This week's Iron Craft challenge was to create a drink sleeve like the one you get with your morning latte. I don't drink coffee, though, and if I did I would probably be too cheap to pay the premium to buy one at a coffee shop. I do, however, love making hot chocolate at home. My favorite mug is tall and thin, not unlike the 20 oz. coffee cups you buy, but it has a handle. An oddly-placed handle. I decided to make a mug cozy that would fit my mug, crazy handle and all. I have been thinking about embroidery lately and, having never done it, decided this would be a great project to get my feet wet on. I had some leftover black linen that I thought would be relatively easy to stitch on. I bought a wooden embroidery hoop, some silvery thread, and a white fabric marking pen.
First I created a paper pattern of a sleeve using measurements posted by the Iron Craft creators online. Then I traced the outline of the sleeve onto the linen. The fabric marking pen, even with white ink on black fabric, is hard to see, so I really had to work on this in good light. I drew my robot design inside the sleeve outline (really, who doesn't love robots?) and tightened the fabric into the hoop. I used the backstitch to embroider my design, with French knots at the robot's joints and on the sides and top of his head. I did have to cut out some of my work when the stitching went awry and re-embroider it, but once I got the hang of the backstitch it actually went pretty quickly. It took me a bit longer to be able to make an acceptable French knot, but I eventually figured that out, too. Once the embroidery was done, I cut out the top layer of my sleeve, following the lines I had already traced onto the fabric.
I used the linen as a template to cut out a lining layer from a scrap of wool fabric. I repeated the process on a piece of backing fabric leftover from the suit pants I used for my last Iron Craft project (draft dodger). I stacked them as follows: backing fabric (rightside down) on top of embroidered piece (rightside up, facing backing fabric) with the lining fabric on the bottom. Then, using my machine, I stitched along the top and bottom of all three pieces, leaving the ends free. I flipped the layers between the backing fabric and embroidered piece, turning it rightsides out with the lining in the middle. I cut four lengths of ribbon and, turning the ends under like the hem of a sleeve, I placed the ribbons in and topstitched over the ends (see photo).
This was actually a pretty quick project, aside from the embroidery. With printed fabric, no embroidery necessary, this cozy could be made in an hour. Also, if you do drink coffee/tea/cocoa out of handleless cups or mugs, you could sew the ends of the sleeve together and wouldn't even need closures--the sleeve would just slip onto your cup like the cardboard ones used at coffee shops. This would be so easy to keep in a purse or bag so you could slip it onto your cup every morning and save a little bit of paper from the trash. Although I have been intimidated by embroidery, the basic backdstitch was much easier than I anticipated. It's actually sort of relaxing work--you can just zone out and stitch. Hopefully I'll find the time for more embroidered projects in the near future. And of course, I hope you'll give it a try, too. Be creative and enjoy!