Sunday, March 10, 2013

Quilts for the Microwave! Awesome!

The title for this blog comes from my 11-year old granddaughter, Ava.  She and I e-mail each other regularly, now that she has an e-mail account, and when I told her about the microwave bowl potholders and the baking potato bags, she had that response:  "Quilts for the microwave!  Awesome!!"  She also said her dad, my oldest son, loves baked potatoes, so could we please keep it a secret and surprise him?  Since they will be here in just a few days, I am hoping he will not have time to read my blog. I've decided I will make each of his three children their own microwave bowl potholder in different colors, so they can easily tell which one is theirs... I remember those battles over "that one is mine" when  my children were growing up. 

Speaking of children, my youngest son was here working in Cincinnati this past week for several days.  He and one of his co-workers were able to stop by on their way out of town to "give me a hug" and were just in time to shovel my sidewalk and clean the  layer of snow and ice off my van!  Since I had a doctor appointment I had to go to the next day, the snow removal was very much appreciated, almost as much as the hugs.  I pointed out that the Christmas cactus was again blooming, in anticipation of my oldest son's visit, and he countered with, "No, Mom, it's blooming because I am here again!"  Sibling rivalry never changes. 

That Christmas cactus is the only plant in my home at this point in time.  I have a green thumb when it comes to outside gardening, but I seem to be able to kill off anything I grow inside in record time.  This cactus doesn't need a lot of attention, and it sits in the only full-sun window in my home, and has grown from a tiny little sprig I bought at Kroger's 4 years ago when I moved here, to a huge, lush full-fledged plant that blooms a couple of times each year.  I've re-potted it twice, and this is just about as big a pot that I can have in my home, so it will stay in this pot. I remember my maternal grandmother always had a beautiful Christmas cactus, and my father also has one, so this plant is really a tribute to both of them, and the blossoming love they have brought into my life. 

Today, I have set my clocks ahead one hour... at least, those clocks I can reach.  There are several on walls beyond my reach that will have to wait until one of my tall children come to visit.  I am not very steady on a ladder anymore, so don't dare to try reaching them myself.  I do not like daylight savings time... it messes up everyone's schedules... especially babies and pets.  I will like the extra hour of daylight in the evening, however, as I can no longer drive at night.

Quilts for the microwave... I LOVE my microwave  bowl potholders, and although I was skeptical about the potato bag, I think it made the best microwave baked potato I've ever eaten!  It was fluffy, tender-skinned, and had no hard spots.  I've made the bags in two sizes... but they can be just about any size you choose, I think.  The first bag was 10" x 24", and ends up being about 10" square when finished, and holds four potatoes.  I also made a slightly smaller one that will hold one or two potatoes.

Cut the front and back of 100% cotton fabric.  I used coordinating colors for mine.  Cut the Warm and Natural batting the same size.  Layer the cotton fabrics, right sides together, with the batting on top.  The photo at the right, with the lining and batting folded back, shows how the 3 layers are arranged.  Place a pin at each of the corners, but do not sew over the pins.  Sew 1/4" from the edge all the way around the four sides, leaving a space about 4" at one end unsewn, so the bag can be turned right side out.  Turn bag, making sure the corners are pushed out fully.  Turn under the raw edge you left open for turning and finger press the edges so that the edge is straight.

Topstitch the edge closed, 1/4" from the edge, making sure you catch in the raw edges that you turned in.  Topstitch the other end, also.  Measure down about 2" from one of the ends, and mark with a pin.  This will be the "envelope flap" of your potato bag in the final step.  Fold your "quilt" in half, so that the bottom edge is about 2" from the top edge, as shown in the photo at the left.  Mark the fold line with another pin on both sides, right and left.  This fold line will mark the your "quilt" in half.  Open it out, and stitch a big "X" on both halves of the opened "quilt".  I used a bit larger stitch, and use my needle down position so it was easy to swivel at the turning point.  I sewed from  one corner to the marked fold line where the bottom will be, then swiveled the needle and sewed diagonally to the place I marked for the "flap" bottom on the other end.

See photo on the right. Your open piece will have two large "X" stitching lines, one on  each half of the piece.  Now your bag is almost done.  Fold the quilted bag in half.  Measure down about 2" from one end.  That is your "flap" that will be turned down and sewn along the sides.  The following photos show how this will look.  Below left, see how the top flap is marked, about 2" down, and the bag is pinned in place.  Bottom right, I topstitch down both sides, forming the potato bag.  Again, make sure all of your fabrics are pure cotton.  I used Warm and Natural batting in my bag, which is not pure cotton, but it works.  I understand Warm and Natural now makes a batting that is for using in the microwave, 100% cotton.  I have not seen that batting at any of the places I buy my fabric.

Instructions for baking potatoes:
Wash the potato, scrubbing the skin well.  Wrap the wet potato in a paper towel, wetting your hands to form the towel around the potato.  My paper towels come with perforations on the half-sheet, and I found that half sheet is big enough for the sized potatoes I use.  The paper toweling can be re-used, after it dries, I discovered.  I was concerned that the potato might burst if it wasn't pierced, but an online friend and one of the list-moms for Quilt Talk, Cal, assured us it doesn't need to be pierced, and she was absolutely right.  I read several different methods online for baking the potatoes, but I tried Cal's method and it was perfect!  I used the baked potato setting on my microwave, and have tried it baking up to two potatoes at one time. 

NOTE:  As with the microwave bowl potholders, I would recommend staying nearby and keeping an eye on it, to make sure the fabric doesn't start smoldering... especially the first few times you make them.  I've heard a few comments that it sounds like too much work, but it was well worth wrapping the potato in toweling for me, which is really the only extra step, once you've made your bag.  The potatoes were so light and fluffy, and the skin was tender.  If you have a large family, this would probably not be as effective as baking them in a conventional oven, but for a few potatoes, it is perfect.  The bag was hot when I took it out of the microwave, and I would definitely let it cool before using it again.  My potato didn't explode and blow a hole through my microwave, and I didn't have to turn it during the baking process to avoid a hard spot on the bottom.  As Ava so eloquently stated, "Quilts for the microwave!  Awesome!!"

Have an awesome day and enjoy our extra hour of daylight in the evening. 

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. I love your site. I hope to make some very soon.