Baggies!

For a long time I took an apple in my lunch bag every work day. Recently I started branching out more, to fruit that I don’t want floating naked in the lunch bag – cherries, grapes, that sort of thing. There’s no room to add another rigid container, throwing out a plastic bag every day is wasteful, and washing plastic bags is a giant pain. The solution? Fabric! Throw them in the laundry every weekend and you’re set.

sewn "sandwich bags"

These bags are modeled after old fashioned (i.e., non-zippered) plastic sandwich bags and sized after the zip-top kind. You can’t turn them over and shake and expect their contents to stay put, but as a barrier between my clean grapes and my … also clean! lunch bag, they are more than sufficient.

I have made many such bags over the years and I don’t think I’ve every blogged the recipe, which is a shame because they are very simple.

For each 6.5″ square bag cut a 7″ x 16″ rectangle of cotton fabric. Fold the short edges to the wrong side by 3/4″ and then tuck the raw edges under; sew to secure. You are hemming the opening of the bag.

sewn, inside-out bag viewed flat looking inside the sewn, inside-out bag

Fold one short edge to the right side by 1.5″ to form the flap. Bring the opposite short edge up on top of it, almost to the flap fold line. Sew the sides at 1/4″ and then zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

Turn the finished bag right side out and push out the corners. Fold the flap over so only the right side of the fabric shows. Done!

bag partially turned right-side-out bag turned fully right-side-out

Baggie Modifications

two bags with the selvedge showing

If you cut the rectangle with one short edge on a selvedge, you don’t need to fold it down, and your rectangle only needs to be 15.25″ instead of 16″. You can choose whether to have the selvedge inside the flap or at the end of the flap – it’s an artistic decision.

To make bags of different sizes, here is the formula:

Short side of rectangle: Finished width of bag + 1/2″
Long side of rectangle: (Finished height of bag * 2) + flap width + 1.5″

If one of your short edges is pre-finished, you can reduce the long side by 3/4″ — that 1.5″ is two 3/4″ hem allowances.

To be totally clear, for the bags pictured above the measurements were:
Short side of rectangle: 6.5″ + 1/2″ = 7″
Long side of rectangle: (6.5″ * 2) + 1.5″ + 1.5″ = 13″ + 1.5″ + 1.5″ = 16″

There are a couple of things to consider when resizing the bag: you’ll likely want a wider flap for a larger bag but you can’t reduce the flap by as much when making a smaller bag – keep it above 1/2″ wide. Also remember, for a smaller bag especially, that the sewn-down flap makes the opening a little narrower than the body of the bag. I made a small bag like this for a little bamboo eating utensil and sometimes it’s a struggle to get it in and out, though it has plenty of room once it’s inside.

The only key piece of construction is to remember the flap is on the inside when you’re sewing. Enjoy!

Just a simple snow hat

One day last fall I decided to start a project I could just work on in the evenings. I thought a snow hat would be nice – something with a brim to keep my glasses dry. I was remembering some multicolored bulky yarn – white, silver, and blue – but when I went to look for it there was nothing. Instead I combined off-white, gray, and tweedy blue yarn for my own custom bulky yarn.

me in my crochet snow hat

Given the trueness of my purple shirt in that photo I have to imagine I really was that red-faced.

Simple Snow Hat Pattern

Worked with 3 strands of worsted-weight yarn held together and a K hook.

You may find my crochet pattern abbreviations and conventions useful.

1. Fsc 46.
2. Sc 14, sc BLO 18, sc 14.
3-4. Sc around (46).
5. 2sc, sc 4, 2sc, sc 35, 2sc, sc 4 (49).
6. Sc 7, 2sc, sc 11, 2sc, sc 11, 2sc, sc 11, 2sc, sc 5 (53).
7. Sc 2, 2sc, sc 7, 2sc, sc 36, 2sc, sc 5 (56).
8-10. Sc around (56).
11. Sc 17, dec, sc 17, dec, sc 16, dec (53).
12. Sc 5, dec, sc 12, dec, sc 11, dec, sc 11, dec, sc 6 (49).
13. *Sc 5, dec* around (42).
14. *Sc 2, dec, sc 2* around (35).
15. *Sc 3, dec* around (28).
16. *Sc, dec, sc* around (21).
17. *Sc, dec* around (14).
18. Dec around (7).

I might make this again with a change: make rounds 11-13 into four decrease rounds, two of 3 dec and two of 4 dec, and maybe also add another round to the “sc around” block that’s currently 8-10. It should make it a little deeper and less boxy.

I don’t think I recorded the brim, but it was to go across 3 times, starting in the unused front loops of hat round 2. I increased a few times in the middle so the brim would stick out and decreased on each end so it gets slightly narrower.

bottom view of crochet snow hat, showing brim

It’s not as warm as my beehive hat (the second one in that link), but with the mild winter we’ve had it’s seen a lot of use.

Mop covers

Long ago I made crochet covers for my Swiffer sweeper, but I never got much use out of them. They were not as thorough at sweeping as I would have liked, and the normal Swiffer sheets are terrific at their job. That sweeper finally kicked the bucket and I got a Swiffer Wet Jet, unaware that it would not be able to hold the sweeper sheets. Well, for sweeping I’ve gone back to a broom and dustpan.

For mopping, though, I’d been using the Swiffer pads. They are much less good at their job than the sweeping sheets, but my regular sponge mop, which was supposed to squeeze out by folding shut like an alligator mouth, was no better and a lot more aggravating. What to do? Make new pads for the new Swiffer. I thought a smooth flat cotton pad with some acrylic slip-stitch stripes for scrub would work well. I also used acrylic for the upper part to hold it on to the Swiffer, though that choice was more to use up acrylic than anything else. The pad is also held by the velcro on the bottom of the mop.

photo of two crochet mop covers

I started by making two of slightly different size for testing: one that was the full 10.5″ by 4.5″ of the Swiffer itself, and one that was a scant 10″ by 4″. After testing I went with the larger size pattern but dropped a hook size. Size isn’t as crucial as with the sweeper because of the velcro on the bottom.

I soon realized they work much better after multiple washings, so for the remainder (I wanted 5 for the five rooms I mop, plus two spares) I made the cotton panel, put it in the laundry, added the acrylic stripes and upper sleeve, put it in the laundry again, and then put it into service.

My pattern

Your needs may be different depending on gauge! I use a G/4.25mm hook, but also seem to crochet more loosely than average. You may want to change hook sizes, stitch counts, or both.

I make the panel in cotton and the slip-stitches and upper in acrylic. This is mostly to use up acrylic, so if you want to use all cotton, go ahead.

Cotton panel:
Chain 31; make 14 rows of 30 sc. Wash this panel.

Scrub stripes:
Slip-stitch across in the valley between rows 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 9 and 10, and 11 and 12.
After a couple of panels I started slip-stitching from one row end to the next instead of stopping and starting each time.
If you run out of yarn slightly before the end of a row, don’t worry about finishing it. It’s not that important. I do find, however, that these stripes successfully catch gunk, so I wouldn’t leave them off.

Upper cuff:
Starting in the middle of a long edge, join yarn with a sl st, ch 1, and sc around the entire panel.
Join your round when you get back to your starting point and chain up for another. Make four rounds in which you decrease by 2 stitches in each corner. I accomplish this with what I call sk-dec, “skip decrease”: make a regular sc dec but skip a stitch in between the two loops you pull up at the beginning. This takes out two stitches at once with less bulk than sc3tog.
Join your final round and finish off. Wash again!