Zeroing in on zakka sewing!

Creating a zakka inspired mug cozy for individual cups of tea.

In English, the Japanese word zakka loosely translates to mean the small necessities of everyday life, or more broadly, home goods. Actually, it doesn’t translate well at all. There’s something quite peaceful and basic in zakka design. Busy North American way of life gets in the way of the zen-like peace zakka design invokes. Search the word zakka, you’ll find many lovely items created in quilting cottons and linen blends, all following a design concept that borrows from cultures all over the world. In zakka creations, Scandinavian influences, French country accents, or North American retro prints are showcased on cotton-linen. These can be either neutral or bold solids. Meticulous handwork is part of zakka design, but the creations are designed for everyday and practical uses.

This week on QUILTsocial, we’re going all zakka, all week long, yes, zeroing in on zakka sewing!

Around here, we rarely make a pot of tea. With us, it’s always a tea bag, slung in a mug and boiling water poured over. But, it can get cold before we remember to drink it. Clearly, we need a mug cozy.

It’s really a tea cozy, just smaller. And, like all zakka, designed to meet an actual need in a pretty way.

Measure the sides of the mug, as well as the height, on paper towel to create a custom template.

You will need
cotton/linen blend (found fairly affordable at a certain Swedish home goods store)
quilting cotton scraps
quilting muslin
insulated batting
lightweight interfacing
cotton lace, ric rac, or similar trim
quilters’ tape
DMC embroidery floss
HeatnBond Featherlite
paper towel
freezer paper
Perle Cotton or Baker’s twine
Decorative button
sewing machine
marking pen

When marking the measurements of the mug, make sure you include the handle. A silicone thimble makes an excellent prop.

First, you’re going to make a paper towel prototype of the mug cozy. This is necessary because mugs come in all shapes and sizes. My favorite mug might not look anything like yours. But, just in case it does, I included a template below.

  • Measure the mug’s height, width from the handle to the edge, then the circumference. Mark these measurements right on the paper towel (see photo).

Use the outer curve of an embroidery hoop to create the top curve of the cozy, joining the two marked vertical lines on the paper towel template.

You’re going for a dome shape — the classic teapot cozy — only scaled down. When you have all these measurements, add a 1/4″ seam allowance. This will account for the lining and bulk of the insulated batting.

  • Measure and cut out a gusset piece of linen measuring 2″ x 18″ long.

Baste the paper towel template together by hand, and try it on the mug. If it’s a roomy fit, you’ve created a perfect custom template.

  • Cut out your paper prototype and hand baste the gusset to one side of the template, and then the other. Slip it over the mug. Does it look loose? Good, you’re going for a roomy fit.
  • Remove the basting stitches and iron the paper towel template to the shiny side of the freezer paper. This will create a durable template.
  • Cut out the linen, batting and muslin lining. We’ve got a good handle on this mug cozy…see what I did there?

Come on back tomorrow for the second lesson on zeroing in on zakka sewing!

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Katrine Dukic December 13, 2016 - 11:10 am
A mug cozy is definitely what I need right now. The word zakka is what caught my eye in this post, I just had to know what it was all about. The template seems huge compared to the mug, but I will skip along to the next post to learn more. Thank you for this interesting post.
Michele T August 3, 2016 - 5:17 pm
What a great idea and tutorial!!! I'm going to use this method for other patterns too!! Thanks!
Shelley Klassen May 15, 2015 - 2:55 am
I love this idea or a simple project for my coffee mg. it looks lik fun and easy to do. Thanks.
Anne Gale May 13, 2015 - 8:26 am
I love learning new techniques. This one looks like fun ... and useful!!
Pam B May 11, 2015 - 12:43 pm
Hiya!!! I've been following QuiltSocial now for some time, using the RSS feed from the top of the page. Last week, my feed wouldn't open, and I removed it from my Yahoo page. I just tried to reload it and it won't open. Is this something you can look into please??? I hate to miss the posts, but they slip my mind without the prompt that I see everyday. Thanks so much, love this blog!!! Blessed be, hugs!!! Pam playamom57 at yahoo dot com
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