How to make a tea wallet

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the shenanigans of my cat while I tried to sew tea wallets, but I neglected to say what a tea wallet is. That prompted several readers to call to inquire.

A tea wallet is a tote for teabags. It has four pockets that will accommodate eight teabags. It folds to a size not much larger than a teabag and can be carried conveniently in a handbag. That way, if you are at camp or a restaurant where there is no tea to be had or only a kind you don’t especially like, all you have to do is reach into your handbag. I did not come up with the idea for the tea wallet and have no idea who did, but I suspect it was someone in the vast world of quilting, since those folks know how to get the most out of cloth.

I learned about tea wallets when a friend gave me one. It intrigued me, so I did a little measuring and figured out how to make one.

I use a sewing machine to make tea wallets.

You will need:
• 2 fat quarters of two different fabrics that look nice together
• Matching thread
• Approximately two inches of very narrow elastic
• An interesting button that complements the fabric.

Here’s what you do:
Reach for yesterday’s Bangor Daily News and cut a pattern that is 7 inches wide by 14 inches long. Layer one fabric over the other, right sides together. Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut around it. Sew the two pieces together using a quarter-inch seam, leaving an opening in one side big enough to allow the piece to be turned right side out. Press the piece, making certain the seam allowances at the opening are tucked in. Fold the piece in half and press lightly along that line. Bring both short sides to that center line. Pin in place. Form the elastic into a loop and place the cut ends of the loop approximately an inch from one corner between the layers. Sew along the entire edge making sure to stitch then backstitch over the elastic when you come to it. Then stitch the opposite side together. Now you have two pockets — to create four, stitch lengthwise down the center of the piece. Fold the piece in half, then in half again. Line up the elastic loop with the opposite side and sew on the button. And that’s it.

I have to warn you, though, that making tea wallets can descend into that dreaded affliction — binge crafting. All your tea drinking friends and relatives will want one, it’s a great way to reduce your fabric stash and before you know it you’ll be thinking of all kinds of ways to embellish them. And the next thing you know, you will have so many you won’t know what to do with them. Try to limit yourself to six. I dare you … Oh, and have a cat perched next to your sewing machine while you make the tea wallets. It’s way more fun!
To access free paperdolls you can print in color then cut out, go to

To access a wealth of free patterns for household items, toys, children’s art projects and useful items to sew and embroider by hand, including a felt doorstop shaped like a cat, go to

The annual Spin-In will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Newport Elementary School, 142 Elm St. (Route 2). Admission is $2. Bring a lunch, spinning wheel or drop spindle, fiber, treats to share and show-and-tell items. The event also will include a used equipment sale, a Yankee swap of spinning, knitting and other items. Vendors may call Leah O’Donnell at 474-0476. For information, call Maureen Lessard at 474-9551; Maryanne Anton, 654-3475; Carol Stoutamyer, 696-3152; or Liz Smith, 696-5083.

The exhibit “I My Needle Ply With Skill: Schoolgirl Needlework of the Federal Era” is on display through March 2 at the Saco Museum, 371 Main St. Approximately 80 samplers and other embroideries created by Maine schoolgirls of the late 18th and early 19th centuries are included in the exhibit. For information, call the museum at 283-3861 or go to

Folklorist and mitten expert Robin Hansen of West Bath will bring her collection of mittens from around the world and speak on the history and traditions of knitting mittens and their importance to fishermen 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Stephen Phillips Memorial Library at the Penobscot Marine Museum, Church Street in Searsport. Bring yarn and knitting needles. Lunch will be provided. The cost is $35 museum members, $40 others, $35 members. Register online at or call 548-2529.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email Don’t forget to visit her blog at