Making a 'Tea Cosy'




Introduction: Making a 'Tea Cosy'

About: I am a mom, a wife, a singer and Christian recording artist, as well as speaker for women's ministry events. I cook ... a lot! ... and love to try new recipes. I'm not a gourmet, but I do like to try fancy t...

I love hot tea, and love to use my tea pots. Keeping it warm enough to enjoy an entire potful before it gets cold can be a challenge. So, I designed a "tea cosy". Found them to be way overpriced and not very imaginative or pretty on the 'net, so I made my own design!

Step 1: Step 1: Supplies You Will Need

1. double-sided, quilted fabric, cut with pinking shears, to a rectangle that is 9½" x 22½"
2. spool of matching thread
3. 1 spool of 1" grosgrain ribbon, to match your fabric
4. 1 spool of 3/8" grosgrain ribbon, either same color as the 1" ribbon in #3 above, or something that is a nice contrast to the fabric and 1" ribbon.
5. 12" of 3/8" braided elastic.
6. sewing machine, pins, iron, ruler, hem gauge, ability to make a buttonhole or use of a buttonhole attachment on your machine.

Step 2: Step 2: Cutting & Preparing the Pieces...

-Cut your fabric into the 9½ x 22½" rectangle. ADVICE: use a pinking shear, to curtail fraying edges. Many of your edges will be exposed, and will not be turned under to finish the hem, so the pinked edge is necessary, as well as more attractive. [See photo A]
-Cut the 1" grosgrain into a piece that is 24" long. [See photo B]. Set aside. This will later be the casing for your 3/8" ribbon tie.
-Cut another piece of the 1" grosgrain, a piece that is also 24" long. [See photo B]. Set aside. This will later be ironed in-half, length-wise, to form a fold-over trim.
-Cut the 3/8" grosgrain into a piece that is 36 - 38" long.  [See photo C]. Set aside, to be used later for the tie around the neck of the tea pot.
-Cut a piece of the 3/8" braided elastic into a 12" long strip. [See photo D]. Set aside. 

Step 3: Step 3: Making Opening for Tea Pot's Spout

Fold your fabric in half, right sides together, to make a rectangle that is 9½ [tall]  x 11¼" [wide]. This is to establish your center front fold line.

Along the fold line [and this will be on the side of the fabric that will eventually be the INSIDE of the cosy], starting roughly 2¼" from the bottom raw edge*, using a seamstress chalk, or a contrasting pen that you will be able to see!!, draw a 4" line along the fold line, towards the top edge. [See Photo A, the faint red line from the 0" to the 4" line on the measuring tape.]

Using a buttonholer attachment [see Photo B] on your sewing machine, make a buttonhole along this line. Slit the 4" buttonhole open. This will be the opening for the tea pot's spout.

[See Photo C - this is the RIGHT side, or the OUTSIDE of the cosy fabric, the side you will see!]

*NOTE: If you use a fabric that needs to be oriented "right-side-up", like mine in these photos, make sure you are starting from the correct edge. For instance, I don't want my chickens in this fabric to end up standing upside-down on their heads, after my project is finished! See photo in step 10.

Step 4: Step 4: Back Opening

With the right sides still together, stitch the back opening seam starting at the bottom edge, using a ½" seam allowance. Stitch ONLY the bottom 2½" of the seam; leave the upper seam open. [See Photo A].
Top-stitch these back edges open, turning them back along the 1/2" line, going down one side, stitching across the seam opening, and back up the other side. [See Photo B].
You can use a decorative stitch here to top-stitch, if you like, but if you're using a "busy" fabric design, you probably won't see the decorative top-stitching. Therefore, I use a small, straight stitch or a small zig-zag, as shown in Photo B.
This is the back opening, and will be for the tea pot's handle.

Step 5: Step 5: Bottom Hem/casing

Turn up a 3/4" hem along the BOTTOM raw edge of fabric, and stitch this hem in place, close to the cut edge. [See Photo A].  The fabric is really too thick and dense to turn under a clean, ¼" finishing edge, but you might want to use some fray-check  along the raw, pinked edge, if you feel it's necessary. I have found that pinking the edge is sufficient, and works just fine, and the pinked edge looks nice, too.
This hem is the casing for your elastic, so leave an opening of about 1½ - 2" [See Photo B] so you can insert the elastic LATER ... [don't insert elastic yet, as it will inhibit your work].

At this point, you should have a basic modified fabric tube, with the back mostly open, and the buttonhole slit up the front edge along the center fold line, and the hem turned up along the bottom edge for the elastic casing. [See Photo C].

Step 6: Step 6: 1" Grosgrain Ribbon Casing

Fold under approx. 3/4" on one end of one of the 24"-pieces of 1" ribbon. On the "wrong" side (inside) of fabric, lay one folded ribbon-end just about even with the back edge opening of the tube. [See Photo A].
Placing the TOP edge of the ribbon 1½" from the top, cut edge of the fabric tube, PIN the ribbon securely in place. Tip: Using a hem gauge works really well for this, to ensure that the ribbon edge is equi-distant from the top edge of the cosy, all the way around. [See Photo A].
Stitch in place. Stitch CLOSE to the TOP edge of the ribbon [see Photo B], and make sure the ribbon-ends are neatly tucked under, adjusting the ends, as necessary, so they don't extend beyond the center back opening. This is going to be your casing for the 3/8" ribbon tie [later].

Now stitch in place along the BOTTOM edge of the ribbon, [see Photo C] to secure it in place, stitching CLOSE to the bottom edge of the ribbon.

[Photo D] shows the ribbon, stitched on both edges.

Step 7: Step 7: 1" Grosgrain Fold-over Trim

NOTE: You can buy fold-over braid, but I think the grosgrain has a nicer, more homespun appearance, and comes in a much wider variety of colors for this project.
[See Photo A] Taking your second 24"-piece of 1"-wide grosgrain, and using a medium-hot iron, fold the grosgrain "almost" in-half,   lengthwise, ironing as you go, and press it in place, to make a fold-over trim. (Not too hot ... the ribbon will melt! I learned the hard way, when I first got started!) I say "almost" in-half, because you will find it easier to stitch later on, and catch both edges of the ribbon, if one of the edges is SLIGHTLY wider than the other. See in the photos.

TIP #1: when folding the ribbon over and pressing it, you will find it has "memory" and doesn't much like to stay folded over. So I use something flat and cool, like a small metal pan, or my iron bacon press ("iron pig"), to set on top of the folded, ironed sections, as I go along. It cools the ribbon and  holds it down, and it stays folded over once the threads cool in the folded-over position. I just work my way down the ribbon doing this, 6" or so at a time, until I reach the end.[Photo A].

TIP #2: I also anchor down the starting end of the ribbon with a strong straight pin, to give me some leverage to pull the ribbon taut, as I go along. [Photo A].

Using pins, anchor the fold-over trim in place over the cut top edge [Photo B]. Important: place the trim on the edge, so that the "narrow" side of the ribbon is on the INSIDE/"wrong" side of fabric, facing up.

After it is anchored with pins, trim (if necessary) and turn under the raw ends so they are even with the edges of the back seam opening of the cosy, adjusting the ends as necessary, so they don't extend beyond the back opening. [Photo C].

You will stitch the ribbon to the cosy with the inside/"wrong" side of the fabric facing up. The "wider" edge of the ribbon will be on the underside of the fabric, beneath the presser-foot of the machine, at this point, and you will be sure to catch the under edge of the lower  half of the ribbon this way (that's why you ironed the ribbon in half with one side ever-so-slightly wider than the other). Stitch the trim in place, very close to the edge, making sure you catch the underside of the ribbon in your stitching, and secure the folded-under ribbon ends, as well. [See Photo D].

[Photo E]
 shows the other side of the fabric, after stitching thru all layers of the fold-over trim. You'll see that the stitching has been caught thru all layers, and is slightly farther from the edge than what you sewed in [Photo D]  ... this is from when you folded it in-half and ironed it with one side slightly "wider".

Step 8: Step 8: Elastic

Run your 12" piece of elastic through the bottom hem casing. [Photo A].
Secure the ends of elastic with your sewing machine. [Photo B].
Sew the hem opening closed, that you previously left open to run the elastic through.
You will have a gathered, elastic casing at the bottom of your cylinder [Photo C]. (I'm holding the cosy upside down in this photo, for ease of picture taking).

Step 9: Step 9: Ribbon Tie

Run your 3/8" grosgrain ribbon through the 1" ribbon casing, using a large safety pin or the tool you see in Photo A. [I have no idea what that tool is called, and I've had it for so many years, I couldn't begin to remember what it said on the original package. I've been doing this sewing thing for decades! Any help out there, as to what this tool is called?!]
Make sure your ribbon-tie ends are even and distributed evenly throughout the casing, with the same amount hanging free on either end. [Photo B].
At the center-front edge of the cosy (just above and in-line with your buttonhole spout opening), stitch vertically through the casing & ribbon tie, to secure the tie in place so it doesn't pull out when you tie the ribbon around the neck of the tea pot [Photos C & D].

Your tea cosy is finished! Now comes the fun part ... putting it ON your tea pot!

Step 10: Step 10: Fitting Your Cosy to Your Tea Pot

Now, insert the tea pot into the cosy, with the spout through the front 4-inch "buttonhole" and the bottom circle of the pot surrounded snugly by the elastic casing. NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT IN YOUR TEA BAG OR LOOSE TEA, AND THE BOILING WATER, so you are not trying to maneuver the pot into the cosy after it's full of a hot liquid! Place the tea pot lid securely on the pot.
Pull the back opening slit up around the tea pot handle, and gently pull on the ribbon tie (careful! there's hot liquid inside, remember!) until the top ruffles up around the tea pot lid. Tie the ribbon tie securely into a pretty bow at the back of the cosy, and adjust gathers.

You should have a lovely decorative cosy, that is also functional. I set mine on top of a quilted pad  so the heat doesn't escape out the bottom of the pot (I make the quilted pad from a scrap 6" circle, same quilted fabric to match tea pot, finished around the outside edge with ribbon or seam binding, or a decorative stitch and pinking). In the absence of a quilted pad, set the pot on top of a pot-holder, to keep the heat from escaping out the bottom!

Enjoy ... these make lovely gifts for people who enjoy tea. They sell quite well in tea shoppes and local artisan and gift shoppes, too.

This is my very first instructable, and I tried to be very descriptive and conscientious while putting it together. Wow ... that was a lot of work! Took me all day to make the cosy, when it usually takes less than 2 hours. LOL! Hope you enjoy. This project is probably not a good one for "beginners". A little sewing experience would be helpful, when making this.

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11 Discussions


10 months ago

Hi there....I realize this is a VERY dated comment.....but in answer to your question as to what is the name of the tool used to draw the elastic through the casing, it is a Bodkin. There are many types, wider, rounder, flatter....there are some that have tiny clamps at one end to hold on to the item being threaded....there are some that are just a flat piece of plastic with a slit widthwise to hold ribbon and then draw it through. So many types for so many applications. And then, there's always the good old safety pin! Thanks so much for taking the time to post these instructions.


3 years ago

That's lovely I'm going to make one for me and another to my daughter ... thank you xx


4 years ago

I am going to make this for Christmas gifts between my other projects. I love it! Thanks for sharing.

Hi, this looks fantastic! I wondered what size pot this would fit, though. I am anticipating a 6-cup brown betty arrival any day now. Thanks! Your instructions are very clear!


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Thank you for the lovely compliments.
I have made it to fit a teapot that is 5.5" high, from the bottom to the top of the knob on the lid. I also made one to fit a teapot that is 6" high. Both teapots are about 8" in diameter. I don't know how many cups the teapot holds ... I only know it holds approximately 30 - 32 oz. of boiling water, and my husband and I use an 11-0z. teacup. So for us, it holds almost three cups, but if you're using a smaller 6-oz cup, it would be 5 cups, or thereabouts. My teapots are the med. sized Polish Pottery teapots.
I hope this helps a bit. Sorry I can't be more specific.


8 years ago on Introduction

I love this! Thanks for sharing your hard work! Have a splendid day!


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

You are welcome! Hope you're having a splendid and blessed day, as well! My,oh my .... I see you have 178 instructables. That's A LOT! Guess I'd better get busy, huh? ha!


8 years ago on Introduction

Good job on the pictures, detailed and clear. Often people skimp on the pictures but they really help to explain and make things clear.

I don't like coffee but I do like tea. But I am not sophisticated enough to go to the effort of steeping it in a pot. I use Revers Osmosis water in a cup and microwave it until it boils with the tea bag in it. Then add honey and milk. There is an apiary a few miles from me (Honey farm) and they have the best honey. Sugar in tea just doesn't do it justice, but use honey instead and then you really have something good. What's really funny is I found I can't leave a half cup on the table because apparently the cats like it this way too. I caught one of them sneaking a slurp of it even though they know that the table is my turf and they are not allowed. I guess it was just to good to resist.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

OH! I also meant to mention the instructable by stinkymum on "how to make a proper cup of tea"...very proper, very British. It's FUNNY, but also a well-done instructable. She would find your method of making tea quite ... uh ... well, go read her instructable. LOL!


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Oh, so you live in YOUR cats' house, too? ha! I try and try to tell them that the table and countertops are MY turf ... they don't "get it". Ugh. Haven't caught them sipping my tea, yet - maybe they don't like the Agave nectar I use ... but they ARE very territorial about "their" king sized bed ... sometimes I get about 6" of mattress on my side ... they and hubby get the remainder. Amazing how much a 9# cat can stretch itself out, to use up the real estate!
Thank you so much for the compliments on my very first instructable! It actually made it as a "feature", and I got a "pro" membership for it! Woo-hoooo! Beginner's luck, I guess. I think the trick is to be thorough and as descriptive as possible ... and as you say, the pix really help.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Actually I have a cat collection.