It's that time of year when a hot water bottle adds great value to my life and I imagine for many others too. The most important thing about 'hotties', as I call them, is that they are huggable - and of course that the fabric keeps the water hot for as long as possible. I've been creating 'nuno felt' this autumn and it is an ideal textile for a cozy hottie cover - it looks beautiful and is easy and relatively inexpensive to create.
Nuno felt is a technique developed in the 90s by Australian textile artist Polly Stirling - 'nuno' being the Japanese word for cloth. The technique is one of the gently wet felting wool fibres with an open weave textile. The nuno felt I've started with making is with merino wool and thin silk fabric. In absence of nuno felt to create a hottie cover, a thin fabric such as cotton can be bonded or stitched to commercial felt to achieve a textile of a similar weight with heat retention qualities.
The following instructions can be used to make a cover for any size hot water bottle. First to make a pattern by taking piece of paper that's larger than your bottle and draw a line 1/2" wider than the bottle edge all the way around the main body of the bottle and 3/4" around the bottle top. Shape the top so that the widest point is continued in a straight line down to the bottle shoulders - the angle of my photograph is a little misleading on this point.
Then take the main body pattern and draw a horizontal line around 1-2" beneath the pattern 'shoulders'. Trace around the top part of the pattern onto another piece of paper and extend down at least 2" below the horizontal line you have drawn.
Now to cut out 3 pieces in your nuno felt or chosen fabric - 1 main body, 1 top piece and 1 bottom piece. Now is the time to add any embellishments to the respective pieces.
The top and bottom pieces both need to be finished along the straight edge. I machine overstitched the raw edges and folded over and machine stitched very scant seams - I was aiming to keep the bulk down and ensure that the top and bottom pieces overlapped when stitched to the main body.
To attach to the main body, put the top piece down first and then the bottom piece - right sides together. Pin all the way around and machine stitch as small as seam as you can.
I also overlocked stitched all the way around the edge for a neat finish and to secure the seam.
There are lots of ways of making simple closures and a 'thread loop' is a particularly easy way to hand stitch a sturdy and pretty finish with a button. Hand stitch a button to the top of the bottom section, creating a 'shank' to enable easier use. Create thread loops in the bottom of the top section - here's a short video on how to do.
I hope that you have enjoyed this simple tutorial and find it useful to create delightful huggable hotties over the winter months - small comforts can make such a huge difference to our restricted lives this winter and I would be delighted to receive photos of your comfort creations.