Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Tea Cosy & Coaster DIY Tutorial

When the lovely ladies over at The New Craft Society told me about Hilarys Blinds country crafts competition I jumped at the chance to enter! The competition involved first picking one of the four gorgeous fabric designs from Hilarys Blinds new Country Retreat range (a challenge in itself) and then transforming it into an object of my choosing!

After much deliberation I chose the Calluna Amethyst design. Calluna Vulgaris Amethyst is a variety of heather and you can really see echos of this hardy and vibrant flower in the print – the abstract, painterly brush strokes are fresh and Springlike! I especially loved the way the print changes from being quite concentrated to being more open and sparse and I knew I wanted to incorporate this element of the design into my project!

 I found the print so uplifting I immediately thought of the breakfast table – I imagined having breakfast on a bright Spring morning and I knew what I wanted to make - a tea cosy and matching coaster set!

Here's how I made them - you can follow my tutorial using this or any medium-weight woven fabric of your choosing!


Printed fabric (approx 1/2 meter, depending on the side of your teapot)
Cotton batting (as above - double the quantity if you plan on using a double layer)
Lining fabric (same amount as the printed fabric - I used some lovely heather grey cotton from The Cloth House)
Bias tape  - approximately 2.5 meters
Needle for hand sewing
Sheet of newspaper and a coloured pencil to make your pattern!
Fabric scissors
Tape measure
A rotary cutter & cutting mat (these aren't essential but will make cutting out your fabric much quicker!)

To make the tea cosy...

Step 1: First you’ll need to grab your favourite teapot and take some measurements – measure how wide your teapot is in centimeters from handle to spout and how high it is from base to lid. I have two teapots that I alternate depending on my mood so I measured up both of them to make sure that my tea cosy would be able to accommodate both.

Add 8 cm to your width measurement and 4 cm to the height - these are the basic measurements for your tea cosy! These measurements allow for a couple of centimeters wiggle room and a 1.5cm seam allowance around the sides.

As an example, my two teapots averaged 36cm wide and 22cm tall – This meant that my finished tea cosy needed to be 43cm wide and 26cm tall!

Step 2: Armed with your measurements, grab a folded sheet of newspaper, divide your final width measurement in half and place a mark this far along from the folded edge at the bottom of the sheet (so I marked 21.5cm along from the edge because 43 divided by 2 is 21.5!). Now check your height measurement and place a mark this far up the folded edge of the newspaper. Connect these two marks with a nice soft curve either freehand or using a curved ruler. Picture a tea cosy shape while you’re doing it and it will turn out fine! Once you’ve finished cut along the line you just drew, unfold the sheet of paper and hey presto! You have a lovely, symmetrical tea cosy pattern!

Step 3: Time to cut out the fabric! If you’re using a rotary cutter and mat, fold each of the three fabrics in half so that you have a double layer (I used a double layer of cotton batting so my tea would be extra toasty – this meant that I had a whopping 4 layers of cotton batting to cut through but with my super sharp rotary cutter it was easy peasy!). Place your paper pattern on top of each stack of fabric in turn and place something heavy in the middle to weigh it down. Carefully cut around the edge of your pattern, slicing through all layers of fabric at once! Repeat until you have your printed fabric, cotton batting and lining fabric all cut out.

If you like the look of my Liberty print pin cushion, you can follow my easy DIY Liberty print pin cushion tutorial and make your own!

I placed the bottom of my paper pattern (the bit that would become the tea cosy opening) on a part of the fabric that was quite densely patterned. This meant that the pattern became lighter and more sparse towards the top of the tea cosy! I think it gives it a nice fresh vibe, like Spring bulbs growing!

If you’re using regular old fabric scissors first fold each piece of fabric in half so that you can cut out two layers at once. Pin them in position so they don’t slip while you’re cutting then place your paper pattern on top and draw around the edge using a water soluble marker or tailors chalk. Cut out as normal.

You'll also need to mark and cut out a 7cm by 9cm rectangle from your printed fabric.

Step 4: Take your rectangle of fabric and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew along the long edge and trim the seam allowance (you can use pinking shears for this if you have them!). Turn the rectangle the right way round, press and set to one side.

Step 5: Make a fabric sandwich as follows: One piece of cotton batting (or two pieces if you’re using a double layer!), one piece of printed fabric with the right side (RS) facing, one piece of printed fabric with the wrong side (WS) facing and finally the last piece of cotton batting. Pin the layers of fabric together around the edge, inserting your fabric loop upside down into the middle of the two layers of printed fabric. Machine stitch right the way around the curved edge (but don’t stitch along the straight edge – that will become the tea cosy opening!). Grade the seam allowance down to help reduce bulk and then snip notches close together right the way round and turn the right way round (so the printed fabric is on the outside and the batting is inside).

Repeat the process with the lining fabric – place both pieces RS together and sew around the curved edge before trimming the seam allowance down and clipping notches all around the edge.

With the lining still inside out, insert it into the fabric pouch you just made and pin all a round the outside edge to keep the layers in place.

Step 6: Time to reach for your bias binding! I followed this great tutorial by Coletterie and made a continuous strip of bias binding using a piece of my lining fabric but you can buy it ready made if you prefer.

I used a vintage wooden cotton spool to store my hand made bias binding - it helped keep it folded neatly until I was ready to use it!

If you followed my Liberty print hot water bottle tutorial back in December you already know the drill, if not, unfold your bias tape and place it RS down on to the RS of your tea cosy, lining up the edges. Pin the tape in place then machine stitch into the fold nearest to the edge of the fabric. Remove the pins and re-fold the bias binding. You might need to trim a little of the seam allowance in order to wrap the bias binding around onto the inside of the tea cosy. With the edges still folded pin the bias binding in place so that the raw edges of your tea cosy are enclosed. Slip stitch the binding in place – stitching into the fold of the bias binding and catching the lining of the tea cosy just in front of the line of machine stitching will result in an invisible seam and a magical, stitch free finish.

Tea cosy done!

To make six coasters...

Step 1: You’ll need something to use as a template for your coasters – I used the rim of a glass! Cut out 6 identical circles from your printed fabric, cotton batting and lining fabric.

When I cut out my circles I made sure that I started in a densely printed area of the fabric and gradually moved across into a lighter area. I love that my coasters are all different!

Step 3: Make six little fabric stacks as follows: lining fabric WS facing, cotton batting (only a single layer needed here), printed fabric RS facing. Pin in place.

Step 4: Open out your bias binding and with WS facing, pin it onto the RS of each of your coasters in turn (exactly the same as you did for the tea cosy). Take your time easing the binding around the curved edge and if any folds want to form in the tape, just use extra pins to shift them out of the way from where you’ll be stitching. Machine stitch around the edge of each coaster, into the fold of the bias binding.

Step 5: Remove the pins and re-fold the tape. Again you may need to trim a little of the seam allowance in order to wrap the bias binding around onto the WS of the coasters so that the raw edges of the coasters are enclosed. Pin the binding in place and then secure by slip stitching into the fold of the tape.

Congratulations! You now have a brand new Springtime tea cosy with matching coasters! Time to pop the kettle on, warm the pot and brew up a storm!


  1. Love this! We're excited to judge all the entries x

    1. Yay! Fingers crossed :) Can't wait to see everyone else's ideas! x

  2. Fab idea, thanks for the tutorial. :) Love your fabric choice too xx

  3. Hi Chloe. Great tute and photos thank you. Just wondering how much of a difference there is between cotton wadding and insulating wadding? I used insulating wadding in my Hillary's picnic bag and I'm wondering whether there really is that much of a difference.... Have to say the insulating wadding does work really well at keeping food cool even for several hours. Would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi Sally, Really glad you like it! :) That’s an interesting question – I’ve personally not worked with insulating wadding before because I’m such a sucker for natural fibres, I always go for the 100% cotton. As far as I can tell (after a spot of Googling) the only difference is that insulating wadding is made with the addition of Mylar which has special insulating properties – though none of the manufacturers I’ve looked at specify what percentage of cotton to Mylar their insulating wadding contains. It would be interesting to do a test to see what the difference really is! I think for a project like the tea cosy the cotton batting (plus the air trapped between the layers) does a good enough job of keeping the heat in but perhaps for a project like say, a pair of oven gloves, where it’s really critical that they’re well insulated, it would be best to go with the insulating wadding? Interesting to hear that the insulating wadding keeps things cool as well as warm! Your picnic bag sounds great – have you shared it online anywhere? I would love to take a look! x


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