Saturday, October 18, 2008

felt french press cozy tutorial

i'm loving my new design for a felt french press cozy. as winter is coming, it brings together 2 of my passions–felt and coffee! so i wanted to share my tutorial. if you don't want to make your own, i sell french press cozies in my etsy shop.

it's actually really easy if you already know the basics of making a flat piece of felt. it's basically a flat piece of felt that wraps around the french press and closes with 3 sets of snaps. and if you don't want to make your own felt, you could use a thick fabric and hem the edges, or knit a long rectangle. you could also substitute buttons instead of snaps.

if you do want to use your own handmade felt, you should first have a go at making a small piece of felt, the size of a coaster. i have a beginning felt making tutorial, felt 101, that you can see on my website and download for free. it's the basic technique of making felt from soft fluffy roving (wool before it's been spun into yarn), by adding dish soap, hot water, and creating friction to join all the little fibers together.

i'd also like to point you to a few other great felt resources:

the forums on, the fiber arts forum has both a 'felting:completed projects' and 'felting:discussions and questions' board, and the moderators and felt folks over there are super. tons of inspirational projects and tutorials.

the felting forum is also a wealth of information.

so now that you have made a small piece of felt and understand the basic process, here's what you will need for this project:
2-3 ounces of wool roving. i would recommend a more sturdy and coarse variety of wool, like romney or icelandic or even corriedale, over a something extremely soft like merino top, since this project will be working to keep your coffee warm, not your neck.
dish soap. i like seventh generation of the natural biodegradable options. dawn or ivory work great too.
hot water. your tap water might be hot enough, otherwise heat some up in a tea kettle.
a waterproof tray. you could use a cookie sheet, or a tupperware/rubermaid lid. i use a tray from ikea. it just has to have low edges to keep water from getting everywhere.
some old towels, because some water will escape.
some nylon netting, or bubble wrap, or a bamboo blind/sushi mat. these are optional, but might help you save time.
3 sets of large snaps, and thread.

ok, lets get started!
measure your french press. mine is 12" around and 7.5" tall. i measured from the table to the top edge of the glass. this design has the felt wrap around the french press and close over the handle, so the final 'long' dimension will be 12" plus 2 to 3 inches on each end, depending on your preference. that gives us a final dimension of around 17" by 7.5".

since felt shrinks during the feltmaking process, and we will be trimming the top and bottom edges, i think adding about an extra 2" to each side is about right to make it easy work get good results.

lay out 3 layers of wool (perpendicular to each other) in an rectangular area 24" by 12" inside your tray, or waterproof workspace. if it's easier for you to have a pattern to work with, you can make yourself a 24" by 12" rectangle out of inexpensive fabric (that can get wet) or netting, or bubble wrap. you can also line the entire tray with bubble wrap (bubbles up) before you start. bubble wrap increases the friction and will help the wool felt more quickly.

drizzle some dish soap over the wool.
and some hot water. we will now pretty much follow the same process from my felt 101 tutorial.
one exception: for larger pieces of felt, it's easier to keep the felt from moving around if you put down a layer of nylon mesh over the wool, and rub your hands on top of that. the water and soap will bubble through, which is fine. you don't need to do this, but it will help you get consistent results. you can use a mesh bag that you would use to wash delicate laundry in the washing machine as well. oh, you can also put your hand inside a plastic bag and rub the wool with that, the plastic bag will move more smoothly over the wool.
the nylon mesh doesn't want to felt to the wool, but you should peel it back every once in a while to make sure no wool fibers have caught in it.

for the short ends of the rectangle, fold in the loose fibers to make an even(ish) edge.
you can fold in the long edges as well, although we will be trimming them off. so the purpose of folding them over is less to make a perfect finished edge, and more to make a more sturdy edge to work with in the following steps.
after the felt is holding together, and you can turn it over, rub your hands in circles on both sides. roll it up and roll back and forth. you can use a bamboo blind or small sushi mat to roll it up with, just another way to increase the friction and help turn your wool into felt.

unroll and reroll in both directions on from both sides. remember that felt shrinks in the direction that you are rolling.
if your felt is getting cooler, you can add more hot water.
unroll and fold over onto itself and continue to work the felt.

when the felt has a uniform surface (not individual fibers that you can pick up), you are ready to cut the felt.
my final height (short dimension of the rectangle) is 7.5," so i cut it a little larger, 8" wide.
i like to have a cut edge on the long edges (that become the top and bottom of the french press cozy and wrap around) and leave the short edges (that fasten around the handle) uncut and more organic, which also leaves them a little bulkier due to the folded edge. if you prefer to have all cut edges, you can cut them all now. remember to leave the rectangle at least 5" longer than the measurement around your french press.
this is the cut edge. because of the nature of felt, the top surface and the bottom surface will be more felted, and when you cut through the felt, the edge is less felted.
so felt just the edge, the same way that you felted before, by applying friction. there may still be enough soap left in your felt to felt the edge, if not at more. rubbing the palms of your hands together perpendicular to the cut edge is my preferred method.
you can use your fingers too, that would just take a lot longer! once you see that the cut edge is becoming denser and more solid, you can rinse all the soap out. if you want, you can make the felt a little smaller by continuing to apply friction and rub the felt as before. this is called 'fulling.'roll up the piece of felt in a towel to absorb extra water. depending on the wool that you used, and how dense your felt has become, you may be able to stretch and shape your felt a little bit.
let it dry flat. the last step is to sew on the snaps.
i use 3 sets of snap: one below the handle, one above the handle, and one inside the handle. i hold up the felt to the french press so that both ends extend the same amount toward or past the handle. then i position the snaps for a snug fit. usually i start in the center, then attach the top and bottom snaps, checking the fit before sewing on each snap.that's what it looks like with the snaps fastened.

i hope you enjoyed this tutorial! if you have any questions or comments or suggestions, i would love to hear them, thanks.


Karin said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! I don't drink coffee myself, but I can see a cozy like this on lots of other stuff too!

Mariana said...

thta was very good idea! And great tutorial!

polly conway said...

nice! cozies of all kinds are awesome, but this one is extra good! i appreciate the detailed tutorial, too. congrats on making it to CRAFT! :)