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Tea Cozy Experiment

Sometimes you just have to rescue the clearance teapots. I could not pass this one up at Target—only $8! I also love black ceramic, and have a few mugs that go with it, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

I’m a tea and coffee lover, and I’m one that likes my warm beverages nice and hot. So I have several tea cozies to keep my tea warm as it’s steeping. To my dismay, I found that none of them fit this little guy! He’s so round on the sides that I couldn’t get my tea cozy around him. But not to worry, I said to myself, I’ve been wanting to make a tea cozy, and here’s the perfect opportunity!

This would be more difficult, though, because I decided it needed to be more complicated than the usual 2-paneled cozy. No, no, I’ll just create my own pattern with 4 panels! This will be easy!

When making your own pattern, it is good to test it with some scrap fabric. It only took me 2 test runs to get it right! I took quite a few measurements to get things squared away. The fabric tape measure was indispensable in this case. Top to bottom on the spout/handle sides, top to bottom on the shorter side, around, etc. My pattern for each panel was essentially a rounded triangle using those three measurements.

For the look, I wanted this to have a very natural feel, but incorporate the black of the teapot. The tea cozy is like the preview to the teapot, right? So linen it was, of course, for the outside. I debated about the inside for awhile, but in the end I went for a subtle brown from the Marcus Brothers Aged Muslin line. I love the variegated texture—it looks hand-dyed! And for the embellishment stitches, I used DMC cotton, #310 for a nice solid black.

Once I figured out the shape and pattern, I wanted to embellish. I decided to sew one side together (the shortest seam in the center) and embellish over it to downplay the center seam. Tracing over the seam was not fun, but this simple pattern was not too difficult to trace over all. I had originally wanted to satin stitch the flowers, but when I outlined them, I liked seeing the linen so much that I just made them striped.

I then sewed the other long side together, and the sewed the two together along the long edge. That was much easier than doing it the other way (which I had tried previously in the test versions).

Putting this thing together was a whole other project. I used the same basic template for the Insul-fleece (from C&T publishing) and the muslin interior. When I cut the cotton, however, I added an extra two inches (by eye) to account for the base. I wanted to see a bit of the inside on the outside as a border on the bottom.

I sewed the inside pieces the same way I sewed the outside pieces: short side first, and then the long sides. It takes a moment for you to think through the inside, because it seems like it should be backwards. But you actually put right sides together just like the outside, and just don’t turn it out. So it went insulation-cotton-cotton-insulation. One helpful thing I discovered was that the rounded edge of my ironing board helped a lot when trying to flatten out the seams. Even though I didn’t turn the inside out, I wanted those inside seams to be nice and flat, so that it wouldn’t bunch up in the top and on the sides.

Once I had ironed those seams, I pinned them inside from top to bottom, making sure the seams were flat. Then I rolled up the bottom cotton 2xs. There was nothing precise about this: I just fiddled and pinned, fiddled and pinned, until it looked good. As it was, the whole thing ended up slightly crooked, but I am a folk artist, so I think it adds to the charm. I pinned it really well, and then used the blanket stitch all the way around the bottom. I thought about machine sewing, but with so many layers I felt I would have more control doing it by hand and adjusting as I sent. I also wanted to incorporate a little more black thread, and I like the look of handstitching for a finish.

I thought I was done, until I looked at and thought, this needs something to top it off. I had been making tassels for another project the day before, and decided that a tassel in the same black would be perfect. I used #842 DMC to bind the tassel and incorporate the linen color. I stitched it to the top, and then it was finally done.

Now to make some tea!

Have you ever made your own tea cozy? Hopefully you didn’t make it as hard as I did for yourself! Share your handmade cozy pictures in the comments below.

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