A Tale of two Tea Cosies

I love tea. I’m known as the one who walks into my friends’ houses and makes tea for everyone (they were obviously too slow)! I have one tea cosy but it gets so much use that it is nice to alternate them occasionally (and wash them) so I thought it’d be a nice easy project. It also includes learning points like sewing wadding, and making and working with binding tape.

In fact, I made one for my friend Jon too. Apparently when you mention making tea cosies everyone wants one as I have had even more requests.

Out of the frying pan, into a pattern

This was really simple. I have a tea cosy that works (but is slightly big) so I used that as a starting point. I compared the size of it to my big frying pans and found one that was the size I wanted so drew half way around it and added a straight section at the bottom to make a dome shape. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance for this project. It’s that simple!

I had some wadding lying around from reupholstering an ottoman (as you do), I think it is 4 oz 1/2″ polyester wadding. For my cozy I used Panama cotton with foxes (aren’t they adorable) with brown drill cotton lining and for Jon’s I used some light-ish weight denim from a skirt with purple cotton lining.

Putting it together

I cut two each of the pattern pieces in outer fabric, lining fabric and wadding. Jon asked for a hanging loop for his cosy so I also cut a small thin rectangle of denim, folded it in two lengthways, turned the edges under, pressed and topstitched it. This could then be pinned into the top seam of outer tea cosy facing inwards, to create the hanging loop. With right sides facing, I stitched the two outer pieces together along the top curved seam and pressed the seam open (this is not easy inside a fairly small rounded object). The seams were also given a simple straight stitch seam treatment as I didn’t expect much fraying inside the cosy.

I placed the lining rightside down, put the wadding on top and hand basted the wadding to the lining, then pinned the two basted pieces together with the wadding on the outside and right sides of the lining facing each other. The basting helps stop the pieces moving when you sew them – I found it helped a lot and a walking/even feed foot will also help when sewing wadding. I sewed the top seam of the lining-wadding pieces using a slightly longer stitch than I generally use (2.5-3mm). When I used my zigzag foot I found it caught on the wadding so using a foot with a blunter front is a good idea if you don’t have a walking foot! I added a row of straight stitching in the seam allowance (I still haven’t dared to test zigzagging through all that exposed wadding) and trimmed the seam back slightly so it was less bulky. The cosy pieces (outer fabric turned rightside out, lining inside) were pinned together and machine tacked 1/4″ in from the bottom edge.

Making and using binding strips

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Because I’m lazy I made a straight binding strip (not bias cut) for this project as it wasn’t being used for a curved seam. I cut 5 cm wide strips of fabric, joined them using a 45° diagonal seam and trimmed the seam to 5mm. You can buy bias tape makers but it is perfectly possible to make binding strips without them, it just takes some precision folding and ironing. First fold the strip in half lengthways (rightside out) and press. Then open up the tape and fold each side into the centre, re-fold it in half and press. I actually tend to make one side slightly longer (only 1-2 mm) than the other so it is easier for the longer side to be caught in the stitching at the back of the work. I used my binding strips to bind the bottom of the tea cosy by pinning the binding rightside to rightside along the outside of the cosy and stitching in the fold, then folding it over to the back of the cosy and topstitching through all the layers so that the back of the binding strip is secured.

Et voila, tea cosies. Mine has been in use for a few weeks now and works very well!

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