Dragon Hot Water Bottle Tutorial and Free Pattern

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A hot water bottle cover I made for my dad years ago, is finally wearing thin, so he asked for a new one for Christmas. Whenever I think of crafts for my dad, I think of dragons, as he lives in Wales and well dragons breath fire – hot water bottles, kinda loosely connected. I created a dragon embroidery pattern, which you can download for free here. I got all ambitious and attempted to do the embroidery on applique first. It sort of worked, although as it was difficult to transfer the embroidery pattern precisely onto the applique, it didn’t quite match up. Thinking about it, if you used a water-soluble transfer pen or one of those pens where you trace the pattern first on tracing paper and then iron it on and then cut the shape out for applique, then you’d be more accurate (I’d used Sulky Solvy). Anyway, I quite like the mismatched effect, it reminds me of those block prints where the colours aren’t quite aligned.

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Anyway, you can download the pattern, you can try it with applique (in which case, to get the shape of the dragon, you need to reverse the image) or you can embroider as is. Unlike with my 20 Flower Embroideries ebook, I’m afraid, as this is a freebie, I haven’t marked stitch or floss suggestions on the download. To give you a rough idea though, it was stitched mainly in good old DMC 310, with a little bit of gold thread, which was used to hold down the thread in the couching on the wings and blended with the 310 on the dragon’s neck. I used DMC Diamant Metallics, which is just about usable (other metallic threads being, in my experience, is even worse). As I’ve just said there’s couching on the wings, with, as well as the aforementioned DMC Diamant Metallics, I used four strands of the 310. The outline of the dragon and the face detail is in back stitch. The scales are in a loose, lazy daisy, which I treated almost like a back stitch, in that one loose, lazy daisy stitch starts from the previous one. If you would like to do this as an applique and you’re new to the technique, I’d recommend looking up some more detailed tutorials.

The applique/embroidery was done before the fabric was sewn up into the hot water bottle. The size of your hot water bottle cover very much depends on the size of your hot water bottle, so I’d recommend checking your measurements and adjusting as necessary, remembering to allow room for the bulky seam that you’re about to sew and for the hot water bottle to be full. My hot water bottle was roughly 20cm x 34cm; I cut out six pieces, two pieces of cover fabric, two pieces of wadding and two pieces of lining fabric. Each piece was 28cm x 50cm. Regarding the wadding, you want something thick enough that it’s going to be safe but not too thick.

With the two outside pieces of the hot water bottle cover facing right sides together, sandwiched between the two pieces of wadding, sew together with a 1cm seam allowance on the lines shown in the diagram. Trim the bottom corners.

With their right sides together, sew together the two lining pieces, remembering to leave a gap at the bottom and trimming the bottom corners.

Turn the outside fabric/wadding combo the right way round, slip this into the lining, doing your best to line up the seams of the fabric/wadding combo with the seams of the lining. With a 1cm seam allowance, sew the fabric/wadding and lining together along the neck of the hot water bottle. Pull the fabric/wadding combo through the hole in the bottom of the lining, once through, push the lining into the cover, hand sew the hole in the bottom of the lining, shut.

The final step is to sew on the button and ribbon that will keep the hot water bottle cover closed. With your hot water bottle in the cover and the top folded over away from the embroidery side, experiment with button (I recommend a fairly large button) placement. When you’re happy with its location sew on. Then with a loop of thin ribbon, experimenting again with how big a loop you need to keep the cover closed, hand sew on the loop of the ribbon to the topmost (when you’ve got the cover folded over to close) edge of the cover.

dragon hot water bottle cover

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It goes without saying, please be careful with hot water bottles. Always make sure that they’re securely tightened and don’t overfill. Don’t use wadding that is too thin for this.

This cover design is not suitable for use with children.

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