A Waterproof Cover For Bicycle Basket

basket cover doing it's job in the rain and snow

basket cover doing it’s job in the rain and snow

I took up cycle commuting to work last September and usually plonk my handbag in the basket up front, when it rained I’d shove it in a plastic carrier bag. I do use pannier bags, I have a pair of Ortlieb front roller bags but only use one for work in which I keep my waterproofs, extra gloves and shoes to wear in the office.

basket cover with reflective piping

basket cover with reflective piping

So I needed a simple waterproof cover for the basket. Here’s one you can buy from Georgia in Dublin. This fits like a shower cap. I didn’t think this would work for me as my basket is secured to the handle bars with straps at the top edge.

I found a great on-line site for buying just the fabric I needed. Pennine Outdoor. You can buy everything you need to make your own outdoor gear including all accessories like zippers, reflective trims, elastic shock cord, toggles etc.

waterproof fabric and cord from Pennine Outdoor

waterproof fabric and cord from Pennine Outdoor

I bought this PU coated nylon at £5.75 per metre, along with some reflective piping. I also bought elastic shockcord, a toggle and some 1″ wide elastic, as at this point I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to secure the cover.

I started by taking a pattern for the top shape of the basket. I stitched the reflective piping around the sides and front. I then added a strip to form the side panel. I had to start and finish where the handle bar straps were then I added a small section between these points.

the reflective piping needed to be snipped to get it to sit round the curve nicely

the reflective piping needed to be snipped to get it to sit round the curve nicely

The top of cover fitted great but the sides stood away from the sides as the basket sloped inwards slightly. I had originally thought I would secure the cover to the basket with two loops of elastic which would secure underneath.  I thought about adding narrow elastic to the hem to pull it in slightly and then I went for the shock cord. I had originally bought this and the toggle to make a seat cover. I wasted a bit of time trying to thread the cord though the hem I’d sewn in the panel. It wasn’t going to work but I had enough depth to cut off the hem and do this properly. This took some thinking about 🙂 (don’t try to unpick waterproof fabric, you’ll be left with a load of needle holes).

If I wanted the toggle at the front I’d need to thread it on to the cord first and make a buttonhole for it to exit from.

setting the cord and toggle in position before sewing it in

setting the cord and toggle in position before sewing it in

To secure the ends of the cord to the cover I added a piece of self fabric to each end (I only broke one needle doing this) then secured the self fabric into the hem and stitched the hem with the cord in position.

sewing self fabric to the ends of the cord and then securing the fabric to the hem

sewing self fabric to the ends of the cord and then securing the fabric to the hem

I added some squares of stick on Velcro to the areas just by the handlebar straps but these lasted one journey but actually the cover is secure enough without these.

The cover has been put to the test a few times so far and it’s standing up to the job.

Hopefully this picture shows the reflective piping at work in the dark

Hopefully this picture shows the reflective piping at work in the dark


A ‘Sew Over It’ Pussy Bow Blouse

The first sewing project for 2015 has been the Pussy Bow Blouse pattern from Sew Over It. This is the garment I’ve chosen to make for the 2015 Sewing  / Design and Inspiration Challenge being run by Zoe over at Short Stories of Shapely Seams.

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

January’s challenge was to create a mood board and make a garment inspired from the board. My inspiration came from Mrs Brown’s wardrobe from the Paddington movie. I came out of the cinema just loving her style!

Mrs Brown inspired mood board!

Mrs Brown inspired mood board!

At the same time over at ‘Did You Make That?‘ Karen had been making the pussy bow blouse and I suddenly realised that was the pattern I needed!

The pattern requires fabric with drape, I hadn’t had time to go out to any fabric shops so I tried my luck with e-Bay and found this navy fabric with white stars for £4.99 per metre. It is 100% viscose and when it arrived I was really pleased as it was perfect for this blouse.

From the body measurements on the pattern I cut the size 8 but I needed to shorten the sleeves by 4cm.

Sewing up was far from without problems! The main area I had difficulties with was the area where the bow ties meet at the centre front. I was sewing version 2 where the tie is stitched right to the bottom of the ‘V’. The instructions ask for you to sew up the tie, turning through the ends and leaving an open gap in the middle section to sew around the ‘V’. Unfortunately when I came to attach the tie, the length of  ‘V’ opening was much longer than the open section. I couldn’t unpick the tie because I had trimmed the seam allowance very close to the stitching.

I closed up a bit of the centre front seam but this wasn’t going to solve my problem and the inside was beginning to look a dogs dinner. To prevent the centre front point from turning into a frayed mess I cut a couple of bias strips and stitched on to each side to neaten the seam allowance.

The inside view of the bottom of cf 'V' - before and then after adding bias strips to prevent anymore fraying

The inside view of the bottom of cf ‘V’ – before and then after adding bias strips to prevent anymore fraying

I finally solved the problem by attaching the ties to the neck edge by butting the edges together and using a small zig zag stitch.

A small zig zag stitch was used to attach the tie to the front V point on each side.

A small zig zag stitch was used to attach the tie to the front V point on each side.

I’m not sure what went wrong, maybe I notched the seam allowance of the tie in the wrong position but one thing I did forget to do was to stay stitch the neck edge. It’s something that I usually do but just forgot it this time and it’s not mentioned in the pattern.

Anyway once the neck was sorted the sleeves and the hem were straightforward. The cuff buttons are fastened with a rouleaux loop. It was the first time I’d used my loop turner than I bought yonks ago.

I’m not sure if the sleeve head is supposed to be gathered, it doesn’t show it in the pictures on the pattern but instructions tell you to stitch two rows of gathering stitches. When I came to pin the sleeve head in there was hardly any gather and in the end I used the gathering stitches to easy the sleeve head in to the armhole with no noticeable gathers.

I was a bit underwhelmed when I’d finished but after a few tries on I like the way it fits. The front of the V would probably be an inch lower if I hadn’t tried to sew it up which I think would improve it. I did manage to get to a fabric shop after the star fabric arrived and I bought some more viscose, this time a bright floral print on a black background so I’m going to make up another one as I am determined to get the better of that tie insert! 🙂

I bought the paper pattern rather than the PDF version which was £13 plus £3 P&P. I bought during that slow time between Christmas and New Year and then I wondered if I really needed to spend £16 on a pattern so at that price I’ll definitely be making it more than once!

RTW Fast 2015 & the 2015 Sewing / Design and Inspiration Challenge!

Sarah who runs the blog ‘Goodbye Valentino’ is running the RTW Fast for another year and I’ve joined up again. I believe that this year there are double the amount of pledgers than 2014. Underwear and socks are allowed but the aim is to avoid buying any ready to wear clothing for the year.

2015 fasters badge

I enjoyed taking part last year and found it surprisingly easy – there was the pair of waterproof over trousers but I would say a necessary purchase. I found that being on the fast made me focus more on what I needed to make and by the end of the year I felt I had created a reasonably versatile wardrobe.

Anyone else taking part?
What do you think you’ll miss buying most?
I really need jeans so I’m hoping the Crafty Jeanius course is going to be a success.

I’m also going to take part in Zoe’s 2015 Sewing  / Design and Inspiration Challenge over at her blog ‘Short Stories of Shapely Seams’. Zoe has set up a monthly challenge, which sounds manageable. For January it’s create a mood board and then make a garment inspired by your board. I’ve been working on the mood board and know what I’d like to make, I just need to buy the fabric and I only have two weeks left of January…….

2015 sewing design inspiration challenge badge

Christmas Present Socks

These were my last make of 2014. A  pair of socks as a Christmas present for my other half.
They are knitted in Regia Mix It Color with the toe,heel and cuff using West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply. I did have to buy a 100gm ball for this as the local yarn shop doesn’t sell smaller balls of sock yarn but anyway it’ll do for either a smaller pair of socks or more contrast areas.

Self patterning yarn with contrast heel and toe

Self patterning yarn with contrast heel and toe

These were knitted cuff down with a 1 x 1 rib for 12 rows then stocking stitch. I’ve used the short row heel, which is my heel of choice now. Then finishing off the toe with the Kitchener stitch.

As these were a present I had to do them in secret. I got most of them done when I was away on a business trip for a week. I had a the joy of there and back 12 1/2 hour flights, the return leg was a day flight so whilst I watched in flight films I managed to knit most of the second sock.

They were opened on Christmas morning and much appreciated!  🙂



RTW Fast 2014 – Achieved! (and stuff I made in 2014)


2014 is over and it’s the end of the RTW Fast 2014 (Ready To Wear). I’m confident to say that I achieved the goal of avoiding buying any ready to wear clothes in 2014.

I will come clean, there was one item I did buy, a pair of waterproof reflective cycling over trousers from Aldi for my commute to work. I think these can be excused as they were something I couldn’t have made myself and in the couple of weeks before Christmas were definitely needed. So I reckon that these don’t count.

I found it quite easy to avoid shopping, since having children & less money (due to having children) I don’t often get the chance. It did make me focus on what I really needed in my wardrobe. If I hadn’t been on the fast I’d have bought some new jeans at the beginning of the year as my current two pairs are a bit scruffy but this pushed me towards wearing more skirts and dresses.

There isn’t an official RTW Fast 2015 so I’ll see how long I can go on.

Did I save money?
This wasn’t the main incentive but it would be interesting to know. Roughly totting up what I’ve spent making the items just for me and not including socks I’ve spent about £190. Add to that about £40 on patterns, Coco and Renfew patterns are a large chunk of that but I know that these will be used again and again. So I think I probably did save money. Some pieces were real bargains like this black wool Renfrew with fabric at £4 per metre at the other end of the scale was the Coco where I paid over £17 a metre along with an expensive pattern.

Sewing in 2014
The fast pushed me into making clothes I really needed and in 2014 I managed to make myself 14 items of clothing and knitted myself 3 pairs of socks. This included 3 shirts, 3 dresses, 2 skirts & 6 jersey tees / tops.

I also made 2 items for the children and during May I made 4 bridesmaid dresses, that was one stressful month!

4 bridesmaid dresses - hard work but they looked great finished

4 bridesmaid dresses – hard work but they looked great finished

The overall winners have got to be the 3 dresses, the lady skater, the Lucian Day dress & the Lady skater with the Renfrew cowl. I made the striped Lady skater too late in the summer for it to get much wear but it’s something I know will get a lot of wear next year.

from left to right: Lady Skater dress, Luciene Day dress, Lady Skater with Renfrew Cowl

from left to right: Lady Skater dress, Luciene Day dress, Lady Skater with Renfrew Cowl

There’s no real losers but if I had to pick it would be the red and black Maria of Denmark Kimono tees and the polka dot Renfrew. The issue with all 3 is that the quality of the fabric let them down. The Kimono tees looked saggy after a few washes. The grey tee I made last year still looks fine, as the fabric was a sturdier cotton jersey. The fabric I used for the Renfrew faded really quickly which was a real disappointment.

I was also a bit unsure of the ponte roma skirt when I finished it at the end of November but it’s turned out a surprise hit. It looks great with the black Renfrew and the grey tee. I took it away with me on a business trip and the fabric was great, no creasing.

I am completely converted to hand knitted socks, I still have some shop bought ones but I hardly ever wear them. Hand knitted are more expensive but they will last so much longer. I seem to be relying on self patterning yarn for interest rather than knitting a pattern. I think I need to stretch myself a bit but I can see the love of self patterning yarn continuing. Actually my favourite pair of 2014 were these plain grey socks with the contrast heel and toe.

Hermione's Everyday Socks, toe up with a short row heel

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, toe up with a short row heel

Sewing for 2015……
After all of this year’s makes my wardrobe is looking quite healthy so I don’t feel the need to put myself under too much pressure to get sewing. One thing I’d like to get to grips with are trousers. I’ve recently bought the Craftsy ‘Jeanius’ course and I’m going to tackle copying my Levi’s. I’m a bit apprehensive about this, I really hope they are a success or else it’ll be the thing to break my fast!

Many thanks for reading during 2014, I love being part of the blogging community and keeping up with what you are all making  – Happy 2015 🙂