Charity Tote Bags

This Christmas I will be again donating to Share The Dignity “It’s In The Bag” campaign. The principle of it is that you grab a bag and fill it with every day things that a woman who is homeless or fleeing a domestic situation might need, the little things we all take for granted. The idea is that you fill an old handbag so the person also get a new bag they can use. I don’t have any handbags so I made some tote bags to fill with my collected items. I decided to make basic cotton tote bags and change the design on the front to make each one different.

Button Bag
I have wanted to make a button front bag for a long time, it was one of those random things that I see once and think I want to try that idea out sometime.  A few months ago I brought jars of different coloured buttons during a sale, at the time I had no plans for them but they were perfect in this project. On the front of the bag I drew out a rough spiral shape, I randomly pulled out buttons from a jar of blue buttons and hand stitched them on using the same thread tying each button off as I went so if one came undone they all didn’t . Once I completed the spiral I then went through the jar and found a heap of the same small blue buttons so I made a second spiral with these. This was a lot of hand sewing in front of the tv work but I am happy with the result and I made a button bag. Originally I was going to do all 3 bag fronts in buttons but I realised it would take way too long.

Free Motion Bag
After deciding there was no way all 3 could be buttons I decided the second bag would be done with free motion quilting. I used the same metallic blue thread that I used on the button bag. I was trying to think back to all the things I learnt when I did the class with Deb Louie. I had a rough idea where my seam lines would be so I just went about going from section to section with my quilting filling the bag front with stitches. I didn’t follow a pattern, I managed to get a heart or two in there and I am very good at doing curls or waves. This reminded me of when I was a kid I would get a black pen and on a piece of blank paper randomly draw lines and swiggles to create little sections that I would then colour in with different colours. Free motion is a lot of fun and I really should do more of it. I used tear away stabiliser on the back of it, removing it was another tv job as there was lots of tiny areas that I had to remove the paper from, again it was worth it.

Decorative Stitches Bag
I am actually a person who does use those fancy decorative stitches that are on your sewing machine, they are a great way to jazz up a plain piece of fabric and that is what I have used them for on this bag.  I used the same metallic blue thread again and just randomly selected stitches on the machine to do a row of stitching across the front of the bag. I never measured anything out I did a row of stitching at the top, bottom and about the middle of the bag all by eyeballing the placement. I then in my head divided up the areas and did rows of stitching to fill in the sections. I decided less was more not doing too much as I didn’t want the front to look too busy. I did squeeze in my favourite heart stitch design because if I can add in a heart particularly a blue one I’m going too!

For the front of the bags I used a cotton drill fabric, this wasn’t from my stash but I did buy it in an Easter sale. On the insides of each bag I have used a cotton that had been in my stash after buying it on sale a few years ago. A few months ago I almost gave it away but held on to it so it was great to use it in these bags, the remainder of it I have cut up and used for WIRES pouches after doing to the burn test and discovering it was 100% cotton.

These are crossover the body bags. For the straps I used some nylon webbing I had in my stash. I just stitched the straps the outside of the finished bags. The webbing is about 2″ wide so nice and sturdy. Confession I did make the straps too long. I over estimated the length so they ended up hanging towards your knees and not near you hip, I only discovered this after they were finished and I had taken the above photos. I didn’t want to cut the straps otherwise you would have ends you would need to cover up to stop fraying.

My solution to the strap situation was to fold the excess webbing and stitching down as a decorative feature of the strap. It is a little hard to describe. At the centre point of the strap I folded it and ran my fingers down about 6″ and pinched the straps so you had a loop of excess strap at the top, this was the amount that I had to stitch down. I decided it would be better if you had this excess fabric on the inside of the strap so it would like another layer of support against the shoulder. I separated the loop at the area where I had it pinched and folded the sides in so that the loop was now folded down to the underside of the strap and not the top. I flattened the loop into a rectangle and clipped it into place. On the outside of the strap you now had 2 folds that need to be held together. I did the widest zig zag I could over these 2 folds to secure them down, going over the fold a few times until I was happy the would stay in place. I did this on each bag. I then changed to a straight stitch and went around the flattened  rectangle twice on each bag to secure it into place.

I only got away with this because I used black thread on black webbing. It doesn’t look too odd, I have seen bags that have added support at the shoulder so that was the look I going for. When something goes wrong call it a design feature.

I am happy with these bags, they are big enough to hold all the items I have been collecting this year. Making them was a lot of fun, I got to be creative and try out ideas. I had to overcome problems with the straps so I had to think. I used up a lot of items just sitting in my stash. I love sewing for charity, I love that I can help with someone using the simple skills that I have.

Cassiy

Knitted WIRES Pouches

I have been knitting the outer pouches for WIRES for a number of years. The outer pouches need to be made from 100% wool so that the animals once placed in cloth pouch linings can still breathe inside this outer pouch. A rescue career only goes through about one of these outer pouches a day per animal as opposed to the 5-6 they go through of the inner pouch linings.

I could never find set a knitting pattern only guidelines on finished size and needle size so over the years I have been knitting these various ways. I started by knitting 2 squares and seaming them along the 2 sides and bottom to make up the pouch until I realised if I knitted one big rectangle and folded it in half I wouldn’t have to do a bottom seam only side seams. Over the years the way I do my seams has changed I have tried whip stitch, blanket stitch, backstitch and in recent times I have been crocheting my seams together with a chain stitch. I have a tendency to knit my rectangles and once the piece is off my needles place it in a bag waiting to be seamed. I only remember to the seams when I’m due to send of some of the cloth linings off and scramble to see if any of the outer bags are complete. I thought there has to be a better way.

Over the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of knitting and searching out knitting patterns when I started thinking about the way the pouches are constructed and wondered if they can be done on circular needles. I did a quick google search and it turns out yes someone has now put instructions on how to do them on circular needles!

I had some cable needles in my stash but unfortunately they were too big (I didn’t know about the magic loop method) Once I cast on my stitches I couldn’t easily join them in the round as my cable was too long and my needles kept getting in the way. I went to Morris and Sons to see if they had smaller cables. They suggested I try a 40cm Knit Pro one with smaller length needles

The needles are so tiny only measuring just over 6cm from the cable connection point. The shop assistant warned some knitter’s don’t like using them as they are so very short. This is when she mentioned the magic loop method and demonstrated it for me. I decided to try the small needles and cable and turn to magic loop using my existing cables if it didn’t work.

Once you cast on your stitches it looks like it won’t fit around to make the loop easily but remembering knitting stretches and these are tiny needle it works. There looks like there is a small little gap when you join your loop but they that closes up once you get into your second round.

When I knitted my pouches previously I knitted over my tail end in the second row so it was one less end to weave in at the finish. You can do the same thing with this method. Even though your working on a small cable and shorter needles it isn’t fiddly. I like the feel of it in my hands. Every so often you need to slide the work around the cable when you feel like your starting to pull the stitches, that is easy to do and you get in the habit of regularly doing it even before it starts to pull.

The reason I decided to try circular needles was so I only had one seam to do at the end which was the bottom seam to close the pouch off. The amazing shop assistant suggested I could do a 3 needle bind off which avoid having to do a bottom seam. I couldn’t believe it I could actually make a pouch in one hit with no additional seams at the end!

Comparing the 2 methods of making the pouches the circular needles are defiantly the method I am using now. I must admit previously I was probably making my pouches a little large as I wasn’t sure how much they would come in once my seams were done. With straight needles I occasionally loose stitches or gain stitches the rectangles are not always straight therefore once seamed sometimes looks misshapen.

With no side seams or bottom seam they are much lighter and less bulkier. The top of my pouch has curled a little and just reading the instructions now it says to purl so many rows at the start I’m guess that would so stop the curl. To be honest I am probably not going to do that. One of the reasons why I love knitting pouches is that you can go on auto pilot and you only have to measure once you know it is coming to the length you need. The curl is only small and doesn’t really make that much of impact.

Pouches on circular needles is a life changer for me. I am actually doing more knitting of them now as I can pick up the needles and do a few stitches any time I have free. I don’t have to worry about finishing at row or turning my work. One thing I did find was it was easier to cast on my stitches using the cable as one needle and using the 3rd needle as a second needle to cast on. The way I see it is that I’m going to be casting off one pouch and casting on another immediately so that 3rd needle is out anyway. I still have a few rectangles that need to be seamed up but all future pouches will be made this way. I may even invest in a second set of these smaller needles so that I will always have a pouch at a stage where I can just knit and not have to worry how long until I need to cast off, this is particularly important if I am taking my knitting out to a café or events with me.

Cassiy

 

 

 

 

Softies For Mirabel 2017

Once again this year I will be contributing to Softies For Mirabel a toy drive hosted by Pip Lincolne (Meet Me At Mikes) where toys are hand made for the Mirabel Foundation who support children abandoned due to parental drug use.

simplicity-1549

This year I tried out a new pattern I had in my stash Simplicity 1549 making 2 toys from it an owl and a bunny. I brought this pattern I think at the start of 2016 but never got around to making it last year.

simplicity-1549-owl

The owl is made from brown fabric leftover from draft stoppers I made last year. The leg fabric is the same fabric but in a stone colour. The fabric had a very open weave so I decided to use a double layer of it on the body and legs as these areas would be stuffed and I didn’t want it falling apart or the stuffing getting out. The wings are a single layer with a layer of pellon inside each one. I did they eyes differently as I think I have mentioned before I don’t like closed eyes on toys. Eyes give the toy personality and I like them open.

simplicity-1549-bunny

For the bunny I used more of the stone fabric again doing double layers but this time on all pieces. The ears aren’t stuffed but I wanted them to hold their shape so that is why I did double. The purple body is leftover polar fleece as is all the applique on the eyes, ears, nose. The mouth is some pom pom trim from my stash, I love the added bit of texture it gives.

These toys were very easy to make as there wasn’t a lot of pieces or complicated sewing. I did all the applique bits by hand as I enjoy hand sewing but you could have easily done them on the machine.

I hope some little kids enjoy these toys and the toys make them feel safe. They were made with love.

Cassiy

Charity Face Cloths

charity-face-washers

This year my department at work is collecting for the Share The Dignity “Its In The Bag” campaign. The idea is to get an old handbag (or purchase one from a charity shop) and fill the bag with items that a woman in crisis accommodation or who is homeless might need. I crocheted these facecloths to go inside the different bags. Someone else donated cakes of soap so together they will put in a few of the bags. These took me no time at all to whip up, crochet in front of the tv. I like that I can use my crochet skills (even if they are just basic) to give a little happiness to someone in need. I think this is a wonderful campaign and I’m honoured to be able to contribute to it in a small way.

Cassiy

WIRES Pouches Aug 16

WIRES looks after native animals who become sick, injured or abandoned. The service works every day of the year to rescue and care for the animals. Volunteers care for the animals in their own homes until they are well enough to be released back into the wild. They do an amazing job. I would love to be a carer but unfortunately I can’t but that doesn’t mean you can’t still help WIRES. If you can knit or you can sew your skills can help WIRES. WIRES are always needing pouches. You can either knit them or sew them. They do require that yarn used be 100% wool 8ply and the fabric be 100% cotton or flannelette. The fabric and wool needs to be breathable as the animal in enclosed in the pouch. Carers go through around 6 – 8 fabric pouches per day per animal and may have 4 – 6 animals in their care at any one time.

WIRES Package Aug 16

In the last couple of weeks I made a batch of pouches and in my spare room found another batch I made earlier this year. I’ve washed them all again (they may get ironed) I will post them off next week. I’ve been doing WIRES pouches for a few years now. I love that my sewing can help others. Native animals are close to my heart and I’m glad to be able to help them.

Cassiy

Sew Blue April Bucket Hat

Bucket Hat

Flosstyle patterns is having a charity fundraiser in April to support Go Blue For Autism and Beyond Blue. The challenge was to make something blue. Of course I was going to take part in a challenge list this.

Bucket Hat Failure

The Bucket Hat pattern by Flosstyle is a pattern I’ve had in my stash for ages. I actually attempted to make this hat last year. I say attempted as it baffled me. It wasn’t the pattern that was the issue it was me. At the time I was really tired and I couldn’t get construct the pattern in my head therefor not allowing me to construct the pattern in fabric. I cut out some of the pattern and pieces but was too confused by it all. It sat on my mental “To Sew” list ever since. In March Jess from Flosstyle made a YouTube clip demonstrating how to make it. As I’m a visual person watching the clip suddenly it all made sense in my head and I could see how it all fitted together. When the April challenge was announced I knew it was time to attempt the hat again. I ditched all the pieces I’d previously cut (which turned out to be the wrong size) and started again.

Bucket Hat Blue Velcro

I used the same fabric as I’d originally planned to use. It is the chambray fabric from the October Sew Box, it is a nice pale blue colour. To add another tone of blue I used a medium coloured blue thread to do all my stitching in. I really like the contrast. I even used blue Velcro cause you can never have too much blue!

Bucket Hat Back

This bucket hat pattern is great. Watching the clip you can see how simple it is too make. I made the adjustable brim version as I like to poke my hair through the hat. This version is a little more complicated than the basic version but still very quick to make. I took my time and did it over a few hours which included tea breaks. I took my time. Thought about each step before I did. I had my tablet on standby in case I needed to watch the YouTube clip again but I didn’t I had it clear in my mind so I didn’t need to refer back to it.

Bucket Hat Side Seam

Some areas I’m really happy with such as my side seams matching perfectly on this side (slightly off on the other side) I’m not worried the hat still fits and it is still functional. When I was doing the final bit of construction where all the layers are put together I was so worried about catching the adjustable brim in my seam that I actually missed a tiny part near the edge. No dramas I had stitched it closed.

Wonderclips On Velcro

Wonderclips were invaluable on this I used them on every step except for closing my turning gap at the end. With the multiple layers of fabric clipping them together was much easier than pins. I even used the larger ones to hold the Velcro pieces in place. When I accidentally knocked them off my table they were easier to pick up than pins. I’m so happy with my hat. The pattern includes sizes from baby to adult so you can make them for everyone. I will be doing these again.

The Flosstyle challenge isn’t just about sewing an item it is also about supporting Beyond Blue and Austim so I have made a small donation to each group.

Cassiy

 

 

Softies For Mirabel

Softies for Mirabel is a toy drive to support the Mirabel Foundation, an organisation which supports kids who are abandoned or orphaned due to parental drug use.

Mirabel 15

The toy drive has now been going 9 years, for the last few years I’ve wanted to contribute to it but have never gotten the chance. This year they have a theme “all creatures great and small” After this mishap of making Pony early last year I decided I would donate her to this years toy drive, by chance she fitted right in with this years theme when it was announced towards the end of last year. When I finished her off I was really pleased. The koalas also went to the toy drive. I hope these little guys make some kids happy. They are not fancy toys but they were made with love with the intention to be loved by a child. Every child should be able to cuddle up to a soft toy when they are scared or lonely or just because they want too.

The deadline for this years toy drive is January 28th 2016. The toy drive is usually announced around mid October. This year when it is announced I’ll post the details on here if anyone else wants to get involved.

Cassiy