Wheelchair Bag

Mr StitchNSew uses an electric wheelchair when not a home. He asked if I could make him a bag to hang off the chair to put things in if he wasn’t wearing a jacket or shirt with a pocket. I had never made a bag for a wheelchair before but challenge accepted.

When designing the bag I had a few things to consider:

  • Size of the bag
  • How to attach it to the chair
  • How it would be accessed
  • The fabric / colour

The chair has a bar on the side of it which holds the hand controller. I measured the free space on the bar to find the maximum width of the bag. I measured the length from the bar to the top of the wheels to see how long the bag could be without touching the wheels, this included any length added by the straps holding it. I had to work out an easy way to attach the bag so it could be removed easily if needed. Lastly I had to think of suitable fabric options.

I actually worked backwards picking the fabric first. Aesthetically I wanted the bag to look nice and be durable. Mr StitchNSew didn’t care about the colour as he just wanted a functional bag but I wanted a fabric which was in line with his tastes (simple and sophisticated) In my stash I found denim scraps leftover from my skirt last year. Denim is durable and is a classic look. With the measurements I had taken decided on a little box cornered bag that would be open at the top so you didn’t have to fumble around trying to open zippers or flaps. The bag is fully lined to add strength and give it more structure. I cut the bag pieces on the fold which meant I had to work out how deep to cut out the corner squares and then stitch the corners with a fold on the bottom edge. I did do a couple practice pieces first to test out the size of the corners.

For the straps I opted to attach it with snap closures. Mr StichNSew attaches all my snaps on projects so it was a way to get him involved in the making of his bag too. The straps are attached to the outside of the bag. My first thought was that the straps would thread over the hanging bar and be only on one side of the bag but when I tested it out by pinning the straps into place over the bar. I discovered the open bag hung out too far so the straps needed to have the closures on the opposite side of the bag. You can still easily access the bag and there is less chance it will get caught on anything.

One small touch I added was on the inside of the bag I attached a piece of fold over elastic which a pen could be clipped over, Mr StitchNSew always carries a pen so I wanted him to be able to access it easily.

Mr StitchNSew loves his little bag and I enjoyed the challenge of making it. I like to sew practical things and this bag was a practical solution to a problem we had.


Appleton Dress

From the start I will say some projects I finish and love other projects I finish and think ok its nice but I don’t love it. This is one of those I don’t love it projects.

The Appleton Dress by Cashmerette patterns is a pattern I’ve had in my stash for a few years. I actually started making this dress in early 2019. I had cut all the pieces out but due to the fact I wasn’t familiar with making a wrap dress and I wanted to change it slightly the project involved a lot of thinking/figuring out and I didn’t have the mental energy to deal with it so it went in the too hard basket. This year I pulled it out and made it.

I used a cotton jersey knit from my stash which had a daisy print on it. From the front it does look like a nice dress. The length is good, the sleeves are a little snug but not uncomfortable.

I was worried it would be a little low cut for me as I like a higher neckline. Across the bust area I’m reasonably happy with it, I would possibly like it higher but I would be comfortable to wear it out like this.

The neckline gapping a bit at the back. I have rounded shoulders and they have gotten worse since I cut this dress out. The back of the dress does look a little snug but I always wear a jacket so you wouldn’t even see this so again I’m not worried.

The pattern is designed to be tied up on the left hand side of the dress. I don’t think like things tied on my left side as they can get caught on the crutch when I walk. I changed the pattern around so it would be tied up on the right hand side. The dress has 2 front panel pieces marked left and right with a gap marked on the right hand piece to thread the ties through once the side seam is done. The 2 front pieces are slightly different widths across the bust area and the neckband which runs across both front panels is pieced to match each front panel. I swapped the panel pieces around so the tie gap would be on the left side so I could tie it on the right. I also had to flip the neckband pieces around. It sounds simple now but in 2019 my head was struggling to figure it all out. I’m happy with how it is tied up on right. The ties are out of the way and no bulk on the left side.

The reason why I don’t love this project is when I stand side on I look pregnant. Maybe it is because the dress is too small. I am around the same weight I was at the time I cut this out so I don’t think it is that. Maybe I tied it up too tight but if I had it any looser the front would gap too much. The tie gap is quite high so maybe I need to have that lower so that it pulls in more around my waist and not under the bust area.

Will I ever wear this? At this point I’m likely to say no. With a jacket or coat over the top yes I would wear this out but there is no way the jacket or coat is being worn open or coming off. I have worn wrap tops in the past which had ties lower down and they looked ok. I don’t know if the Appleton is the right pattern for me. At this point I have no urge to pull out fabric and try it again but you never know I might change my mind at some point.


The Winslow Incident

This year I am on a pants sewing pants spree as I didn’t have many in my wardrobe, so far I have made 3 pairs of Robbie pants (2 are yet to be blogged about) I really wanted to make a pair of culottes for something different. I have had the Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes pattern in my stash for years so I decided it was time to dive in and make those culottes!

In my stash I found some rayon fabric which I thought was perfect so I pulled it out, washed and didn’t think anymore about it. I have the pdf version of the culottes pattern which means I needed to tape all the pages together before I could trace out the pattern pieces. I taped the pages together, traced out the pattern pieces on to trace and toile. I was going on autopilot and not paying attention to the size of the pattern pieces. It was only when I was about to iron my fabric I realised that I didn’t have enough fabric. Rayon shrinks a little in the wash but even pre-wash I still wouldn’t have enough fabric. I pulled out another piece of rayon from my stash and it was the same size so I couldn’t use that. The Winslow’s are cut very wide to give that floating skirt appearance with the box pleats so they use a lot more fabric than you would normally use in a pant or skirt pattern. I hadn’t actually looked at the fabric requirements and I had no suitable fabric in my stash to make them in. All week leading up to ironing the fabric I had been day dreaming of making my Winlow’s, thinking how comfortable they would be and now my Winlow’s fantasy had been halted in it tracks by the simple error of not checking the fabric requirements.

I’m referring to this as “The Winslow Incident” It was a lesson learnt in the importance of checking the patterns fabric requirements first before starting a project. For the moment I can’t justify going out and buying fabric to make my Winslow’s. I have ample amounts of fabric in my stash already that can be made into pants. Despite just making Robbie’s so far I have other pant patterns in my stash which I can try out. I will make my Winslow’s one day after buying the correct amount of fabric, hopefully I can still use the pattern pieces I traced out but until then my Winslow fantasy will remain in my head.


Heads Up

I mentioned last month that this years edition of the Better Homes and Garden Knitting & Crochet Collection was out and whilst reading it I already had a pattern in mind that I was wanting to try as it jumped out at me straight away. Days after reading the magazine I had the project on my needles and didn’t stop at one knitting 3 of the pattern in quick succession.

In my mind I have a list of things that “real knitters do” I don’t know where this idea came from. I guess the list is like a list of knitting skills or projects. My knitting is mostly basic or adventurous beginner. I don’t do a lot of complex knitting as I don’t have the concentration skills or patience to do projects that involve a lot of counting or take forever to finish. On skill on my list was to knit cables. I have always been fascinated by cables. The geometric side of my brain loves the patterns they create and is intrigued by how they occur. You always think of knitting as a flat piece but cables create texture to a flat piece of work. Last year I brought a cable needle and thought during the Covid lockdown I’m going to learn how to knit cables. Fortunately I didn’t have the Covid lockdown a lot of people faced as I was working full time and caring for Mr StitchNSew. Any knitting time I had I focused on relaxing project as my brain needed to slow down and wasn’t up to learning anything new. When I saw the headband pattern and read the instructions I thought yep I can do this, now is the time to learn cables.

The pattern is officially called Heads Up. I would’ve loved to have made this pattern for myself however I don’t really have the need for a headband. Instead I decided to make it to add to our Charity Bags this year. I had leftover yarn from when I knitted the scarves earlier this year so I choose one colour from each scarf and knitted a matching headband. These were incredibly quick to knit. Each one is only 50cm in length then joined up. I finished the 3 in just over a week!

I can now tick another project off my challenge to make something out of every edition of the Better Homes and Garden Knitting & Crochet Collection magazines

♦ 2015 –
Builder’s Work Wear
♦ 2016
♦ 2017 –
Oui Oui Mon Cheri
♦ 2018
♦ 2019
♦ 2020
♦ 2021
Heads Up

I was surprised that I could knit cables whilst watching tv, in my mind I thought they would be more difficult but this pattern was very easy to follow and a good pattern to learn cables on. One thing I did do was put a life line which is a length of yarn threaded through the stitches at the end of each 8 row repeat so if I made a mistake I could easily pull the headband back to the start of the pattern repeat and restart the pattern from there. The lifeline came in handy a few times when I miscounted or forgot midway which part of the cable that I was up to. Each 8 row repeat took no time at all so it wasn’t a big deal if I had to pull my yarn back and start again. After making these headbands I’m inspired to try another project which has cables in it.


Mulberry Virus Shawl

The Virus shawl pattern has been around for many years and isn’t one of those Covid inspired patterns. The pattern was given the name virus as just like a virus it grows and grows. I have made the pattern twice before, once for myself and once for a friend.

For many years in my stash I had a skein of 2ply mulberry silk yarn. I tried knitting with it once before but it was so fine that I struggled with it. It sat in my stash waiting for the perfect project. After starting another project in similar weight yarn I remembered this yarn in my stash and decided a virus shawl was the perfect project for it.

The virus shawl pattern can be a little tricky as there is some counting and you need to get your crochet hook into the right spot in certain rows. Online I have read that a lot of people have struggled with it. It is one of those patterns you either take to easily or you don’t. Bella Coco has a great Youtube tutorial which I re-watched upon starting this and I do recommend the printed chart of the pattern which you can find online. Once I was familiar again with the pattern I didn’t have to refer to the chart. The pattern just repeats over and over so you can make it as large as you want. I have only used the one colour but you could change colours as much as you like. For the edge I just did a single row of trebles with a single crochet (UK terms) between each cluster section.

Crocheting with 2ply wasn’t as tricky as I thought. It was actually easier to crochet than knit with it. Initially I started this as a project whilst Mr StitchNSew underwent a procedure in hospital as I wanted an easy project to work on which I could pull back if I made a mistake. Working on this took my mind off watching the clock waiting for the nursing staff to call me when it was over. The downside to my job is that I make a terrible family member when I’m on the opposite side of the operating table as I think of every horror situation, I get nervous waiting even for routine procedures. Not long after the procedure we had a trip to the emergency department resulting in a long day sitting in a waiting room and again this shawl got me through it. Once you understand the pattern you can easily put it down and pick it up again. I was counting the stitches after I finished each cluster and of course the times I didn’t count were the times I missed stitches and only found out a row or 2 later when the stitches didn’t add up to the pattern repeat. Crochet is so simple to frog back (rip back) I just placed a removable stitch marker at the point where I made the error and pulled the yarn back to there.

I’m not going to wear this shawl spread out so I didn’t actually bother blocking this but had I it would have become even larger. I’m going to wear it wrapped around my neck. The reason for using this yarn in this project was so I could wear it close around my neck and it wouldn’t bother me. Sadly the reason I haven’t worn my original virus shawl much is that even though it is soft due to my yarn sensitive it still irritates my skin if I get hot under it. I crocheted this as a replacement for my original one which I will now pass on.


Silk Eye Masks

Last year I made a top using silk. The fabric was I think the most expensive fabric I had ever brought. I had a small amount of fabric leftover from cutting out the top pieces so I hung on to it to make eye masks for my charity bags. I didn’t get them done in time for last years bags so I will include them in this years bags.

There are plenty of free patterns available online to make them but I used one I found in a book. Eye masks are almost like mini quilts as you have a top and bottom fabric with quilt batting or something to that effect sandwiched in the middle of the 2 outer layers and binding around the edge. You attach elastic to the back before applying the binding. You can use any fabrics you like but for the back which sits against the face it is best to have a softer fabric. I had enough silk leftover to do both sides in the silk. I also had leftover bias binding so I was able to use that up too.

When making these I first did a narrow line of stitching all around the edge to hold the mask sandwich together before attaching the elastic and binding. Doing this stopped all the layers shifting about as the binding was attached. For the binding I folded it in half with raw edges together and stitched it on the back aligning the raw edges to the raw edges of the mask sandwich with elastic in between. To finish off I folded the binding to the front and hand stitched it down. My binding isn’t the neatest as the fabric was very slippery but I used a lot of clips to hold it in place initially then removed a clip and held it down with my fingers as I slowly slip stitched around. The hand stitching was a great in front of the tv sewing task.

I used up all my silk leftovers on these so they were a great fabric scrap stash buster and a little luxury edition to my charity bags. Upon hearing that I was making these a friend gave me some silk from her stash so I will be able to make these again next year.


Sewing Machine Cover

My sewing machine has been in need for a dust cover for far too long but it has been one of those sewing tasks I never got around to doing. In the old place I would cover it with the hard plastic cover that came with the machine and throw a piece of fabric over it. We have limited space in the new place and I can’t really store the hard cover on the ground next to the machine when it is in use so I have just been throwing a piece of fabric over the machine without the hard cover on it. In my bid to sort out all my craft areas this one on the list as a high priority.

The pattern used was the Tiger Lily sewing machine cover pattern that I used to cover my overlocker. My Janome MC11000 is a little larger than a regular sewing machine as it has the embroidery unit attached to the back. The LCD screen on it is height adjustable which I like to keep in the highest position and I always keep my knee lifter attached so that once again that made the dimensions of it larger than regular machines. It was actually very easy to adapt the pattern to the pattern to fit it. I took the side pattern piece and used the slash and spread method to enlarge it to be both high and wide enough to the machine. I cut 2 pieces for the sides panels and cut rectangles for the front/back and top of the machine based on the measurements of the side pieces. I didn’t line the cover as it wasn’t needed. I overlocked the pieces together to cover the raw edges so it can be washed if needed.

As my sewing machine lives in our loungeroom I wanted fabric that would look nice but not bold and in your face as I didn’t want to draw attention to it or have it distract you. In my stash I found some Michael Miller cotton which was perfect, I am a big fan of Michael Miller prints. The fabric is subtle but nice. It isn’t busy on the eyes and doesn’t draw attention to it. It was good to use up stash fabric that I liked in a practical project.

The cover isn’t very fitted but also doesn’t look just like a sheet has been thrown over the machine. It is easy to get on and off which is very important. I’ve mentioned on here before that I am lazy and if something isn’t easy to use I’m less inclined to use it. To use my machine I just have to whip off the cover and I’m ready to go. Having it so easy to access means I’m getting a lot more sewing done particularly mid week after work. It doesn’t feel like a whole big production to get out my sewing machine, set it up and start sewing. My knee lift is attached, the screen is at the level I want so it is ready to sew.


Produce Bags

We are trying to reduce our single use plastic consumption. One area that was easy to eliminate was single use produce bags at the supermarket by making our own bags. In my pattern stash I came across Butterick B5338. The pattern has several reusable shopping bags including produce bags. The largest bag I made is based on the produce bag in the pattern but without the drawstring. The other bags I just cut from the remaining fabric I had.

To make these I used a cheap chiffon. This was only the 2nd piece of fabric I brought in 2020 which I got specifically to make these. Of course I had to pick blue when looking at the fabric colour options in the shop. If I haven’t mentioned it before the default colour is blue in anything that I buy. When sewing these together I used french seams which was a little bit tricky as the fabric was very fine but it was manageable.

We have been using these for several months now and they are great. I don’t wash them every week just when they get dirty. I put them in a laundry bag in the washing machine. They hold a lot even the narrow ones. The fabric is sturdy but not heavy so they don’t add that much additional weight to the scales at the supermarket checkout. As you can see through them easily the checkout operator has no issues with us using them, one operator even commented that these bags were good.

In our house we are used to carrying everything home from the supermarket so we always remember to leave the house with our reusable bags so that we can carry things home. These are kept in my “grocery” handbag as such so they are never forgotten. If we are buying an item that doesn’t need a bag like a single cucumber we don’t even bother to use them but for things like our bananas or potatoes these are perfect.


Robbie Pants

I hope that I am wrong but I fear winter in Sydney this year is going to be a cold and wet. Whilst cold weather means I have the chance to wear more knitwear it also means that skirts and pinafores (which is my wardrobe) aren’t going to be warm enough. I have very few ready to wear pants after cleaning out my wardrobe prior to last years move. I wasn’t wearing a lot pants and the weather the last couple of years meant I hadn’t really needed them. In the past I haven’t had success at making woven pants so I have been hiding away from making them. In 2019 when I was in Melbourne I purchased the Tessuti Robbie Pant pattern after it came highly recommended by a friend. The pattern has sat untouched in my stash complete with the ribbon still tied around it. With the fear of cold legs I thought it was finally time to attempt them.

The style is very simple – Woven ¾ length wide leg pants with patch pockets on the front and an enclosed elastic waistband. The fabric recommendation is light to medium weight wovens. At Easter I had the sudden urge to make them. In Melbourne I did buy fabric to make a test pair but instead I grabbed a black cotton from my dressmaking stash because I had black thread in my overlocker and I was too lazy to change it. The fabric was in fact brought years ago with the intention of making pants. It wasn’t really clear which direction this print went so I opted for upright scallops instead of downward raindrops. I think the fabric is a quilting cotton but it is a firmer one and not a super soft cotton like some are.

Based on my hip measurements I made size XL. I have a habit that when I trace out a pattern where I add in extra seam allowance. It is a bad habit that I have. In my mind I think how I don’t like clothes tight. Not knowing if the pattern makers idea of what a comfortable fit should be is the same as mine I add the extra fabric “just in case” When I cut out my fabric on these pants I didn’t add in extra seam allowance. I’m really happy with the fit of these. There is enough room in them to move comfortably but they don’t appear baggy. I am short so this length is more a full length for me, any longer and there is a chance I would get caught up in them as I walk.

After reading all the instructions which were very easy to follow. The instruction booklet has step by step photos so you can follow along and know what your piece should look like at every stage. I did make my waistband a little different to the instructions. The pattern has you join your elastic in a loop and place it into the waistband halfway through attaching the waistband to the pants. This method makes it harder to replace or alter the elastic if you ever need to. I opted to attach the waistband on first leaving a gap on the inside of the casing to thread the elastic through at the end and sew the elastic together. If I need to shorten the elastic or replace it I can easily do so. I used 1″ wide white elastic. I buy the elastic in black or white. I never thought there was difference between the 2 colours but when I tried these pants on at the end the white elastic didn’t seem to be as firm as what the black is. The elastic might just be older and that is it but even before I inserted it I noticed the difference. I will see how they go after washing them but I may replace the elastic with black.

The pattern has markings to place the patch pockets. My pockets seemed smaller and I couldn’t place them along side the markings. These pockets are still very functional but next time I might make them a little bigger. I also might raise them higher too.

When I posted a photo of these on Instagram a friend welcomed me into the Robbie Pants Club! Robbie pants have a bit of a cult following, once you make one pair you tend to make more and I can see the attraction why. They are easy to make and are very comfortable. I could go a bit crazy and make heaps. In Melbourne I brought my test fabric as well as “good” fabric to make them plus I have another fabric from my stash in mind which might actually be my 2nd pair.

Creative & Quirky
Natural fabrics

Back in 2016 I did a style workshop with Anne Whalley where we came up with 4 key things to consider when I’m making clothes. I haven’t referred back to my list in a while but these pants tick all the boxes. I love these pants. The fabric, the style, the fit. It was a spur of the moment decision to finally make them but I’m glad that I did. 

Pattern – Robbie Pants by Tessuti
Size – XL
Fabric – Quilting cotton from stash
Notions – Non roll elastic

The first day I wore these a work collogue commented she liked my pants, I casually replied “Thanks I made them” She was seriously impressed and I was smiling all day.


Oui Oui Mon Cheri x 3

Better Homes and Gardens have released the 2021 edition of their annual Knitting & Crochet Collection magazine. Last year I set myself the challenge of making an item out of each years magazine after realising I buy the magazine each year but don’t do anything besides read them. If I didn’t start making items from them then I could no longer buy anymore editions and had to pass on the editions that I had. I have finished my 2nd pattern so can tick 2 editions off my list.

Oui Oui Mon Cheri is from the 2017 edition. The pattern is for a scarf and beanie. I opted only for the scarf. The pattern is a diagonally knit striped scarf using 2 colours 8 ply yarn. The pattern is all in garter stitch (knit stitch every row) so it is very easy to do, a great mindless knitting project. The pattern is created by increasing or decreasing a single stitch at the start of the row and changing colours.

Using various unopened balls of Stylecraft Special DK which is an acrylic yarn from my stash I was able to knit up 3 scarves which I will add into my charity bags this year. I did modify the pattern slightly by changing my colours every 18 rows not 12 rows so I have wider stripes. The pattern has you carry the non working yarn up the side of the scarf between each striped block. I never get a neat finish if I carry my yarn up more than a couple rows so I made the stripes wider and cut the yarn between blocks. The wider blocks meant I had less ends to weave in at the end (I’m a lazy knitter) I knit these one after each other. I won’t lie by the time I finished the last one I was very much over this pattern but it didn’t feel like a chore. I’m sure I will use this pattern again for charity or gifts as it was very easy.

♦ 2014
♦ 2015 – Builder’s Work Wear
♦ 2016
♦ 2017 – Oui Oui Mon Cheri
♦ 2018
♦ 2019
♦ 2020
♦ 2021

I now have 8 editions in my magazine collection with 6 more to make from. I haven’t set myself a deadline to finish the challenge. I have noticed since I started the challenge I am actually using my magazines more. Before I virtually only read them once at the time I got them and would occasionally flick through the odd one if I was tidying up or if I was board. Now they are all stored on my bookshelf together and I am regularly taking them all out and looking through them. I have post it notes on potential patterns. Often I am picking them up before search Ravelry for ideas. I had no hesitation buying this years copy as I know I will use it, in fact one pattern has already caught my eye.