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What it takes to make the best reversible fabric bowl covers

What it takes to make the best reversible fabric bowl covers

by Julie Plotniko

It’s day three of five days to a fabulous picnic set. In yesterday’s post, I had a wonderful time making a set of double sided fabric napkins. Today I’ll be making reversible fabric bowl covers.

Many traditional picnic foods need to be served in a bowl. Potato salad, coleslaw, chips and dip are just a few of the foods that add to the pleasure of eating outdoors.

The challenge of serving a meal outdoors is how to protect the food from dust, leaves and flying things between servings. In the past, we would have covered the food with plastic stretch wrap however it’s time for a change. Fabric bowl covers look much nicer, can be used over and over and are easy to put on and take off.

Notions from UNIQUE and Heirloom, SCHMETZ needles and Gütermann thread will once again make the task easy. Fabric from April Showers by Northcott will make our bowl covers beautiful.

It’s time to sew.

The perfect way to protect our picnic meal.

materials (4 to 6 bowl covers)


  • 1 yd each of two different fabrics, April Showers 22590-81 and 22594-81 was used in this sample

The lovely fabrics used for my bowl covers.

UNIQUE Fleece low loft polyester batting

UNIQUE braided elastic

UNIQUE T-square ruler

UNIQUE 2 in 1 marking pen



Make a pattern for the reversible fabric bowl cover. Each different sized bowl will require its own pattern. Thankfully this is super easy to do.

If making only one bowl cover in a particular size then you can draw the pattern directly onto one of the fabrics you’ll be using. For those who plan to make multiple covers that are the same then draw the pattern on paper instead.

To start, place your bowl upside down on the pattern paper or wrong side of your fabric. You’ll need two to 3″ extra all around the outside edge of the bowl. I like a deep bowl cover so I always add 3″.

Using the purple air erase side of your UNIQUE 2 in 1 marking pen trace the outline of the top of your bowl.

Trace the top edge of your bowl.

I’m using the UNIQUE T-square ruler to add the extra three inches around the tracing line. Size, flexibility, accurate measurements and the T shape make this an excellent tool for pattern drafting as well as creating grid designs.

Starting at any position on the circle use the side without the T to measure 3″ away from the bowl outline. Place a mark using your UNIQUE 2 in 1 marker. Repeat the process about 1″ to 1½” away from the first mark.

Continue placing marks all the way around the outside of the traced line. You’ve created a dotted line 3″ away from the tracing of the top edge of the bowl.

Use a T-square ruler to make a series of marks.

Reverse the T-square ruler and use the T portion to line up to the marks. Draw from mark to mark to create a solid cutting line.

Connect the marks to make a solid cutting line.

If you want to make a reusable pattern but don’t have any paper large enough you could use interfacing or even leftover fabric.

I know I’ll be making these again and again not only for my picnic set but for home use and gifts as well. As a result, I want circle patterns for a variety of standard-sized bowls that will last with heavy use.

I always have lots of leftover scraps of batting so that’s what I used to make my set of bowl cover patterns. This worked really well because the batting doesn’t tear or slide around like paper and I now have more room in my batting cupboard.

A reusable bowl pattern cut from leftover batting


Now we have our patterns it’s time to cut out our reversible fabric bowl covers.

Use the pattern piece to draw the bowl cover pattern on just one of the fabrics you’ll be using. Repeat for as many bowl covers that fit on the yard of fabric. If you drew the pattern directly onto one of your fabrics then this step is already complete. Use a pair of nice sharp fabric scissors and cut out each circle on the outermost drawn line.

Don’t cut the second fabric or the fleece just yet.

To make pinning and sewing super easy, cut squares of the second fabric and UNIQUE fleece about 2″ larger than the actual circle needed. For example, if your circle measures 18″ across then the squares you need to cut will be 20″.

Simply pop the circle pattern on top and use a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat to rough cut a square from each of your second fabric and fleece.

Layer each reversible fabric bowl cover as follows:
1 square of UNIQUE Fleece
1 square of fabric the same size as the fleece, right side up
1 cut out circle of a different fabric, right side down

We could make the fabric bowl covers without anything inside but I like the extra body a thin batting adds. UNIQUE Fleece is a needle punched polyester so it’s extremely durable, adds just the right amount of body and will even help keep the temperature inside the bowl more constant.

Pin generously around the edge of the circle with Heirloom quilting pins.
I’ll leave a 2″ opening in the side so I use crossed pins to remind myself not to stitch too far.

Pin well to prepare for stitching.

Prepare your sewing machine with a walking foot and a SCHMETZ 90/14 quilting needle. The walking foot will help feed all of layers evenly so there’s even stitching and nothing will shift out of place. The 90/14 quilting needle will help pierce all the layers quickly for beautiful quality stitching.

Thread your machine with Gütermann 50wt cotton thread to match your fabric. I’ll be using the same thread for construction and topstitching. The strength and durability of Gütermann 50wt cotton will help the bowl covers stay looking like new.

Use the edge of the walking foot against the cut edge of your top circle and stitch through all three layers. Backstitch at the beginning and end for strength. Remember to leave a 2″ section unstitched so there’s an opening to turn the bowl cover right sides out.

Use the edge of your walking foot to guide you.

Use scissors to trim away all of the extra fabric and fleece even with edge of the fabric circle.

Trim away the excess fabric and fleece

Carefully cut notches around the outside of the stitching to help create a smooth edge when the circle is turned right sides out.

Be sure not to cut the thread or where the 2″ opening is.

Clip notches around the outside edge

Turn the circle right sides out through the two-inch opening and press. Roll the edges between your fingertips so they are nice and flat and even. Press the seam allowance of the 2″ opening to the inside.

Don’t stitch the opening yet! We need it to insert the elastic.

Use UNIQUE quilting pins and pin the edges together so they stay nice and even. Topstitch around the outside edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end for strength. Be sure not to catch the seam allowance where the opening is. The topstitching will form a casing for the elastic that will give these reversible bowl covers their shape.

Cut a piece of UNIQUE braided elastic about 5″ shorter than the circumference of the circle. You won’t need this much but it’s better to have a little extra to hang onto as you thread it through the casing. The length of elastic required varies depending on the depth of the bowl you’re covering.

Securely attach a safety pin to one end or the elastic. Hold onto the other end and feed the elastic through the casing between the edge of the bowl cover and the topstitching.

Feed the elastic through the casing

Once all the way through, place the reversible bowl cover onto its chosen bowl and pull the elastic tight until the cover is nice and snug on the bowl.

Don’t let go of the ends!

To secure my narrow braided elastic I tied a double knot then stitched just a bit of a zigzag stitch over the ends before clipping them off.

Close the opening that was used to insert the elastic with hand stitching to finish your beautiful reversible bowl cover. If hand stitching isn’t your thing you could machine stitch very close to the edge. By matching thread color to your fabric this won’t be noticeable.

Another fabulous way to use

I like to use proper china plates even when I’m on a picnic. It’s better for the environment and there’s just something that feels special about setting a proper table even when dining outside.

To pad my plates for easy transportation I use the same technique to make plate protectors. The only difference is the elastic needs to be pulled tight enough to gather the circle tightly around the plate.

A plate protector is made the same way as a bowl cover.

The fabric bowl covers are done and incredibly useful.

By making them reversible the look of this picnic set can be changed up in an instant. They’re a wonderful way to protect the food both when picnicking and at home. Unlike stretch wrap, these bowl covers are reusable and can be washed over and over.

Though not for use in the microwave, they can be used to cover and protect food in the fridge for short periods of time. To cover foods with a lot of liquid or store for several days it would be better to use a container with a reusable lid.

Isn’t this the cutest little bowl cover you’ve ever seen?

Our completed reversible fabric bowl cover

Learning about fabric bowl covers and creating a set has been so much fun.

Notions from UNIQUE, Heirloom quilting pins, SCHMETZ needles and Gütermann thread made our work easy.

Be sure and come back tomorrow when I use fabrics from the April Showers collection by Northcott with a variety of wonderful notions to make a wine cozy to add the picnic basket.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: 5 days to sewing and quilting a fabulous picnic set

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Rachell Reilly September 12, 2019 - 12:11 am

These look handy! And very easy! Thank you!

Delaine August 29, 2019 - 9:43 am

Thank you for this awesome tutorial. These bowl covers look like they would be the handiest things ever!

Julie Plotniko September 10, 2019 - 1:43 am

Hi Delaine
I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post. Hope you have lots of fun making your very own set!


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