A Teacosy – A Learning Curve

I had a whole empty day last Sunday, so I got my sewing machine out. I recently had an idea about what to do for my first quilt, but made myself promise that I would finish my teacosy first.

My Teacosy
My Teacosy

I started making a teacosy about three months ago. I wanted to make a quilted object that I would use and that I could just have a go at all the different techniques on, so I bought some insulated batting to play with. I was using the tutorial from quiltingjetgirl as a starting point. Her tutorial is for a reversible teacosy and I decided that for the moment that’s probably not necessary. So I mostly used it as a size guide. I used the sizing for the larger teacosy.

In my first session of sewing I pieced together two panels. I cut some right angled triangles – I think half square triangles in quilting lingo – and then pieced them together as pinwheels. I did this in strips, so each panel was three strips of triangles. I really enjoy the process of patchwork, of the cutting shapes, and choosing colour combinations and then seeing the patterns evolve as you sew them together again. The pinwheels were quite tricky to match together. If anything I got worse as I went a long. I definitely need to rethink how I cut the fabric. I don’t have a lot of space so when cutting from large sheets of fabric, some of it hangs off the table. This can then move and distort when I’m cutting it. Today I tried cutting on the floor – this was also pretty tricky. I couldn’t quite get the right angle.

This is my sewing space. It gets a little crowded.

So once I’d got them pieced, it was time to quilt them together. It took me so long to figure out how to put a walking foot on my machine. I managed to dislodge the automatic needle threader (and no I still don’t know how it works). Eventually I got it going again and began quilting the first panel. And I hated it. The tension was wrong and the thing warped quite a bit and it was generally all a bit frustrating. With hindsight at least some of these problems would be solved if I a) bought some of the spray glue to baste it together properly and b) maybe practiced beforehand. But I’m impatient and cheap (the spray glue is expensive). And at this point I just put it away to deal with another day.

Front and back of one of my quilted panels
Front and back of one of my quilted panels

So when I got my machine set up this time, I just blitzed the quilting. Somewhere along my reading travels I read that if you quilt the lines in opposite directions it helps with the warping. And it definitely helped but this half was even less well basted so it still didn’t go that well.

Clover clips weren't in my budget either
Clover clips weren’t in my budget either

And then I had to learn how to bind the quilted halves. A quick google threw up this tutorial from cluckclucksew. I chose this one because it looked simple and didn’t include any hand sewing. The instructions were really easy to follow and it was a great way to get very neat corners. My biggest problem was I didn’t take enough care with the seam allowance when I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt. This meant when I was sewing it to the back it was really hard to get it to line up with the edge of the binding on the front of the quilt.

A bound and shaped panel
A bound and shaped panel

My teapot must be incredibly fat, because despite having used the larger sizing, there was no way it would have fitted if I’d sewn the pieces straight together. So I added side panels. I cut two equilatrial triangles, where the edges are the same length as the height as the panels. I quickly quilted with a single line, then used the back fabric as the binding. This is definitely a quicker method but doesn’t look as good.

It’s pretty tent shaped

All that was left to do then was handstitch the panels together and I had a finished teacosy. No it’s not perfect, and it’s a funny shape (the side panels could have been smaller) but it keeps tea warm. And really that’s all a teacosy needs to do.


A Pleasing Finish – An Embroidered Pincushion

I do love the feeling of having finished something. And today I finally finished the embroidery kit pincushion. This was another kit from my late grandmothers stash and it’s been well traveled (Croatia, France, Chester, Boston and New York).

pin cushion
Embroidered Pin Cushion. Design by Jane Rainbow

I like having something to do with my hands so having to sit still for a few hours on a plane or train is a good (unnescessary) excuse to make something. And an embroidery kit is normally more self contained than beads. Although that hasn’t stopped me from beading on a train – it was a birthday gift with the date looming. It lead to an interesting conversation with the man next to me who didn’t believe the beads sewn on to fabric would stay on. However the thing that got the most comments/ conversations started was when I was darning my point shoes, while taking trains all over  the country for university open days. And gosh that was a long time ago now.

Embroidery Instructions
Embroidery Instructions

This kit is by Jane Rainbow and the instructions consisted of a grid pattern, examples of each stitch and some fairly complex written instructions. The pattern makes a square; then the four corners are folded in to make the pincushion. I stuffed the cushion with the left over wool ends and then the fluff which I pulled from some cotton wool pads. I’ve kept the other part of the pads to use as a line for this project.

christmas ball34
Christmas Ornament
Top: Cotton wool pad Bottom: left over sheet

This was my first time doing embroidery, and if I do any more I really need to invest in an embroidery hoop. This one distorted quite badly by the end. This isn’t noticeable now its been folded and stuffed, but it would be very obvious if it was a flat piece. I’m not actually sure I’ll do anymore embroidery. I mean I wouldn’t turn down a kit if someone gave it to me, But it’s quite complex and I don’t particularly like the look of the wool. Maybe embroidery with thread or floss would look better or more modern. I definitely prefer the finished effect of cross stitch and find it much more therapeutic.

It was interesting to learn something new and I have made something I really needed. I didn’t own a pincushion and have been struggling to find my needles every time I need them. I have a butterfly cross stitch that I began on the last trip which should keep me going for a few more journeys (I think I forgot this off my list last month – whoops) and also a kit for an embroidered tea towel that I should attempt one day. It doesn’t have quite enough instructions though so I need to be feeling brave when I begin.

The beginning of autumn – September is here


It’s time for the lists again. But don’t worry this time I’ll try and keep it much shorter than last months whopper post.

Honestly everything on last months list is still there so here’s a condensed version:

Blanket.Summer scarf.Pin Cushion.Star Ornament.Beaded diamond necklace.Fringed handbag.Sea glass necklace.Teacosy

I guess at least I haven’t added anything new. And I managed to complete two items: a pair of earrings for the ottbs august challenge and also a silver star necklace. I’ll show you some pictures soon.

I had a very hectic month with being away lots so hopefully I can get some more things finished (and probably started too), now that I am back home. I should probably also start to think about Christmas gifts and get a move on with those, but don’t worry – I’m not going to start playing carols just yet.