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Jazz up a bowl cozy with machine embroidery!

by Liana Kirkey

It’s a silly thing, really. You know when you see a great idea for a super-easy project you just love, but you put off making it, well… just because? A couple of years ago someone gifted me a bowl cozy. I use that thing all the time! Leftovers are my favorite lunch (especially if it’s soup), so I don’t even put the cozy away, I just keep it on top of the microwave, and use it almost every day – including today:

A yummy bowl of soup nestled in a quilted bowl cozy

Lunch in my much-used bowl cozy… inspiration for today’s project.

I’ve been wanting to make more of these, and I’ve just been provided the perfect incentive!

Brother recently released their latest and greatest innovation, the Luminaire Innov-is XP2. And they didn’t send me one. Do you feel sorry for me yet, LOL? Don’t be – what they did send me is the Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II, which kind of boosts my Luminaire XP1 into an XP2. Yay me!

When tasked with exploring the new features of this upgrade kit, I made a list of what’s new. That’s me, a compulsive list-maker! The features that intrigued me most are the additions to the sashing options, probably because I hadn’t played with sashing at all before. So, sashing is the direction I want to explore over the next few days.

The bowl cozy is a perfect quick-and-easy project to showcase my first sashing stitch-out. I hope you’ll follow along with me and make one too! Let’s start with a supply list:

Supplies used for this Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II) project

Materials used for this project… (except the red and green, shown only for their labels)


  • stabilizer to fit your chosen hoop (these stitches don’t really need stabilizing, but since the fabric is smaller than the hoop, we do need a ‘carrier’. I chose Stitch & Ditch by Thread Pro because it’s very lightweight and tears away easily and completely)
  • (2) 11″ squares of 100% cotton (I want my stitching to show up on the inside of the cozy, so I used a solid for the liner and a print for the outside)
  • (1) 11″ square of 100% cotton batting
  • cotton thread for top and bobbin (I used Mettler 60/2 cotton embroidery thread for the bobbin and DMC 100% cotton machine embroidery thread in a variegated hue just for fun. And yes, I did have to tweak tensions a bit.)

It’s important to note that I specified cotton everything (except the stabilizer that gets removed), because I want to be able to use this cozy in the microwave. I chose carefully from my stash to make sure everything was safe for nuking. Did you know that there are even battings manufactured specifically to be microwave-safe?

With all the supplies ready, power up that Luminaire and let’s prepare the design: touch Embroidery, then Menu Q for the quilt sashing options, then choose a sash border design; I chose 17 for my project.

Selecting a sashing design from the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Selecting a sashing design

This is a fairly small project, and I want to stitch this one the easy way – all in one hoop. So, I chose the single-hoop option rather than multi-hooping, and then set my design size. I figured this out based on a 10″ square (I know I said 11″ earlier, that’s because I like to cut a bit extra when embroidering to allow some grace-space. Thus, after mentally subtracting the seam allowances and some more wiggle room, I set the outer border size to 8.86″ and the border width to 2″ (that sounds like a weird choice, but I initially did mine in metric, and that’s how it converted). After setting the size, hit Next, then be sure to choose the triple stitch option down at the bottom. This stitching is going to be a focal point, so you want it to stand out. And you can set your desired color from this screen, too, if you want, though I didn’t bother.

Setting sashing options on the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Setting Sashing options

Touch Memory to save to your machine’s built-in memory, then select from there and Set it to embroider.

Because I plan to float my layers on top of the stabilizer, I’ll baste it in place. Touch the Edit button top open the stitching options, then touch the baste icon to insert a basting frame as the first step. Almost ready to stitch!

Adding a basting stitch on the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Adding a basting stitch

After threading the Luminaire, take two lengths of Stitch & Ditch (it’s narrow) and tape them together to be large enough to hoop, making sure to keep the tape out of the stitching area. Layer the batting and bowl liner fabric over top of that. Smooth it into place and slide the hoop onto the machine, then touch the green Go button to stitch it all out.

An effortless, perfect sashed border Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

An effortless, perfect sashed border

Once your design has stitched, remove the hoop from the machine and pull out the basting stitches and the stabilizer. I found it easiest to gently tug the fabric slightly on both bias grains to release the Stitch & Ditch from the stitch line perforations without harming your embroidery. A little bit of tweezing will get even the itty-bitty bits out. Once the stabilizer is completely removed, press it well and trim your panel down to 10″ square; cut the second piece of cotton to match. Then, on the wrong side of your fabrics, mark a ‘v’ at the center of each side. I measured mine ½” on either side of center, and 2¼” deep.

Marking the darts for the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II project

Marking the darts

Stitch these darts on the wrong side of each piece to form the bowl shape. I turned on the projection guidelines to help keep my stitching straight, and I aimed for the point. I also used the auto-secure and auto-trim features to streamline the process—gotta love those!

Turn on the stitch selection and projection guideline to stitch the darts on the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Turn on the stitch selection and projection guideline to stitch the darts.

If you’re sewing along with me, you should have two bowl shapes, like this:

Inner and outer bowl pieces made on the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Inner and outer bowls

Next, layer these pieced fabrics right-sides together, aligning the darts and corners.

Nested and ready to stitch together with the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Inner and outer pieces nested and ready to stitch together

Stitch all around the edge with a ¼” seam allowance; don’t forget to leave about a 2″ opening for turning!

Inner and outer bowl cozy pieces stitched together, ready to turn through opening.

Bowl cozy stitched and ready to turn

Clip the corners and turn your work right-side-out, gently shaping the corners with a point turner (did you know that the other end of the little cleaning brush that came with your Luminaire does this job nicely?). Press it well, tucking the seam allowance of the opening inwards.

Finally, topstitch all around the perimeter to hold that seam allowance in place, close up the opening, and, well, to just make it look prettier. There’s something about topstitching that just polishes a project and makes it look complete. I love using the edge joining foot for this; it helps keep my topstitching the perfect, even distance from the edge!

Topstitching the perimeter with the edge-joining foot done with the Brother Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II)

Topstitching the perimeter with the edge-joining foot

A final pressing and it’s done! Here it is, pictured with two different bowls. It fits the second bowl (my favorite) perfectly, but the smaller bowl shows off the embroidery. The only thing missing is the soup. Hmm – I think I know what I’ll be making for dinner. And yes, there will be leftovers!

Completed bowl cozy… I think it’s missing something!

Completed bowl cozy… I think it’s missing something!

Did you make a bowl cozy too? I’d love to see yours, so feel free to post it in the comments. If you ooh and aah over mine, I promise to ooh and ahh over yours! And really, wasn’t it silly of me to procrastinate so long in making one? Except, of course, that tackling it today inspired playtime with this fun feature of the Luminaire XP1 Upgrade Kit (Premium Pack II—and has me plotting tomorrow’s ‘explore’. I already have an idea percolating, so I hope you’ll return and sew along with me as we look at another facet of sashing and stash busting. These projects also make great gifts… just sayin’.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series


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