Finally, I have a photo worth sharing of the tea cosy I made my mum for her birthday.
The inspiration came from a photo in the front of Rosemary McLeod’s book Thrift to Fantasy, a highly recommended book if you have time on your hands to then try making half of what you have viewed within its covers. There wasn’t any detail given on this tea cosy I saw, as it wasn’t within the text, and mum and I had spent a few minutes speculating on its construction one day. Here is a crappy photo of the page in the book!
Mum’s theory was that it the scraps of fabric had been hooked through hessian. But later in the book I saw a quilt made of Suffolk puffs, googled them, and came across this tutorial for a brooch. Circles of fabric are folded in half, stitched along their raw edge and gathered. Suddenly my brain switched on and I reasoned the method would work for making a tea cosy.
Thus I gathered my materials. In the bottom row, there are several fabrics which mum gave to me back in the day to make something pretty for her (when I had proven my sewing prowess – I thought I’d hit the jackpot – but took eight years to do anything with them). The brown on the far left, the orange stripes and the four fabrics from the right were all scraps from awesome outfits she had made in the 70s. The fabrics on the right also have the distinction of being Liberty reprints of Art Nouveau fabrics. In the top row, the brown on black print and the bright blue (top right) were trousers mum made in the 90s for herself. I remember her ironing the black ones and how the print would darken with the heat. The boldly coloured check is from a pair of awesome trousers mum made me for my 10th birthday. They later became shorts as at that age I was still kneeling on the floor playing with Lego. Yes. Yes I was. The rest of the fabrics are just my own scraps, including the fabled scissor fabric from Geoff’s Emporium.
I hate to think how many hours this tea cosy took me. It is certainly not something I would ever undertake for commercial purposes. It took a day (with the usual interruptions) to cut out all the circles, but I only needed to cut out a few later on when I ran out of the yellows. I strung the circles into workable lengths in batches, then started at the top of the wool base and worked my way around it with the sewing machine. If the original tea cosy had been made in this way, it would have been hand sewn, which would explain how it came to be so neat. My sewing machine method occasionally pushed the gathered fabric in the wrong direction, or I sewed things down too far from the last row. This part of the work didn’t take much time to take shape though, and by the time I was doing straight rows between the spout and handle openings, things went pretty smoothly.
The cosy is lined with the spotty fabric, and edged with some drill Imy made a skirt from for me earlier this year (yet to be photographed and blogged about, but it’s a little on the large side, and hangs too low on my hips). The edging seemed to be the neatest way to contain all the loose ends, and I stitched it on by hand. I then spent a few hours with nylon thread, slipstitching behind all the puffs so that they didn’t sag to reveal all their fraying edges.
Mum was freaking stoked. And on an aside, the son of a friend of hers and his wife had a baby on her birthday. And they named her… Lotte! So the Lotte’s of the world have certainly aligned in birthday awesomeness this year.