Ten Basic Zipper Pouches

Ten Basic Zipper Pouches

Sewed 10 basic zipper pouches last week.
Now I have a sewing-headache.
Am I a wimp?
There’s a reason I avoid making anything in large quantities…
I just temporarily forgot.
Nevertheless, it was for a good reason.
It started with wanting to help a local outreach program.
I’m crappy at the face to face stuff.
But when I learned that this ministry had need of supplies to hand out to young women,
I thought,
“Here is something I can help with.”
Went shopping for items to create toiletry kits.
Tooth brushes and tooth paste.
Nail files and clippers.
The request for help called these supplies “Hope in a Bag.”
And suggested the items be bagged in recycled grocery bags.
Could have done that.
If these bags of supplies are given out as a message,
Wouldn’t it be better to present the items in something durable, reusable and a pretty?
Could taking the time to sew a zipper fabric bag to place everything in add to the message?
To tell a young lady that people care.
That she is worth something.
I figured “maybe” was enough of an answer.
And got to work.
 I wanted each bag to measure 12 inches across by 15 inches long.
I use this sized bag as “project bags” to hold my various knitting and crochet projects.
They fold flat when not use.
But are roomy enough to hold a couple skeins of yarn and most works in progress.
In this case, 
Each bag was plenty big enough to hold the toiletry items I put together.
 With room for a few other personal items should the need arise.
Below are my notes and tips for making these basic zipper pouches.
  •  To make one pouch, you will need one standard 12-inch zipper and two pieces of cotton fabric; each cut into a 13.25-inch by 16.25-inch rectangle.  I recommend cutting the fabric using a rotary cutter, quilting ruler and a large cutting mat.
  • Sew with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.
  • The zipper is sewn to one of the 13.25-inch sides of the fabric rectangle.  Let’s call this fabric edge the “zipper-edge.”
  • Before attaching the zipper, I finished the “zipper-edge” of the fabric rectangle with the serger.
  • Center the zipper to “zipper-edge” of one fabric rectangle.  Right side of zipper should face right side of fabric.  Sew zipper to zipper edge of fabric.
  • Repeat with second edge of zipper and second piece of fabric.
  • Press seams along both sides of the zipper.
  • Once the zipper is attached to both pieces of fabric, open the zipper midway.  Then pin the edges of the bag body together, right side to right side. 
  • Sew the remaining three edges of the bag body together.
  • Serge the three sides to finish the edges.
  • Weave serged thread ends into the stitches and trim as necessary.
  • Flip bag right side out.
  • Press.
 It’s a bit of a process.
I tried to speed things up a bit by working factory style.
I cut the fabric for all ten bags at once.
Then serged all “zipper edges.”
Then moved onto zippers…
You get the picture.
Even so, it was slow going.
(or hec, maybe I’m just slow).
I worked for three afternoons.
At least three hours and change each time.
Finished and filled ten bags.
 This is going to be an ongoing thing.
Just need to figure out the “how many” and “how often” part.
In the meantime,
Hoping these first ten toiletry bags and kits can be of some little help.

February Works in Progress

February Works in Progress

 It’s one of those ADHD kind of making weeks.
I’ve been flitting about from one project to the next.
Working a little here and a little there.
All systems firing.
But no finished products to share today.
Still working on this prayer shawl.
Thirty inches done.
Thirty inches to go.
My goal is to finish this by end of the month.
Sure would like the intended recipient to receive it before spring hits.
 When I get tired of knitting,
I jump over to the crocheted prayer shawl counterpart.
This one will be donated through the Caring Threads ministry to
someone “needing encouragement in the face of life’s challenges.”
I’ve also pulled out a bunch of fabric from my fabric stash.
Need to make ten zippered project bags ASAP.
More on these next time.
Once the zippered project bags are finished, filled and given away,
I’ll be decorating this little wooden bird house.
To go with last week’s birds sitting pretty in the powder room.
It’s a happy making week.
A Different Kind of Family Adventure – Serving in the Soup Kitchen

A Different Kind of Family Adventure – Serving in the Soup Kitchen

When I think of “family adventure,” I usually think of palm trees and sand.  Or Mickey Mouse.  Or even an exciting day trip to visit a new exhibit at one of our wonderful NYC museums.
I can’t say I’m thinking about a downstairs school cafeteria painted institutional green and yellow.  Nor am I thinking about processing mountains of frozen fish or chicken.  Or figuring out how on earth I’m supposed to stretch 2 big cans of tuna into 50 sandwiches.
But, as I take a moment out of our frenzied holiday preparations to ponder this, I realize that my family’s trips to a local soup kitchen should absolutely count as one of our great adventures.
We volunteered for the first time at the Xavier Mission Welcome Table last Christmas.  We had no idea what to expect.  We only knew that since our children were underage, we could help only in the preparation (but not serving) of that Sunday’s meal.  We signed in at 8:45am,  put on aprons, hair nets and gloves and then were put to work at various tasks.  All four of us worked hard at different jobs all morning, but I think my husband’s job of cooking a vat of chili in a ginormous pot had to be the most impressive.
Fast forward one year later.  We’re still volunteering once a month at the Xavier Mission Welcome Table.
The soup kitchen serves 1000+ people a hot meal every Sunday.  But the boys and my primary responsibility each visit is to make 50 bagged lunches to hand out to those who need something to take away instead.
Some months, there is plenty of food and then bagged lunch making goes lickety-split.  Other months, it seems that we’ve run short on everything except packs of salt, pepper and ketchup.  That’s when I want to pull my hair in frustration and sadness because I’m imagining that hungry someone squeezing ketchup out on a dry roll and thawed lunch meat trying to make the food palatable.
Once we finish our primary lunch packing task, we look to our Sunday’s coordinator (the ever cheerful Jennie) to see how else we can help.
The boys are often set to wrapping utensils and salt/pepper packs in napkins.
They also separate and sort plastic bags and take out containers.
Occasionally, we’re asked to pour and stack cups of juice.  By the way, pouring and stacking 1000+ cups of juice in light weight plastic cups is not a trivial job…. 
The most physically tiring job I’ve done thus far was chopping up giant round loaves of donated artisanal bread for folks to take home with them.  I really mean giant… and heavy… as in the loaves could have doubled as door stops…

On the months my husband joins us, Jennie teases him about his strong biceps and sends him straight to the kitchen to chop chicken, potatoes, onions and whatever else needs chopping… you know I get a big kick out of this, right?  Especially since his one dish he makes at home is “cooking” packages of ramen…

It’s amazing to see all the volunteers who show up month after month to help out with this Sunday meal.  Some of the folks have been volunteering 20+ years.  I am inspired… touched… humbled.

My boys take this once-a-month morning’s work very seriously.  They rejoice with me when there is food to distribute.  And share my frustration when there is not.  They look for ways to be helpful.  And wonder if there are ways to be more efficient.  They pack, sort, clean and learn.  And I hope they understand.  Of course, soup kitchen must be counted as an important family adventure.

Double Crochet Scarf

Double Crochet Scarf

Finally finished the scarf to go with that Pierrot Pattern Crocheted Cap.  I thought I’d have this done in no time, but kept dropping stitches and then not noticing it til a foot or two later.  I ended up unraveling and redoing chunks of this thing over and over again…. in the future, I’ll have to remember:
  • Do not rush.
  • Do not crochet when half asleep.
  • Do not crochet in the dark (maybe you can, but I’m just not there skill-wise).
  • Do not crochet when really distracted.
  • Periodically count stitches in the row being crocheted.
  • Make sure to look over the piece every couple of rows or so to check for dropped stitches or other snafus.

I’ll admit to much muttering and some cursing as I unraveled and redid parts of this scarf.  But I think it’s worth it to go back to fix a mistake.  Especially since this set is being donated through the KnitTogether group (a Hope for New York affiliate)  to someone in need this holiday.

I really like the simple clean look of both the cap and this scarf.  Hoping whoever receives it will enjoy it and be warmed up a little both inside and out by it.

For anyone interested in making this scarf, here are the pertinent details:

  • I used a US G (4mm) hook
  • I used 2 skeins of Cascade 220 yarn
  • Chain 25 plus 1 more for a turning chain
  • Single crochet 2 rows
  • Switch to double crochet until scarf is to desired length.  I chained only 2 for my turning chains (instead of the standard 3 for double crochet) and treated these turning chains as the first stitch in each row.
  • End with 2 rows of single crochet.
  • Add in scalloping at both scarf ends.  There are many tutorials available on line for how to do this.  I referenced this one.
  • And, of course, finish by weaving in all yarn ends.
  • My finished scarf measures 6 inches wide by 70 inches long.
Pierrot Pattern Crocheted Cap

Pierrot Pattern Crocheted Cap

Less than 18 hours before we head out of NYC for our annual Thanksgiving vacation.  So you know what that means, right?  Yes, once again, I am frantically trying to finish just one more crochet project while doing laundry, packing and cleaning perishables out of the fridge… Why do I do this to myself?

This cap is super cute, huh?  I’m very partial to Pierrot Yarn designs.  I found the pattern for this particular cap (29-210-24 Cap) while browsing around on Ravelry.  A few maker details if you’re going to try this:

  • I used one skein of Cascade 220 yard and a US G (4 mm) hook
  • I increased only to 105 stitches on the round
  • I was a little worried the hat would still be too loose, so I worked the chains quite tightly on the three rounds of edging.

I still have three feet to go for the matching scarf (instructions coming soon).  Then this set will be donated through the Knittogether group (an affiliate of Hope for New York) to those in need this Holiday season.

Now, much as I would love to sit down to finish that scarf too, I’m making myself save that bit of crocheting for tomorrow morning’s plane ride.  Time to run through the rest of my day-before-traveling checklist!

Basic Knit Hat

Basic Knit Hat

Sometimes basic is best.  Especially when I’m trying to complete a project quickly and I want to set my hands on automatic.

Case in point?  Making hats for my Knittogether group.  Like I mentioned in my last post, some of the ladies in the group can knit circles (and cables and all sorts of interesting patterns) around me.  While I am very interested in working more complicated patterns, I’m also trying to make as speedily as possible before our Holiday deadline.

Here’s the pattern I’m using to create my very basic knit hat.  I like it because I can plug in a movie at the end of the day & just zone out while my hands make.  I also think the end product is really cute and flattering.  Hope whoever receives this particular hat likes it as much as I do (so tempted to keep this one for myself…)


  • For hat body:  1 skein worsted weight yarn (I used Cascade 220 Superwash in the light blue)
  • For hat ribbing:  Scrap worsted weight yarn in a contrasting color (I actually used the slightly thicker Cascade Eco+ wool in this gorgeous bright green)
  • A set of US #8 double pointed needles


  • Cast on 80 stitches.  I cast onto 3 of double pointed needles:  20 on the first, then 30 on each of the other two needles.
  • Join the work in the round.  Be sure the stitches are not twisted.
  • Place a marker so you know where the start of your round is.  When knitting, I use the closed circle markers slid directly on to the knitting needle.  I slide my marker onto the needle after the first 2 stitches at the start of the round.
  • To create the ribbing, just *knit 2, purl 2* for the first 10 rounds.
  • On round 11 –  Switch to knitting only.
  • On round 12 – Change to using your full skein of main colored yarn to create the body of the hat.  Again, use only knit stitch.
  • Continue to knit your rounds for 5 to 6 inches.  In case you didn’t know:  When you continuously knit in the round, you end up with stockinette stitch.  When you use only the knit stitch with the standard two knitting needles, you end up creating a garter stitch.
  • If you want to make your hat slouchier, you can continue knitting a few more inches.  Keep in mind though, that it will take 17 rows (about 2.5 inches) to form the crown of the hat
  • To form the crown of the hat, I decrease by 8 stitches at a time on every other row.
  • Decreasing round 1: Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 9th stitch.  You should end up with 72 stitches on this round.
  • Decreasing round 2:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 3: Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 8th stitch.  You should end up with 64 stitches on this round.
  • Decreasing round 4:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 5:  Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 7th stitch.  You should end up with 56 stitches on this round.
  • Decreasing round 6:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 7:  Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 6th stitch.  You should end up with 48 stitches on this round.
  • Decreasing round 8:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 9:  Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 5th stitch.  You should end up with 40 stitches on this round.
  • Decreasing round 10:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 11:  Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 4th stitch.  You should end up with 32 stitches on this round.
  • Decreasing round 12:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 13:  Use only knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 3rd stitch.  You should end up with 24 stitches on the round.
  • Decreasing round 14:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 15:  Use only the knit stitch.  Knit 2 together every 2nd stitch.  You should end up with 16 stitches on the round.
  • Decreasing round 16:  Knit the entire round.
  • Decreasing round 17:  Knit 2 together.  Repeat this 8 times.  You should end up with 8 stitches on the round.
  • To bind off the last 8 stitches, cut the yarn leaving a longish tail (about 10-12 inches).  Thread the tail of the yarn though a tapestry needle.  Then run the yarn through the remaining stitches as you pull the stitches off the knitting needles.  I make 2 complete loops through all 8 stitches.  Gently tighten on the tail to pull any remaining hole closed at the top of the hat.
  • Weave in all loose ends of yarn.
  • And voila!  You are finished.