Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Cosy Tea Pot

It's that time of year. I'll be posting some projects that are Christmas gifts. If you think I may possibly be making you a gift and you want to be surprised, you should read these later. If you don't mind missing out on the mystery of what a gift may be (while retaining the mystery of whether something is for you), then feel free to read the posts. In general I'm not going to get into too much detail anyway. It is your choice. And considering I just don't make that many gifts, the vast majority of you are perfectly safe reading. (Although I guess you risk disappointment if you think something is for you, and then come January you realize it's not. Life is risk. Sorry.)

No that that is out of the way, this project was a "two-for" -- one for me, one for "giftee." I have wanted to make a new tea cosy for a little while. My old one doesn't match the new kitchen and was part of a set with some oven mitts and little pot handle covers for our cast iron frying pans. The oven mitts have been replaced, and the pot handle covers were functional but obviously singed and not holding up too well any more. So I thought I would make a new cosy and pot handle covers. And I knew someone else who could use some too. Get it done in time for Christmas and I had a nice little present, I thought.

First I had to find some fabric. Not too hard to do!
As soon as I saw the bright blue/multi colour elephant fabric in my stash, I knew that was the one for me! I also discovered an orange shirt in with my fabrics. It was a lovely shirt I found at Goodwill but was too small for Troy. I couldn't resist the colour and thought I could use it as fabric one day. This was the day. For the second set, I found some bright batiks. The green has pink allium blossoms and I paired it with an orange, pink and yellow all over pattern.

The first set was made from the Simplicity pattern 8693, a collection of kitchen appliance covers, place mats, oven mitts, apron, etc. At one time I had matching covers for the toaster, bread maker, coffee maker, plus the oven mitts, tea cosy and my own pot handle covers. (Don't judge me. All these appliances used to be out on display and the house was subject to much dust from Troy working in the basement.) And by now I was down to the tea cosy and sad pot handle covers.
I still had the pattern, so I pulled it out and realized the cosy was way, way too tall. I must have shortened it last time. (A reminder to make notes when you change something. You never remember what you think you'll remember. You often need what you think you'll never need again.) So I pulled out my existing cosy and make mods to match.

Last time I insulated with some quilt batting and a special heat reflective layer. (A thin silverish fabric they sell especially for making your own ironing board cover.) I wasn't too impressed with the job it did, so I didn't think I had to get so high-tech this time. I pulled out a sweater I had felted and used it instead. Here's the sweater:
It didn't felt particularly well and wasn't in a colour that I loved, so I thought it was a good candidate. I cut out pieces for two tea cosies and two "onderzetter" (the Dutch word I use for a trivet or hotpad because it seems more descriptive and sounds good with a Dutch accent) and two pot handle covers.
When I turned over the round piece, the tag centered
there so nicely surprised me. I guess that's what I get
when I center a piece on the center back of the sweater.
(I did cut it off before continuing.)
Once everything was cut out, it was time to layer everything. The onderzetters were easy--simply layer bottom, sweater layer, and top on top of each other.
I basted around the edges because there was no way I would be able to apply the binding with all those layers, especially considering the thickness. Two tips: run the foot so that the entire bottom surface contacts the fabric (don't hang it over the edge), but move your needle to the right so that you sew closer to the edge and don't have to take out these stitches later. Two, loosen the thread tension and lessen the pressure the foot applies. I'm lucky in that my machine will do this with one button that indicates I'm sewing thick layers. Your machine may have that too. Once it's basted, you can trim the edges even so you don't have to worry too much about having everything perfectly lined up. (I was in "get it done" mode, not "do it perfect" mode. It works for projects like this.)

For the tea cosy, I changed the construction a little to avoid having to bind the bottom edges. I sewed the lining and top fabric together along the bottom edge (with right sides together),
and then laid down the sweater layer and flipped up the top layer to cover it:
Then I pinned,
and basted:
Once I had two of those, I trimmed the edges even, and then basted the two piece together along the curved edge:
That is a lot of thickness!

Then it was time for binding. This is where I used the shirt again. It occurred to me that if I cut the sleeve on an angle, I had a ready-made bias tube to cut bias strips from. I tried doing a spiral on the first sleeve. That was not successful. (I think because it's not a straight tube, but is narrower on one end--the cuff.) On the second sleeve I cut one long line from the placket to the shoulder seam and then cut strips on either side for as much fabric as I had. I had to seam some of those pieces together but that's alright. (This also meant I had the existing sleeve seam as part of my binding, but I found that charming. Evidence of upcycling.)
Some of the bias strips. You can see the
sleeve seam in some of the pieces.
Since I needed shorter pieces of binding and wasn't going around one big piece, working with the shorter strips was very manageable.

No pictures, but I sewed one edge of the binding to all the pieces and then pinned for some hand sewing:
That is a pile of hand sewing to be done!
Last time I did the binding all by machine, but I don't really enjoy doing it that way so I did it by hand this time. It takes longer, but I find it too hard to make it look good when I do it by machine, and I've realized I just don't enjoy it at all, so why make myself do it because it's faster? To each her own.

An evening or two of sewing and I had all the pieces done:
The onderzetter came out bigger than I had in mind, but I followed the pattern. It's no big deal either way. I didn't have anything under the tea pot before, but I like the idea of insulating it from below as well. (Hmmm, Troy rubbing off on me, perhaps??)
I really like the thought that my tea pot is wearing a sweater.

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