My sister and I went to an Apple Butter Festival/Craft Show a couple of weeks ago. There were many cute and clever items for sale, but I was especially intrigued by a booth selling potato baking bags. Essentially, they are fabric pouches that can be used to microwave potatoes, corn on the cob, or asparagus. You can also heat tortillas or dinner rolls in them. I had never seen anything like them before, but my sister said a lot of places sell them in Branson, MO. When I got home from the festival, I did an internet search and found quite a few sites describing and selling the bags. So, what is a compulsive crafter to do? Make one (or two), of course.
I read numerous tutorials before I settled on a method for making the bags. The bags are comprised of a layer of batting sandwiched between two layers of fabric. I bought 1/4 yard of 100% cotton calico fabric. I wanted to buy 1/2 yard of fabric and 1/4 yard of 100% cotton batting, but I could not find the right batting. The closest I found was 87% cotton and 13% poly-something. I ended up purchasing 1/4 yard of prequilted layers of 100% cotton fabric/batting. This actually made the project easier, because I only had two loose layers to work with rather than three. So, I ultimately had 1/4 yard calico, 1/4 yard prequilted cotton/batting combo, and a package of extra-wide, double fold bias tape. These materials were sufficient for two bags, all for under $5.
I would recommend pre-washing and pressing your fabric before beginning. I evened all of the edges of my two pieces of fabric, then cut them in half (across the 9" length, not across the width of the fabric), making four rectangles total. Then I placed one rectangle of each fabric with right sides together, then pinned the shorter sides (see photo to right). Using my sewing machine, I stitched the short sides together, removing the pins as I sewed. This step is easier if you keep the batting side facing up on the machine. Once both short sides were stitched, I flipped the rectangles right sides out, with the batting sandwiched in the middle. At this point, the long sides should still have raw edges, but the short edges should be finished. I cut two lengths of the bias tape to cover the long sides, then using one length of tape, I enclosed one of the long, raw edges in the fold of the bias tape and topstitched all of the layers together (see photo to left). I repeated this process with the opposite side.
Once the exposed edges were covered, I placed the calico (this will be the outside of my bag) facing upward, and folded the right edge in about two inches. Then I folded the left edge all the way over, meeting the fold on the right (see blurry picture to right). I know this seems a little counterintuitive, but this is how the top of the bag is formed. I cut a short length of bias tape (probably 3.5") to create a loop for the bag to hang by; I tucked this loop into the bag, leaving the loose ends sticking out of the side a bit. Then I stitched over the bias tape along each of the open sides, making sure the catch the loop ends in my seam on one edge. The only thing left to do was to turn the bag right side out and flip the flap over the top to close it up.
I read a lot of instructions that said to wash the potatoes but not to poke them before placing in the bag (I guess to avoid starchy potato ooze?). I find the thought of a potato exploding inside my pretty fabric bag less than thrilling, though, so I did pierce the potatoes before I microwaved them. I cooked the potatoes for about 8 minutes, flipping the bag over about halfway through. I would recommend testing the bag in your microwave before using to make sure the power is not too high. As I said before, these bags can be used to cook/heat a wide variety of items in the microwave without plastic bags or cling wrap. Make a set in varying sizes, or use bold fabrics to liven up your kitchen. Be creative and enjoy!