Monday, May 14, 2007

how the cosies are made

Making the reincarnations tea cosies is a very labour-intensive process. First I hand-select preloved 100% wool sweaters from a number of recycling sources (usually thrift shops or rummage sales, although a few of the sweaters once belonged to me or my family). I then felt the sweaters.

100% wool fabric will shrink when exposed to alkaline chemicals (washing soda, baking soda, or pure soap), hot temperatures and agitation. In the past I have found that using alkaline chemicals speeds up the felting process, but results in a fabric that is less pleasing to the touch. So I forego the chemicals and simply wash the wool in hot water, then dry it in the dryer on the highest temperature setting. I add vinegar to the wash water to help condition the water. It may take several washes for the wool to shrink enough to create a dense fabric that won't fray when cut.

After the sweaters have been felted I cut them apart and steam the fabric pieces flat with an industrial iron. Then the fun begins. I sort the felt pieces by thickness and colour, and choose the colours for each unique reincarnations cosy. After cutting the pieces I hand-stitch them with tapestry wool using a blanket stitch, and press them one last time before tagging and shipping them to tea shops and retail outlets.

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