Alfresco Bowl Covers Tutorial

on July 5 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 52 Comments

Last year I was at a picnic organized by my parents. My stepmother, who has a linen for every occasion, had a beautiful embroidered lace and linen cloth draped over the mouth of the lemonade pitcher.  It had a strand of small crystals sewn to each corner to help weigh it down and keep it in place.  Someone commented that it would be nice to have one for all the bowls too, to keep the bugs and tree debris off the food.   Lightbulb moment!

I decided to make a set of bowl covers in different sizes and weigh them down with beads on the corners.

Rather than sew the beads on, however, I put eyelets in the corners so the beads could be hooked on and then removed so you can throw the fabric in the wash.  The covers are lightly insulated as well, which (hopefully) helps to keep the cold food cold and also adds a bit of stiffness to the fabric so it’s not drooping into the bowl.  Much more attractive than plastic wrap or foil, don’t you think?

Supplies and Instructions

The finished cover sizes are 12″, 10″ and 8″.  For this project you will need:

  • Half yard of fabric (total) for the tops.
  • Half yard of fabric for the bottoms.  Could also be fat quarters or large scraps of three different prints.
  • Half yard fusible fleece.
  • Depending on the size, 36–48 beads.
  • 12 3″ eye pins.  You can find these in the jewelry/beading section of the craft store.
  • 12 hooks for the beads.  The ones I used are 1.125″  from the hardware store.
  • Needlenose pliers.
  • Wire snips or cuticle trimmers (but don’t expect to use them on your cuticles again!)
  • 12 eyelets.  I used Dritz 103.
  • Eyelet setter.
  • Hammer
Prepare the fabric for the top.  I used Essex Linen, then I appliqued hexagons to it after I’d quilted the whole thing.  You could use a solid piece of fabric, patchwork (this would be great!), embroidered cloth, or applique.  Anything goes!  Prepare three– a 13″ square, an 11″ square and a 9″ square.
For the batting/interfacing, I used fusible fleece.  As I mentioned, this adds a bit of stiffness and has insulating properties.  You could use quilt batting or a different kind of interfacing, or layer a couple of different things.   Cut three– a 13″ square, an 11″ square and a 9″ square.
Prepare three fabrics for the back.  The covers could be reversible, so use something pretty!  Cut three– a 13″ square, an 11″ square and a 9″ square. (I used these three prints.)
  1. Use your iron to fuse the interfacing to the back pieces.
  2. With right sides together, sew the top to the bottom using a half inch seam allowance. Leave approximately 4″ open along one side for turning.
  3. Clip corners.
  4. Turn right side out. Poke corners out. Finger press the seam allowance from the opening to the inside and pin. Press well.
  5. Hand stitch the opening closed, or edge stitch around the whole thing to close the gap.
  6. Quilt it. I drew a 1.5″ grid on the whole thing, keeping it very simple.
  7. Finish the top. (I sewed on the hexagons at this point.)
For the “jewelry”, I put some beads on 3″ eye pins.  I found these in the beading section at Michael’s.
Use needlenose pliers to create a small closed hoop at the top of your beads.  Use wire snips or cuticle trimmers to cut off the excess wire.
My husband has one of those cases with a thousand drawers for different size nails, screws and bolt.  That’s where I found these hooks.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what they’re for.  They worked fairly well because they are heavy, which helps weigh down the corners of the covers.  After I hooked on the beads, I used the pliers to close the bottom hook and tighten up the top hook.  You can see the before and after difference in this photo.  It makes the hooks a little harder to get in the eyelets, but they don’t fly off whenever someone lifts the cover off the bowl.  You could probably find these at the hardware store, or findings for earrings might work well.  You just want to make sure the combined weight of the hooks and the beads will weigh down the corners of the cover and keep it in place if a light breeze comes up.
To prepare the covers for the eyelets, place a mark about 1/4″ in from each corner, then use a pair of small sharp scissors to cut a little hole.  Place the male part of the eyelet in the hole from the top.  Place the female part on the back.  (Image is not on the corner, nor 1/4″ in.)
This is the part where you’ll feel like you need more fingers.  Place the bottom of the eyelet tool on a flat surface (the floor, not your coffee table like this photo!)  Set the bottom of the eyelet in the groove of the bottom setter piece, then hold the top piece of the setter in place on the top eyelet and hammer them together.  Don’t hammer too much or you’ll cut the fabric with the edges of the eyelet and it will come right through. You should probably practice first.  You can do it!  (Eyelets are just like small grommets, so check out this tutorial.)

There you go!  I gave away this set as a hostess gift to someone who likes to do a lot of patio entertaining, so they were well-received.  It’s a project I hope you have fun with.


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52 Responses to Alfresco Bowl Covers Tutorial

  1. Apol says:

    This is superb! We have lots of outdoor meals in the warmer months here, and I usually use dish cloths to cover the food, but this idea is so much better. Thank you.

  2. mrittika says:

    our table and we luv it….cute and clean idea…

  3. Angela says:

    OMGoodness, I luv these!! Easy peasy, pretty and practical. I think I need to make a bunch of these for gifts 🙂

  4. d marquis says:

    This is a great idea for machine embroidery because we can use our tryouts on these. We can make up these squares with the designs we try first to see if we will like them. Great idea!! I have weights pellets from stuffed animals that are washable that would be wonderful in them too but I love the beads! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  5. audrey says:

    These are great, I’m off to make some now.

  6. Laura says:

    These are beautiful.The creativity that you can put into them is incredible and it can still be a simple project,a way to use up your scraps and a homemade gift. Your pictures for the tutorial were beautiful also.

  7. Sherry says:

    What a great idea! I may make some of these for each of my sisters. I try to find something that I can make for each of my 5 sisters for their birthdays each year. I think I just found it.

  8. Allison says:

    I am finally getting around to making mine for a birthday party this Saturday. Michaels has an AWSEOME selection of unique beads to add flair to these. I am so glad that you posted these…my favorite things are sewing and entertaining….I love when I can marry the two! THANK YOU!

  9. Sharon Kirby says:

    Great idea for my family reunion in two weeks. I have an embroidery machine and I could even embroider salad, dip or pickles on them so people know what is underneath. Will definitely make some and with the insulation could also be used as a heat mat on a table for indoors.

  10. eb says:

    What a Great Idea! I have an Embroidery Machine so I am going to have alot of fun with these bowl covers! I really like the beads.

  11. em says:

    Depending on what fabric you use, these could also be used as hot pads. I’m all about things being multipurpose…

  12. Bowl Covers says:

    Great post! Bowl covers are important in protecting the food from bugs, dust, and other debris. Thanks for the info.

  13. Kathryn says:

    Great Idea! And, I love Lisa’s idea for weights and Angela’s idea on vinyl. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Judy says:

    What a clever idea these are. It is an “EVERYONE” gift…..SOOO handy. I think we all need those quick “wow” projects to boost our creative juices and “aaahhhhh” factor sometimes. Thanks a bunch

  15. Angela says:

    These are adorable! What about making one side vinyl so they could be wiped clean and washed less often?

  16. Katie says:

    This is such a lovely idea – thanks!

    When we were little my mum covered everything with little napkins and plates. She’ll love a set of these.

  17. Crystal says:

    Love these!

  18. Katrina says:

    I think I’m going to make these for my mom! They are always using tin foil, it would help to reuse something instead.

  19. ~Helena~ says:

    Wonderful idea.

  20. susie says:

    love that idea! we just had a 4th of july party with neighbors and friends and these would have been so cute! filing it away for future use! thanks!

  21. Leah says:

    What a great idea! I need some of these as we love to eat outside.

  22. Layla says:

    lightbulb moment indeed, how cool!

  23. Christine says:

    What a great gift!

  24. Mary Lou says:

    Wouldn’t a set of these to match a picnic quilt be the cutest thing?

  25. Sally says:

    They are darling!! I love how they turned out!!!

  26. Love them! Wish I had this before this past weekend! But, now I’m inspired!

  27. momday says:

    I want to embroider everything right now. This is a perfect projcect for some embroidery. They will look great on the buffet table for the holidays, too. Thanks for the idea!

  28. What a lovely idea. It makes me think of summer which seems sooo far away at the moment in the Southern Hemisphere

  29. PeachRainbow says:

    These are so cute!

  30. Amy says:

    What a fabulous idea!! I’m going to make a monogrammed set for a friend who’s been dining outside on her new patio furniture.

  31. Allison says:

    This is SUCH a great idea…plus I am always looking for ideas to use fun fabric…and I DO have some hexi flowers that I made…now I know where to put them!!!! Thank you so much for this lovely tutorial!

  32. Julia says:

    So awesome! The covers are adorable and very useful.

  33. Rachel says:

    What a great idea! I was just thinking about something like this, as we were at a picnic yesterday and the flies were buzzing around the food. Fabulous!

  34. Tammy says:

    What a great idea!

  35. Jessica says:

    Wow, what a terrific idea!

  36. If I were to make these, I would probably sew lead weights into the corners (Baptist who make adult baptismal robes sew weights into the hems so the robes don’t float up in the water), as I need something more childproof than detachable beaded hooks.

    Otherwise, brilliant!

  37. Love these! Now I want to make some and have a cookout, just to show them off

  38. Natalie VV says:

    This is it!
    I want to sew.
    I want to make gifts.
    I want to jump start on Christmas.
    A small, useful project, that will be fun!
    Thank you.

  39. WONDERFUL idea! I’ll definitely be making these for myself and a set for mom and mom-in-law. They will LOVE them! Thanks Kristin!!!

  40. Elaine Barnett says:

    WOW! Fabulous-great design-love the practicality of it-so useful.

    You are to be applauded *appplause** for your ingenuity!

    Our tables will so much prettier and our food safe!!!

    🙂 Thank YOU!

  41. elsa says:

    love this! thanks for the idea! I’m thinking of using something a little more breathable like tulle!

  42. amelia says:

    these would be great for camping!

  43. Christine says:

    I love these!

  44. carol says:

    I LOVE this idea!!! how totally clever…gonna “borrow” this, but i’m wondering if you could use the clippy curtain rings as an accessory instead of the beads? they are totally adorable, but i’m thinking practical like washing…you could just unclip the rings. (i just happen to have a pair i just came across, that’s why they came to mind) yep…gonna try it! THANKS for sharing!!!!

  45. Jill says:

    These are a great summer gift idea!! Love it.

  46. Debbie Bishop says:

    Very nice idea.

  47. Mary Ames says:

    Hi thanks for this wonderful idea. These would be great indoors at a potluck instead of the awful plastic wrap and alumnium foil. Great Christmas idea too. Thanks again for all that you do.

  48. Nicole says:

    What a sweet addition to any picnic. Thanks for the tutorial.

  49. Sarah says:

    I love these!!! I hate when flies come univited to a picnic and these would be perfect to keep the pesky things out of the food!!

  50. I am ‘sew’ making these for my Mom! I’ve been searching/brainstorming in vain while trying to come up with something for her birthday. You’re a lifesaver! Thanks for sharing. Happy Sewing! 🙂

  51. says:

    Brilliant!! Oh, I can’t tell you how excited I am about these. I’m gonna make my supply list and giddy-up. Just yesterday we were sitting at the table inside battling a fly so they’re useful all fly season long. Some people just have a gift for seeing a need and filling it! I know I’m just going on and on but gee theses are swell! LOL

  52. Sandi says:

    This is the cutest idea! I wish I’d seen it before our Fourth of July celebration.

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