Friday, October 23, 2009

One Potato, Hot Potato

While visiting family this past summer, my MIL showed me a fabric bag she had which cooked perfect baked potatoes in the microwave in minutes. And then I saw them for sale in several stores we went to.

But naturally I thought to myself, "I don't have to buy this. I can make it!" You know...as soon as I get around to it, or have a good excuse...

When the need for a birthday present for my cousin became more pressing, I remembered this humble bag. I also remembered that my cousin had said she never got to eat potatoes because her family preferred rice. And it's no fun to cook potatoes for one. Well, unless you have a magic potato baker bag!

Before I get to the details of construction, let me tell you a potato story. I have always loved potatoes--pretty much in any form except potato salad, but especially plain boiled potatoes. We had them a lot when I was growing up. Now my farmer dad loved his potatoes too, but I could give him a run for his money. We used to compete at dinner for who was eating the most.

Now I'm sure when I was very small he was just humouring me, but there came a time when he had to cut his pieces in two to keep ahead!! (It's not really cheating when you reveal the secret, right?) I think of this often while eating potatoes (which I still do a lot).

Now on to the details:

The construction is pretty basic, but I looked online to verify dimensions and to ensure that I didn't miss anything. These online instructions were very helpful.

I pulled out my sewing tools, and some simple homespun cotton I had laying around:
I cut a strip of fabric about 10" wide and the width of the fabric (about 44"), and then sewed the short ends together to make a tube. I also made a couple strips of "bias" tape from some denim from some old favourite jeans. ("Bias" in quotes because it was actually cut on the straight grain since I wasn't turning any curves with it.)

I then laid the fabric onto some batting scraps and cut it to the same size:

Next, insert the batting inside the tube:

Then sew any kind of pattern to keep the batting in place (especially if you want to be able to wash it, which you do):
I decided to do a incomplete cross-hatch pattern. I didn't want anything too complex on the busy plaid pattern and the diagonal lines contrasted just enough with the vertical and horizontal pattern.

I just quilted until I felt like I had enough:

Now trim the edges:

And then I finished the edges in two ways. (Did I mention I made two bags? One for me, and one to share.)

1. Simple seam. With the bag inside out, sew the open edges shut:
(Note, I did not sew over the pins behind the needle. When the beginning/end of a seam is tricky or extra thick like this one is, it's much easy to sew to the edge than to start at the edge. So, I start in the middle of the seam and sew to the end. Then turn it over, start about an inch back from the previous start and sew to the other end. It's a good trick.)

Trim a little of the excess seam allowance, turn the bag right side out and you're done!

2. Binding the edges. I pinned the light denim bias tape to each edge:
I sewed along the raw edge with a narrow seam allowance, leaving plenty of bias tape on each side to finish the ends. Folding the bias tape over the seam and matching the folded edge with the seam line, I sewed it down by machine with a blind hem stitch.

Et voila! two completed potato baker bags:
I had to try it out before giving it as a gift and I have to say it worked well. We have harvested a lot of russet potatoes from the garden and they bake beautifully. The only bad part is that we have an incredibly old and weak microwave so it takes more than a couple minutes if you have anything more than two small potatoes in there. Considering we're usually cooking for one or two, this is not really a problem.

This is a great little project, especially for me because I love me my spuds!

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