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The Incredibly Serious Tea Cozy

Signs we used to make to sell in local shops.

It’s throwback Thursday so we thought we’d reintroduce an old favorite of ours: The Incredibly Serious Tea Cozy.

Every once in a while the right side of our brain gives over to the left and we get all scientificky. (I’m pretty sure that’s a bonafide technical term.) That happened to us one day when we decided we needed a new tea cozy.

No doubt our right brain could tear through our fabric stash and come up with something adorable but our left brain kept saying: I want the tea to stay hot! This is not a ‘given’ in the tea cozy business. They aren’t all great performers. We dug out our candy making thermometer and got to work.

After a few prototypes we came up with a pattern for a less-than-exciting Cute But Rather Ordinary Handmade Tea Cozy. It was adequate; if you weren’t scatterbrained like us. We needed something that would cover those days where you made a pot of tea, did 27 other things, then found the teapot two hours later and it was stone cold. Thankfully, The Warm Company had an answer for us.

They make a product called Insul-Bright:

Insul-Bright consists of hollow, polyester fibers needle-punched

through a nonwoven substrate and through a reflective metalized poly film.

The needled material is breathable and won’t break down with washing.

The hollow fibers resist conduction while the

reflective metalized poly film resists radiant energy.

The energy, hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.

Sounds scientificky enough for us! After some testing in the lab, a.k.a our kitchen, we came up with a combination of fabrics and linings that kept the tea drinking hot for over two hours! We know this because we took the temperature of several pots of tea every fifteen minutes for hours and hours. We even made a chart. The secret to success turned out to be a cozy made from wool and The Incredibly Serious Tea Cozy was born.

We sewed a lot of cozies back then but finally shelved them in favor of some other shiny object that caught our eye. (SQUIRREL!) This month, however, J Wecker Frisch sent me a fat quarter bundle of her adorable Fowl Play collection from QT Fabrics and I knew I wanted an appliqué project. We made a sweet little chicken appliqué and it needed a place to roost. A tea cozy was the perfect place.

With my Mom's German Tea Set and a vintage chicken sugar bowl.

We had so much fun trying out the appliqué in every imaginable combination of fabrics! It was easy to imagine a quilt made from just appliqué blocks—that’s on the back burner for another day. Then we remembered a stash of vintage wool we had, including a piece of black and white tartan. Suddenly, our tea cozy got incredibly serious.

What we did:

The body of the cozy is wool. We stitched the appliqué pieces to the wool body with a layer of cotton batting underneath. We layered Insul-Bright beneath that and then lined it with pre-quilted cotton. The sandwich of fabric went like this:

  • Appliqué

  • Wool

  • Cotton batting

  • Pre-quilted cotton (cotton, thin poly batting, cotton)

The chicken's comb at the top is two layers of cotton and one layer of batting. The binding is a 2 ½ strip folded lengthwise. The shape of the cozy is a simple dome, which you really need to size according to your specific tea pot. The attached template is good for a six-eight cup pot. It's easily adjusted to fit your needs. PDF of Tea Cozy Template

You can download the appliqué pieces here: PDF of Chicken Applique It’s very simple but assumes you know how to do appliqué. If you are very good with a printer you can scale it up or down and use it on anything.

Construction is as you'd expect: sew the fronts to the backs, place the lining pieces inside the outer pieces with wrong sides together and bind the bottom edge.

Tea Cozies from years gone by.

Ready, Set, Sew!


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