Posted on Leave a comment

WoCaR 2023 – Week 1

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here.

Phew! First week over. It’s a trying hurdle to have the first week contain Christmas. But there’s part of me that thinks if I could do this week, I can complete the whole thing!

Here’s a reminder of my pledge

Hopefully straightforward and quite generous with options. Here’s how I got on:

23rd December

I’m already excited about this challenge as it’s finally got me starting a project more than 2 years after buying the materials: V3 of my wearable hot water bottle!

Here are V1 and V2 for reference:

If you’re interested in more information on these, I’ve written up a basic post about them here!

I went with ankara fabric because I love it. Wadding next to the hot water bottle is insulating to help trap the heat; the one against my skin is cotton/bamboo so it breathes a bit.

Keen to get started, I used the only cotton machine thread I had: white!

  • I finished attaching batting to all of the pieces (started on the 21st and 22nd).
  • I finishing cutting everything out (started on the 22nd).
  • I attached binding separately to the front and back in certain areas, so the D-rings could be sewn into the seams between the layers.
  • I attached the D-Rings to the back.
  • I stitched the front bottom section to the back, and attached the binding on the front side with the machine.
  • I even started hand finishing the binding on the back along one side.

Clearly I’m very keen, so I also had a go on a second project: adding a design to a jumper using duplicate stitch. However, this wasn’t as successful: my white thread is too thick. I’m also not sure this is the best approach as duplicate stitch is more labour intensive than I hoped and given the size of my design it’ll be time consuming to finish it off.

24th December

I’ve been having trouble with my hands if I do too much hand stitching and was feeling a bit sore from all the work yesterday, so I did some yoga instead.

Of course I caved later and hand stitched the rest of the binding on the bottom front, and even machine sewed the binding on part of the front top section, pinning it ready for hand finishing when I was feeling more up to it.

25th December

I hand finished about an inch of the binding I machine sewed on the day before (marked with the red arrows). It was Christmas after all!

26th December

I completed hand stitching the binding on the back of the front top piece, then went to sew that top section to the rest of the holder when my machine threw a fit and broke two needles on the bit that included the webbing for the D-ring.

So I took a little pause and decided to clean and oil my Brother sewing machine and Janome overlocker, and change the needles on my overlocker (not pictured).

Any more sewing was on pause until I picked up more needles. Thankfully I was headed to Shrewsbury the next day and could nip into Abakhan.

27th December

Needles (and a few other things) picked up at Abakhan, I finished my wearable hot water bottle cover! Maybe I’ll write a separate post about it, though I probably already covered all the steps of me making it on here.

Not pictured in the first two shots are the straps I use to tie it on like a baby carrier. They’re black so don’t show up especially well against my jumper but look closely for the D-rings.

This probably isn’t my final version, but before I make any more I need to wear this around and wash it a few times to see what happens!

28th December

At a bit of a loose end, I used it for planning. I’d wanted to start on some clothes for myself, but at the moment (and for the next week and a half or so) my dining table will be taken up by a board game my husband and I are playing. That table is my favourite for cutting out, much larger than the one I have upstairs, and it would be a faff to cut out anywhere else.

So in the meantime I thought I’d start another project: my first quilt!

I’d found two charm packs at a charity shop late February/early March 2023. Both Moda, one called White Christmas Metallic, the other Wild Nectar (link to a place that’s sold out but has a nice photo you can zoom right into). I figured using the black and white one would be easier in terms of finding additional fabric, and settled on this pattern by Moda, though under a guise as the charm pack challenge they did in January 2023. I can’t seem to find blog posts about it anymore, but there are some tags on Instagram and references to it on other sites.

I’d bought additional fabric and made a start of deciding how everything would be laid out back in March, but hadn’t cut anything. So today’s project work was playing around with Paint and tweaking the layout. I’d taken photo of the fabric and a screenshot of the quilt layout planner in the PDF, then just eye-droppered tones to get a rough idea. After printing out four or five versions I finally settled on a cutting list.

29th December

I cut out the additional blocks I needed (plus a few extra as I didn’t have the sheet next to me and got carried away!

Plus I played around with layouts, and after another 5 or 6 options I’m debating between one of three layouts.

If the pictures look odd it’s because all the fabric is just squares lightly folded. I laid out half the design on floor of the spare bedroom, faffed for ages, and took a bunch of photos of different options. I used the computer to create full images of all the options. They look better when smaller, and even better if you squint.

And that’s it so far! I’m already very pleased with having finished one thing I planned out ages ago, and can hopefully get a bunch of other things ticked off my making list during the course of this project.

Posted on Leave a comment

Wearable Hot Water Bottle Holder

This is a background post for my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here. You can find all the posts about my Wearable Hot Water Bottles here.

In early 2021 I was freezing. I was spending a lot of time in the converted loft room where we used to live, and the insulation there wasn’t great. In summer I’d have to migrate downstairs after mid-morning, but in winter I tried to tough it out using layers.

One day I had an idea to put a hot water bottle in a tote bag and then wear the handles around my neck. The hot water bottle would stay under my jumper, and it kept me nice and toasty. The main downside was it became a literal pain in the neck after a while.

So after searching high and low for a pattern or ready-to-buy product and not finding anything, I made my own.

Version 1

True to form it worked but it was needlessly complicated. I had to take it on and off over my head (the straps crossed in the back and were sewn together, so I had to wriggle in, then tighten the lower straps on the sides.

It also didn’t have any built-in interfacing, so it lost heat quickly and slightly burned my skin. The latter was resolved (more or less) by wrapping a tea towel around the bottle before putting it in the papoose.

It worked well enough, but I knew it could be better. I wanted it easier to take on and off, and as insulated as possible. But a few things stopped me before I could continue.

Around this time I also took part in my very first Super Seconds Saturday (now Super Seconds Festival). Taking part in the same event was Pothies, who made wearable hot water bottle covers!

I ummed and ahhed about whether to make another version for myself, or support a small business who was making something I loved the idea of, but wasn’t quite sure it met my brief. I hadn’t made a decision by the time it got warm and I no longer needed it, so I parked the project.

Version 2

Of course, it got chilly again.

I was going away in October 2021. My husband and I were headed to Wales, and I’d booked myself on a day-long basket making class. The class was to take place in a chilly room on a farm, made all the more drafty by keeping the doors open. I didn’t mind as I didn’t want to catch Covid, but I decided it was time to make my decision on whether to buy or make my own.

While I loved the idea behind Pothies’ Cosymajig, I wanted mine to be more insulated with the opening somewhere other than the top (heat rises). I liked the strap method of holding it on, but wanted those wear points to be stronger. I also really loved the idea of the hand pocket, as my hands are always the first things to get cold.

I incorporated the lessons I learned from V1 with some ideas from the Cosymajig, and made my V2:

The wadding was wool cool insulation from a cheese gift basket we got in the post. The exterior fabric was scraps from a cushion I’d made using IKEA fabric, the interior some scraps of a duvet cover I’d used to make a dress toile.

I absolutely love it, and still use it at markets and while doing other chilly activities, but there was still some room for improvement:

  • I cut out everything before I quilted it, not realising everything would shrink a bit. It still fit the water bottle, but it’s snugger than I’d like.
  • The insulation was so thick, I couldn’t sew two layers of it on my machine (TBH one layer was a struggle). So I made and bound the front and back separately, attached the D rings to the interior back, then stitched them together by hand.
  • As the wadding wasn’t designed for this, I have yet to wash it. I use it relatively sparingly and it’s never directly against my skin, so it hasn’t really gotten sweaty/smelly. But the next version needed to be washable.
  • I put two D-rings on each side of the top, thinking the strap would stay in position like a belt. It doesn’t, I just tie it and don’t mind. I’ll just use one on the next version.
  • I wear this under a jumper and coat, so the only use the hand pocket gets is holding the straps in when I’m using it as a normal hot water bottle. I’ll remove it for the next version.

But of course, because it worked, I fell to the curse of the usable toile and never continued with version 3.

That is, not until the Winter of Care and Repair 2023.