With the clocks changing and the leaves beginning to fall off the trees, I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the cosiness of a hot water bottle at night.
Last Christmas I made quilted hot water bottle covers for presents, so for this year’s Gift Guide I thought it might be nice to try something a little different. I had seen a tutorial for a plain felt hot water bottle cover, but I wanted to add an embroidered design to it. The simplified lines of Scandinavian or Folk designs are great to transpose to embroidery, and the classic red they use is great for Christmas. Felt is a great fabric to work with as it doesn’t fray, and the thickness and structure make it easy to embroider on.
It is at this point that my input to the hot water bottle cover ended, and my Mum took over! I’ve posted some of her needlework before and I was sure she would do a much neater (and faster) job than me.
25cm / 10″ of wool felt (at least 90cm / 36″ wide) – we used Smokey Marble
DMC perle cotton #8 – we used colour 321 (rich red)
Sharp embroidery needle – size 4 is recommended for use with the perle cotton
You’ll also need access to a sewing machine & coordinating thread
Making your template
You can find a general tutorial for making the hottie on the Purl Bee website. You can either draw round the hot water bottle that you are going to make your cover for and add the seam allowance, or you can download the template they provide (just double check it is the right size for a UK hotties as Purl Bee is a US site – adjust the template if necessary).
When I made the quilted versions before I played around with how much the top flap should overlap the bottom section to ensure that it was still easy to put the bottle in the cover. I found that the optimum overlap was 4cm / 1.5″.
Coming up with your design
You can find loads of inspiration for designs by Googling or looking on Pinterest – I’ve created a board with some ideas. Mainly they are done as red and white designs, although I also think the blue and white is very striking. Birds, hearts and flowers are all very popular. For Christmas you could think about incorporating a snowflake, or even a reindeer.
Think about what stitches you are going to use when defining your design and see if you can use particular stitches to create 3D effects, or the illusion of feathers on a bird (for example). A simplified or minamilist design can look really great – don’t overcomplicate it if you don’t need to.
We decided to use a grey marl felt with red perle cotton for our hot water bottle. A coloured thread on white felt would look really striking, however, I was worried a white felt might discolour quite quickly. Picking up on the blue and white colour scheme, you could use a blue felt with a white thread, but really you can pick any colour that you like!
Embroidering your design
You may find it helpful to draw the design onto the felt before you begin – make sure you use a removeable marker such as a Pilot Frixion pen or an air erasable pen. The perle cotton is quite thick so it should cover a lot of your marks anyway. Remember to think about seam allowances when you are positioning your design to make sure it ends up where you want it to.
Because the felt is nice and sturdy you will be able to work without a hoop and you won’t need to use any backing fabric for extra stability. Using the perle cotton and a sharp needle stitch your design onto the felt.
If you are looking for some help on how to do different stitches, then Stitch School is a great resource. Our cover used the following stitches:
Chain Stitch – for the branch and the leaves
Roumanian Stich – flowers / buds
Back Stitch – outline of the bird and tail plumes
Stem Stitch – outline the bird’s wing
Trellis Work – fill the wing
French Knots – inside the trellis work on the wing, and to make the bird’s eye
Satin Stitch – for the beak
Detached Fly Stitch – for the feathers
The snowflake is a mixture of chain stitch, fly stitch and french knots.
Finish the hot water bottle
Sew up the hot water bottle using the instructions given in the Purl Bee tutorial. Our one features the same triangular blanket stitch that they used, although you could use a regular blanket stitch if you prefer (noting that that would be quicker!). Try make sure the needle goes into the felt vertically to keep you blanket stitch even on both sides.
Ease a hot water bottle into the cover, get the kettle on, and get ready to snuggle up!
Wool felt (Smokey Marble) – 25cm x 90cm – £4.00
Perle cotton #8 10g ball (you’ll use about half a ball) – £1.99 for the whole ball
Needles, thread etc – all from stash
Total cost: £5.99