NZ Woman's Weekly

Sewing: tea cosy bag

Sometimes you see something in an auction box lot that looks too interesting to leave behind, and sometimes you have to buy a bunch of stuff you don’t want. The cosy
is a wreck, but I liked the flowers and leaves so decided to make a felt bag using the same idea.

• Coloured felt for the flowers (here, mauve, pinky-purple, pink and dark blue), and at least two shades of green for leaves, plus a jade green strip of felt for the “ribbon”
• Perle 3 thread in dull red, pale citrus yellow, pale dirty pink and deep pink for the flowers; palest green, mid-lime and grass green for the stems; and black for trim
• Black felt or heavy coat weight wool: Bag – 44cm by 27cm; two side pieces – 21cm by 7cm; two handles – 28cm by 3cm. A metre will do this generously
• Lining material, approx. 33cm by 44cm
• Needle punch or similar padding, approx. 33cm by 44cm

1 Cut out the black felt pieces, cutting the side pieces round at the ends to form rounded gussets.

2 Cut out the petals for your flowers. Each petal is 3cm by 3cm, rounded at one end. You will need 10 pink, 5 purple, 5 mauve and 10 blue petals at three petals per flower.

3 Cut out leaves to measure 6cm by 3cm. Gather each petal at the straight end to form two folds and secure. Stitch each flower loosely together at the centre and place on your bag front. They will need to be placed 3cm clear of the future bottom fold of the bag, and at least 6cm in from the sides, allowing for a narrow side seam to come.

4 Do the same with the leaf shapes: pucker them by running a matching sewing cotton along their length, and securing at their flat end.

5 Arrange these to your satisfaction, secure them with small stitches in matching thread and begin making the French knots at the centre of each flower. Use two colours for each centre. Make sure each flower is securely attached, using small matching stitches in sewing cotton if necessary.

6 Tuck the leaves into place, wrinkling them more if need be. Secure them with stem stitch in various shades of green.

7 Now stitch some tendril shapes in one of your green threads and make a number of lines of green stem stitch, using your different shades of green, for stems.

8 Finally, cut out the jade green into narrow strips and arrange these into a bow, securing it with small stitches in matching thread. Everything should look crumpled and, hence, realistic.

9 For the back detail, cut your leaves 4cm by 2cm or 3 cm. They can be in different shapes, like they are in the picture to the left.

10 Cut out small flower shapes using the same shades as on the front: I added a dash of red for interest. The flowers vary from 3cm or less in size, layered as illustrated and anchored with French knots. Crumple the leaves – in several shades of green – as you did on the front. Stitch stems in varied greens.

11 Sew the side panels to join the front and back of the bag, and turn over a short hem at the top, all the way around the bag. Machine stitch this down. Hand stitch (or machine stitch if you must) the handles into position, front and back. My handles are rough-edged single thickness. You may prefer a double thickness. Make up your lining fabric to fit inside, then press it, turn the top over, press it again when you’re sure it fits, and machine or hand stitch it to the bag. Finally, cover the machine stitching all around the bag’s top with black herringbone stitch.

The first version of the anemones was on an old tea cosy. I bought it because I liked the way the flowers were made.

It is a fiddly business inserting the side sections, but you need to be able to actually carry something in the bag. It won’t take a lot of weight – it will
do what such bags were first intended for – your knitting or embroidery when you’re out visiting. It won’t hold heavy things such as books, your shopping or groceries.

You could use purchased handles or any plain cloth of a reasonable weight for the bag, so long as it’s sturdy enough to cope with the appliqué without sagging.

Extracted with kind permission from With Bold Needle and Thread by Rosemary McLeod. Photos by Jane Ussher (Godwit/Random House, $55).

Once you’ve completed your bags, visit us online at
and share your handiwork. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ our page for great Weekly updates and discussions.

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In this week's issue of New Zealand Woman's Weekly magazine: Marcus Lush counts down to baby no. 2.

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