Rectangle Knitting Bag

My brain is always only the lookout for potential gifts to make people. You need to watch what you say in front of me as I’m always looking for clues or making a mental note of things people say. I even observe people over time (in a non stalking way) for colour palates to use in gifts. During a conversation with a friend who mentioned she is always misplacing her knitting needles so I thought she needs a case to store them all in.

I have always been intrigued by rectangle box pouches. The ones I had always seen (and have patterns for) always had the square ends done in the form of triangles folded over. Online I came across a Youtube clip by Debbie Shore that made the square end shape by doing a modified version of the traditional way to sew a boxed corners where fabric is cut away from the corners before any seams are sewn. Watching the video it will make more sense than how I am describing it. In my stash I found the perfect fabric for the outside of the bag. Originally I had cut out a skirt from the fabric but then changed my mind and decided not to make it. I was able to cut out my bag pieces from the pieces I had originally cut so it was good use of fabrics sitting in my stash.

For the inside I used a yarn printed fabric that had been lingering in my stash for years. Unfortunately the print is showing in detail in this photo but it like but it is swirls of yarn all laid out on top of each other. I interfaced the back of the exterior fabric with a squishy viliene which I ironed on. The bag is floppy when empty in my opinion. With a stiffer interfacing it might hold its shape better. I’m still happy with it though.

Would I make this pattern again? Yes but I would use a stiffer interfacing. You could still use viliene to give it a squishy feel but I would interface the interior fabric with a stiffer interfacing. Another option would be to add a stiffer interfacing behind the viliene as well interfacing the interior. Construction wise it was very easy to sew. I did watch the clip a couple of times just to get my head fully around it but once I got to my sewing machine it was an easy sew.

Cassiy

2021 Face Masks

For the 2nd year in a row I added in face masks to our charity bags last year.

I cheated a little on these. On the craft trolley I found some I cut out in 2020 when I made our lot but I never got around to sewing them up. Some were even already pieced together so it didn’t take long to piece together the remaining masks and assemble them. The outer and lining fabrics used were leftover from my 2 Zip Hipster bag which I made years ago. For the ear ties I used leftover scraps from the Cedar top. It matched in nicely with the bright blue on the outer masks. It’s nice to share the same fabric with strangers.

In 2022 I’m taking a different approach to the added extra items I’m including in to our charity bags. In the Facebook group of those collecting for the bags there was a lot of discussion and feedback after the bags were donated from the Sheros (people who collect the bags from the drop off centres and go through checking the contents of each bag) and from ladies who had previously received bags and were now in a position to support the campaign themselves. Unfortunately a lot of the bags donated were missing some of the essential toiletry items that the charity askes you to include and instead full of non essential “luxury” items. As lovely as it is to add in these extras if the recipient is short on space (homeless shelter, living on the streets) Transporting around these extras can be difficult. It is something that you might not think of when putting together one of the bags but that is the reality of the person who might receive it. I have a list of the essential items I need to collect for the bags each year on my phone so when I’m shopping I can keep an eye out for sales. For the added extras I’m only going to include small items like face washers, scrunchies, toiletry bags, eye masks (as I have fabric already for them) and face masks again if the pandemic continues. I’m not going to include bulky items like shawls or knitted headbands. There are other charities (which I can knit for) that can provide these items to the woman if they need them. You can easily get carried away in what you add to the bags which is lovely but not practical. I like practical.

Cassiy

2021 Craft Year In Review

I thought I would wait until 2021 had actually finished before doing my craft round up for the year. For the first time in 2021 I kept track of all my makes (well most of them anyway) Final count was over 100 items which included when I made multiples of some items but it doesn’t keep count for all charity items I made (pouches, beanies)

Hmm if I had to sum up my 2021 crafting in one sentence it would be “The year of pants” For the first time in a couple of years sewing dominated my crafting for the year and in particular pants sewing. Long pants, undies it was all about covering my butt. The pants sewing frenzy came out of a need for items as I had none or the ones I had were becoming unwearable. We did have a coolish winter and I’m glad I had long pants to get through it. Our summer so far seems to be on the cooler side so I’m still wearing long pants at times. All fabrics for my pants came from my stash so it was good to use some of it up. I enjoyed trying out different undie patterns to see which is the best for me. You wouldn’t think it but there are subtle differences between the different patterns making each one fit and feel a little different, I always thought undies were just undies. My final winners seem to be Scrundie’s and Frisky’s (yet to be blogged)  I will make more of them this year. 

The majority of my sewing in the first half of the year was to complete my Sewing Bingo Card. I did enjoy the challenge for the most part. It certainly did help get in and finally make projects I had been meaning to do for some time and finish off projects I had started but put aside. As I mentioned in my wrap up post about it I did learn this year that challenges like that aren’t really for me, I’m too self-competitive and need to finish the challenge regardless if I’m enjoying it or not. Sewing for me is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable, if I’m not enjoying it then I have to stop doing it. That is my mantra each time I sit down at the sewing machine but also my long term view of it. 

If I had to pick an overall favourite make for 2021 it would be my train case. It was the first item I made all year and one of the most used. This pattern really confused me at first but I went ahead and attempted it being pleased with the end result. In fact one of my last makes for 2021 was another train case which I will share at some point.

Sustainability became more of a focus in my sewing the year. Reading Wendy Ward’s book certainly got my brain ticking with ideas so has listening to the new Check Your Thread podcast. I shopped my “stash” first for supplies before buying any additional items. I was more conscious when cutting pattern pieces out to reduce waste, I looked to use up scraps and off cuts in projects first before cutting new fabrics. Even stuffing toys I used up yarn and thread scraps mixed in with the hobby fill. I have unpicked old items to use in future muslins and kept notions to reuse such as zips. All the unpicked threads and old fabrics have gone into stuffing items. For some people unpicking store brought items might seem a chore but I have actually found it fascinating as it has given me an insight into of the items are made. I hope to continue making more sustainable sewing decisions in the future. I know at times it is going to be harder to make sustainable decisions on some projects but the important thing is that I’m more aware of my actions and try to do what I can.  

Sewing dominated my year but when I wasn’t at my sewing machine I was still knitting and crocheting. I’m really pleased with my Virus shawl but to be honest I didn’t really wear it, no real reason I just never got around to it. I’m hoping to get more wear out of it in 2022. I enjoyed knitting my big Adventerous Wrap (yet to be blogged) which seemed to fly off my needles. I learnt how to knit cables and how to put life lines in on ribbing so my knitting skills grew just that little bit more. Each month I used the pages from the Ultimate Sewing Planner by Ruby Jam to document down items I made and the pattern used. This came in really handy and helped me keep track of what I actually made. I remember gifts that I made but I lose track of items I make for myself/Mr StitchNSew or for around the house. I will continue using the planner each month just out of curiosity to remember all that I make including my charity makes which I don’t always list.  

Each year I ask myself this question in terms of my gift making. If you’re not familiar with my blog I make the birthday and Christmas gifts I give to immediate friends and family. For the first time in years I felt really organised with my gift making and therefore I enjoyed it. At the end of 2020 I wrote out my “to make” gift list and with the exception of a couple of Christmas gifts for friends I stuck to the list. My first gift was actually finished late December. I gave myself plenty of time to plan out my supplies, do any prep and actually make the gifts. There was only one gift I was cutting a fine line to finish. Around October I planned out my 2022 gifts with the exception of 1 or 2 Christmas gifts for friends. In this past week I have already gotten the majority of the birthday gifts made so that is a huge start on my gifts but it will also mean that my “finished” count will be lower in 2022 as they were all counted in my 2021 makes.

Making for charity was something I continued this year. I have found somewhere local to make beanies for and have a stash knitted but haven’t donated yet. It made a dent in my yarn stash, towards the end of the year I was able to get some good quality yarn for half price to replenish the charity knitting supply. I made a few items for our charity bags and will continue again this year.

It’s the start of January and I don’t know where my crafting is going this year. I don’t want to be making just for the sake of making as that defeats the purpose of sustainable making but I do want to keep crafting as that is important to me. A conundrum of wanting to try ideas but justifying if I actually need it. With making so much in 2021 I still have loads of projects to blog about so I won’t mention when I made them unless it is relevant or ties the items back to an overall gift.

Happy New Year
Cassiy

2021 Thoughts And Reflections

For the 4th year in a row we’ve had a big year.  In June Mr StitchNSew underwent more spinal surgery. It did takes us a little by surprise as we were expecting it later in the year if not next year. The timing was perfect as Sydney went into its 2nd major Covid lockdown 4 days after his operation.  The last couple days of his hospital stay were hard as I wasn’t allowed to visit him due to hospital visitor restrictions brought in after we went into the new lockdown. He recovered well post surgery. Not only is he back doing hobbies he hadn’t been able to do for about 12 months he is also now cooking more than I am! I have my own chef and not complaining one bit. At the start of August all non urgent elective surgery in Sydney was cancelled so my job became a little busier as the hospital surgery lists were juggled around to do all the urgent elective surgeries.

Carrying groceries home on my own

As mentioned in Sydney we faced lockdown in June. There were more restrictions in this year’s lockdown due to the more contagious Delta variant making lockdown harder this time. Some parts of Sydney classed as hotspots and were under tighter restrictions and rules which included the suburb we live and I work. In the Sydney region only 1 person could go to the shops. This year we still able to get weekly online groceries delivered which we couldn’t last year however at times drivers couldn’t come into the building so I needed to go down to the front door and bring the groceries up to the apartment myself. Normally Mr StitchNSew and I go to the shops together and pick up any items we don’t get in the home delivery and he carries them home on the back of his wheelchair. He wasn’t allowed out to help so if a grocery item didn’t arrive in the online order and I couldn’t carry it home by myself we didn’t get it. Fortunately we are both good list makers and planners so our meals were planned out based on what we had already and lists were written out for what essentials I needed to carry home. Due to our location being a hotspot I was having 3 day testing done. I don’t flinch now when a swab comes nears me. I will say it is really hard to have a swab done if you can’t stop laughing. Often I knew the people doing my swabs and we would be busy chatting and laughing through the test. I was fortunate to be double vaccinated just prior to the start of the June outbreak and Mr StitchNSew was double vaccinated in September. Earlier this month I had my booster shot just before the Omicron variant started to hit Sydney. Mr StitchNSew will hopefully get his booster next month. I’m very cautious at the moment as this latest version seems to be hitting those vaccinated. I know it is milder but I just don’t want to risk things with Mr StitchNSew’s health.

I have trained with a mask on at all times at the gym this year

My fitness took a hit this year. Like many people I gained some Covid kilos. Gyms closed in the June lockdown and didn’t reopen until mid October. You could train with a trainer outdoors which I did once after Mr StitchNSew came out of hospital but I stopped after that as Covid case numbers increased and I didn’t want to risk it. Once Mr StitchNSew was vaccinated I more comfortable and commenced training outdoors with my trainer so I missed about 8 weeks of training.  My focus was keeping Mr StitchNSew safe so I was avoiding anything not 100% necessary. I find training outside different to training in a gym (not the same intensity) When gyms reopened I felt like I had gone backwards by a lot. I knew I gained weight (we had started eating fruit, jelly and custard/ice cream every night after the surgery as it was easy for Mr StitchNSew to chew) I didn’t have the same stamina and my hips were sore more. Last year on my 40th birthday I swore I didn’t want to be like this at 41 but here I was feeling even worse. For weeks after gyms reopened it was getting me down. I was training the day before my 41st thinking about what I said, I stopped to think what exercise my trainer had me doing. It was a new one that involved kneeling on knee whilst I lifted weights. I was almost in tears when I realised that I was doing a challenging exercise and not doing basic entry level exercises. Yes my fitness is down a little but talking to a Doctor in E.D one night (I had to take my dad in) a lot of people were returning to the gym expecting to start back where they finished in June and that won’t happen as everyone has lost fitness no matter what you did during lockdown and how hard you trained. The slight weight gained isn’t helping my hips but the reason they are sore is now I’m getting more range of movement in them as I gain strength and flexibility. They are protesting as they are not used to moving in this way. There is still room for improvement but I’m working at it even doing more exercises at home than I did before.  

Sustainability and reducing waste has been a big focus for us this year. We are now more conscious of items we purchase, packaging and using produce all up instead of wasting it. It has changed the way we shop and cook. I call it Mr StitchNSew’s kitchen. He is good at planning our meals dependant on what we have at hand in the fridge and freezer. Often we get 2 meals from one and I’m good on thinking of different ways to use leftovers. We introduced a rule that leftovers must be properly put away in a container and used in another dish within a few days so they don’t get forgotten. We do have the occasional mishap which results in food waste but for the most part we have reduced down significantly the amount that we toss out. We recycle more now too so overall less bin waste. We have a large garden for a small balcony and have been enjoying tomatoes for most of the year. I’ll be honest and say that I’m still struggling with some parts of reducing waste with my OCD issues. I hate touching my food to eat when I’m not at home. I can’t stand if my hands or face feel sticky or even just the slight bit greasy so I’m still using disposable baby wipes and plastic sandwich bags. I haven’t looked into beeswax wraps yet, I have to feel them first as I think I will still have issues of the texture on my hands. I’m starting to look at other reusable options I can make myself to help reduce some of my disposables.

This year was eventful and busy but it was a good year for us. We have settled into our new place. We got to make it a home as we fully unpacked and found our way. We are still tweaking small storage areas around the apartment that we are finding aren’t working for us but now that we have the time and space we can focus on that.

Cassiy

Upcycled Gift Tags

Is this an original idea? No. Is it something we maybe need reminding to do? Maybe. Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it is also a time when we all generate a lot of waste unfortunately. Instead of just tossing all those lovely cards and gift bags we receive why not cut them up into pretty tags to use for next year!

Make use of any prints on the front of the gift bag or card such as Merry Christmas or cut out around pictures such presents or snowmen. For gift bags the first thing you need to do is remove the ribbon handles (keep them to use next year too)

Once I cut open my gift bag I ruled up lines on the back. I roughly did them about 2″ x 2.5″ and cut them out. If you have a cutting tool such as guillotine this would be super easy to slice them up but I did mine by hand. Some are a little wonky but that’s ok no one is going to complain! You could cut them into any shape or even use craft cutting machine such as Sizzix Big Shot but it would generate a little more waste around each shape.

Don’t just use the fronts/backs of gift bags. Make use of the folds in the sides of gift bags. Once the bag is cut open you can easily fold the card the other way to make tiny Christmas cards. I again cut them roughly 2″ tall. These would be super cute to add to any gift

This idea isn’t just for Christmas you can use this idea any time you get a card or gift bag. I will confess this isn’t a zero waste project as some parts needed to go in the recycling bin as I cut them out. Some had marks on the reverse side of the cardboard and others were jagged edges from when I cut the bag open along the folds. Compared to just tossing the bag in the bin the waste was minimal. I was just thinking this year I was running low on tags for my presents but now I don’t have to go out and buy more which saves money and I have reduced waste. I’m keeping my cards in an old ice cream container which I will label so I know exactly where they are for next year.

Merry Christmas
Cassiy

Robbie # 4

Once I started making Robbie pants this year I couldn’t stop! The Robbie addiction hit me hard. This is the final pair that I made this year.

The fabric for these was purchased at my local (next suburb over) small fabric shop in 2018. I don’t normally like white fabric but the blues drew me in and I had to get it. The white isn’t really the focus here. The fabric is cotton sateen and my original plan from memory was to make another Washington dress with it. The dress never got made and the fabric sat in my stash since then. I think it is perfect for these pants.

I’m really happy with these. Like all my Robbie’s they are super comfortable. The pattern is easy to follow and is quick to make. Generally I don’t spend the entire day sewing so I did these over 2 days but really you could make these in a day. The front pockets are generous in size and are really easy to access. Like my other Robbie’s I can wear these with sneakers or with dress shoes so I don’t have to worry about how I will wear these.

If you have followed my blog this year you might recognise the fabric. I used the offcuts from these pants in my charity toiletry bags. I liked using fabric that I had something made for myself with in the toiletry bags, a little connection I had to the bags. Being cotton sateen the fabric has structure which made them perfect for both the bags and my pants.

After making 4 Robbie’s this year will I make another pair? Never say never. For the moment I have enough long pants for wearing outside the house so there isn’t the rush to make more.

Cassiy

Coco Wide Leg Pants

It’s funny how a pattern sits in your stash for years and when you finally make it you think why didn’t I make it sooner. My pants sewing journey continued this year but after sewing 3 pairs of Robbie’s I tried out a different pattern making the Coco Wide Leg Pants by Pattern Emporium.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Or in sewing terms the pattern or the fabric? After my Winslow Incident I had rayon fabric that was all prepped in my stash and that I really wanted to use. If you didn’t read the post after day dreaming all week about making my Winslow Culottes just as I was about to cut them out I noticed I hadn’t paid attention to the amount of fabric needed and I was significantly short of fabric. With fabric prepped and ready to go I looked through my stash for patterns that used rayons. I came across the Coco’s which I had purchased years ago but never made. Looking at the photo on the front of the cover of the pattern I actually think I originally brought this rayon to make Coco’s as the print is very similar to the model’s so I think it was the pattern before the fabric.
Coco’s have a range of options for the waist, pockets and length including a culottes style which is the version I made as I really wanted to make culottes.

Style Options
  • Waistband – Top Stitched
  • Rise – Mid Rise
  • Pockets – Hidden
  • Length – Culottes

Pattern Emporium or PE patterns have a Facebook group for fans of their patterns. I think the Coco’s are an underrated pattern as you don’t see many people make them but they are so comfortable. I’m short so they fall as a longer length on me but it is a good length. Due to my mobility issues with walking tripping is hazard if my pants are too long or too wide so I have to be mindful of that but these fit nicely. The pockets are great. I do sometimes get confused and start looking for the pockets on the front of them instead of in the side seams as all my Robbie’s have patch pockets.

Would I make these again? Yes for sure. I have rayon in my stash so I can see more in my future. These pants have been on high rotation since I finished them in June. Not only am I wearing them to work but also on weekends. I wear them with sneakers or dress shoes as shown above. They are a super comfortable if I am walking to the shops which might be a 30 min walk each way. The style is good, the length is great. Overall a winning pattern

Cassiy

An Apron For Mr StitchNSew

Some projects jump the sewing and blogging queue and this is one of them.  

As Mr StitchNSew does most of the cooking now I thought I’d make him an apron as we only kept one when we moved and he is now using that for other crafts. Last month when Helen’s Closet released the new Sam Apron (free to newsletter subscribers) I kind of lost my mind at how perfect it was. In the kitchen more often than not Mr StitchNSew can be found with a tea towel hanging off him somewhere. The first thing I noticed with this pattern it has tea towel straps!!! It is the homeware equivalent of “It has pockets!”  The Sam apron isn’t a one size fits all pattern just like a regular pattern it comes in various sizes. This gave Mr StitchNSew some practice in me taking his measurements and having fittings for when I make him clothing in the future.  

Thinking I would be making 2 aprons (one for the wash) I showed Mr StitchNSew the pattern telling him to decide on the colours, strap style and pockets. A couple of days later he came back with “On my kitchen one I want this, my gardening one I want this and on my ship building one I want this” So it turns out I was now making 4 aprons.  

Once I discovered I was making 4 I took over fabric choices and went shopping in my stash picking a large piece of denim. I brought it years ago to make a shirt with but once it was washed it was too stiff but for aprons it was perfect. For the pockets I decided to use fabric leftover from a couple of gifts I made Mr StitchNSew’s grandson. The bias binding used to cover the raw edges of the bib section was left over from gifts I made his granddaughter. It was a small touch that connected him to gifts I had made for them, they live overseas so we don’t see them often.  

The final aprons were (accessories picked by Mr StitchNSew himself)

Ship Building – Halter neck, no pockets 

Gardening – Halter neck, waist pocket divided in centre 


Kitchen – Halter neck, tea towel straps, waist pocket divided in 3 (4” in from each side) 
I made 2 for the kitchen so one could be washed if needed or so we can both wear them if cooking together. They are exactly the same design wise.

Pattern Elements / Modifications

  • Tea towel straps cut 4″ wide not 3″ and done in a ¼ fold
  • Pockets cut 14.5″ long not 19″
  • Pockets cut out double thickness, stitched together right sides together and then bagged out
  • Tea towel straps sewn within pocket bags
  • Waist ties cut at longest length

For the most part I did follow instructions but not necessarily in the stated order. I attached the pockets last instead of doing them in earlier steps. When I pinned them on to check for placement we discovered the pocket was too wide as the tea towel straps were towards the back not the side when the apron was on so I cut them down and redid them. Upon redoing the pockets I placed the tea towel straps within the pocket bag to enclose the ends. It also enabled me to reinforce the stitching a couple of times on the inside for added strength. After I cut the pockets down I re-ironed each apron to find the new centre fold in case during the sewing process my sides were uneven. Second time placing the pockets Mr StitchNSew was happier.  

I’m really proud of these aprons as they really showcased how I’m trying to make sustainable choices in my sewing. Not only did I use a fabric from my stash for the aprons, leftover fabric for the pockets and bindings but I used up half full bobbins and spools of threads that weren’t enough to use in other projects. The top and bottom threads didn’t match but that didn’t matter. I’m not saying Mr StitchNSew doesn’t deserve to have nicely matching things made for him but put it into context on how the item is going to be used. Pick your time and place for perfection. These aprons are going have paint, dirt and food stains all over them. Mr StitchNSew isn’t going to care what colour the stitches are he is just going to be using it and protecting his clothes. The mismatched threads add to the storyline of these aprons. From the moment I finished these last week he started using them. That’s a wining project in my eyes.

Cassiy

Robbie Star

Back in 2019 when I purchased the Robbie Pant pattern down in Melbourne I purchased several fabrics at the time to make them in, on version number 3 I finally used one of them.

The fabric was purchased at The Fabric Store in Melbourne. They were having a sale at the time I was there and when I saw the star fabric I had to get it, I am fond of a star print. I don’t remember if I looked at the fabric label in the shop and I had to read back to my Fabric Crawl post to see if I had written what the fabric was. At the time I described it as denim like. Whilst cutting these out I decided it was a heavy weight linen. It looks like denim but the feel and structure is more like linen, the weave is certainly more linen like than denim.

On this version for the pockets I actually placed them in the area which the pattern recommends. The back edge of the pocket overlaps the side seams so there is a small portion of the pocket on the back. On my previous ones I have placed the pockets fully on the front with the pocket edge very near the side seam without overlapping it. Usability wise I don’t notice the difference between the 2 placements.

I love the print on these pants. The stars have a bold yet subtle look to them. The stars are large but not gerish. I don’t like to categorise the clothes I make into “work wear” and “non work wear” like I used to when I purchased ready to wear items but some items I make do fall that way. These pants are funky enough to wear to work (kids love stars) but also not out of place to wear grocery shopping.

I mentioned at the start this was version 3 of my Robbie making this year I still have one more to show which I will share soon.

Cassiy

2021 Charity Bags Dropped Off

November 19 – 28 is the collection dates for bags to be dropped off at Bunnings for Share The Dignity’s annual “It’s In the Bag” campaign. If you aren’t familiar with Share The Dignity they are an Australian charity whose aim is to stamp out period poverty providing sanitary products to woman and girls in Australia who don’t have access to them. The work with a lot of homeless and women’s refuges. Just before Christmas each year they run their “It’s In The Bag” campaign where people are encouraged to put together a bag of essential items that will be passed on to women and girls who need them. Whether you make up 1 bag or 50 it will help out a female who has done it tough this year and needs a smile around Christmas. The charity is nation wide and in recent years teamed up with the largest hardware chain store in Australia to be a collection point for the bags. A roster of volunteers pick up the bags from Bunnings through the day to be distributed to the different charities who need them.

As luck would have it the week of the collection dates was the one week all year that rain was predicted every day in Sydney. Our local Bunnings is about a 40min walk each way (longer coming home as we often get Maccas and have a picnic in the park) Looking at the weather forecast Saturday morning we decided to risk it loading up the back of Mr StitchNSew’s wheelchair with our bags. Luckily we made it there and back even squeezing in a picnic.

We put together 3 bags. The last couple of years I’ve set a $20 budget per bag ($60 in total) Our finances are tighter now but we still want to contribute to the campaign. I came under budget by $11 in total. I joined a Facebook group of people who collect for the bags. People would share bargains that they found and that was a really good source in trying to stretch the budget out a far as possible. It was nice to be part of a supportive group who wanted to share their finds with others.

Now to start collecting and making for our 2022 bags. The bags are a never ending cycle, once one year’s are finished we start on the next. I make the bags we donate plus handicrafts that go in them. I haven’t decided on all my fabrics yet but I will in the coming weeks so I can cut them out over the Christmas break. Having the bags made earlier in the year meant I wasn’t rushed to finish everything by November.

Cassiy