To celebrate VE Day earlier this month, I wanted to put up some bunting even though we were not doing any actual celebrations. I went to get the bunting from storage and realised that my Mum-in-law still has it – she has it on permanent loan for WI purposes! Since I didn’t view bunting collection as being a critical journey during lockdown, I set about making some more. As I wanted a patriotic look, I rifled through my fabric collection and pulled out all fabrics that had red, white or blue in them – most were offcuts from clothing or other sewing projects – and set to work.
First job is to make a cardboard template for the flag size. You can make the flags whatever size you like – mine were 6” x 7½”. I also cut out a 2” cardboard spacer although you can put the flags next to each other if you prefer. After drawing around the flags, I cut them out using pinking shears, which have a zig-zag edge so prevent the fabric from fraying. I cut the top edge with regular scissors as a reminder as to which edge I needed to sew. It’s easy to get confused when you’re head down in the sewing machine!
I used double fold bias binding to attach my flags. Once the binding was opened up, the flag was laid inside with the top edge against the centre fold, the binding folded over and then stitched along the edge of the binding. After laying the spacer alongside, I then positioned the next flag and stitched that in place. Repeat for as long as you want your bunting to be.
I made two lengths; one each for upstairs and downstairs.
This is a great project to repurpose old clothing or bedding. It’s also very straightforward and quite quick to do making it ideal for beginners or children. So, jazz up your lockdown celebration with some unique bunting!
In last week’s briefing regarding the new rules that may apply coming out of lockdown in the UK, Boris hinted that face coverings will be the way to go. There are a few mask designs online and I tried out a few. The Olsen mask is a widely available free download and there’s another variation at www.craftpassion.com. After making up one of each, I combined the two to get my preferred fit and function. The masks have a filter pocket where an additional layer of protection can be inserted. I’m using Henry Hoover vacuum bags which are made from 3 layers of spun polypropylene. I’m showing two masks as I’m generally making these in pairs: one to wash and one to wear. Hygiene is still key to preventing the spread of this virus, as is social distancing when possible.
Important note: it is vital to remove the nose wire and filter before washing – those bits of wire won’t do your washing machine any good at all!
Disclaimer. These masks are not medically recognised or tested. Use at your own discretion.
The most suitable fabric for the mask is 100% closely woven cotton, like quilting fabric. It needs to be pre-washed at the temperature you intend laundering the mask at, otherwise the mask may shrink when you wash it.
Cut out mask pieces on folded fabric (either right side to right side or wrong side to wrong side) to cut mirrored pieces of each template. Cut 2 each for the mask outer, lining and filter pocket.
Turn ¼” of the straight edges of the filter pocket over twice, press in place and then sew to secure. Turn the edge of the corresponding mask outer and lining pieces over by ¼”. Sew the outer, lining and pocket pieces together along the curved front edge using a ¼” seam. Press seam allowance open or over to one side.
Lining up the seams, baste pocket along top and bottom edges onto the right side of lining within the seam allowance (approx. ⅛” from the edge).
With right side together, stitch mask front to lining, leaving one edge (the one pressed under in stage 2) open for turning.
Turn right side out through the side opening and press. Fold in approx. 1” on each side, press and then stitch in place.
Feed a 10” piece of elastic into the channel created on each side of the mask and tie in a knot (in a position which gives you the best fit). Feed the knot into the channel.
Optional nose wire to provide a better fit closer to the face.
Sew a L-shaped channel ¼” from the top edge of the mask – ensure it is only closed at one end! Take a length of wire about 3½” (I used a paperclip opened out) and turn the ends over using pliers. This will prevent the wire poking through the fabric. Insert the wire into the channel inside the filter pocket.
Cut 2 pieces of your filter material and sew along the curved edge. Open out and insert into the pocket.
This was a little project I happened across last month which I decided to make for my Mum to go with the books I’d got her for Christmas. It’s a really straightforward make; if you can sew a straight line, this will be no problem.
Start with three 4” squares of fabric, two for the square and one for the corner, together with one square and a half square of interfacing.
I used iron-on interfacing which I applied to the back of one of the pair of squares and the triangle of interfacing to the front corner square. The front piece was folded in half and pressed.
The pieces were layered, square – triangle – square, pinned and sewn around with a ¼” seam allowance, leaving a gap for turning. I clipped the corners to give a neater finish once turned.
Once turned the right way out, the bookmark was pressed, turning in the seam allowance of the turning gap, and top stitched all the way around.
The finished bookmark sits neatly on the corner of the book – no more folded page corners!
A major contributing factor to my recent arm problems have been using a computer mouse at work. Admittedly, my mouse technique may have some room for improvement but a quick Google search for “computer elbow pain” reveals that ‘computer elbow’ is a thing. Symptoms are the same as tennis or golfer’s elbow, or if you’re really unfortunate, both simultaneously. I’m really unfortunate! I had heard of these two conditions but had no idea how painful they are – until now. The problem is typically caused by the repeated small, gripping movements needed when holding the mouse coupled with holding the arm in a fixed position for extended periods, often quite unconsciously. Adding to the problem is that using a conventional mouse twists the arm 90° from its natural resting position which puts further strain on the muscles and tendons in the forearm.
I am in no way a medical professional but I have read a lot recently in an attempt to help myself to a) understand what’s going on inside my arm, b) recover and c) prevent a repeat of the problem. I’ve also started using my left hand for ‘mousing’ so I’m keen not to replicate the problems of my right arm in my left. An ergonomic vertical mouse seems to be the recommendation to alleviate this problem as but this isn’t a possibility at work as our mice and software in the Ops Room are not straightforward to change. This prompted me to get my thinking cap on for how to make my own portable ergonomic mouse station. More on that project next week.
My other problem was flexing my wrist to use the mouse. Many mouse mats come with an elevated wrist support so I thought I’d make a support to see if it helps. There seems to be mixed opinions regarding whether they cause more harm than good but I thought I’d try one out anyway. The main advantage I could see was that my hand would be naturally positioned over the top of the mouse and keep my wrist straight.
I started with a rectangle of fabric, folded it in half and sewed around the cut edges, leaving a gap on the long edge for stuffing.
The wrist home-made wrist supports I saw online were more of a flat cushion but as I wanted some height, I boxed the corners.
I filled it with polystyrene beads rather than rice to make it less hard as that appeared to be one of the main negative points relating to wrist supports.
If you’ve ever used polystyrene beads, you’ll know the challenge they present. They are massively affected by static so stick to EVERYTHING!!!
Once I’d wrestled enough beads into the cushion, I pinned the gap and closed with a ladder stitch.
The finished cushion elevates my wrist by about one inch and I’ve found it to be the perfect height for me. It keeps my wrist straight and it’s very comfortable.
Unfortunately, this week I have found myself needing a sling. I’ve had pain in my wrist for some time but now have pain in my elbow and muscle soreness in my upper arm too. The arm in question is my right which my dominant side so it’s quite a challenge to rest it. Whilst I await further medical treatment, I figured the best way to stop me using the arm and causing more pain was to put it in a sling. I tried the basic triangle sling out of the first aid kit but it was very uncomfortable so I decided to make my own. Fingers crossed you won’t need this but should you ever be in need of a sling, here’s how I made mine.
Disclaimer: I have no medical training – use at your own discretion!
First, I measured from the outside of my bent elbow to the middle of my little finger and added 4” onto this measurement. I don’t think there’s any rule about how high to have the sling so I went for about 6½” and added on 1½” for seam allowance and boxing the elbow area.
I cut out 2 rectangles of the correct size, one for the outer fabric and one for the lining. I also used some fusible fleece to give my sling a bit more strength but still be soft – I cut it out about ½” smaller all round than the outer fabric. The rectangles were folded in half along the long side before cutting a curve through both sides at the top corner (I used a Pyrex bowl to trace my curve) on one short side. On the other short side, mark 1” in from the edge along the fold and cut from there to the corner. My pieces looked like this.
The fleece was adhered to the back of the outer fabric as per manufacturer’s instructions. Both the outer and lining fabrics were then folded in half along the long side, right sides together and stitched down the short straight side (without the curve) using a ½” seam allowance.
To make some elbow room (!), I decided to ‘box’ the seam. To do this, fold the seam back so that it lays on top of the centre crease. Mark a line at 90˚ to the seam/crease that is 2” long.
Sew along this line and trim off the excess.
The boxed corner should look like this.
I had a broken luggage strap that I was planning to use for my support strap but I didn’t have any strap sliders 2” wide. To overcome this slight problem, I stitched some 25mm wide webbing strap onto one end as I had 25mm plastic D-rings that would support the front of the sling. I sewed some fluffy Velcro onto the wide section on the strap and the hooky Velcro onto the same side of the thin end of the strap. It’s not easy to see as it’s black Velcro on black strapping!
Cut two 4” lengths of 25mm webbing and fold in half. Place a D-ring onto each piece and position one on each side of the top edge of the sling, just as the curve begins, and pin in place. Match the edges of the webbing to the edge of the fabric. Pin the long strap to the back of the sling, roughly about 2” from the seam. Test for a good fit before sewing in place using a ¼” seam allowance.
Next, with right sides together, pin the outer to the lining, ensuring that all the straps are between the layers and away from the edges. Sew all around the edge using a ½” seam allowance but leaving a 3”opening on the back edge for turning. This method is called “Bagging out” in case you’re interested!
Clip the curved corners so that they will lie flat when turned out.
Turn the sling right side out through the hole in the back seam. It probably won’t look very sling-like at this stage!
Press the seams flat, turning in the seam allowance at the opening. Close the opening with a slip stitch or ladder stitch.
Top stitch all the way around approximately ¼” from the edge. This will keep the outer and lining fabrics in place and provide additional support across the straps.
Lastly, I found that the strap dug into my neck a little so I made a padded cover for the strap. This involved 2 pieces of fabric, one with fleece attached, sewn all the way around minus the hole for turning.
Once turned and pressed, the piece was folded in half and sewn close to the edge, securing the ends well. This formed a tube that the strap could be fed though.
And here’s the finished article! This is my Mark 2 version. The first one wasn’t quite long enough and finished half way down my hand. I felt that with my hand dangling, there wasn’t enough support for my arm to completely relax. The Mk2 version is much better but I’m hoping I won’t be needing it for very much longer.