How To-Tea Bag Craft

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Fall has fallen here at the Fairegarden. Gardening chores will wind down drastically once the final bulbs are planted and the leaves from the maples and dogwoods, among others that need to be dealt with are composted or spread on the beds. This is the time when our thoughts turn to inside endeavors.

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Besides cooking and decorating for the upcoming family fun holidays, the days are usually filled with indoor projects. Sewing and knitting are planned, but it was the online pinboard, Pinterest, (I am there as Faire Garden, clever, eh?), that has lit the candle of creativity to try something entirely new and different. It has been over a year now since the switch was made for the morning brew from coffee to tea. The tea bags were previously tossed nonchalantly into the compost bin. Now, they are hung to dry and saved, to be used in some kind of crafty way.

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Searching for and looking at the photos of tea bag art, they were added to the Pinterest board entitled Crafts, quilts and wall hangings seemed to be a good match for my skills and desires. The accumulation of tea bags was speeded up with the purchase of a box of one hundred stringless bags in sets of two, the price of $1.79 thrilled my tightwad heart. First they were steeped in a large pot of boiling water, a very strong tea was produced from so many bags. It could have been saved to make sweet tea, an iced southern favorite beverage, or used to dye fabric or weaving material. Both of those have been done in the past. After being allowed to cool, they were squeezed out by hand and laid out to dry on the dining room table on bubblewrap that happened to be lying around.

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After a couple of weeks of turning and rearranging for better drying, the tea bags seemed ready. They were sort of wrinkly so they were ironed on the number four setting, labeled *blends of cotton* on my iron.

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A roll of some kind of raffia material was found when I was looking for something to use as a backing in my craft/fabric stash. I was thinking of using non-woven interfacing but this seemed right. Eight tea bags, very slightly overlapped went across the width of nineteen inches.

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They were pinned in place and sewn on my old featherweight Singer sewing machine using the longest stitch setting. This is the only machine I have ever owned. My dad bought it for me when I was ten years old. I guess he wanted me to learn how to sew. I did take three successful years of sewing in high school after a miserable failing at it during one semester in seventh grade home-ec. I was better at cooking and cleaning the kitchen sink when younger.

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Buttonhole craft thread was used to sew the tea bags to the raffia backing, but any type of thread would probably be fine. The executive decision was made to let the bags hang freely, only attached along the top. After the first row was sewn and looked satisfactory, a tape measure was used to mark where the next row of tea bags would be placed. The bags are five inches long so we marked off four and three-quarters inches on each side with pins, then used electrical tape to make the sewing line. Electrical tape was used because it is the first tape I found in the utility closet, any type of tape would probably work just as well.

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The next row of tea bags were pinned in place along the bottom of the tape and sewn across. We continued ironing, pinning and sewing until all but two of the fifty double bags were used up.

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The finished size is nineteen inches across and twenty-eight inches long. It looks like the vision in my mind and smells divine, like tea. This could be considered finished or there could be embellishment of embroidery or drawing on the tea bags. At one point in my life, everything that came within arm’s reach of me was gussied up in some way. But now, my eyes and psyche crave simplicity, so this project will be left as is. It might be hung in a window to let the light through. That would be nice.

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There will be another tea bag craft when many more tea bags are accumulated and dried. There are strings and some staples that must be considered. There may be some hand sewing involved. There is plenty of time to cogitate on it. One cup of tea per day means this will be a lesson in patient persistence. I am good with that.

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This story is part of the ongoing series of How To posts. To see them all, look for the How To page on the sidebar, or click here.

Frances

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9 Responses to How To-Tea Bag Craft

  1. Dee Nash says:

    Well, isn’t that interesting? I never thought about tea bag crafting.

    It is, isn’t it, Dee? I would never have thought of such a thing. One of the reasons I love Pinterest!
    Frances

  2. gail says:

    Very interesting post! I’ve been looking at tea bag art since you first mentioned it. Love the creativity and the process I’ve seen on several websites. Love yours, too. The idea of embroidering or even painting on the bags is so cool. Can’t wait to see what else you create. That sewing machine is a treasure. xoxoxgail

    Thanks, Gail. Since I drink tea every morning, seeing the tea bags used as art on Pinterest turned on the light bulb. It was fun and easy to sew them on the machine, I think hand sewing would be fun, too. I do love that sewing machine, for many reasons.
    Frances

  3. Alison says:

    Oh, I bet that wall hanging smells wonderful! Your black Singer sewing machine is very similar to the one my mom owned for years and years. That machine was a workhorse, never needed hardly any maintenance and never broke down. Tea was a big part of my childhood too. My mom, who was born in Glasgow, drank tea every day. I’m a coffee drinker mostly, but when I have a cold or I’m not feeling well, I drink tea because it comforts me. Looking forward to your winter posts about crafts.

    Thanks, Alison. The tea bags really do smell lovely, a good reason to leave the tea in the bags when using them for crafts. I love the color, as well. Your mom’s sewing machine sounds great. They don’t make them like that anymore. It is entirely metal, not a bit of plastic on it.
    Frances

  4. Roxann says:

    I too love the simplicity.

    Thanks, Roxann. The smell is wonderful, too.
    Frances

  5. This made for a fun read because I had no idea what your end goal was. At one point, I thought maybe you were creating a thatched roof for an indoor fairy house. One of the things I like best about winter is that I have more time for indoor projects.

    HA Michaele, thanks for following along. I like the thatched fairy house roof idea. Hmmmm…
    Frances

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Nothing like a little cool weather to get the creative juices flowing. I drink tea too. I have often wondered just what I should do with those bags. Now, here is a creative idea. P.S. Your sewing machine is a treasure. It is sew inspiring and has sew many memories attached to it

    It was fun and easy, Lisa. The sewing went very quickly, almost too quickly. Next project might be hand sewn. I am very attached to that sewing machine, yes.
    Frances

  7. Jenny says:

    That was a fun read but I have to say my husband would kill me if I started to collect our used tea bags and had them laying around to dry. Just another thing lying around the house to be used in some other project. Of course we do drink a boatload of tea so it would happen quickly but our tea bags are round! Typhoo. I do put them in the compost pile but do let me know if you can think tea bag project for round tea bags..

    HA Jenny, the tea bags lying around are a bit unsightly. I am now putting them, one a day, in a basket to dry. I saw some quilts made using all shapes and sizes of tea bags, including round ones. Not sure how a quilt like that could be practical, but it looked cool. Pinned on Pinterest, of course.
    Frances

  8. Rose says:

    I’ve seen many of your pins on tea bag crafts, Frances, and wondered what you were planning to create with yours. Thanks for introducing me to a whole new idea! And to think of all the tea bags I’ve thrown into the compost:) Love your old sewing machine–it looks much like my mother’s old machine, the one I learned to sew on. You could only do a straight stitch–forward only–but my mother created some beautiful clothing with it. I’ve never been the talented seamstress my mother is, but I’m so glad she taught me to sew–I realize now how much patience she had!

    Thanks for following, Rose. I pin a lot of stuff that will probably never get done, but the tea bags were fun and easy and really smell so good. My sewing machine only does a straight stitch, but does go backwards. I also have a buttonhole attachment and some other feet for it that I don’t know how to use. Bless your dear mother, she did a good job with her daughter!
    Frances

  9. Diana Studer says:

    http://www.tbagdesigns.co.za/

    There is a craft project started in Hout Bay, over the mountain and along the coast from where we used to live in Camps Bay. A way to help the desperately poor make a creative living. I have a tealight from them on my desk as inspiration.

    That is so wonderful, Diana, thanks for sharing that. I have seen emptied and painted tea bag art on Pinterest, and wonder if some of it is from this worthwhile project.
    Frances

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