Camp Quilting Arts: Stitched Tea Bags – Quilting Daily

Here’s a question for you: what kitchen items do you save that most others throw out?

My mother saved every twist tie that ever entered her house. She stored them in glass jars (she saved those, too). She also kept rubber bands and paper bags. She learned these traits from her parents who kept Styrofoam meat trays in a box in their garage. Just in case.  And now, thanks to Libby Williamson’s cover article in the June/July issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, my family is now saving used tea bags. Thanks, Libby!

Ever since seeing Libby’s gorgeous stitched teabags, I’ve wanted to make my own. This session of Camp Quilting Arts was a breeze to plan and execute because who doesn’t fall in love with hand embroidered or machine stitched projects?

To plan for the session, I first drank a LOT of tea (with the help of my willing family!) and dried several dozen tea bags. The brand I prefer is in the traditional tea bag shape, so our projects started out looking a bit different than Libby’s right from the start. Traditional tea bags can be folded many ways including squares and rectangles, but we refolded to the original shape.

Before the campers arrived, I set up two stations: one for those who wanted to make machine stitched bags like Libby’s, and a station for those who prefer to hand embroider. As a thrifty quilter, I had lots of vintage thread and scraps of brightly colored fabrics to share, so materials were plentiful.

I made kits (care packages!) for each participant that included several dried tea bags, vintage embroidery thread, interfacing/muslin cut to size, a hand embroidery needle, and tea-dyed tags.  That vintage embroidery thread was also saved by my mother and grandmother: I’m lucky to have inherited more than I will ever use in my lifetime, and am glad to share.

My assistant, Debbie, helped with the planning, provided breakfast for the crew, and even picked up after us so I could focus on showing the campers how to embroider through delicate paper.

With the magazine open for inspiration, we all took turns at creating our own embellished and embroidered teabags.  Although we skipped the painting steps, ours definitely were a nod to the inspiration pieces created by Libby. Buttons were added for a bit of texture, tags were tied on, and a few of us even made cards with the resulting pieces.

This has to be one of my favorite projects ever.

The next Camp Quilting Arts session will be our charity quilt creation using the fabrics we dyed earlier. I can’t wait!


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