Saturday, September 18, 2010

sewing: re-usable muslin coffee filter

A small move you can make to do some good - make re-usable coffee filters. When I started using my one-cup drip (I had been using metal filter presses/percolators previously) and needed filters, the actual act of pulling out a filter to make one cup was noticeable for me. I was highly aware that for every cup of coffee I wanted, I used a filter for about 1 minute before trashing it. Ugh, it felt awful. I'd never thought about a fabric filter before, and it was on a trip I took last fall to Bogota, Colombia (where they get coffee right) that I noticed many people brewing coffee in muslin filters/sacks. I saw them for sale too but thought, I can make this. So when I got home I did. And it has taken me a year to write a post about it. Instructions after the jump.

The porcelain one-cup drip coffee maker and filter shown in his post were a gift - how great to give someone something (one cup drip) and then something else (muslin filter) so that they can use the former indefinitely (provided they have an infinite amount of coffee). They are so simple to make because they are serged. I wanted to create a one that didn't require a serger, so that more folks could make it, so I tried to use french seams. It ended up being too bulky and I tossed the idea. If you do not have a serger and would like to try this, I would try to do a tight zig-zag stitch along the edge - let me know how this works!

You'll need:
  • Paper filter or filter template
  • Small amount of muslin
  • Serger


Take a paper filter (depending on your drip maker size your filter may have a different size than mine, so I've left this up to you) and cut off the seam that's on two sides.

Take two layers of muslin just bigger than the filter and cut around the filter, but stay about 1/4 inch away from the paper; this is your new seam allowance.


To make turning on the serger easier, I rounded the hard corners. Serge/stitch together the two sides and bottom, leaving the top raw. Next open up the filter and serge/stitch the raw top edge. When you're finished, slip the serger thread tail into one of the other overlocked edges.


Before you use it you'll probably want to give it a little bath in warm water and dish soap. When you use it make sure the serged edges are on the outside (touching the inside of the maker) and the inside of the filter where you place the coffee is the side free of seams. Use it just like a paper filter and when you're done toss the grounds and rinse off the filter. There will still be a few grinds stuck to it, I just let them wash away. And to be honest with all of you out there - I just rinse it thoroughly with hot water, no soap, and hang it to dry.


  1. I love your mug! I used to have that one (from Anthro, right?), but it chipped during a move. I'm going to have to give the reusable coffee filters a spin - genius!

  2. Thanks for this! I drip about three/four cups of coffee into a thermos every morning to drink throughout the day and it will be nice to not have to worry about keeping paper filters on hand!

  3. Tried it - love it!!!! What a great idea! I have a different type of filter in my coffee pot, which required a lot more thinking on my part to make it, and I do not own a serger - but it turned out great!! I'm excited to make more for future use / friends / family. I'm blogging about it today, and am linking back to your post. Thanks so much!

  4. I'm so glad to hear, Alicia! Really!

  5. How do you come up with these Great idea.

  6. Hey :)

    If you don't have a serger available for you, try doing double seams! I did mine with a straight stitch first, about 1/4th of an inch away from the cut and then added a second straight row of stitches a little further outside. If you want to be extra safe (which I can understand perfectly, as havin the ground coffee in your coffee is pretty horrible) add another seam but in Zig-zag this time. Works perfectly for me!!! :)
    Also, thankl you very much for your tutorial, it was very helpful!!!

  7. what blend of cotton muslin do you use ?