Friday 19 July 2013

Re-Vision: Thrift Store Sweater to Tea Cozy

Okay.  I'll admit it:  There are times when I buy stuff at the thrift shop just because I like the colours.  I have no idea about what I'm going to do with it.  I just have to have it. 

This project comes from one of those purchases:  A Jones of New York ribbed cotton sweater that was too small ever to fit me.  I just couldn't resist the colourful stripes.

I brought the sweater home and looked at it for a while and then decided it needed to be a tea cozy. 

Here's my inspiration piece. 

It's a cotton tea cozy with a removable quilted liner.  I've had it for years.

Here are my raw materials. 

The black stuff is a piece of cotton twill I found in the remnant bin at FabricLand for $3.60.  The silvery stuff is quilt batting with a heat reflective layer fused to one side.  I have an on-going love affair with this batting and buy it in quantity when it's on sale.  I've used it for many projects.

I began by making a pattern by tracing around 1/2 of the cozy's outer cover.  Then I marked two seam allowances: one at 5/8 inch and one at 3/8 inch.  I reasoned I'd need to cut the lining slightly smaller.

I started with the outer cover for the cozy. 

I folded the sweater so that the side seams met at the center of the piece and there was a vertical fold down the middle of both front and back. 

I cut two pattern pieces, laying the pattern against the fold and cutting around the outer edge. 

The second picture below shows what the sweater looked like after I cut the tea cozy pieces and then flattened it out again.

My sewing machine is elderly and cranky. It tends to stretch knits out of shape so I sewed a straight seam then zigzag stitch beside it.  I trimmed the seam down as close as possible to the zigzag edge.

Turned right side out, the tea cozy cover looked like this:

It was kind of wiggly around the edges but I hoped the quilted liner would fill it out enough to solve the problem.

To  make the liner pieces from the black twill, I folded the twill in half lengthwise, then folded it over again, perpendicular to the first fold, making four thicknesses of fabric.  I placed my pattern against the long fold, and cut it out twice using the smaller seam allowance marked on the pattern. 

I folded the quilt batting just once, then cut two pattern pieces from it. 

I ended up with four black twill pieces and two quilt batting pieces.

I pinned two of the black pieces right side to right side, sewed a straight seam, then a zigzag beside it, and trimmed as close as possible to the zigzag.

Next, I laid the next two black twill pieces right side to right side with quilt batting on the outside and sewed them together just as I had the first piece.

With the two pieces of the lining assembled, I turned the first black twill piece right side out and tucked it inside the lining piece with the quilt batting attached. 

I pinned them together at the bottom edge and sewed around it, attaching the two together but leaving a space of about two inches unsewn. 

Pulling the fabric through the unsewn space in the bottom seam, I turned the quilted  tea cozy lining right-side out. 

I pinned the unsewn portion of the seam closed and hand stitched it shut. 

As you can see from the photo above, the bulk of the seam at the bottom of the quilted tea cozy lining caused it to shift.  It wouldn't lie flat. 

I pinned the seam into place all the way around and top stitched all around the bottom edge of the lining, about a quarter inch from the bottom seam.  It worked.  With the top stitching the two pieces no longer shifted.

I tucked the completed tea cozy liner into the outer cozy cover  thinking "job done," but the edges of the cozy looked wobbledy-worbelly (an important technical term ;^). 

I wasn't happy with the way it looked so I decided to strengthen the edges of the cozy cover with some seam binding.

The pins wouldn't easily go through all the layers of fabric and seam binding, so I pinned the binding into place on both sides of the cozy cover and then top stitched near the edge of the seam binding to hold it in place. 

The seam binding did the job.  It's still not perfect but I can live with it.  I actually think it's kind of cute.

Stuff I bought:
  • The sweater was one of eight garments purchased for $5.00 at a thrift shop bag sale.  It cost $0.63
  • The lining was part of a large piece I purchased at $6.00/metre.  I used a little less than 1/2 meter so we'll say the price was $3.00.
  • The black fabric cost $3.60.
  • The seam binding cost $2.80 and I used less than half of it so I'll price that at $1.40
  • The thread was left over from another project.
  • Total cost: $8.63
There are still some materials left from this project so I may yet get make another item from the things I have on hand.
Stuff I learned:
  • Even working with a straight seam as I was, my machine didn't like that ribbed knit.  Next time I'll choose something a little less stretchy.
  • I don't need a cozy as large as this one.  Next time I'll scale back to about 3/4 the size.
  • The thickness of the quilt batting prevents the liner from flattening out as much as the thinner outer cozy cover.  There's no need to cut the lining smaller.  If you cut them both the same size, you'll end up with a better fit.