Sew a 3/8″ seam all the way around the square, leaving an opening about 4″ wide for turning right-side out. After sewing clip the corners off (but don’t clip the stitching.)
Another quick method creates 5 hot pads at once (or more, depending on the size of the pieces of fabric you use.) In this case I used 2 coordinating 1/4 yard pieces and a piece of batting that was 43″ x 9″.
Press both pieces of fabric and the batting before you start. Take the backing piece and lay it face down on a clean surface. Spray lightly with Basting Spray (available at most sewing supply stores). You may want to do this outside to prevent sticky spots in your house.
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Trim the batting so that it is slightly smaller than the backing fabric and lay it carefully on top of the backing, smoothing out wrinkles.
Then I carefully quilted some parallel lines to hold all the layers together nicely. The stripes on this fabric worked great as a guide, but you could mark lines with a disappearing marking pen or just eyeball the quilting lines. Basically it’s nice if you have a few lines at least 2″ apart – but you could do more if you like. Or this is a great chance to practice your free-motion quilting skills.
(I bought this Cosmo Cricket “Early Bird” fabric last year.)
When fabrics and batting are nicely quilted use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut out the hot pads. I cut five 8 1/2″ square hot pads out of a 1/4 of a yard of fabric.
Another idea: if you’ve got friends who like to sew themselves, you could make another fun, fast, and useful gift using this magnatized-pin dish tutorial. They’d be great a great paper-clip holder for teachers too!