Everyone is a coffee fiend these days, and a cafetiere (sometimes called a French press) is a fuss-free way to brew it. Here’s how to make a felt cover to pretty up a cafetiere and keep the coffee hot for a second cup. It’s a suitable beginner’s needle felting project. (NB. You can find a slightly updated version of this tutorial on Instructables where it’s called Felt Cosy for a Cafetiere / French Press.)
Start by measuring the circumference and height of the cafetiere. Mine is a standard, 8 cup model that measures 12.5″ around and about 6″ tall – just measure the height of the straight part of the glass. You’ll need a rectangle of felt that is about 0.5″ shorter in each direction (so 12″ x 5.5″ in my case) plus an extra piece for the fastening. The felt needs to be a plain colour because you are going to embellish it. Either use a piece of thick industrial felt or else throw an old sweater (100% wool, not superwash treated) in the washing machine on a medium/hot wash to felt it up. You may need to wash it more than once before it is thick enough and there is no danger of it unravelling when cut. The piece below was the front of an old cardigan.
Cut a paper pattern of the size you think you need (mine was 11.5″ x 5″) and check it fits neatly around the cafetiere. The two ends won’t meet because the handle is in the way, but they should stop just short of the handle. Cut out a little V where the cafetiere’s pouring lip is, to make it less likely that the felt muff will get drips of coffee on it. When you are satisfied that the pattern is the right size and shape, pin it to the felt and cut around it.
All you need for the embellishment is some thin craft felt of the type that is sold in small squares for children to use. Cut out one or two large shapes (eg coffee cups, a Scottie dog, holly leaves, whatever takes your fancy) or lots of small shapes in different colours. I wanted to complement my favourite spotty coffee mug, so I cut out circles in five colours.
If this is your first go at needle felting, practise first with scraps of the backing felt and embellishment felt. Place the backing felt on the foam block with the coloured felt on top, hold it in place with your finger (or a pin tip) and stab the felting needle repeatedly into it.
There are two important things to remember:
- Keep the felting needle well away from your fingers, it is VERY sharp.
- Hold the felting needle upright, perpendicular to the surface of the felt, or it will break. While any part of it is in contact with the felt, it must only move in an up and down direction.
Move the felting needle around (in between the stabbing actions) until the whole surface of the embellishment felt has been well and truly covered.
If you turn the backing felt over, you should see a coloured shape on the other side, indicating that fibres have been taken right through the fabric, like in the photo below.
Keep going until it is no longer obvious that one piece of felt has been appliqued onto another and it looks more like the backing felt has been painted or printed with a different colour, but stop before any holes form in the embellishment felt.
When you feel you have had enough practice, arrange your felt shapes on the backing fabric in a pleasing way. If you want, pin them in place but it shouldn’t be necessary if you keep the felt horizontal from now on. Lay it on the foam block and, starting at one side, quickly “tack” each shape in place with the felting needle. I found that about 80 stabs were needed to tack on each of my coloured circles. Remove any pins from a shape before you begin needle felting it, although you can hold a pin in your other hand and use its tip to stop the shape moving around if needed to start with.
Next, you must go back over each appliqued shape and needle felt it more thoroughly. A multi-needle felting tool makes the job faster, but I was able to do each of my 1cm circles in 3-4 minutes using a single needle. Go round the edges particularly thoroughly so that they are no longer proud of the surface and the felt shape appears to be part of the main fabric. In the first photo below the yellow circle is not yet fully felted onto the backing fabric, while in the second one it has been fully attached.
You can see this in the photo below too, with the yellow circle next to a green one that has only been tacked on so far.
When all the circles are fully felted onto the backing fabric, give it a good press with an iron and a damp cloth to get rid of all the little stab holes.
Cut a rectangle from the backing felt that will fit through the cafetiere’s handle and overlap by about 1″ on either side of the muff. The rectangle I used was 3″ wide by 3.5″ high. Position this rectangle in place on one side of the edge of the muff, overlapping it by 1″. Pin it and then stitch it with a double row of stitching.
Fasten the muff by sewing press studs or a Velcro strip onto both the opposite side of the rectangle and the remaining edge of the muff.
This is how it should look when fitted around a cafetiere.
Now, make a pot of coffee and enjoy.