Cafetiere Cosy Sewing Tutorial Part 1: crazy quilting

The theme for my Creative Sewing Challenge this month was ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’. I decided to try and create some sewing that reflected the busy, buzzy dance of bees when they are doing that oh-so-important job of collecting pollen from the flowers. And in doing so dreamed up this pattern for a Cafetiere Cosy (bees, honey, breakfast, coffee…you maybe follow the train of thought here?!)

Anyway, read on to find out how to make one of your very own – you don’t need to follow my bee-inspired instructions exactly, but this post will show you how to create a crazy-patchwork base to be part of whatever kind of cosy you fancy!

And sign up here if you want to be part of the Creative Sewing Challenge that inspired this make – its free, fun and open to anyone!

You will need:

  • Fabric scraps
  • A fabric piece big enough to cover your cafetiere jug comfortably (this will be your base fabric)
  • Rotary cutter, board and metal ruler (if you don’t have these you can use pencil, ruler and scissors instead)
  • Sewing machine and matching thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Paper, ruler and scissors to create a template (or you can purchase / download this depending on your preference)
  • Optional – a collection of trimmings, pins and matching thread to embellish your seams

To begin, measure the height and circumference of your cafetiere, and add your seam allowance to all edges. Use these measurements to cut your base fabric.

Next you need to create your crazy patchwork. To begin with, you’ll need a crazy patchwork template. You can buy these, or download them, or make your own. As my cafetiere cosy is inspired by bees, I went for a hexagonal-type shape to replicate the feel of a bee hive (although being crazy quilting I avoided making it symmetrical as that would have been too neat and ordered for this project!) I simply cut the shape out of paper.

Use your template to cut your first patchwork piece of fabric. This shape needs to remain as your middle piece as you create the crazy patchwork around it.

Now place this piece on top of another scrap of fabric, aligning the edges along one side only and keeping right sides together.

Sew together using a 0.5cm seam allowance, open out and press.

Now use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut away any excess fabric, creating straight lines where ever they fall according to your original pattern piece. The photo below probably demonstrates this more clearly than my words!…

You’ll now have two patchwork pieces whose edges align nicely, and are ready to repeat the process with another scrap.

As before, place your next scrap of fabric right sides together, lining the pieces up along one edge. Sew using a 0.5cm seam allowance, open and press.

Once again, continue any straight edges by trimming away the excess to create a shape that can be sewn to another scrap.

Keep repeating the process! I sometimes find larger pieces that work their way into the patchwork…

…can be cut away and re-attached elsewhere to keep the pattern nice and compact.

You just need to keep going….

…and keep going until your patchwork is slightly bigger than the backing piece you cut originally. Remember to keep your original shape in the middle as much as possible.

Not quite there yet…

…still not quite there!

Bingo! My backing fabric now fits comfortably over the patchwork.

The next step is to use this as a template and cut away the excess so you have two rectangles the same size.

Your crazy patchwork is ready for stage two…adding a bit of creative flare by attaching some embellishments along the seams. You can use hand or machine embroidery, or sew trimmings such as lace over each seam. For example I used a zig-zag stitch to attach some cotton lace….

…then hand-stitched some yellow ric-rac…

…and finally I used this fabulous black embroidered ric-rac along my remaining seams (I thought this was a nice nod to the zig-zaggy dance of the bee, and a splash of black reflected the theme even futher).

With seams now prettied up, you might want to consider adding further embellishments if, like me, you have been left with a few raw edges on show…

…I found some lovely daisy lace in my stash so used some individual daisy motifs to cover-up the raw edges from my trimmings. Again, they reflected the theme nicely as I pictured a bee dancing from flower to flower.

And this is what I was left with! A honey-comb, bee-dance, flower-bed piece of patchwork. And pure joy to make!

But of course, now I needed a bee! So I decided to thread sketch a little bee image in the corner of my cosy – read how here.

Regardless of how you are designing your cafetiere cosy, I hope this post has inspired you to create a crazy patchwork base to work from. Part two of this series will show you how to add a thread-sketched detail if you wish, or you can skip to part three which will show you how to assemble the finished piece.

And if sewing to a theme appeals to you, don’t forget you can sign up to my Creative Sewing Challenge for free to receive lovely prompts like this every month!

PS – here’s a handy pin for later…