Freeform Cotton Triptych

We need a new bathmat. I threw out the purchased one because it was dirty and unwashable, and now we’re using a terrycloth one I made for my husband in his previous apartment – which had a tiny bathroom, and hence the bathmat is tiny. Of course I long ago planned to make a new bathmat. Where do we stand now?

crocheted cotton panels for bath mat

(No pun intended.) Three crocheted panels out of cotton yarn, to be joined with broad strips into a large rectangle, backed with another layer for thickness, and bordered all around to finish. They are in order of creation, left to right.

I had a few ideas that would have made a patterned mat, stripes and ridges and so forth, but when I tried them out I didn’t really care for them. Then I made the little cream-colored square with the spiral ridge, and thought, why not freeform?

I’m not sure I’d really done any freeform crochet before this. It was an interesting challenge. My thought with the first panel was to add L-shaped regions around the starting square until it became whole-bath-mat-sized, but that became boring and I struck out in a new direction for fun. With the later panels the challenge was thinking of things to do that were different. When truly stuck I would try to come up with the most disruptive thing I could do, in terms of the flow of stitching. Then trying to smooth things out again would prompt creative crochet.

Oh, and incidentally, I way overbought for this project. I looked at bathmat patterns on Ravelry to see how much yarn they typically used, and ended up purchasing 5 skeins of the cream and 3 of each of the three other colors. The three panels pictured took far less than a single skein of each!

Drawstring Sachets

My sister wrote to brainstorm remedies for a stale closet, and in that conversation I offered to make some muslin bags for baking soda, dry rice, or scented materials. They are simple but not boring so I wanted to share the instructions.

small muslin drawstring bags

For each bag you’ll need two 4″x7″ pieces of muslin and two 4″ lengths of 3/4″ to 1″ wide ribbon. You’ll also need two matching lengths of narrower ribbon (1/4″ is appropriate) to form the drawstring. This is a matter of taste, but mine ranged from 16″ to 25″ long – the closed bag in the photo is the shortest drawstring.

drawstring bags first steps

1. Prep the wide ribbons: Fold the ends to the wrong side by 1/4″ and tuck the corners under; sew to secure (doesn’t have to be pretty because it won’t show).

2. Prep the muslin: Fold the top edge to the wrong side by 1/4″ twice; sew to secure.

3. Attach the wide ribbons: Fold the ends of the ribbon in once more and place the ribbon on the right side of the muslin, 3/4″ down from the folded edge and centered horizontally – for me this put the ribbon ends just under 5/8″ in from the fabric edge. Sew along the ribbons’ long edges.

drawstring bags later steps

4. Attach the halves: Place the muslin right sides together and sew at 1/4″ along the three raw edges. Turn (I have some advice below).

5. Make an “inside-out French seam”: Sew again at 1/4″ along the sides and bottom of the bag. Be sure to avoid catching the ends of the wide ribbons in your stitching! This is for looks, but also to help prevent baking soda or other finer materials from sneaking out through the seam, between the two pieces of fabric.

6. Make the drawstring: Thread one narrow ribbon through both wide ribbons, so that its ends emerge on the same side of the bag; tie an overhand knot to join the ends. Thread the other narrow ribbon likewise, but so its ends emerge on the opposite side.

clean corner turning for drawstring bags

Advice on clean corners when you turn the bag at the end of step 4: I tend to clip my corners when I am going to turn boxy shapes, but I worried that it would defeat the purpose of the double seam a bit, so I used a method I read about ages ago.

Fold the seam allowances to the same side, as shown in the photo, and pinch them in place – finger up at the corner between the bag layers, thumb on the seam allowances (probably folding the top bag layer down to reach). Rotate the corner outward. If all goes well you should even find the extra bulk helps push the corner out cleanly without much effort from you.

Put a pin through the first corner while doing the second one, for safekeeping. I found this easiest to do when the bag was mostly turned, and I had just pulled the relevant corner up a bit.

For the record, my thoughts on stale closets are: baking soda before any scented things, to remove bad smells without also removing good ones; dry rice if moisture might be part of the problem; and then whatever scented things you might like, perhaps still mixed in with rice. The Upper Valley Co-op actually had rosebuds available in their bulk spices, which was pretty nifty, and after smelling a whole lot of jars I also picked out cinnamon chips (not the chocolate-chip-style things, but cinnamon bark in smaller pieces), whole cloves, lavender, and spearmint. I would also consider whole allspice, dried citrus peel (in wide strips, not little grinds), and maybe whole nutmeg broken apart with a hammer. If you wanted to go really simple, Yogi brand tea comes in some strongly-scented flavors — you could just hang some teabags up!

A Modicum of Progress

It hasn’t even been that long, but I think I can call my box problem conquered.

box collection before thinning my box collection, thinned down

The intention with splitting the boxes into two areas in the “after” picture was that boxes remaining from the original image would be to the left, and to the right would be boxes emptied/remembered/unearthed meanwhile, but I don’t think I got that quite right – in particular I can’t find the wooden cigar box in the “before” picture.

I put the mailing materials (large flattened boxes, envelopes, the largest of the assembled cardboard boxes) back in the closet to await use, but otherwise everything that disappeared from picture 1 to picture 2 is in use or went to the thrift store, recycling, or trash. The two shoebox-sized containers not shown in the “before” picture were halved: one of them was an actual shoebox and has been recycled.

Next post will be a short and sweet tutorial… for small bags. Stay tuned!