Sew Illustrated

Tea Mat Class Plan     

From Sew Illustrated—35 Charming Fabric & Thread Designs

By Minki Kim and Kristin Esser

Class Description:

Learn the quick and fun sewing illustration technique while creating a charming tea mat set. Perfect for beginning sewists and those new to fusible appliqué, but also great for those more experienced. Students should leave with at least one complete tea mat, with another to possibly finish at home. They can also choose to practice the technique with the designs from the pincushion project, for a quick finish.

Class Length:

Single class session of 3 hours.

Class Supply List:

  • Required text: Sew Illustrated—35 Charming Fabric & Thread Designs
  • Neutral cotton fabric (or linen) for top: 6 ½˝ ´ 9˝ minimum, bringing extra is encouraged for practice
  • Cotton print for bottom: 6 ½˝ ´ 9˝ minimum, bringing extra is encouraged for additional tea mats or pincushions created in class
  • Cotton quilt batting: 6 ½˝ ´ 9˝ minimum, bringing extra is encouraged
  • Colorful fabric scraps
  • Steam-a-Seam, or other fusible web
  • Dark thread for sewing illustration (50 wt or heavier—40 wt and 28 wt work well)
  • Light thread for construction of project
  • Temporary marking pen (like a Frixion pen)
  • Sewing machine
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Open-toe appliqué foot (optional but suggested)
  • Optional: needle and thread for hand sewing gap closed, embroidery floss for embellishment

Classroom Preparation:

Cutting mats, rotary cutters, iron, and ironing board.

Class Agenda:

These are the three most important things to emphasize with the sewing illustration technique:

1. Stabilize the design by using some kind of interfacing or quilt batting under the design area (depending on the project).

2. Shorten the stitch length on the sewing machine to 1.8–1.4, depending on how detailed the design is

3. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be charming. Tracing over a design a second time can hide all kinds of imperfections.


1. Start class by demonstrating the sewing illustration technique to show that it is not difficult. Have a piece that is already fused with the fabric design (tea cup design is a good choice or sewing machine design from the pincushion project) and another piece that is a thread only design (macaron or spool design). Demonstrate both types of designs.


2. Have students cut out tea mat front, back, and batting. You may want them to cut out a few extra pieces of fabric and batting, if they want to practice the technique before they sew their tea mat design.


3. Trace reversed tea cup image onto double-sided fusible web, such as Steam-a-Seam. Roughly cut around shapes, and adhere cutout designs to the wrong side of fabric and cut out.


(Note: Students can use any design in the book for the tea mat—not just the ones provided for that project)


4. Fuse the fabric accents to the neutral fabric and sketch in the details of the design, such as the string and front rim of the saucer, with a temporary marking pen, such as a Frixion.

5.Thread the sewing machine with dark thread and set the stitch length to 1.6. Attach an open-toe appliqué foot, if possible. Stitch around the design, just inside the edge of the fabric and along the sketched lines. Outline the design a second time for a bolder look.

6. Students can choose to finish up tea mat in class, or transfer other designs to practice the technique. They can use the macaron design to create a tea mat set. The pincushion chapter has many small designs that are good to use for practice and make quick useful projects.


Shop Opportunity! Consider offering the following items for sale before or during the class:

  • Sew Illustrated—35 Charming Fabric & Thread Designs
  • Frixion pen, or other temporary marking pen
  • Heavier weights of dark brown thread: 40, 28, and 12 weight
  • Steam-a-Seam fusible web
  • Fusible interfacing (used for pincushion project)


Additional Marketing Ideas:

1. Have students participate in a pincushion swap. Students come to class, create several pincushions, and swap with other students in the class.

2. Demonstration and make and take. Have one shop employee demonstrating the technique in-store and have small kits set up in a classroom area for customers to make a pincushion to take home.