Recycled T-Shirt Hot Water Bottle Cover

My old hot water bottle has been around for a long time. It’s survived many days of dutiful service. I had to take it work recently (sore back kind of a day) and I realised how utterly repugnant it had become. It’s clean but it doesn’t look it. The velcro on the back has long since lost its ability to seal and it bears a striking resemblance to some of my daughter’s over-loved soft toys that I have to wrestle away to sanitise in the washing machine.

I’ve also had a wardrobe clear out and now have a stack of tops – which I couldn’t possibly throw away – that need to be utilised somehow, so I decided to make a new cover for my hot water bottle using my old tops. A few weeks ago I went to an amazingly fun local event – the Bedford Sewing Bee in aid of our local hospital charity. Everyone had to make a cushion cover in just 2 hours and there was cake and drinks and prizes. Awesome. Night. Out. Anyhow I made a fox face cushion using a reverse appliquĂ© technique which turned out really well and I thought I’d use the same technique for my hot water bottle cover.

First of all I cut up the t-shirts to get them back to fabric rather than tops. I cut out all of the seams and cuffs just to leave the back panel in one piece. All of the tops had flaws – holes, or bleach marks so I worked to make sure these were not going to be placed in the visible areas of the cover.

Then I layered up the tops (I actually used 4 tops in the end, a red one, striped one, blue one and a black one. Next I thought about what design I wanted to stitch and cut. I found a really cool origami bird image on Pinterest and sketched some of the birds.

Next I used a special fabric pen which fades after a few minutes and drew around my hot water bottle. Then I drew a seam allowance of about 2cms and softened the curve at the top of the bottle so it would be easier to get the bottle in and out. If you use a similar pen and it fades before you have a chance to finish, just iron it as this brings the colour back and helps it remains visible for a longer time.

I pinned all of the layers together and then using my walking foot and a dense zig zag stitch I stitched all of the lines of the birds.

Once the birds were sewn I trimmed the outside edges, made the back panel and then stitched the outside seam to join both together. I trimmed that then overlooked the edges for security and so the would sit flat in the binding I had planned for the edges.

For the back panel I used several t-shirt layers and put a edge of binding to finish the opening edges. The binding was actually the bottom cuff from the striped top I used. The opening seemed a bit flappy so I used my fab Christmas present and added some bright blue poppers to secure it in place.

To finish it all off I added some more of the binding to the outside edge and then cut out layers of fabric to finish the birds.

It has turned out really well and is a great improvement on the shameful entity it replaces. It’s not as insulated as the fur which means it’s a bit hot when first made but lovely thereafter. The super nice thing about using all t-shirts is that it kind of feels like an old friend already and has that softness that comes from plenty of wear.

I’d love to hear about your favourite upcycle of fabric/clothing…am thinking about a load of projects and the minute to reduce my scrap & recycle bag and would love some inspiration!

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