JoAnn’s Blanket

My friend JoAnn has MS and is now bound to her motorized wheelchair. She’s out and about on her own a lot – zipping over to the Games Centre nearby to use the gym, off for coffee round the corner with friends.

When the temperature is low, it’s cold on her legs. So she needs a warm blanket. But the bulk of the blanket makes it difficult to carry her stuff with her – she asked if I would add zippered pockets to the inside of the blanket so she can hook the blanket In place and have what she wants to take with her securely on her lap.

Inside of JoAnn’s Wheelchair Blanket

Not a problem – I cut a wide strip from some PUL fabric I’d bought to make a raincoat for myself (it’s not going to get used for that, I can tell). I decided on the PUL because it’s waterproof and it will keep what JoAnn’s carrying with her dry.

I made self-contained pockets – PUL front and back with raw side edges covered by bias tape. I used a heavy weight (#5) zipper with larger pulls because JoAnn’s hands have lost dexterity. There’s a top compartment large enough for a magazine, a small pocket on top of that for money, and a lower pocket for other stuff – Kleenex, etc.

JoAnn gave me the measurements she wanted and I worked to her specifications. I attached the pocket pouch to the inside of the blanket at the centre so it sits squarely on her lap. To each side I added some colourful webbing tape to hold carabiner clips which she hooks to ties on the sides of her wheelchair.

The blanket was too long – it would have become caught in the front wheels, so I cut off 18″ from the bottom and bound it with a batik fabric using a standard quilt binding technique.

JoAnn is now ready for the next cold day.

If you know someone in a wheelchair, this might be a useful gift for her/him. Just an idea….

Leather Bag

This is the second time I’ve made this bag – made one a number of years ago (~ 2015 as I recall) using the beautiful soft purple kid skin I bought in NYC in 2010. I’ve used the bag a lot – the colour faded and it got scratched. It was time to use the remaining purple kid to make another one.

New Leather Bag

Today was the day. Actually I cut out the leather pieces and the lining pieces yesterday, even dashed off to Fabricville to purchase 14″ zippers (longer than the bag is wide so I didn’t have to worry about the zipper ends when sewing them in). It took me just under three hours this morning to put the bag together. I reused the fittings when attaching the strap.

I made a couple of modifications this time, the two painted leather inserts are narrower making the pockets accessed through the khaki zippers larger and therefore more useful than in the first iteration of the bag. I also used a painted leather insert at the top of the back to make the back long enough to match the front.

Otherwise the internal construction is the same – the major central pocket has two small side pockets built in to each side to hold things like hand sanitizer, nail file, wallet, glasses cleaning cloth, Swiss army knife (credit card style), etc. With stuff stored in the pockets I can find what I’m looking for easily – it’s not all a jumble at the bottom. The other two zippered compartments are simple pockets – one for my check book (yes I still carry a check book although I must admit I haven’t written a cheque in almost a year!), and for stuffing shopping receipts in one place so I can find them.

I could put my phone in the bottom pocket if I wanted to – it’s large enough in this version of the bag. But usually I carry my phone in my right pants pocket.

I’m still procrastinating about starting a quilt! I’ve pulled out some fabric – a double jellyroll (5″ wide strips) to start something – Tomorrow! I’ll get going on something tomorrow, for sure.

Thinking About Christmas…

I haven’t posted a lot this past month but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. I began in earnest as soon as my cast came off on July 31.

In August I made:

  • Four pair of pants for myself – two in linen, one in a summer weight wool/poly blend, the fourth in a stretch twill. (Now I have to take four pairs of pants out of my closet!)
Wool/poly Pants
  • I remade a pair of jeans I bought at Costco (I had to lift the back pockets and create a teardrop dart down the centre back of each leg; resew the pockets).
  • In the end I made 30 sets of seat belt covers! (For the folks who chauffeured me while I couldn’t drive)
  • I improvised a set of zippered pockets which I attached to a blanket for a friend in a wheel chair. (I forgot to take a photo of the completed project)
  • I also made a new five-pocket zippered wallet for myself out of ripstop
Five Pocket Wallet

I sewed almost every day. I didn’t get any quilting or wall art started but I’m thinking about it.

I also managed to cut out fabric to make 30 zippered bags – in two sizes.  Two weeks ago at our knitting group I noticed the bags I had made a couple of years ago are being well used. I asked the gals whether anyone was interested in having another bag – silly question – you can’t have too many small zippered bags, for heaven’s sake. So I decided to get that organized.

I dug out the bright fabrics I had set aside to make bags and cut it into appropriate sizes (17″ x 6.25; 21″ x 7″). I cut batting scraps into similar sizes as well. Found suitable (dull) fabric in my stash to be lining for the bags. I went through my zipper tape and cut enough lengths to the correct size.

Fabric Prepared for Zippered Bags

To make a bag I need one outer piece (twice the width of the finished bag), one lining piece, a piece of similar size batting, one half of a zipper tape cut to length, a zipper slide, and a short piece of grosgrain ribbon.

Setting Up For A Bag

I make the bags this way because it allows me to create a zipper loop at the closed end which is much neater than trying to stitch over cut zipper ends.

Using Zipper Tape

I’ve made three bags so far – two larger (9.5″ x 6.25″), one smaller (7.5″ x 5.25″).

The First Bags – 2 sizes

Now I need to sew the remaining 27 bags! Each bag doesn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes were I to do each one completely, but I’ll do this factory style – I’ll add zipper tape to the outer fabric and batting, add lining and stitch to zipper on the second side, for all of the bags. Press. Next turn right sides outside and add the zipper pulls. Then turn right sides together with lining and outer fabric/batting separated to stitch the open side (remembering to insert the folded twill tape into the seam close to the zipper on the outer fabric side – fold toward the centre of the bag). The bottom of the outer fabric/batting is sewn next. Now the important thing to remember: open the zipper! If the bottom of the lining is sewn before the zipper is open, you can’t open the bag. Turn the bag right side out, sew the bottom of the lining (wrong sides together) then push it inside the bag.

It sounds complicated – I probably should take photos of each step along the way (I will try to remember to do that when I get started on production). But the process is fast and the finished bags are neat.

You can’t have too many zippered bags! I use them for so many different purposes: for jewelry, to store elastic bands,  spare change, specialty threads, sewing machine attachments, flash drives for my embroidery machine…. It looks like it’s going to be bags this Christmas.

Seat Belt Covers

I’ve been making seatbelt covers for myself for years – I’m short and especially during the summer when I’m wearing open neck clothing an unprotected seatbelt cuts my neck. I was very aware of the problem whenever I was driven somewhere when I had my cast on and couldn’t drive myself. I decided I needed to make seatbelt covers for quite a few of my friends – I could also use a new pair myself.

Two days ago I bought 2m of batik fabric (it’s more densely woven than quilting cotton and holds up better) – that would work out to 6 pairs of seatbelt covers/m – cost ~$3/pair. I also bought 6m each of black and white velcro (loops and hoops) – each seat belt uses ~10″ of velcro that gives me 4 covers/m – ~$1.00/pair of covers. I have lots of batting scraps which I planned on using so I didn’t need to buy batting.

Here’s how I make the seatbelt covers:

Folded in half, I cut 7″ strips from the width of fabric – cut in half gives me 2 pieces of fabric 7″ x ~21″. I cut batting 6″ x 21″. Place the batting in the centre of the fabric, fold in one end, fold over the second (selvedge edge on top so I don’t have to fold raw edge under).

Finished underside of seatbelt cover

Next, I sew a double seam across the open edge, turn the cover over, attach the loops and hooks to the length edges of the seatbelt cover by stitching the inner edge of the velcro; turn seatbelt cover over so the under side is up, then fold velcro over, and stitch down, folding in the top and bottom raw edge of fabric.

Finished top of seatbelt cover

Fold the cover in half and seal the velcro

That’s all there is to it. New seatbelt covers – cost: ~$4/pair (that’s because I used batting scraps – had I bought new batting the cost would have been closer to $5.

I have a new pair in my car. I have six pairs done – seven more to go in this batch – a total of 14 pairs of seatbelt covers.

I’m not sure whether I’ll gift these to the women in our knitting group, or whether we’ll take a day and they’ll make their own – they’d find that more satisfying, I’m sure.

Patch

Yesterday, the chiropractor told me to walk to the end of the block before getting into the car at the end of our session. What he didn’t know is there’s a wonderful small fabric/DIY shop at the end of his street – Patch. Chris Pasquet, the owner, saw a need for a DIY sewing studio in Halifax that also provided instruction, stocked unusual garment (and quilting) fabrics, along with interesting indy patterns and a few notions. She opened five years ago and the shop has been a going concern since.

Deb and I stopped in. Chris had a couple of interesting sample linen garments in the shop window which caught our eye. The three of us chatted for a while, Chris pointed us at some of her recent acquisitions – Japanese double-gauze prints, some nice linen and linen/cotton blends.

 

Summer Dresses

I have a single summer dress to my name. I could use a couple more loose, light garments for the warm days to come in July/August. In the end I chose a turquoise print Japanese double-gauze, a copper/beige ombre linen/cotton blend, and a pattern for a simple summer dress.

I won’t be making the dress as shown on the pattern cover – I plan on making it longer, much more A-line by inserting a wedge at the centre front/back on the centre fold line. The dress also has a tie at the back neck, I will just make a loop and button closure.

Now to get the fabric prepped and then I can commandeer help for the cutting!

Unplanned Interruption In My Creative Life…

 

My Cast For Wrist Fracture

Fractured my right wrist and injured my left hip in a freak accident Thursday (you really don’t want to know what idiot decision I made that resulted in this unplanned outcome). Had x-rays of my wrist and lower spine done at emergency and came home with a humongous cast. Very uncomfortable all weekend sitting on ice. (The wrist break BTW is the result of a FOOSH – falling on outstretched hand – what’s referred to as a Colles’ fracture of the distal radius).

Spent yesterday getting my left hip X-rayed, then getting my cast changed. No hip fractures! No increased slippage of L5/S1. Yeah. And while it’s still a plaster cast until next week, it’s a lot smaller and it frees my thumb and fingers so I can use my right hand a bit. Can’t lift anything with weight but I can use a knife to cut food on my plate. Big improvement. 

Saw the chiropractor this morning and the left hip injury is much less serious than he and I expected. He did a bit of adjusting and I’m moving a little more easily. So day by day….

Can’t drive (probably not till I get a fibreglass cast next week) but friends are being wonderful at helping out and getting me where I need to be. 

While inconvenienced, I expect to recover reasonably quickly.

Thursday, before the accident I’d cut out a pair of pale green summer wool pants and was just getting ready to cut out another in red linen:

Two Projects In Waiting

Now that I have an opposable thumb (and you can’t believe how important that actually is) I may even be able to knit a bit and sew some soon.

There’s no way I can go six weeks (that’s how long I expect to be in a cast) without making stuff. No way!

Floral Collage – Finished

I also finished the floral collage this morning. I resumed thread painting when I got back from Toronto (visiting family) – adding stitching to the leaves, flower petals, and using an embroidery stitch I modified to provide a shaped satin stitch for the stamens. It’s not obvious, but I did quite a bit of stitching on this piece.

Floral Collage -m Finished

I wasn’t sure whether I liked the “raw edge” appliqué – I began by stitching the edge with a very narrow blanket stitch but didn’t like how it looked (it didn’t work with this fabric as well as it did with the printed bark cloth I used for Tropical Flowers); in the end I decided to do just a couple of rows of straight stitching (short stitch length, single embroidery thread) as close to the edge as I could get. Up close the raw edge seems to add to the delicacy of the  petals and leaves.

The lime green inner flange works well to tie the leaves and the greens in the bordering fabric together. While the batik is busy, the inner border separation keeps the flowers from being overwhelmed.

I’m pleased with the overall effect. In this piece I decided to have the flowers spill over into the border – this makes them stand out from the background.

The flowers look a bit like Cosmos, but the foliage is wrong. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to identify the blossoms but haven’t come up with anything definitive. The fabric designer may have just improvised.

The wall hanging is finished with a hidden binding. Final size: 14.5″ x 20.5″.