2020 M6338 Chartiy Bags

Once again for my charity bags the pattern I used was McCalls 6338. I know that pattern really well now and I can make it without instructions even if it is 12 months between sewing them.

 

As in previous years I raided my stash for fabric. Even though I am sewing through a lot of my stash I still have a large amount to pick from. I had always planned to use the red fabric this year. It is a Japanese cotton that I was originally going to use to make myself a bag. I’m not really a red person so I’m glad it got used in these bags. The green gingham was a spur of the moment open any box from my packed fabric stash and see if I could get a fabric to match adventure. I really like the contrasting combination together.

This year I decided to add a patch pocket to the front of each bag. I used rectangle scraps of both fabrics so that the inside of the pocket would be the green fabric. I had a lot of the green fabric so I was able to do the inside of the bags and the handles in the green too. For the inside of bags I like to use light coloured fabric. I find it easier to finds things if the bag isn’t dark inside, others might not have this problem but I do.

Another different thing I did this year was make drawstring ties from the green fabric. On previous bags I have used ribbon but since I had enough fabric matching drawstrings it was. To make the drawstrings I cut a 2″ wide strip the width of the fabric for each drawstring (2 per bag) I then folded each one into quarters and top stitched them together. For me that it easier to fold then together instead of making a tube and turning the right side out. When I’m batch sewing like I was with these I use techniques I’m most comfortable with. At times it does seem like it takes longer but I know I’m going to more happier with the end result. If I’m comfortable with a technique than I’m going to be less stressed and make fewer mistakes.

I started making these bags earlier than I have in previous years and I didn’t make them all in one hit. It made the making of them more enjoyable as I wasn’t pressuring myself to finish them. I’m thinking ahead to my 2021 bags already. I have fabric in mind for the outside of the bags but I need to check it is still in my stash. I’m going to cut my fabrics over one weekend, sew the handles another weekend, make the bag fronts on another sewing day, finish the bags another day. It makes them more fun and it means I have time experiment or do different techniques than I have done previously if I’m not sewing to a deadline.

Cassiy

 

Charity Melds 2020

In my Muted Meld post I mentioned I had knitted 3 for charity and here they are. To be honest the way I have numbered them is the not the order I knitted them in but that isn’t important. All the yarn used is Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton Crush colours which they originally did a number of years ago. As with my Muted Meld I haven’t blocked these I just stretched them out on the ground to photograph.

Meld Charity 1
Shawl 1
I’m calling this Pine Lime as the colours in it were pineapple and lime but to me the green is more a muted green then what I would call a lime. I was worried that the colours might look too much like the Australia colours green and gold as the pineapple colour is more a gold colour but mixed with the white it doesn’t look too bad I think

Meld Charity 2
Shawl 2
I’m calling this one Coconut Ice as it reminds me of the sweet coconut ice. Perhaps it was a bad colour to photograph it on but I really like the pink and purple combination here. I just want to eat this shawl as the colours look delicious. I have never wanted to eat knitwear before but there is something about this one!

Meld Charity 3
Shawl 3
This is Sunny meld. I shouldn’t play favourites but this was this first of the 3 charity ones I knitted and is my favourite of all. The burnt orange and the gold together just make me think sunshine. It is bright and cheery. I wasn’t sure how the white would look as the 3rd colour but after adding it I thought it gave it like a nice border so that is why I then used it as the 3rd colour in my other shawls. It was also using up a white yarn in my stash that I am unlikely to use for knitwear for myself as I am not really a white person.

To recap the pattern I used was Meld by Lisa Mutch. It is a really simple pattern to do but I must warn if just like with doing any pattern on repeat if you knit a total of 4 in a short period of time you will eventually get sick of it. Perhaps I should’ve spread knitting these out over the months but because the yarn was there, the pattern was fresh in my head and my needles were out I just did one after the other. By the last one I was a little bit over the pattern but again that was only from repetitiveness. These will go in this year’s Share The Dignity charity bags with some matching knitted bangles which I haven’t done yet. I might use this pattern again next year to make more.

Cassiy

Bat Wraps

I first heard about bat wraps a number of years ago but I never got around to actually making them until earlier this month when I had some flannelette lying around on my lounge chair and I didn’t feel like packing it so I thought perfect time to use it up and make them.

Bat wraps are used by wildlife carers to care for young bats (pups) who come into their care. The wrap is made from flannelette which is soft and cuddly for the pups. Each wrap has a pillow section which the pups are placed on and then a length of fabric which is rolled around the pups to keep them tight, kind of like a bat burrito.

Sewing wise these were very easy to do. I must admit I did struggle a little with top stitching around the edge of the stuffed pillow section. If I make these again I think I will top stitch around it all except for section that the stuffing is placed in before I stuff it and then just hand top stitch the stuffing section. It will be quicker for me and a lot neater. On my Sewing Bingo 2020 card I was able to tick off A First from my list as I mentioned this was my first time making these.

Lakebed In Parramatta Park

Pups can come into care due to the death or injury of the mother or be abandoned due to weather conditions such as drought. Sadly along the east coast of Australia this summer due to the drought not just in regional areas but also in metropolitan areas such as Sydney a lot of pups have been abandoned due to the lack of water supply. I live near a major park in Western Sydney which contains a large bat colony and I have seen first hand a lake in the park dry up completely due to the drought conditions. It is heartbreaking to see the lake like this. It will take a lot of rain for the lake to reform and I really do hope it does for all the animals who use it as their water supply.

Cassiy

Handmade Charity Bag Extras 2019

For my charity bags this year I did make a few things to add into them.

 

Firstly were the sleeping eye masks. All the fabric and supplies came from my stash. The fabric used was leftover from another project, the elastic and binding were items I had on hand. A useful project made from stash items.

The second thing I made were infinity scarves from the leftover fabric of my Brickwork poncho. These are narrower than the infinity scarf I made for myself but I think are still a good size. They folded nicely to fit in the bags. The brickwork fabric has 3 colours in it – blue, gray and white. I realised I had the same shades of cotton yarn in my stash to match so I had to knit bangles to match the scarves! Knitted bangles are super easy to do. I love that I could make them match the scarves. I knitted myself a set of the bangles to match my poncho whilst I was making these.

I loved adding in handmade items into the bags this year. It is something I will do again for next years bags. I’m not sure what I will make yet, bangles for sure but as for other things I’m undecided at this time. I have 12 months to figure it out!

Cassiy

Charity Bags 2019

Last weekend I donated bags to Share The Dignity for their “It’s In The Bag” campaign. If don’t live in Australia or are not familiar with Share The Dignity they are a charity who support woman and girls across Australia who are in crisis. Each year they encourage people to fill a handbag with essentials that we all take for granted (toiletries, sanitary items, etc) The bags are distributed through local community groups to woman and girls who need them. I made up 3 bags this year. I make my bags as I don’t own any old handbags plus it is a way for me to use my sewing skills and fabric stash.

I used the same pattern I used last year which is McCalls M6338 View D. This pattern is a picnic tote bag but makes a great size handbag. I don’t include the extra pockets on the inside or outside. You make it a little differently to your average tote bag due to the drawstring top section but it still super easy to make.

The fabric I used was some I found in my stash during my “I love My Fabric Party” Unfortunately due to the way I stored my fabric previously the fabric had fade marks on it. I couldn’t use it for clothing but it was perfect for bag making. It is a flocked denim fabric that I fell in love with when I brought it. I played pattern tetris tracing out all the outer bag and tops from the piece. I just fitted them all on it. As the pattern pieces are straight edges it was easy to place the pattern piece on the fabric and trace around it with my quilting ruler and chalk pen. It didn’t take long at all to do them. Once the bags were finished you couldn’t see the fade marks at all. The fabric is sturdy too which helped the bags hold their shape.

For the handles and inner lining bags I used some blue rose fabric I brought a few months ago. This was fabric I only brought due to my obsession with blue roses. It is a quilting cotton more than a dressmaking cotton. It would have been too stiff for me to wear but was perfect for these bags. I was originally hoping to the handles in the denim but I didn’t have enough. I actually like how I have done the handles and the inner bags the same as it doesn’t look like I ran out of fabric for the handles, design feature! The drawstring is some ribbon from my stash. I needed to use a narrower drawstring than I used last year as the denim is rigid and the wider drawstring I originally inserted make it hard to pull the bags closed. These are my favourite bags yet. I love the colour, the fabrics. They fill up as a nice size.

I start collecting for my bags each year pretty much after I have donated the last lot. I have a box I stash everything in. I filled my bags with toiletries I had salvaged from hotel stays throughout the year, hair accessories/makeup I have brought on sale, socks, stockings, a few things I have made, face washers I have been given. When it come to filling the bags I empty out my collection box and divide it amongst the amount of bags I have.

I already have fabric set aside to make for next years bags. Next year I’m setting myself the $20 challenge. In 2020 I’m not going to be staying in as many hotels as I did this year which means I’m going to have to buy more of the items which I fill the bags with. Frugal me is up for the challenge and will be on the lookout for bargains and freebies throughout the year. I’m going to make a few things from my stash too. I really like supporting this charity and wish to continue for many years.

Cassiy

 

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