How to Make a French Press Cozy with Free Motion Quilting

Hello all!

My mother in law is a tea drinker, she makes her tea in a French press every morning, and sits by the fire for a while, reading and slowly drinking her tea. When she comes to visit she uses a tea towel to keep her tea warm inside the pot, so I’m going to make her a French press cozy and I have a tutorial for you to make yours! Most importantly, I’m going to explain free motion quilting with a free motion quilting presser foot in detail. This is a beginner-friendly step by step tutorial, even if you are not making a cozy, it is worth reading on or checking out the YouTube tutorial video.

Choose a cute fabric, measure your French press and get ready to make this cute cozy.

Supplies for the French Press Cozy

You are going to need some scraps of fabric and medium loft batting, a little over a yard of ⅜” double fold bias tape, two inches of elastic, a button and matching thread.

As far as tools, you will need cutting tools, a darning foot (more on which one to choose below), basting spray (optional), and a foot appropriate for however you prefer to do your binding. I use Madam Sew’s binding foot that comes both in the Bias Making Kit and the 32 Presser Foot Set.

Making the French Press Cozy

The finished cozy is a simple rectangle with a flap and buttons. As always when you quilt, all pieces of your quilt sandwich need to be bigger than the finished piece, as the quilting pulls the edges in. For my particular French press, I need a finished rectangle of 11x6¼”, so I’m cutting my larger pieces 12x7½” and the flap pieces 3½x3” (I decided on low loft batting for the flap).

We are going to start by making the flap. Lay the batting first, then the backing right side up, and the top wrong side up.

Lift one of the short edges of the top, and lay the elastic in a loop in the center.

Sew a ¼” seam around both long sides and the short side with the elastic loop. Trim the corners.

Turn inside out and press. Test its position on the larger piece and trim if necessary.

Before you make the larger quilt sandwich, fold and press a ⅜” seam allowance on one of the short sides of both the backing and the top fabrics (you also need to trim one of the short edges of the batting by ⅜”). Now lay the backing wrong side up and the batting on top, but fold the seam allowance you just pressed over the batting, and lay the top fabric over it (right side up), matching the folded seam allowances.

Next, insert the unfinished edge of the flap in between the layers and pin in place.

Edge stitch the folded seam with the inserted flap.

Now it’s time to baste the three layers. You can use any basting method that you like, but I recommend spray basting for this, as starting and stopping to remove pins can be difficult while trying to move the fabric and basting stitches are bound to get caught in the quilting.

Free Motion Quilting

There are two types of free motion quilting feet, both rely on the movement of the needle bar to create the stitches, but one is spring loaded and has a clear plastic toe, while the other doesn’t have a spring and has a metal toe. These feet are also referred to as darning feet, because you can also use them for darning.

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In Madam Sew’s 32 Presser Foot Set, they are numbers 14 and 23. They both work just fine and it is really a matter of preference which one you use, you may like the clear plastic toe for visibility, or you may find it easier to focus on the center of the metal one. The clear plastic darning foot can be purchased separately in the Madam Sew store.

Installing a Free Motion Quilting Foot

These free motion quilting feet are not snap-on, so get out your screwdriver for this job. If you need more guidance using different presser feet on your sewing machine, read our blog about 'understanding shanks and presser feet'.

Remove the presser foot shank with a screw driver.

Make sure the darning foot’s lever goes over the needle bar.

Screw on the foot securely.

What is Free Motion Quilting

Free motion quilting involves moving your fabric around the needle to “draw” your quilted lines. Normally, the feed dogs in the machine move your fabric in a straight line from the front to the back and you set the desired stitch length on your machine; with this quilting style, you are the one controlling both the direction in which the fabric is moving and the length of the stitches.

I’ve heard this process described as “dancing with your machine” and I think it’s pretty accurate: you don’t want to go faster than the needle or your stitches will be very large and your curves angled, and you don’t want to go slower or your stitches will be too tiny and will get stuck.
I prefer not to draw any lines on my fabric, since it becomes too much to focus my attention on keeping a good speed to manage my stitches and having to follow a predetermined line (mostly it results in jagged lines); but of course this is just a matter of preference, gather some scraps and do a couple of practice runs to see what you prefer.

To begin with, it is better to aim for loose curves and large loops, which will allow you to create smoother lines. As you become more experienced you will be able to create more intricate designs.

Adjusting The Settings On Your Machine

Tension: Move the tension dial to a high number to avoid “eyelashes” on the back of the work.

Stitch-Length: Turn it to the lowest possible length. Some machines allow it to go all the way down to 0, the lowest setting on my machine is 0.2.

Feed Dogs: Lower them, consult your sewing machine manual if you don’t know how to do this. Some machines come with a special plate that will cover the feed dogs instead of lowering them.

Free Motion Quilting on Your Regular Sewing Machine

Decide on a general plan. I mentally divided my rectangle into three sections lengthwise and planned on creating loose curves and some loops flowing from one section to the next. On hindsight, it would have been a good idea to mark those two lines creating the rectangles to give me a framework of how large my “waves” should be to fill in the space.

Starting at one corner, lower the needle into the fabric and lift again to bring the bobbin thread up. Lower the needle again before you start quilting.

Find a comfortable position for your hands; in theory they should be placed at either side of the needle/foot, but in practice you may need to hold the fabric from behind like me.

Start sewing at a medium speed, moving your fabric smoothly in loose curves. When you get to the end simply sew off the fabric and trim the threads, the loose ends will be caught in the binding.

Finishing The French Press Cozy

All that is left is to attach the binding and sew the button. Since the end where the flap is attached is already finished, you only need to bind the other three sides of the cozy.
Fold the edge of your binding inwards before you start, so that you will have a clean corner.

Use your favorite binding method to finish the edge. I like Madam Sew’s binding foot for this job, you can find a tutorial on how to use the binding foot when quilting on the blog.

Your French Press Cozy is ready! A handmade French press cozy defintely adds a touch of elegance to your kitchen or dining area, it can last for years, provinding ongoing enjoyment and utility. When you make it as a gift, it is a gift that keeps on giving, reminding your loved one of your love and appreciation each time he or she uses it.

Madam Sew has a wealth of free quilting projects to scroll through and use on the Sewing and Quilting Blog.

And, I also hope you give free-motion quilting a try! It’s not as intimidating as it seems at first, it just requires a little practice and if you follow these tips I know you will have the confidence to try it. If you need more guidance or other projects with free motion quilting, check out the following tutorials:

Tag @madamsew on Instagram to show us your projects, we love to see them!

Happy Quilting!


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