Sunday, October 20, 2013

Most Fun, Environmental, and Inexpensive Coffee and Tea Quilt Ever!

If you've read this blog before, you might have read of my addiction for combining quilting with coffee and upcycling

Well, I had a chance to indulge that passion bigtime two weeks ago, at the Pomegranate Guild biannual convention. I was extremely excited to take a class with designer/author/quilter extraordinaire Eleanor  Levie, whose innovative work I've long admired. The class was called "Recycled Art Hamsa," and Elly brought along all the raw materials, which for the most part were: 
  • Used, clean, foil coffee bags
  • Used, clean, foil tea bag envelopes
  • Glue sticks
It immediately became apparent that Elly and her donor friends do not suffer from dehydration. She brought a large suitcase filled with  foil beverage wrappers. Our assignment couldn't have been more entrancing. We glue-sticked shapes cut from the colorful side of the wrappers, onto a  6" x 9" silver rectangle, which is the back of a coffee bag. Here's my arrangement:
Elly made many helpful suggestions. That's how the purple got there!
The hand shape is called a "hamsa"; it's an ancient Middle Eastern good luck symbol, and often appears with an eye, for extra protection in warding off the evil eye. Elly had given us each a 4" shrink plastic hamsa (unshrunk), and we used that to trace and cut the central foil hand. 

Gluing everything into position is about how far we got in the two-hour class.  Once home, I machine-stitched the pieces down with invisible thread. Basic secret of working with foil bags: use loooong stitches; otherwise the holes can rip through. Also, don't make stitching mistakes. Holes are forever. No pressure.

The central silver panel was stitched onto dark green felt, which in turn was glued to another layer of felt for extra strength. I hand-stitched a row of buttons along the bottom, in accordance with Elly's design, 
...and stitched a shiny green button in the middle of the hamsa. 
The finishing touch is the bottom fringe made from plastic beverage bottle lids, plus buttons.  They are so fun and make a lovely soft clatter.  
I think Elly told me she used a drill to make the holes in the lids - in a much more dangerous procedure, I used a sharp awl. (Aim the awl away from yourself. or you could hurt yourself badly. Set the hole nearest the open edge of the cap, where plastic is thinnest.) 

See the decorated little white hamsa on the upper left of the picture above?  That's how small it shrank, from about 4" to about 1", after a brief baking in the oven (and after decorating it with "chai", the Hebrew word for "life," with felt tip markers.)

Would you love to make your own? Elly shares the project instructions for free on her website! The PDF is here. Her blog post showing the design variations that my classmates created is here.

And so, in conclusion, my fellow quilters, ask not what your quilts can drink for you. Quilts can't drink. Instead, ask what you can drink for your quilts.


  1. I am awed by people's creativity. This is so unique and truly a labor of love. I'm sure the recipient will always treasure this. You did a splendid job. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks - most of the credit goes to Elly, who is brilliant! I never would have thought of this. Especially contrasting the silver side with the colorful side. Not to mention the dangling rattley lids!!!

  2. oooh love this. The little tiny white hamsa is too sweet
    LeeAnna Paylor

  3. Thanks, LeAnna, for your comment! It is all quite sweet!


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