Week 3... how’s it going?
So we’re into week 3 of self-isolation, working from home where possible and the school holidays are well underway for the children. How are you doing? Maybe you are working in the thick of it, finding life stressful and frightening or perhaps you are just feeling isolated, as if this is all happening to someone else, somewhere else.
I have to be honest, I’m limiting my news watching at the moment for my own sanity but I have been aware of just how hard our NHS staff are working, both on the frontline and behind the scenes, making it all happen. That is when I realised the desperate need for scrubs; tops, trousers, hats and masks as nurses are having to change and launder their uniforms much more frequently to avoid contamination amongst themselves and their patients.
An amazing nurse called Ashleigh Linsdell based in Boston, Lincolnshire has made a plea to home sewers to dust off their machines and get making. Hundreds of folk are stepping up and producing scrubs and also laundry bags for the scrubs to be washed in. The idea is that nurses and doctors can take off their scrubs at work, pop them straight in the laundry bag, draw it closed and put it all in the washing machine together, when they get home. This way there is a lower risk of transferring the virus to their families. The bags (and scrubs) need to be laundered at 60 degrees so need to be cotton or poly/cotton and should be large enough to take a full set of scrubs.
So I thought I would share a nice quick way of making a drawstring bag. You too can join the effort and donate to the NHS through your local coordinator ‘For The Love Of Scrubs’ on Facebook or you can just make them for yourself. They make ideal shoe bags, ballet bags or use one for your swimming kit.
A friend very kindly donated some good quality white cotton sheets and duvet covers to the cause, which I’ve used here. I used printed cotton for the drawstrings as I could get 12 bags cut from the duvet cover almost exactly, so I delved into my stash for the ties.
The bags need to be quite big, approximately 46cm (18”) square or larger. You can always cut two rectangles and seam them together at the sides and the bottom but I cut one long rectangle 50cm wide x124cm long (20” x 49”) and folded it in half so the fold is along the bottom.
To make your bag:
First make your ties.
I have made my bags with two ties, which makes it much quicker and easier to pull up.
Each tie needs to be slightly longer than the circumference of your bag. I cut strips on the straight grain, 4cm x 110cm (or the full width of your fabric).
Remember how we made bias binding? Using your bias binding maker or the ‘pin in the ironing board method’ (see earlier blog for a refresher), fold the edges in towards the centre, then fold in half again to make a strip about 12mm (1/2”) wide. Fold the ends inside and stitch along the long edge and across the ends.
Once your ties are made you can start making the bag.
I overlocked the two long edges first as the seams need to be finished so they don’t fray in the wash. If you don’t have an overlocker, you can zigzag the edge. Don’t be tempted to do a French or ‘run and fell‘ seam here as the seams need to be pressed open for this method.
Fold your rectangle right sides together and stitch your side seams. You must leave an opening for your drawstrings so stitch from the top for 6cm, backstitch then leave a gap of 2.5 cm. Start stitching again with another backstitch and continue stitching to the bottom edge.
For a bag with 2 ties you will need to leave an opening on both side seams.
Press the seams open. You should see your opening 6 cm down from the top edge.
Next, fold and press the top over to the wrong side by 2.5 cm all the way round.
Now here’s the clever bit...
Insert the first tie from the wrong side through one opening in the side seam. Take the tie all the way round the bag and feed the other end through the same hole. Repeat the process with the second tie through the opening in the other side seam. Your ties will overlap each other.
Now you can fold the hem over again, this time by 3cm and press in place enclosing the ties in position inside the top hem.
Stitch the hem close to the folded edge taking care not to stitch through your ties and without catching the ends of your ties underneath either (that happened to me a couple of times!)
If you are concerned about catching the ties in your stitching, you can always stitch your hem first then thread your ties through the channel using a safety pin. Take one tie through one side seam and the second tie through the other side seam. This takes a little longer but has the same end result.
Turn your bag to the right side and securely knot the ties together on each side. Pull both ties at the same time to close your bag.
A really handy bag with endless uses!
You and follow the progress of ‘For The Love Of Scrubs - Our NHS Needs You’ on Facebook.