Sunday, December 16, 2018

Christmas gifts - bento bag tea cozy and potholders

I created this bento bag tea cozy for my son and his fiance for Christmas.  I usually give him Christmas food - baking, meat pie, etc but he will be overseas this year and bringing food with him was not practical.  I asked for a few suggestions and a tea cozy came up.  Having just made a bento bag to wrap my grandson's birthday gift I thought maybe I could add some quilting to the bottom of a bento bag so it could be used as a tea cozy.  I had to work out the details of exactly what size the inner piece of quilting should be by allowing for the seam allowances, etc.  The outside piece was cut 28" x 10" which allows 1/2" seam allowances on all four sides and leaves the dimensions of 27" x 9" in the center which satisfies the requirements  for a bento bag of three equal squares.

I cut another piece from the same fabric and trimmed two triangles - one from each end in opposite corners.  The remaining corners which create the ties will then be only one layer and make tying the tea cozy easier. I quilted the cotton batting to the inside layer in even lines and then hemmed the right and left sides where I cut out the triangles.  I marked the squares for the cozy on the under side of my rectangle so I could line up the layer which worked well.  I quilted the inner layer to the to the outside rectangle using several lines of stitching going in line with the diagonal edges and finished off with the two sides.  

Next, I stitched the side seams that create the cozy.  I trimmed away the batting and the inside layer a bit from the seam allowance before finishing the 1/2" seams with decorative stitching.  The edges of the ties are simply turned over once and stitched with the decorative stitching.  This helps soften them and therefore makes tying them easier as well.  I had thought I might add fusible webbing in the seam allowance of the tie area to make that more secure as it will be a place of the most wear but I completely forgot once I was in that stage of production.  Maybe next time!!  
This is the finished bento tea cozy which because of how I made my seams is finished inside and out with no unfinished seams.

I did sew the bottom corners diagonally which  helps make the cozy stand up more easily and I was able to finish them off by sewing the little triangles to the sides.  I could also have stitched them to the bottom.  As you can see, the ties easily fold down to the outside which makes putting the tea pot into the cozy quite easy.  The spout and handle are easily accessible as well.  The teapot they have has a large handle which goes from front to back so the ties will simply tie underneath the handle.

I really like the look of this little tea cozy and it is versatile enough to be used with a variety of teapots.  The single knot on the top is easily undone which allows the pouring in of more water for a few more cups.  With this tea cozy the bottom as well as the sides are insulated which should keep the tea nice and hot!  I will get some feedback once it has been used a few times to see if there are any changes that need to be made to the design to make it more efficient or practical.  I did not get a chance to try it before it was on its way to its new home.  
Because of its bento bag design it could easily be used to keep buns warm or to transport a casserole  for a potluck event.  I appreciate the flexibility of this design and expect will be used often.  

I also made two trivet/hotpot mats that matched.  I filled them with five layers of old flannel sheet which should be enough to protect the table but also leaves them flexible enough to be used as potholders if you wish.  I put two 8" squares of 100% quilting cotton with their right sides together and then added the five layers of flannel over them and pinned everything in place.  I stitched around the edge leaving about a 3/8" - 1/2" seam allowance and leaving an opening of about 3" - 4" on one side.  I trimmed the corners diagonally and also the flannel in the seam allowance all the way around leaving about 1/4" before turning them inside out.  I poked the corners to make them nice and square and then pressed them well making sure that the seam allowance on the gaps was well pressed and flat.  I stitched all the way around about 1/16" - 1/8" from the edges which sealed the gap I used to turn them over and gave them a bit off stability.  I drew a swirly design on one side with a pencil and then stitched it to add a bit of texture and interest to the mats and effectively attach all the layers.   I am pretty happy with how they turned out!!!  I expect they will both appreciate the handmade gifts!!!