Yellow Knitting Bag

I’m calling this a knitting bag but really the recipient could use it for anything she wanted.

Last year I discovered a friend was a knitter. I also discovered like myself that she likes to knit whilst out and about. For her Christmas present I thought why not make her a project bag that she can carry her knitting in. After making M6338 as a knitting bag for another friend I automatically went to it again for this bag. The fabric I used is the same I used for the rectangle knitting bag as I cut both patterns out at once. The print looks like yarn all mixed together without it actually looking like a ball of yarn. I could be interpreting the print all wrong but that is what sprung out to me when I first came across it.

This time making the bag I didn’t use any interfacing at all in any part. The fabric is a quilting cotton. Not all quilting cottons are made equal. Some a light weight and flimsy, some are thicker but more flexible and some are really stiff. This fabric fitter in the thicker but flexible category which meant it was stable enough to hold its shape without interfacing. Without adding the interfacing it made this a quicker make as there wasn’t the additional time of cutting out all the interfacing and then cutting the interfacing out from the seam allowance to reduce bulk once seams were sewn. I don’t talk money when it comes to gifts but yes it did save on using interfacing so it was a bit more frugal. Construction wise once again I assembled the bag different to the pattern instructions. To assemble it the pattern has you stitch the top closure gusset to the inner bag, on the outer bag iron a hem all around the top of the bag and then place the inner bag inside the outer bag and stitch them together around the folded hem of the outer bag. Attaching the 2 bags together is very tricky as you have to ensure the gusset sections remains flat and you don’t catch it in the seam line. It is very bulky trying to maneuver it around the free arm of your sewing bed. By assembling it in a more traditional way of leaving a gap in the inner bag, placing both bags rights sides together, sandwiching the gusset piece in between so that all raw edges are facing up, stitching around the top of the bags and turning the bags right side out via the gap in the inner bag you get a much neater finish. There is less bulk as all of your fabric is moving around the free arm of the sewing machine on one side. The only thing is you need to remember is to place your gusset piece so that the drawstring opening gaps are facing outwards, if you follow the rule the openings face the outside of the bag whilst pinning you will have no issue.

Without the interfacing inside the bag collapses more flat when not in use which if you are space poor can be an important thing to consider. I’m glad I tried it this way as it gives me another option with this pattern when I make it again in future and I will make it again as this is my go to drawstring bag pattern.

Cassiy

Bibs

Out of all years that I have been sewing and the numerous newborn gifts I had made I had never made bibs from scratch before. Many years ago (pre blogging days) I appliqued some shapes onto store brought bibs but that was the only bib related gifts I’d made.

I used the Simplicity 2924 pattern for the shape of the bib. This pattern uses oilcloth fabric with binding around the edge and has a pocket on the front. I just wanted a plain bib so that is why I only used it for the shape.

Last year a friend gave me an offcut of a May Gibbs french terry fabric she had. May Gibbs is an iconic Australian children’s author. The characters in her books are all Australian native flora and fauna. Instantly I thought I could cut out the front of skirt from it but also thought I might be able to squeeze out the fronts of some bibs too. After cutting my skirt out I was able to cut out 3 bibs. There are still some random fabric offcuts left so at some point I might use them in another project.

For the back of the bibs I used some leftover PUL that I had in my stash. PUL is water proof so I thought might be good for the back of bibs. To assemble the bib I just stitched the fabrics right sides together, turned the right sides out and top stitched around the edge. I used a snap closure to fasten it.

The person I made these for is a work collogue. Within days of making these I noticed she happened to wearing a May Gibbs scrub hat. It did bring a little smile to my face knowing the gift I was going to give her was in a theme that she liked. I have since given her these and she loved them which made me happy.

I don’t make a lot newborn gift these days. Most of the people I know are now past that stage in their lives. If I do need make another newborn gift I’ll look at making bibs again. They were actually really easy to make.

Cassiy

Mechanical Chalk Pencil

It is funny how you have a book or tool in your stash for years that you haven’t used before until you use it one day and all of a sudden you find yourself using all the time after that. I can’t tell you the year I brought this, however from memory it was on the requirements list for a quilting class I was going to do. I never did the class as it may have been cancelled for some reason (this was years before Covid) This tool has sat in my stash ever since until late last year I grabbed it looking for a marker.

I googled this tool and it comes up as Mechanical Chalk Pencil. It is just like a mechanical pencil but instead of containing graphite you put lengths of chalk inside it. You click the button on the top and it releases the chalk length down the bottom. It has an eraser on top too but I have never used that. It is comfortable in the hand to hold and use.

So why is this now my favourite tool? It is the best thing to mark dark fabrics with. Over the years I have tried various marking tools on dark fabrics and I have really struggled to see or keep the markings. There is a rolling chalk applicator which does mark fabric but the chalk is really fine and brushes off easily plus it drags the fabric a little if you are doing a longer line. With this tool I can draw clear lines up against a ruler or template. I used it to trace out hexagons on a piece of fabric and I was left with very little fabric waste as I could place my template up to the previous line to draw around it. I have used it on dark nylon too and I had no trouble marking the fabric or it dragging the fabric.

The set I brought came with a combination of white and colour refills to insert inside it. I have only used the lighter colour ones in it. If you run out you can buy refills (It is amazing what you find out when you Google) instead of buying the entire set again. If I ever need to buy refills I’m sure it will only be the white ones that I need which you can get just on their own. I just thought it was a tool you could use to mark fabric with but reading more into now apparently it can be used also on plastic, wood and paper. The chalk washes away completely however when I mark things I generally mark them on the back of the fabric so this isn’t an issue for me.

I think this is a tool worth having in your stash but try it out as soon as you buy it so you realise how useful it is.

Cassiy

Fabric Cards

My first attempt at making fabric cards was my Heart card. It was done by covering cardboard with fabrics. Although originally I had planned to continue making cards like that (before I started the card) but after making it I decided I needed to think of a better way.

Years ago I remembered making bookmarks. I don’t starch my clothes (heck it is very rare I even iron my clothes) so I didn’t have any starch to stiffen the bookmarks. I couldn’t justify buying starch just for a few bookmarks so I googled how to make my own. It is really easy to make with just cornflour (corn starch) and water. I found this post on how to make super heavy starch.  

The actual cards I made this time were fabric only. I was adding these cards to my charity bags so I used leftover scraps from the bags and the eye masks I made. On the front I hand stitched a heart which I cut from silk using my Sizzix Big Shot (after not using it for years it has gotten a workout in recent times) On the inside of the card I hand embroidered a little message. 

Reading the starch making tutorial but I thought the quantity would be too much so I tried to do the maths to make only half. I was also using teaspoons not tablespoons. My first batch was super thick when I let it cool. It was a gel not liquid. I put it in jar thinking I would spoon some out and mix it with hot water to dissolve it but I never did. It just sat in the jar in the fridge.  

I kept telling myself I had to get in and try another attempt at starch. The weekend before I was due to donate the bags I finally got in and made the starch. This time I just used 1.5 teaspoons of cornflour to around 400mls of water. I used boiling water not cold to disolve the cornflour before I boiled it in the pan so there were a few lumpy flour icebergs floating around as it boiled but I was able to brush those off the cards later.  

I used plastic food storage container that was long enough for a single card to lay flat. I poured in my starch mix and then gave each card a bath for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I used a spoon to flatten the card and ensure that all areas got wet. The mixture was still hot as I didn’t let it cool so I used the spoon to scoop out the card so I could lay it flat on the container’s lid until I finished each card. After I did all 3 I picked each one up (now cool to handle) and wrung out an excess water. I folded them in half and then hung them over a coat hanger above the bath to drip dry. Once they stopped dripping I moved them to another area of the unit we dry things as it gets more airflow.  

For my first attempt at making fabric only cards I think they turned out pretty good. Yes they are a bit wrinkly but I think that adds to their charm. After making these I decided I would no longer ever buy cards but make my own. Fabric cards are a great way to use up leftover fabrics.

Cassiy

QAYG Hexie Update April 22

Back in 2020 I was inspired to make a Quilt As You Go Hexie quilt using polar fleece in the centres of my hexagons instead of traditional batting. After I unpacked from our big move I had random offcuts of polar fleece leftover from years of previous projects. For packing they were useful to wrap breakable items in during the move but I now no longer had a use for them.

I’m using acrylic templates to trace out all my hexagons. I’m using an 8″ template to cut the backing fabric and a 6″ for the centres and fronts.

Late 2020 / early 2021 I got in and cut out all my fleece centres. I’m really sure at the time I had written down the total as I remembered counting them but for the life of me I went through every diary and notepad but couldn’t find the information. A couple of months ago I had the urge to finally start on constructing my hexie blocks so I pulled them all out and counted them again. I’m going to be using a double layer of polar fleece in my centres to make them a little thicker so they are similar to quilt batting. I have a total of 396 pairs cut so I should be able make a 18 x 22 piece quilt with additional half hexies at the top/bottom and sides so that it has a flat even edge. All my centres are in storage tub sorted by colour. Recounting them all also meant I able sort them all properly by colour which is making life much easier deciding which one to put behind each print.

For the backing fabrics I have raided all my blue stash. So far I have cut 251 dark and bright blue backing pieces. For the remaining 145 I’m hoping to do in some lighter blues but I may have to go for a few greens. I’m not buying additional fabrics for this project as I want it all to come from my stash. My stash is well enough stocked to handle it.

I mentioned in my previous post about that I’m starting to use some of my “good” Rosalie Dekker fabrics. For this project I’ve raided my stash and have finally started using some of the fabrics I had been hording onto for years. I had fat quarter bundles and prints from Rosalie, Sarah Fielke, Michael Miller as well as other pieces I have found in my stash and thought yep I want to use that for me. I’m also using offcuts from other projects that I have made and like the fabric but I’m only keeping it to quilting cottons so no linen or cotton sateens. I’m slowing cutting out all my fronts. Some fabrics if I really like the print I’m cutting out as many as I can and then cutting strips with the remainder of the fabric for another future quilt I have planned. Some fabrics I have only cut 2 – 4 at this point and have kept the rest aside to cut more if I need to make up my numbers later on. I have a stack cut now that I grab and start stitching.

The only new thing I’m buying for this project is the thread. I’ve opted to go for a black Rasant thread. I have brought 2 large cones and will get more later if required. I love hand sewing and am enjoying this so far. I have no set finish date, I just work on it a bit every day if I’m in the mood. Most of my sewing is done whilst watching tv but also out on the balcony if I feel like being out there. I have cleared a shelf in my craft cave to put my finished hexies on as I’m starting to gather a lot of them. The shelf is also where I’m keeping fabrics which I can cut more from again. I’m going to wait until all my hexie blocks are done before I start working out placement and then the big task of joining them all begins.

Cassiy

Mega Pincushion

Sometimes when life just gets all a bit too much (I was having a mini pity party) what I really need to do is forget about everything and focus on something fun. Sewing a pincushion might not be everyone’s idea of fun but in my world it is.

The pattern I used is from the book A Stitch In Time by the late Rosalie Dekker (Quinlan) Sadly Rosalie was taken from this world after illness way too soon at the end of 2017. I was fortunate enough to do 2 stitching retreats with Rosalie many years ago which is where I picked up the book. I have done many of her stitcheries over the years. In my fabric stash I still have fabrics that she designed that I am actually starting to use now as I’ve found the perfect project for them. This pincushion had been on my “to make one day” list for many years and I’m glad to have finally made it.

This pincushion is all hand sewn and is constructed in the style of English Paper Piecing using diamonds and rectangles. Instead of the traditional way of tacking the fabric around centre papers you use interfacing instead. After it is all constructed you remove your tacking stitches but leave in the interfacing. I decided this pincushion was a perfect fabric scraps project including interfacing scraps. Last year I made a heap of Full Moon bags (yet to be blogged about) which had a heavy weight interfacing in them. When I traced out all the circles I had random almost diamond shaped offcuts which I kept thinking maybe I could use them one day. One day turned out to be this project. Those odd shapes were perfect to trace out the pieces needed for this project on. I’m glad I held onto those scraps now. The fabrics used were all offcuts mostly from when I made our big batch of masks in 2020, I used 6 fabrics for the diamonds and 6 for the rectangles. I didn’t care which fabrics I used, my focus was finding offcuts which fit my templates. All the threads used to tack the fabric to the interfacing and later piece the entire pincushion came from near empty bobbins in my hand sewing stash.

Assembling this I didn’t follow the instructions entirely as per directed. Firstly I never added a button on top. In summary the pattern has you piece it in 3 separate sections (top, middle, bottom) and then attach the sections to each other leaving a single gap to fill it with at the end. I didn’t know how well I was going to go with matching all my points up so I first pieced my top section then pieced the rectangles to each of the outer sides of each star. Once the sides were pieced I then pieced each bottom diamond to the rectangles and lastly pieced the diamonds together at the end. I found it easier to manipulate the corners this way as I could fold the pieces when needed to get sharp points. I think I may of used less thread too as I wasn’t constantly starting and stopping on small edges I could keep going straight to the next seam that needed to be pieced.

When I was piecing all the sides together I decided to leave 2 gaps to stuff it at the end instead of one. I left them on opposite sides so that I could get my fingers in and push the stuffing right into the corner sections. I often leave more stuffing gaps then suggested when making toys so that I can get the stuffing in easier. To stuff this my original plan was to use up the remaining crushed walnut shells I had in my stash (a decent size bag’s worth) and the rest of the filling I was going to use hobby fill. Crushed walnut shells help sharpen your pins. I remembered reading that Tierney earlier this year made a pincushion that she had also pieced but stuffed it with leftover fabric scraps. What a great idea! I first poured in the walnut shells and shook it around to try and distribute them evenly. I then placed a small amount of hobby fill in the outer points of each star just to hold the shape. I then hit my leftover small scrap stash and pushed as many fabric, thread and yarn offcuts I could in there. It had leftover pieces from when I cut out the shapes of the pincushions, the tacking threads I had removed, anything that wasn’t going to be used in other projects was shoved in there. Some pieces were a little big so I cut them down smaller. With the 2 gaps I could really get in and push the filling in evenly so there wasn’t any hidden empty pockets.

When I hold this side on you can really see why I’m calling it my mega pincushion. It is easily larger than my hand measuring from point to point over 10″ wide and over 2″ deep. The walnut shells and fabric also make it weighted so this will also double as a pattern weight when I need an extra one. This one won’t be sitting next to my sewing machine but will be placed on my sewing table from when I’m going backwards and forwards between my machine and the table so I don’t have to keep moving my regular pin cushion.

I’m so proud of this project. I’d been meaning to make it for years. I used up the last of my walnut shells which I had been keeping on to so they are no longer sitting around idle. The entire project involved sustainable sewing choices (fabrics, threads, stuffing) I got to do a lot of hand sewing which I love. I made a practical item which I will actually use so it is a nice addition to my sewing tools. 

Cassiy

Lunch Bag

At the end of 2021 when the ready made lunch bag I take to work started to fall apart due to the plastic lining on the inside becoming brittle and tearing at the stitching I knew of the perfect pattern I could make to replace it.

Early in 2021 I made the McCall M7487 Travel Case pattern for the first time. For those who read my post about it would know that I struggled with understanding the instructions before I started making it. Once I was in the process of making it the instructions made more sense as I got to each step. I think it is a fantastic pattern it is just the line drawings with the instructions can be a bit intimidating at first. When it came to making my lunch bag I had no hesitation going to this pattern.

As my previous bag was insulated I opted to do the same for it’s replacement. In my stash I found some insulated batting leftover from when I made pot holders years ago. For the outside of the bag I used some quilting cotton and on the inside I used nylon which had a waterproof type layer on the back. On the top/bottom pieces of the bag so that the layers didn’t shift as I was assembling it I machine tacked the layer of cotton, batting and nylon together using the longest straight stitch on my machine. I still did struggle a bit sewing the curves when attaching it to the gusset (zipper section) but I know I would’ve struggled more without first tacking the top/bottom pieces.

By chance I found a double zipper in my stash which matched in with the outer fabric. I have a feeling I brought it years ago with the intention of making this pattern at some point but I can’t be certain. I had no intentions of ever making a lunch bag until the need arose.

The pattern comes in 3 sizes and I made the largest size. It isn’t as deep as my previous bag but it is wider and longer. It easily holds my large ice brick, all my food and containers. Although it is larger in size as such it isn’t so rigid so collapses down and doesn’t take up a lot of room in my bag when I carry it. I do place it in my bag sideways but my food doesn’t get squashed inside it. I’m happy with my one of a kind lunch bag. All the items came from my stash so I used some things up. The fabric brings a little of my crafting world to my work day which is fun.

After making 2 of this pattern I do intend to make it as Christmas gifts for 2022. The 2nd time making it was easier so it won’t be so hard making them for gifts. 

Cassiy

Umbrella Bag

I had the idea to make this bag towards the end of last year but it wasn’t until February that it came about.

I’m sure you have seen those machines outside venues that dispenses a plastic bag for wet umbrellas. Those machines are invaluable when it comes to reducing slippery floors caused by dripping umbrellas. As someone who uses a mobility aid wet floors are dangerous and it is more than a little scary when your mobility aid slips out from under you. However in my bid to reduce my single use item consumption it was an area I knew I could immediately make a difference in by being prepared and carrying my own wet umbrella bag.

The fabric I made this bag from was PUL that was in my stash. One side it is like a stretchy knit fabric and on the other side it has a waterproof coating making it perfect for holding something wet. This bag was really simple to make, it was just matter of measuring my umbrella than cutting a simple bag based on those dimension. I cut the fabric on the fold so the only stitching I needed to do was on each of the longs sides and a folded hem at the top.

The bag is pretty snug with the umbrella in it but there is a chance that it will slip off the end. To secure it around the top of the closed umbrella I stitched on a simple wrap around strap with a press snap. To make the strap I cut a strip of fabric and stitch it right sides together to make a tube before turning it out and stitching a long each side. I didn’t even bother turning the small ends in. I did stitch a square shape at each end to reinforce the area that I was going to put the snap on. It is easy to open and close. To dry out the bag when I get home I turn it inside and use the strap as a hanging loop to hang it up to dry.

February and March so far have been very wet months in Sydney. This bag has gotten a lot of use since it was made. I’m really happy with this bag. It is reducing my single use plastic consumption (every bit helps) I was able to use up leftover fabric from my stash. It is a practical item. Overall a winning project in my books. 

Cassiy

Special Knitting Bag

At the end of 2019 a friend was moving house and gave me a couple of boxes of fabrics. Amongst the boxes were fabrics leftover from her wedding dress. I knew immediately I had to make her something special with the fabrics at some point. Roll forward to 2021 when I finally had time to focus on a few non urgent projects I pulled out the fabrics and set to work making the perfect gift. The fabrics I had to work with were lace and shantung. I’d worked with lace a couple times before on small projects but shantung was new to me. I was expecting it to be very slippery but it was actually a very stable fabric.

My friend is the most amazing knitter, she wins prizes in shows. The obvious item to make her would be a project bag for her knitting combining the 2 fabrics. There are so many knitting bag patterns out there but I decided to stick with something I knew and use the McCalls M6338 pattern that I predominantly use for my charity bags but now is my go to bag pattern if I’m looking for one with a drawstring top. I had limited fabrics so it wasn’t the time to try out something new. I did pattern hack it a little changing the handles.

For the outside of the bag and the handles I overlaid the lace on top of the shantung. I did struggle to figure out which was the right side of the lace but after some close inspection I figured it out. The lace had some structure to it and didn’t shift around too much which helped however I did hand tack all the layers together with long stitches prior to assembling each part. For the handles I cut them 16” x 4” They are assembled by folding the rectangle fabric into quarters and top stitching it together before being attached to the bag fronts. I just eyeballed the placement on the bag fronts and ensured that they were roughly in the same spot on each side of the bag.  

For the drawstring top section I only used the shantung as I wanted it to be nice and flexible. I was a little short on fabric so lost about 3/4″ on each side of the fold. The benefit of using a TNT (tried and tested) pattern is that you know what it is like to work with and what parts you can modify without it distorting the finished item. The drawstring section is very generous in size so you didn’t really notice the loss of fabric as there was still plenty there to close it up. The drawstrings were also made with just the shantung.

I was really pleased with this bag. My friend loved it when I posted it up to her. I’m glad I was able to use her special fabrics to make a meaningful gift for her.

Cassiy

Frisky Undies

In my quest to find the ultimate undies pattern for myself I have tried yet another pattern Frisky Knickers by Stitch Upon A Time (SUAT for short)

Like the 2 other Stitch Upon A Time patterns (Bunzies and Scrundlewear) the pattern come with various options of waist rise, buttock coverage and waist/leg finishes. It also has options to have pieced or have cut out sections on the side or back pieces. Of course there is just a super basic version which has a plain back and front. I went with full coverage plain front and back and knit bands. The fabric was brought specifically from Rubyjam fabrics for undies as I had none in my stash.

I broke the fitting rules when it came to tracing out my pattern size. I didn’t measure myself before I started I went by the measurements I was when I made my 2nd attempt at undies. To be honest I looked at all the numbers, held up a pair of RTW of undies against all the sizes and guessed I would be a medium as that is what size I was with Bunzies and Scrundlewear. By chance I pulled it off and I’m happy with the fit. The only pattern modification I guess you would call I made was that I cut my gusset piece the largest size instead of cutting it the size of the undies as on my previous ones I actually missed some of the gusset when I was sewing on the leg bands. The wider gusset meant I didn’t need to pull it to cover the side edges and I didn’t miss any of it.

My overall verdict is they are comfortable. In the above photo the top 2 are Scrundies and the bottom is Frisky. You can see that the Frisky’s are a higher cut on the leg openings making for more of a bikini style which is what I’m used to wearing in RTW undies.

In the SUAT Facebook group I read that if your undies are creeping up your butt a little (wedgie) to go down a size with the leg bands than what the pattern calls for in that size as this will make them more snug. I tried this on my 2nd pair of Bunzies (which I will share on here soon) and it was comfortable. On Scrundies I don’t need to do this but I did try it out on a 2nd pair of Friskys. For a fair comparison I wore them 2 days in a row to see if I felt any different. The shorter bands did make them feel tighter. The first pair weren’t creeping so I don’t think I need to in future.

Would I make these again? Absolutely. I wouldn’t mind actually trying the pieced front to sides if I had shorter amounts of scraps I wanted to use up.

Cassiy