Friday, February 5, 2010

How to make a walker's carry-all

A friend who had an accident over the holiday has graduated to a lightweight walker and, some days, a cane or two - good news! unless she needs to carry something.

So I made her a little bag yesterday, something she can sling across her body and fill up with odds and ends. Here's how to make one yourself:

First, cut two 20" x 20" squares of fabric (or any other size that suits you.) If you're lucky enough to have fabric that looks nice on both sides - a tea towel maybe, or pieces from a big felted wool sweater - you only need one square.

Next, put the right sides together and stitch all the way around, leaving a gap through which to pull the right side back out again.

Note: creating all these extra layers will come back to bite you if you have a very dull sewing needle and/or use recycled fabric you've accidentally left a seam in. But I am proof you can get away with loving the fabric in those old IKEA pillowcases enough to miss that one seam and being too lazy to dig through the sewing box for a new needle.

When you have the right side out,

tuck in the unstitched gap and iron it, along with the rest of the square, flat.

Do not worry if you have an unseemly line left over from your potentially repurposed fabric's previous life, or stabbed yourself and bled on the fabric, or discover too late some other disfigurement, such as this faded fold line:

Simply set that side of the square face down, then fold the bottom of the fabric up almost in two.

Then fold the upper front part down a little, like you're turning the top of a sheet down over a blanket.

Fold the lot over sideways, right side to right side,

and stitch down the side opening from top to bottom. (yes, this is the bitey part.)

Celebrate victory by ironing the pouch flat so that there is a nice pressing line down the side opposite the seam.

When you are done bathing your wounds, cut a strip of fabric about 47" long. The wider you cut it, the easier it will be to work with later. I do not recommend anything less than 4.5" wide (shown here) unless you enjoy turning 47" of shoestring inside out. 6" is probably smart.

Folding it right side to right side to make a very long strip, stitch the length of the strap reasonably close to the edge but not so much so that it will open and fray during use. Then turn it right side out again. A long dowel may assist in reducing the madness-inducing potential of this exercise. Then press it flat so that the seam runs down the centre of one side. Fold up the unbound ends enough to be caught by a row of stitching and press those, too.

Using the pressing and seam lines of the pouch as a guide, centre the ends of the straps immediately above the folded top of the lower pouch opening.

Stitch the overlapping area with as much reinforcement as you can stand.

Then stitch a seam straight across the bottom of the pouch, closing the centre pocket.

Note: especially if you are lucky enough to have a free-arm machine, you may wish to run a seam along the unsewn side of the bag before stitching up the bottom, to separate the shorter front and back pouches from each other; in this version, things could potentially travel from the front pocket to the back.

Et voila! A lightweight three-pocket messenger pouch, big enough for such essentials as a portable phone with pen and paper, or reading material and cookies.


Karen said...

Sweet! Rachel actually has that exact pillowcase, and loves it.

Playground Confidential said...

Oh my. Reading this is enough to make me rush out to the dollar store for a cheap satchel. (Not nearly as pretty or well-made, of course.)

But Mary, I do love your use of language. After too many hours spent reading people's Twitter updates in 140 characters or less, it is so nice to slow down and read about the proper way to sew a bag -- written properly.

Sally Anne said...

OH I LOVE it, Thanks so much Mary for such a great tutorial.

Mary Keenan said...

Glad you guys like it! So does the gal I gave it to, thank goodness.