Teacher’s Tool Belt

I got a request the other day to make a tool belt for a young friend of mine. Suzanne’s a vice-principal, constantly on the move during her work day. She needs her phone, her keys, some hand sanitizer, a pen,… with her – AND she needs her hands free.

Teacher’s Tool Belt – Completed

I checked out some possible ideas online and came up with one I thought would do the trick. Suzanne initially requested three pockets but I’ve given her four: one for her phone (with the tab to keep it from falling out), another for her keys (with a small carabiner that slips into the pocket), a slightly wider pocket for a small spray bottle of sanitizer, and one for a package of Kleenex or a small notebook, and two narrow end pockets for pens.

I was discussing the project with one of my sewing buddies who mentioned she had just the fabric weight I was after – a heavy cotton you’d use to cover outdoor cushions. I picked it up.

Next, I selected a complementary fabric from my stash, put the two fabrics together, cut a 10″ strip from the width of fabric for the body of the tool kit, and a second 6 1/2″ strip, also from the width of fabric for the pockets. I cut each width of fabric in half – each piece 22″ wide. (That gives me enough cut fabric for two tool belts – one for my niece as well!)

Teacher’s Tool Belt – Dimensions

I cut two 3 1/2″ strips from another contrasting fabric (width of fabric again) for a pocket facing and waistband and ties.

Layers of Fabric Before Shaping

I trimmed the 22″ x 10″ fabric to 20″ with slightly rounded bottom corners (see “pattern” above). I tapered the sides a bit leaving the top edge 18″ wide. I also ever-so-slightly curved the top edge to accommodate the belly. I placed the pocket fabric on top of the the apron body – aligning the bottoms and trimmed to match the body.

With the fabric shaped, on to facing the pocket.

I cut one of the 3 1/2″ waistband pieces in half lengthwise giving me a 22″ facing strip (the other half becomes one of the ties). With the two pocket panel pieces (outside and lining wrong sides together) I aligned the facing fabric along one 20″ edge on the lining side (right sides together), stitched a 1/4″ seam.

Apply Binding To Pocket on Lining Side – 1/4″ allowance

Folded the facing over the seam allowance toward the front,

Facing Completed on Lining Side Of Pocket Panel

folded under the bottom edge of the facing, pressed and top stitched to the front of the pocket panel.

Pocket Panel Facing Top Stitched

With the pocket panel faced, I laid it on the body fabric (back of pocket to right side of the outside body panel),

Pocket Laid On Top Of Body Panel

covered the pocket with the body lining fabric (in other words, I had a sandwich: lining fabric face down on top, pocket panel, outside body fabric face up on the bottom).

Tool Belt “Sandwich” – with Lining On Top

I sewed down one side across the bottom and up the other side – turned the apron body right side out, pressed – making sure the open top edges matched (I pinned the top edges so they’d stay together when I pinned the waistband in place).

Next, the waistband.  I interfaced the remaining piece of facing fabric to make the waistband more stable, laid it (right side down, interfacing side up) across the top open edge of the WRONG side of the belt, stitched a 1/4″ seam, pressed seam open, folded waistband in half, turned in the raw edge 1/4″, pressed.

Before stitching the open edge to the front of the tool belt, I cut the second 3 1/2″ facing/waistband piece in half lengthwise and attached each half to the ends of the waistband, folded in half lengthwise, turned in the edges, pressed. I folded in the ends of the ties and pinned them.

Then starting at the end of one of the ties, I edge-stitched the end, than the open edge of the first tie, across the waistband, folded edge aligned to just cover the seam, and continuing to the end of the second tie and across the end.

I press the ties and waistband. DONE!

Teacher’s Tool Belt

It all sounds a lot more complicated than the actual assembly is. The second tool belt (to be constructed from the leftovers from the first) will go much more quickly because I’ve already figured out the order of construction.

  1. Cut out and shape outer fabric and lining; cut fabric for pocket facing/waistband and ties
  2. Face Pocket
  3. Make tool belt sandwich) body fabric on bottom / pocket / lining fabric face down on top
  4. Stitch around sides leaving waist edge open – turn right side out, press
  5. Stitch pockets
  6. Add waistband, ties

BTW, I’m not going into production for those other teachers who will want one themselves when they’ve seen the tool belts I’ve made for Suzanne and Maxelle!

 

 

The Closing Down Of Summer

Fall’s on the way. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the colour of the sunlight. Although today is a warm day (24° C), there’s that something in the breeze, you can smell it, hinting at the change of season.

At The Public Gardens

Yesterday at the Public Gardens wild bees were busy harvesting nectar and pollen – there were some hive bees foraging, too. It was interesting watching the wild bees push the hive bees out of the way – no room for interlopers.

I’ve written about the closing down of summer before.

In the opening pages of Alastair MacLeod’s short story: The Closing Down Of Summer (in the collection: As Birds Bring Forth The Sun) he begins:

It is August now, towards the end, and the weather can no longer be trusted. All summer it has been very hot. So hot that the gardens have died and the hay has not grown and the surface wells have tried to trickles and the trout that inhabit them and the inland lakes are soft and sluggish and gasping for live. …

At the end of July we said to ourselves and to each other, “The August gale will come and shatter all of this.” The August gale is the traditional storm that comes each August, the forerunner of the hurricanes that will sweep up from the Caribbean and beat and lash this coast in the months of autumn. The August gale with its shrieking winds and crashing muddied waves has generally signalled the unofficial end of summer and it may come in August’s very early days. But this year, as yet, it has not come and there are only a few days left. Still we know that the weather cannot last much longer and in another week … the pace of life will change. 

That’s what it feels like today and has felt like for the past week – there has been no August gale, just mostly sunny days – no rain which we desperately need and begin to want. But the air has changed, the colour has begun changing. The Queen Anne’s Lace is ending, the Goldenrod droops, I’ve seen Chicory in a few spots already. The plants know the season is changing.

The folks in the building where I live have been meeting outdoors in a green spot beside our garage driveway – we bring our chairs and knit, or box lunches and share a meal. We can likely do that for September and with jackets maybe October but after that outdoor gatherings won’t be possible.

We’ve all enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie these outdoor gatherings have given us. We will need to find ways to continue congregating – with masks, social distancing, and cleaning the indoor spaces before we leave. We will find a way to carry on – we have to. We’re now accepting the Covid-19 rituals to which we’ve become accustomed will be necessary for the foreseeable future, for a year? maybe longer?

This closing down of summer, now in the air, signals changes we will have to invent in order to sustain our community. We’ll find a way to carry on. As will everyone else.

Five Islands

Five Islands is a spectacular location on the NS Fundy Coast on the way to Parrsboro via Hwy 2 (the Glooscap Trail). Sitting on a park bench yesterday at Lighthouse Park, overlooking the islands, it’s clear from the panorama that at one time the islands must have been one continuous point of land projecting into the Bay connected to the mainland beyond the island at the far left of the photo. In the photo you see the western end of Moose island on the left. From left to right you have Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle islands. Beyond Pinnacle Island you can just see a seastack called Pinnacle Rock on the far right.

Five Islands at low tide

I’ve been driving by Five Islands on my way to Parrsboro for more than twenty years. Each time I’ve always wanted to take a photo of the islands at that spot on the highway where you come around a bend and see the islands through a gap in the trees. But there’s no stopping spot there – there’s sort of one on the water side of the road but I have never stopped until yesterday. I left the car parked on the shoulder, hazard lights on, and walked ahead until I got to the exact location where you can see the islands framed by the opening in the marsh.

Five Islands

The perspective here is somewhat different from the view at Lighthouse Park – you only see four islands with Moose Island on the far left and Pinnacle Stack on the right. At this angle, Diamond Island is hidden behind Moose.

My friend Ruby and I sat for quite a while on the headland bench enjoying the peaceful quiet of the afternoon. There were a pair of clammers digging quahogs on the mud flats while the tide was out but they quickly ended their harvest when the tide began coming in. This is the Bay of Fundy – the tide comes in very quickly and the water becomes very deep very fast. These locals were taking no chances and although their buckets were only partially full they knew enough to leave at the first sign of water returning.

At Five Islands

I was able to capture a photo of Ruby on the bench watching the men at work in the distance. This will definitely be my next wall art piece. I love her relaxed posture, her position against the coast, her head against the sky. I don’t know whether I’ll show low tide or imagine the Bay at high water. All to be determined.

The two of us had a lovely day. I wanted to return to the exhibit to take more photos and I knew Ruby would love to see the quilts hanging. After a short visit to the gallery (we were sneaking in because it was closed to visitors yesterday due to social distancing restrictions (there was a drawing workshop happening with Tom Forrestall) while the workshop participants were away having lunch), we had delicious lobster rolls at the Harbourview Restaurant then slowly made our way back to Halifax, taking side trips on small roads I’ve passed for years but never explored.

It was a lovely day.

BTW – show comes down Aug. 20 in the afternoon.

In Case You Wondered

Just read a piece in the New York Post – “This is the fabric for DIY Face masks, according to science“.

“Much to the delight of many an American grandmother, the quilt fabric performed best as a protective shield against respiratory droplets.”

Anybody surprised? Of course face masks made with a good quality cotton quilting fabric stops cough droplets better than other sorts of home made face coverings.

“Without a mask, droplets from the simulated cough flew more than 8 feet and up to 12. They traveled 3 feet when the bandanna was worn; 15 inches with the folded handkerchief; and 8 inches with the surgical-grade masks.
The stitched, two-ply quilt mask, however, halted droplets after just 2 and ½ inches.
Why quilted? The study suggests that the masks made with quilting fabric fit faces better than loosely tied material. Plus, sturdy two-ply material gives a mask an added layer of protection, other studies have shown.”
So all my efforts haven’t been in vain! I’m now approaching 300 masks – I’ve really lost count. I keep making batches of a dozen. This last week I made another 36.

Latest Face Masks

I keep giving them away. Sent another dozen to my niece in Toronto last week. Have handed them out as I’ve gone to have my haircut, my nails done, had a filling repaired, saw the massage therapist…

This pandemic is going to be going on for a lot longer than people want to believe. Washable face masks are on the way to becoming essential for any socializing if we want to keep infection at some kind of containment level!

I’ve been using bolder, more colourful fabrics with each new batch. My personal collection is closing in on a dozen – I choose a face mask to go with my outfit. Why not, hey? It might as well be a fashion accessory if I have to wear it. And I do wear one whenever I’m in public, everywhere I go (except while actually eating in a restaurant -which I’ve done twice so far).

BTW, this is not all the sewing I’ve done since I last posted. I’ve finally got my latest quilt sandwiched, pinned, and ready to quilt; I made a cotton nightgown for a friend of mine having a birthday on Thursday; I’ve been puttering with Kaleidoscope Table Runners for a class that’s not going to happen. I bought small amounts of fabric yesterday to add to two different sets of octagon “blocks” so I can finish the runners and get on with sewing some summer clothes for myself. Oh yes, and I put elastic inserts into the waists of 7 pairs of pants! And took out excess fabric from the seat of three pairs of jeans I bought at Costco.

I’ve not been idle!

My Indoor Vegetable Patch

Last week my sister shared an idea with me – she’s been growing green onions on her window sill for several weeks. She suggested I try doing it myself. You buy a bunch of green onions, cut the greens off (chop them and use them) but put the white bulbs in a glass of water and, lo and behold, you’ve got green onions growing you can harvest for a salad as you need them. She tells me they grow for weeks.

Green Onions & Lettuce

Why not lettuce, too? On my last grocery shopping trip I bought a pair of hydroponically grown green lettuces, roots still intact. So instead of chopping them all up (and throwing away half) I plunked each in a planter with some water – I’ve got lettuces growing. I can harvest a few leaves from each as I need them for a small salad and the plants keep on growing, looks like.

What fun! I bet I can get some dill to grow that way, too. I must look for some dill seeds to germinate.

I don’t like tomatoes well enough to start an outdoor pot for tomatoes – I buy a single tomato every so often if I think I’m going to use one in a meal.

It’ll be interesting to see how long my lettuces will actually grow like this. When these two poop out, I’ll just pick a couple more.

A Must Read by Atul Gawande

I’ve passed on bits of information about the COVID-19 pandemic before. I just read this article by Atul Gawande – a surgeon and medical writer – which I’ve summarized; however, I really recommend reading his whole article if, for nothing else, than to enjoy the clarity of his writing (click on the title to get to the article).

Amid the Corona Virus Crisis,
A Regimen For Re-Entry

Atul Gawande

The New Yorker, May 13 2020

________________________________________

[I’m both quoting and summarizing Gawande’s discussion in what I’ve shared below]

“… Hospitals have learned how to avoid becoming sites of spread. When the time is right to lighten up on the lockdown and bring people back to work, there are wider lessons to be learned from places that never locked down in the first place.

These lessons point toward an approach that we might think of as a combination therapy—like a drug cocktail. Its elements are all familiar: hygiene measures, screening, distancing, and masks. Each has flaws. Skip one, and the treatment won’t work. But, when taken together, and taken seriously, they shut down the virus.”

  1. Cleaning your hands is essential to stopping the transfer of infectious droplets from surfaces to your nose, mouth, and eyes. Frequency matters – The key, seems to be washing or sanitizing your hands every time you go into or out of a group environment, and every couple of hours while you’re in it; plus disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least daily (like your phone). BTW environmental transmission (i.e via touching things) may account for as little as 6% of COVID-19 infections, he says.
  2. The virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets emitted by infected people when they cough, sneeze, talk or simply exhale (singing in a group is very hazardous!). That’s why physical distancing is so important – the six foot rule. While not perfect (some people’s sneezes can travel up to 20 feet!), it helps a lot since most droplets seem to fall within a 6 foot radius.
  3. COVID-19 is not actually crazy infectious – an infected person might infect 2-3 people while going about ordinary life but that means the disease spreads. Exposure time matters: less than 15 minutes with an exposed person makes spread unlikely. Again, the 6 foot rule goes a long way to shutting down this risk.
  4. In the health setting daily screening of all employees, patients, and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 is crucial for preventing the spread of the disease. People are asked to confirm that they have not developed:
    a new fever,
    cough,
    sore throat,
    shortness of breath,
    loss of taste of smell,
    or even just nasal congestion or a runny nose – [My take-away from this, is we need to monitor ourselves for these symptoms constantly and keep away from other people should we experience any of them and stay away for another 72 hours after we’re feeling better.]
  5. The critical thing about COVID-19 is that the virus can make people infectious before they develop any symptoms of illness.
    That’s the reason for MASKS! Combining social distancing with masks can block the spread of respiratory droplets from a person with active, but perhaps unrecognized, infection.
    The cloth masks, while not as effective as surgical masks, can block droplet emissions, as well. (And the virus does not last long on cloth; viral counts drop 99% in three hours.)
  6. “Culture, is the fifth, and arguably the most difficult, pillar of a new combination therapy to stop the coronavirus….It’s about wanting, among other things, never to be the one to make someone else sick.” [It’s all about social responsibility – accepting that my actions can have serious (even lethal) consequences for other people.]

The first of the official guidelines in the US for re-opening is at least 2 weeks of very low to zero new cases! This is most difficult – waiting for the number of new cases in the community to drop to zero (or almost zero) and stay there.

I was explaining to someone the other day it’s kind of like the difference between setting off on a car trip to Chester (NS) vs a car trip to Vancouver! You’ve got a very different mind set when you start out to go to Chester (from Halifax) – it takes an hour and the trip’s over before you know it. The mind set for a car trip to Vancouver is a committed undertaking – you know it’s going to be a long, uncomfortable, inconvenient, sometimes boring, haul. 

Well, we’re all taking that long slow car trip to Vancouver right now – we need to accept the expectation that our commitment to – frequent hand washing, self-monitoring, social distancing, wearing masks, and remembering each of us does this not just to keep ourselves safe, but to keep others safe – will have to go on for a LONG time. The better we are at following the full regimen the safer we all will be and the faster we can experience the world beyond our homes safely again.

[Click here for the original article by Atul Gawande] 

Spring Is Here

Yesterday was a lovely day – sunny, not too cold, just a bit windy. I took my usual walk slowly enough to notice the plants responding to a couple of warm days. I recorded many images along my way to the high school and back.

Coltsfoot – Tussilago farfara

Lungwort – Pulmonaria officinalis

Willow – Salix

Alder – Alnus?

Maple – Acer

I was happy to see the vegetation opening to spring.

COVID-19 – Some Interesting Information

I’ve read a lot of news during this time of physical distancing (five weeks? six weeks? is it now). In the last week I’ve come across two pieces of information that could prove significant should, heaven forbid, I start showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The first is the “peanut butter sniff test” which I read about in the National Post (April 18 2020)

Peanut Butter Sniff Test

a simple do-it-at-home sniff test, using common household items, would allow participants — the great mass of us — to start tracking their sense of smell. In this way, an asymptomatic carrier who feels like a million bucks, but notes a diminishing sense of smell one day to the next, could consider quarantining, ASAP, instead of carrying on until their olfactory sense disappears altogether.

The second which I came across in the New York Times (April 20 2020) describes how the COVID-19 pneumonia is presenting differently than pneumonia from other viruses:

“patients are presenting with dangerously low oxygen levels and terrible pneumonia presenting on X-rays… Silent hypoxia progressing rapidly to respiratory failure explains cases of Covid-19 patients dying suddenly after not feeling short of breath.”

Pulse Oximeter

However, the doctor explains in this piece, “detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter” would allow earlier detection of the pneumonia and therefore more immediate medical treatment.

My take away from these two articles is I can monitor myself in two ways. First, keep checking my sense of smell – loss of smell may occur even before other symptoms like fever, cough, upset stomach and fatigue appear. Should that happen, I need to quarantine myself (not just keep a physical distance) so I don’t pass on the virus.

Second, should I start showing symptoms I want to begin checking my blood oxygen saturation. This latter may be even more important than confirming the presence of the virus so a visit to the doctor may be warranted to make sure my oxygen saturation is checked. Since, as far as I know, oxygen saturation may not be checked except on hospital admission (which could be too late to escape a severe manifestation of COVID-19), that is something I will have to advocate vigorously for myself.

Just thought you might find these two tidbits worth stashing in the back of your mind. I’ll share anything else useful (and unusual) I may come across.

“Mask Maker, Mask Maker…”

I’m now a “mask maker”.

These days people are keeping themselves sane by creating parodies to keep themselves and the rest of us laughing.

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to one of those parodies. I answered “Is this a request for some masks? “She answered: “No 😊. I just thought it was so clever and I like parodies! And YOU are a mask maker!!! LOL!

So I went looking for “mask maker” parodies and found two more:

and this one,

And here is the somewhat longer one sent by my friend:

 “To a mask maker I know :-)”

Enjoy!