Monday, January 5, 2015

British Tea Tote


After leaving us hanging for many months, Downton Abbey returned last night! I've been watching since the first episode, and I'm absolutely hooked. I think this week's project demonstrates my dedication to the Crawleys and their Englishness--it's a felt tea bag tote decorated with a cross-stitched British flag. I doubt the Dowager Countess would approve of tea bags, but that's what I use to make my tea at Downton time.

British Tea Tote Chart     ©2015 Kathleen Berlew
The first part of the project is the cross-stitching. Follow the chart at right or click here to download and print a copy of the chart. Stitch the flag design on 14-count white Aida. I used two strands of DMC embroidery floss-- #792 (dark cornflower blue) and #321 (Christmas red)--but you can use other shades of blue and red. When the embroidery is finished, trim the fabric, leaving three rows of Aida around the design.

To make the felt tote, print out the pattern and size it as necessary so it measures 3 1/2" by 7". Use the pattern to cut one tote piece from a sheet of blue felt. Position the cross-stitched flag on the felt below the flap (see the pattern) and pin it in place. Use the Aida grid as a guide and stitch one row beyond the embroidery. Be sure to sew through the Aida threads and not just the holes so the fabric doesn't unravel when you make the fringe. When the flag is securely in place, gently pull away the outer row of Aida threads on all four sides to create a fringed border around the design.

Now it's time to assemble the tea tote. Fold the bottom third of the felt piece up over the back of the tote so the top edge sits just below where the flap begins. (This sounds way more confusing than it is. If you look at the picture of the finished tote, you'll see what I mean.) Sew the sides of the tote closed with blue embroidery floss. If you like, stitch along the flap edges, too, to create a decorative edge. I used blanket stitch, but running stitch will also work. To finish my tea tote, I added a snap and used a strip of red felt to conceal my stitching. You could also use a button or pieces of ribbon for fasteners. 

As the Crawleys would say, "Splendid!" Now you're ready to tote your tea wherever you'll be watching the next episode of Downton Abbey.  

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