Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mr. Potato Head baker bags

Microwaved baked potatoes? Ugh. A slight gag reflex ensues. Or at least used to. Along came the potato baker bag, and everything changed. No more wizened, wrinkled, bake-in-a-hurry potatoes. When baked in a quilted bag, potatoes retain their moisture, and -- voila! No wrinkles! And better texture, too.

I went a little overboard on this project, as you can see below.  At first I made them in various sizes, depending on how much scrap fabric I had on hand. The Mr. Potato Head bag holds about four standard potatoes (not the Costco size).

If you were to examine one of these, it would be easy to figure how to put it together, but just in case you want detail, here are some basic instructions, but first a word about fabrics. My first potato bag had a muslin lining. Why not? It would be inside and no one would ever see it, right? It turns out the potatoes stain the fabric, and it's just not appetizing even after being washed, so now I use prints from my stash.

I have been warned that polyester thread should not be used because it would melt in the microwave. I have doubts about this, but am passing the word along. If anyone has melted their cotton-wrapped polyester thread while baking potatoes, please tell me about it. Mine is doing fine, but then I bake potatoes only about once a month.


  1. Cut cotton batting, outer fabric, and inner fabric 10 x 22 inches (does not have to be exact, but 22 inches works well because it's half the width of most bolts).
  2. Place fabric right sides together, with the batting on top (or bottom, whichever way goes best through your sewing machine). 
  3. Stitch short ends only, using about a 1/2" seam. 
  4. Turn right side out so batting is between the two fabrics, press, and top stitch about 1/4" from both seamed ends. 
  5.  (Optional steps) Add a few lines of quilting or an appliqued design, if you wish. I thought Mr. Potato Head was cute, though I know he is a copyrighted design, so I will definitely not be selling these. After fusing on the scrap fabrics that make up Mr. PH, I stitched around the edges twice, using thread that matched his nose. Since Mr. PH is not an anatomically correct potato or person, I figured the stitching could be folksy, so I purposely made the stitching wander a little.
  6. This is the length of the fabric just after top-
    stitching the ends,
    before being folded into a bag.
    Mr. Potato Head, after fusing, before outline stitching
  7. Form the bag. Right sides together: Turn the bottom end up 2 inches and pin. This is the flap. Watch out for wrinkles in the folds of the fabric.
  8. Fold the remaining length in half, right sides together, so that the seam of the other end is 1/4" from the edge of the flap's fold. I know. I should have taken a photo of these two steps. Pin. Be sure to watch out for those inner -- soon-to-be outer -- wrinkles. My philosophy: A few wrinkles are okay, big ones need surgery.
  9. Stitch both sides. I used a 3/8" seam, but it doesn't matter, just somewhere in that ballpark.
  10. Trim edges if needed. 
  11. Finish edges with zig zag, serging, or binding.
  12. Turn right side out.
  13. Bake your potatoes. Wash and dry them, place in bag. I don't think they need poking. Bake as you usually do in your microwave. Or as I do: Nuke on high for 3 minutes. Turn over and nuke on high for another 3 minutes. Depending on how many you are baking, continue until they are cooked through.
The evolution of the potato baker bag: First I used scraps,
then found potato fabric, and finally had fun making Mr. Potato Head.