A tea mat

Still inspired by Minki Kim’s Sew Illustrated, I made this mini quilt. It is sort of a hybrid between the tea mat and the dessert mat in her book, and it is a good size for a mug rug or something to stick a vase on.

I thought to try using an illustration other than one of Minki’s, but I did not go wild and use my drawing skills. I found the drawing of the elephant online.

Liberty and linen mini quilt with African elephant

The finished mat is about 9½ by 6½ inches.

Once again, I raided my Liberty stash. Finding the peacock print was a hallelujah moment. The rest flowed from that.

Liberty and linen mini quilt with African elephant

This Liberty scrap was the perfect size for the back.

I used a navy Aurifil 12 weight for the appliqué with a normal 50 weight thread in the bobbin. When burying the ends, the thick, dark threads showed through to the back, but this was not a surprise. To work around that, I added a false backing. In other words, I quilted it normally with a plain backing, then I added a second, decorative backing just before sewing the binding on. With something this small, the technique works just fine.

Liberty and linen mini quilt with African elephant

I hand quilted the linen.

Liberty and linen mini quilt with African elephant

The 12 weight thread gives a nice, heavy outline.

There was a moment when I face-palmed my forehead. I was thinking tea mat … tea … peacocks … India. I was even listening to an Indian music special on the radio as I sewed. Halfway through sewing the elephant, however, I realised that my Internet drawing was an African elephant, not an Asian elephant. I know the difference; it was simply a moment of inattention. Whoops!

I have since decided that the elephant mix-up was not a disaster. First, I prefer the shape of African elephants’ ears. Second, although India and Sri Lanka are big tea growers, much of the tea we drink is grown in Africa, especially Kenya. Third, the Liberty fabric represents the UK, a nation of tea drinkers. I now have a happy mix of countries represented on my tea mat.

It was not a stuff-up; it was a design decision!

Liberty and linen mini quilt with African elephant

Nellie the elephant packed her trunks and said goodbye to the circus!

Thanks for all the comments on my giveaway post. There were far more comments than I expected, and I doubt I will be able to reply to them all, but I will draw a winner on Tuesday.

19 thoughts on “A tea mat

  1. And a very good design decision too! It’s beautiful. It would never have occurred to me that a sewing machine could handle such a thick thread. Must check out whether my pfaff can do this as the outline is very effective.

  2. Perfect elephant-decorating! It’s a lovely mini-quilt, and the Liberty peacock print is one of my favourites! And if you’d never mentioned ears, I bet none of us would have noticed…

  3. I cannot get my sewing machine to stitch with 12wt on top no matter what I do. Great solution to use a false backing, and I love how you embraced your design decision and now have such a lovely item to represent such a large portion of the world. I’ll have a cup of tea to that!

  4. I’m smitten with the thread work on the elephant! I’ve only tried that once but it didn’t turn out as well as yours with the thicker thread. Off to my machine to try this out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. As you can guess, African elephants are my favourite! Yours is depicted here in all his glory. Your stitching is perfection, no wobbly bits or mistakes at all. Well done.

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