My parents have a penchant for using kitchen tools in creative ways. When they first got married, my mom had never seen a butter dish before; when she unpacked my dad’s butter dish, she decided that it was made to hold cranberry sauce (upside down, of course) at the holidays, and we’ve been using a butter dish like this ever since. One of the gifts they were given for their wedding were some insulated things that were bowl-shaped. So what did my dad do? Naturally, he put them on his head like a hat and declared himself Napoleon!
In reality, these devices were like bowl mitts, used to hold a hot bowl without burning your hands. Growing up, we only ever used the “Napoleon hats” for French onion soup, since it comes straight out of the oven. When I bought my first house, my mom made me the first generation of homemade Napoleon hat, designed based on the originals (no idea where they were obtained, but I’ve never seen anything like it since). It occurred to me that these could be used for more than just French onion soup – they are actually great for reheating anything in a bowl, since they are microwave safe! My mom has made several variations for most of our family members since then, but all of hers had a seam across the middle of the bottom which made the bowl tip from one side to the other. I’ll be sharing here my own design, which eliminates that seam (and I think is easier to put together than hers are).
Supplies (to make 4):
- 1/3 yd outer fabric
- 1/3 yd inner fabric
- 1/3 yd Pellon (think insulating – thicker is better; iron-on makes assembly easier)
- 3.5 yds wide bias tape (single or double fold)
- Coordinating thread
All seam allowances will be stated for each seam, as they vary.
Start with the pattern found here, printed on a standard sheet of paper (there’s a 1 inch square for reference): Bowl Mitt Pattern – when you print, make sure to print it “Actual Size” or it will shrink a little.
You have a couple of options for cutting out your fabric. You can fold your fabric twice and cut using the pattern, or you can cut 11″x11″ squares and just use the pattern to cut the notches out of the corners. I’ll leave that up to you. You’ll need to cut out 3 pieces for each mitt – 1 outer, 1 inner, and 1 interfacing (if you use iron-on, attaching to the outer piece before cutting eliminates a cutting step).
Next, you’re going to sew together each of those notches on the outer+interfacing and the inner pieces to make bowl shapes (right sides together so the pretty side has no seam showing). Use a 1/4″ seam allowance for the outer and interfacing seams, and just a little more (about 3/8″) for the inner so that it fits nicely (I used a similar method for the lining of the tote bag).
Once you’ve made your inner and outer bowls, it’s time to attach them. Place them seam sides together, line up the seams, and pin. Then topstitch “in the ditch” from the top of one corner down, across the bottom of the bowl, and up to the corner that is kittycorner from it; repeat with the other corner.
Now, you have probably noticed that your “bowl” has points where each of the seams are. While this does not prevent you from using it, they do make sewing the binding on a bit harder. I recommend trimming and rounding each corner as shown below (it doesn’t need to be perfect – the binding will cover any imperfections):
Now, just pin your bias tape on, folded over the top unfinished fabric, and sew into place close to the edge (but make sure you catch the back side). When you get back to the beginning, fold the tail under itself so you don’t have any fraying edges.
Voila! You have a handy bowl mitt (or 4)! My favorite use is when I make soup and I want to reheat it the next day, I put the bowl in my mitt before I put it in the microwave, so I don’t burn my fingers pulling it out. We’ve even been known to flatten them and use them for plates around here!
Once Radar was converted to my new design, he asked me to make him another one specifically for his lunch Pyrex. The plane he flies only has an oven, not a microwave, so he has a mini Pyrex dish with a lid that he uses for his meal during each flight. DISCLAIMER: THESE MITTS ARE NOT OVEN SAFE!!! Radar learned this the hard way when he caught one on fire 🙂
So, if you have a different shape, you’re going to use the same general idea, just tweak the measurements. I measured from the top edge, down around the bottom, to the other top edge in both directions on his Pyrex, and got 10.5″x12.5″. So I cut rectangles of outer, inner, and interfacing that were 11″x13″. The edges are pretty steep and 2 inches tall, but not quite straight up, so I marked 2.5″ squares on each of the corners of my inner fabric (it was solid, so it was easier to see my marks). Then I just put a tick mark 2″ in from each corner on the edge. I then cut from the tick mark to the intersection of the first marks, making a notch in each corner:
Then I used this one as a pattern for my outer and interfacing pieces and cut them the same. Alternately, you can use the pieces you cut off as a pattern – just depends on what works for you.
Once you have your 3 pieces cut out, construction is essentially the same as the bowl version above. The only difference I found was that I didn’t have to trim the corners here – the sides were so steep, I didn’t end up with much of a corner, and it was easy to wrap the bias tape around it. My finished product has a snug fit, so it won’t wiggle around and he won’t burn himself using it:
This would be a great application for a larger Pyrex that you want to bring somewhere, or even put it in the fridge or on the counter when it’s still hot. Really, once you’ve got the basics of the design down, the sky is the limit!