Do you have an indispensable gadget in your kitchen that you didn’t know you needed until you got it? Something you can’t imagine life without now? For me, one answer is my fabric tortilla warmer. I discovered these little wonders at Portland’s Saturday Market a few years ago, and have used one nearly every day since.
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It nearly goes without saying that my tortilla warmer is an essential part of the process when I make homemade tortillas. I stack them in, fresh and hot right out of the pan, and the heat and steam softens them perfectly by the time we are ready to eat. (Making tortillas is much easier to make than your might think: check out my step-by-step directions for homemade flour tortillas.) However, these insulated fabric warmers aren’t just for heating tortillas – microwave potatoes turn out fluffy and delicious, and they will accommodate a lunch-size bowl of veggies for steaming. They work as an emergency pot holder too! It seems like every week I find a new use for mine. (My kids have been known to make quesadillas in ours: I do not recommend this. Not at all.)
You may be able to find fabric tortilla warmers at your local farmers market, but if you have a sewing machine and half an hour, you can easily make one yourself.
To make one tortilla warmer, you will need:
- 1/3 yard patterned 100% cotton fabric (I got this chili print for 75% off!)*
- 1/3 yard muslin*
- 2 – 12×12-inch pieces of 100% cotton batting (i.e., Pellon Wrap-N-Zap)**
- 2 – 16-inch lengths of extra-wide cotton double-fold bias tape
- 1 – 25-inch length of extra-wide cotton double-fold bias tape
- Cotton thread
Since this is not a project that requires meticulous cutting precision, I cut all the fabric and batting pieces at once. (I’m a quilter and a bit of a perfectionist to boot, so if you lean that way too, trust me – everything will be OK.)
1. Using a compass or the rim of a large serving bowl, draw an 11-inch circle on one piece of the batting. This is your pattern.
2. With the batting pattern on top, stack two layers of patterned fabric, two layers of muslin and both pieces of cotton batting.
3. Cut out all the pieces so that you have two patterned fabric circles, two muslin circles and two batting circles.
Next, make the two fabric-circle sandwiches.
4. For each sandwich, stack one of each – muslin, batting, and patterned fabric. (Right sides out!)
5. Sew a 1/4” seam around the edge.
6. Attached one 16” piece of bias tape to the edge of each fabric sandwich. (To clarify, each fabric sandwich is still separate at this time.) I use a straight stitch, but I’ve seen tortilla warmers sewn with a zigzag stitch too. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
Now it’s time to sew the two fabric sandwiches together.
7. Pin the two circles together, right-sides out, with the bias taped edges aligned. Trim any bits of overhanging, mismatched edge fabric on the raw “unbiased” edges. This will all get covered up, but having them even makes attaching the final piece of bias tape much easier.
8. Attached the 25-inch piece of bias tape to both circles at the same time. Be sure to turn under 1/2” of each end of the bias tape.
NOTE: I could tell you that I pin these together carefully before I sew, but that would be a lie. I just pin the turned under end in place, and then snug the bias tape onto the edge as I go around. I think this makes for a smoother bias-tape application.
That’s all there is to it! Once you make one tortilla warmer and see how fast and easy they are (not to mention how incredibly useful), you will be making them for everyone you know. And remember – they aren’t just for microwaving! Wrap one around a bottle of salsa for a great hostess gift, add one to a festive gift basket, or pack one with warm tortillas for your next picnic.
* You really only need two 12-inch squares of each patterned fabric and muslin, so scraps work just fine.
** DO NOT use any batting with metal! It needs to be microwave-safe.
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