned to put lining fabric in, too, but decided that would make it too tight. Fits me well as it is,and keeps our hands safe from the heat, but doesn't slip loosely over DS's hand.

      So, my advice to you if you decide to make your own (all jut intuitive stuff for you, probably) is, 1) allow another 1/4 to 1/2 inch after you think you've added enough seam and ease allowance. :) 2)Feel free to use used fabric like the legs of worn blue jeans. 3) Look into the reflective batting/lining materials just because of the way they might limit the necessary thickness, though they are pretty spendy. 4) Experiment by pinning together the combination of layers you plan to use, and testing it carefully on something hot before you make the whole mitt. And 5) Use your own good advice about machine sewing without the presser foot down, if things are just too darned thick. :)

      I also think you can make the sewing easier by making an inner mitt and outer mitt, slipping the one in the other, and then only joining them at the wrist, though I've bought mitts where all the layers were sewn at once in the same perimeter seam. This seems like it would be hard to control and get even stitching, perhaps even on a commercial machine, depending on the combination of fabrics/battings. That was my plan for the mitt we decided not to line, and I think it would work well, with a contrast bias tape or lace or something at the wrist.

      As for thickness, one set of crochet potholders I made for our other DS came out very puffy and they can probably double-duty to protect his table from hot dishes. I probably could have used one fewer layers of batting than I did, but I wanted to be sure. Funny as they look, it's impossible to deny that they definitely keep the heat from your fingers! And, after all, that's the whole point. :)


      PS... I have photos of all of these projects around here somewhere, so, if you're interested, e-mail me.

  3. what a great idea! You never cease to amaze me. I'm doing that today.

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      Good luck with yours! If I have any tips for doing this I would say -- use a thick piece of fleece, and if you can't feed the layers of fabric through the feed teeth on your machine, leave the pressure foot in the up position, and manually feed the fabric through.

  4. I totally agree about repairing even the most inexpensive items. It is the challenge and why waste even a dollar. Sometimes I question how prudent it is time wise, but I am obsessed with shrinking my footprint, so I sometimes do the ridiculous. But I get a real joy knowing I can consume less and forgo what I want or need. Shrink ego satisfaction, and try to live like a minimalist..I know this was not your point lol howevern I find by doing so, it helps me find inner peace.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Your point is well-taken. I also try to make less waste, as a way to be a good steward of the small patch of ground that I've been given. I feel it's just something I'm supposed to do. And $1 is $1. As my dad used to say, "money doesn't grow on trees." If I saw a $1 bill on the ground, I would most certainly stoop to pick it up.

  5. I love it! You're repaired an item you use and didn't spend any money (not even $1.00). Kudos to you, Lili. I love stories like this one.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Thank you! It really did please me to repair the mitts. Oven mitt -- $1; repair job -- priceless.
      Have a great day!


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