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This is my first Instructable: I'm not sure how popular hot water bottles are around the world, but here in the UK, I find mine a must-have accessory for most of the year. I needed a new cover anyway, so thought I'd share the process with you.

First gather your tools and materials. You could do this project all by hand, but some use of the sewing machine will speed it up. I didn't go out and buy anything for this because I have tonnes of fabric around the house that needs using.

Other things: Pins, a small needle and an embroidery needle (with a sharp point), embroidery silks, sharp scissors (and pinking shears if you've got them), wadding, assorted buttons, some circles of card (cereal box will be perfect), fabric for your main cover AND of course, a hot water bottle (available from hardware stores, chemists and probably online, these days).

If you like my instructable - don't forget to vote for it in the 'Sew Warm' Contest - thanks!xx

Step 1: Sufolk Puffs

The first thing I did was to make the Suffolk puffs that decorate the cover. First you make a card template (draw round a mug or a coaster or something round and cut it out - the size is up to you). Then use the template to draw circles onto your different scraps of fabric. 
- Cut out your fabric circle and then sew a running stitch close to the edge.
- Pull the thread to draw your puff together in the centre
- Flatten the puff so that you have a puff half the size of your original circle.
- Finish off by stitching a few times into the middle of the puff to secure (then it won't come undone).
- Finally press the puff so that it sits nice and flat and round.

Put the puffs to one side.

Step 2: Make a Cover Pattern

To make your cover pattern, draw around your water bottle on some newspaper, then draw around that line, leaving 1 1/2 inches allowance (see red pen is the size of the bottle, green pen is the size of the cover pattern). Cut out the larger shape - this will be your pattern.

Step 3: Cut Out Front Pieces

Find some fabrics for the outside and inside of your cover (the bit you don't see). These can be the same fabric or different. I have used the navy blue for my outside and the boring grey for the inside (in the end your wadding will be sandwiched between these too to make the quilted effect).

First you need to cut out the front. So pin your cover pattern to the navy (outisde) fabric and cut around it. Repeat with the grey (inside).

When cutting out the wadding, leave a half-inch excess, to allow the wadding to move while you are quilting. It sometimes moves about - nobody knows why.

Step 4: Cut Out the Reverse Pieces

Once you have finished cutting out your front pieces, you will need to cut out those for the back (the side with the slit for inserting your bottle).

Cut your pattern into two pieces (as shown) and pin these to the outside fabric, leaving 4 or 5 inches gap in between. Here you are allowing for a hem and for the over-lap so the bottle doesn't fall out). I used a chalk pencil to draw my lines on, but you can do it by eye if you like (or just use an ordinary pencil).

Cut around these pattern pieces the same as before in outside, inside. 

Finally pin to the wadding and don't forget to leave half an inch extra around the edge to allow for wadding-shifs.

Step 5: Pin the Pieces Together

Sandwich your wadding pieces between your outside and inside pieces and pin them together - it's a good idea to use a lot of pins, because you don't want the pieces to move about too much.

Also pin the hem on the slot in the back pieces by folding the outside (navy) fabric once and then twice, so it overlaps the grey fabric - you don't want any wadding showing.

Step 6: Tack the Pieces Together

Next tack (baste) your pieces - the 1st step in quilting. I used a contrasting colour thread, so it can be easily seen. The stitches will be taken out later (hence the bright colour)  - they are just there to hold things together. They don't need to be tight or neat, but it's a good idea to keep them regular. I went diagonally, but vertical and horizontal stitches are fine too.

So tack front and back pieces. It takes a while, but is really important, so don't skip it. Put something good on the telly and you'll get it done in no time.

Then you can take the pins out from around the edges.

Step 7: Attach Your Suffolk Puffs

When you have finished your orange tacking, take your Suffolk puffs and arrange them on your cover. When you are happy with where they're sitting, pin them on. I drew my stems and leaves on too with chalk pencil, so I would have an idea where I was going.

Then sew these on using slip stitch - keep the stitches as small as you can, so that they don't show up. BUT make sure you push the needle all the way through to the grey fabric at the back - you need to keep the pieces together.  I used thread to match the colour of my puffs. If you are low on thread it is always a good idea to use grey - it tones with most colours.

I learned this stiich from my mum years ago, but for some more complicated stitches and techniqhes, I would highly reccommend Sew it Up! by Ruth Singer. I expect you can find instructions on the internets these days, but I like my book (see youtube).

Step 8: Embroider Stems and Leaves

You may need Ruth Singer's book again here to learn chain stitch (the photo is from her book). I used chain stitch for thicker stems and backstitch for thinner stems and leaves. The main thing to remember is that you want to push the needle through all three layers of fabric so that the quiting holds - while you're making a pretty pattern, you are also attaching your fabrics together (don't forget the orange tacking will be coming out later). The grey or inside of your cover will look like the final picture here.

Remember also to decorate the back of your cover!

Step 9: Attach Buttons for Flower Centres

I got a lovely jar of buttons for Christmas, so I decided so sew a few on as centres to my puffs (flowers). Again, remember to pull the thread all the way through to the grey layer. The buttons are useful too if you have a large hole in the centre of your puff - it fills it beautifully!

Step 10: Pin Back & Front Together and Then Sew

Place your pieces (grey sides together) on top of each other and meaure against the bottle - you may now see that you've got too much allowance outside, don't worry. The back pieces of your cover need to over lap each other by 2 or 3 inches, so that the bottle doesn't slip out - so take that into consideration when pinning together the pieces.

Pin around your bottle (about half and inch from the sides) and sew with the machine. You can do this by hand, but it takes a bit longer. 

Step 11: Trim Excess

Next, trim the excess wadding and fabrics from the edges. I would say to trim half an inch from the seams you have just made. I used pinking shears, but ordinary (sharp) scissors are fine too.

Step 12: Embroider "sew Warm"

These last steps can be in either order, but I stitched on my 'Sew Warm' slogan on here. I wrote on first in chalk pencil and then used backstitch to make the letters.

Now, at last, you can take out the orange tacking - your bottle cover will look different at once!

Step 13: Make Binding (for Trim) and Sew Into Place to Finish!

Finally you need to make some binding to trim and cover up the raw edges. I made some binding from the same grey fabric I used for the inside of the bottle, but you can buy bias binding very easily - you might find it simpler. I cut strips of fabric about  2 inches wide and then sewed them together so that I had enough to go all the way around.

To avoid seeing a raw edge, fold the edge of the grey fabric over before pinning to your cover - it's a bit fiddly, but worth it. Pin it on all the way around the front of your cover and then pull it around and pin it all the way around the back of the cover (remembering to fold over the edge to make it neat.

Now you can sew your trim on by using the slipstitch again (like with the puffs). You could do this on the machine, but I thought it looked prettier to do it by hand. Again, it takes a while, but it's a nice winter activity if you've got The Great Gatsby on the TV.

YAY - your bottle cover is finished! Fill it up with hot water, and snuggle!
Great stuff dabchick, really easy to follow Instructable!
Thanks!

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Bio: I am mostly a writer, but I love making things too.
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