Chambray Coffee Pot Cosy

By Molly Brown

Learn this attractive Clamshell patchwork technique and then make a lovely coffee pot cosy for yourself or as a gift.

What you will need

  • Six patterned chambray fabrics or other fabrics of your choice

  • Calico

  • Backing fabric

  • Wadding or fleece for insulation

  • Matching bias binding

  • Button

  • Thread

  • Sewing machine, to assemble the Coffee Cosy cover

  • Air erasable pen or water-soluble pen

  • Small Cafetiere template (download here)

Watch video tutorial

Step-by-step guide - Clamshell template

Step 1

Measure your cafetière and make a paper pattern to fit. The pattern in this worksheet is for a small, single cup size.

Step 2

It is preferable to use a Perspex template. However, if you don’t have one to hand and would like to try out piecing with Clamshells, here is how to make your own template.

First mark a circle on paper and accurately cut this out. Here a 2” circle, from a circle template has been used. But any circle will do. You could use a pin box, a large spool of thread or a small bottle.

Just remember to be accurate.


Fold the circle in half, carefully matching up the edges.

Step 4

Next, make a second fold, this time take care to match the point where your first fold meets the edge of the circle. So, you have four accurate quarters.

Step 5

Using your circle template (or other circular item) mark in the lower quarters as shown in the picture.

Step 6

Using your circle template (or other circular item) mark in the lower quarters as shown in the picture.

Step 7

Finally, cut along these two lines, again taking care to be accurate.

Step 8

Now you have a Clamshell template. This is the fold line for the top edge and the stitch line for the lower edge.

Step 9

When cutting out your fabric, you need to add about ¼” seam allowance all round the paper template.

Over time this paper template will become rough round the edges and you will need to make a new template.

Just take care to be accurate each time you make a replacement.

On my Etsy Shop, you can buy three sizes of Perspex templates.

Step-by-step guide - Making the clamshells

When working with Clamshells it is only the top, curved edge that needs to be neatened in preparation for piecing. As when they are pieced, the turned top curve covers and therefore neatens the lower edge.

Step 1

You do not need papers for this method.

Using the outside of a window template draw round the Clamshell. You can use a pen or pencil as this is the cut line and will not be seen. If using a very light-coloured fabric, cut out just inside the pen line when cutting out.

N.B. If using a homemade template, mark round the paper template with a chalk pen (or other fabric pen), then cut a seam allowance around this of about ¼”.

Step 2

 Two to four layers can be cut at one time. If cutting three or more layers, place a pin in the centre of each Clamshell, to hold the layers in place as you cut.

Step 3

On the right side of each piece, draw round the inside of the template, using a chalk pencil, washable or air evaporating pen in a colour that will show up. Be sure to clearly mark the corners at the end of the curve, see picture.

My preferred method of marking is to use a chalk pencil by Prym, shown above.

Step 4

Take a needle threaded with a matching colour, to your fabric, knot the end and make a small running stitch round the upper raw edge only. Keep the stitches small and close to the raw edge. Fold over the edge where you have finished stitching and place the needle, to hold the fabric in place. As pictured.

Step 5

Using a contrasting thread (unknotted), start another line of stitches round the curve. On the opposite side to the needle.

Having made the first couple of stitches, pull the first thread to gather the curve. Fold the fabric on the chalk line and finger press as you go.

Keep the second line of stitching close to the folded edge. It is in a contrasting colour, as it will come out later. That is why this thread is not knotted.

Cut both the threads when both rows of stitches are in place.

Step 6

As you do this, take care that the line of the curve runs straight down to the lower edge. Do not allow the ends of the curve to pull in or splay out, as you fold the edge over. See the picture, showing two badly formed Clamshells, with one correctly formed piece.

Take care with these steps to be accurate, as this will make piecing them together easier.

Step-by-step guide – Joining the clamshells for the fish scale pattern

Step 1

Place two Clamshells right sides together, carefully matching up the ‘corners of the curve’.

Step 2

Using a matching thread, stitch them together, making a few stitches in the same place, catching them together on the very edge of the fabric. Creating a ‘hinge’ between the two Clamshells, from now on I will call this the ‘hinge point’. See picture.

Step 3

To add the next and following rows, position each Clamshell one at a time. To do this, fold a Clamshell in half, placing a pin through the corners at the end of the curve on each side.

Step 4

Then holding the edges together, find the centre of the curve and mark with a pin, remove the first pin, but keep the second in place. It might help to think of this as marking the ‘top of the mountain’.

Step 5

Now use this pin to place the top of the curve at the hinge point of the piece in the row above. You are matching the ‘top of the mountain’ in the new piece, to the ‘bottom of the valley’ in the row above.

Pin in place, ensuring hinge point of each new piece, matches the lower point of the piece above.

Step 6

You will also see the curves following through on the lower edges. Creating the pattern for the placement of the next row.

Step 7

Stitch the Clamshell in place using appliqué or slip stitch.

Step 8

For this coffee cosy project, use a backing fabric, stitch the Clamshells of the first row together as described earlier, making a row like mini bunting.

Draw a straight line on the backing fabric. Place this line sufficiently down from the edge to allow for the upper curve of the Clamshell. Pin the line of Clamshells in place, matching the ‘hinge points’ on the drawn line.

Then appliqué stitch the curved edge in place.

Work the rest of the rows in the same manner as given previously.

For kits, templates and a comprehensive booklet including more techniques with Clamshells, visit Molly Browns Emporium.

About the tutor

Molly Brown

Molly has experimented, played and worked with textiles since childhood. This interest has remained an important part of her life, from making Christmas presents on her Nana’s treadle machine; to teaching multiple skills at The Festival of Quilts and The Knitting & Stitching Shows.

After a 35-year career as an Occupational Therapist in the NHS, Molly changed direction in 2016. She focused on teaching skills to others and working on her own projects. Over her lifetime Molly has mastered a wide repertoire of skills in both Knitting and Sewing. She teaches a wide range of knitting techniques, from Entrelac to Magic Loop. But sewing is where her strongest passion lies. The backbone of this is in making clothes. However, she has a keen interest in exploring the variety of ways to embellish fabrics, especially by Shisha, free motion embroidery and Quilting. In quilting her particular interest is Clamshells. She is on a one-woman mission to get this under used shape more frequently seen in quilts.  It might look like these are all just different tangled threads, but Molly aims to bring it all together into a beautiful fabric of coherent and unique wearable art.

In recent months Molly has started to present just a few of her workshops online.

For more information about Molly, visit her website or Facebook page

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