Friday 2 September 2011

Ready for school

My school days can seem a lifetime away, but as the long carefree days of August slide all too quickly into September I find it easy to imagine myself back in the infant classroom once again.

On the first day back, when everything was shiny and clean, you were met by a pungent smell of disinfectant and floor polish. This soon disappeared of course as the classroom quickly regained its familiar infant aroma mixed with the smell of plasticine and blackboard chalk.

The lucky young children of today enjoy many varied activities but in our small country school the funds and equipment were limited and we used whatever was available in the classroom cupboard. Needless to say, doing anything creative appealed to me and making pictures from gummed paper was an activity I always enjoyed.

Of course, infant play soon gave way to more serious study. Ball point pens were banned and fibre tips hadn't been invented so we all carried bottles of ink in our school bags. Do children ever use fountain pens these days I wonder?

Wooden pencil boxes like this one were very popular during my early years at school. With care you could hide all kinds of bits and pieces inside that would invariably keep you (and your friends) amused whilst the teacher's back was turned.

This particular box belonged to my mum and made me the envy of my school pals for a while as it had a secret lock. As you can see I still have the box so I can show you what made it special.

A narrow ruler slides into a groove on the side of the box and when the ruler is removed a tiny keyhole is revealed. No one else had a pencil box like mine and I treasure it more now that my mum is no longer around. Amazingly the original key has stayed with the box throughout its life.

We all had leather satchels which when filled with books and other paraphernalia could be quite an effort to carry, especially when school was some distance from home. Few mums had cars in those days so you either walked to and from school or caught the bus if the distance was considered too great.

But let's get back to the present . . . . . . .

Belinda Jane has been very busy at the sewing machine this week.

After much cutting, pinning and stitching she produced little drawstring school bags for four little dolls and on each bag she stitched the name of the owner.

Of course each doll wants to pack as much into her school bag as she possibly can. Somehow I don't think there will be much room for books and pencils. 

The bags can be carried in the hand or on the back like a rucksack.

School doesn't begin until next week but each doll has her bag packed and ready for the start of the new term.

If you'd like to make a drawstring bag for a dolly you will find the pattern below. The patterns for the knitted dolls pictured above can all be found in my Etsy shop.

How to make a drawstring bag for a doll
For doll height 30cm - 35cm (12in - 14in)
This bag pattern was designed for my Polly and Kate dolls who are 32cm (13in) high. For slightly smaller dolls simply adjust the length of the bag by about 2cm.
The bags can be stitched by hand or with a sewing machine. I haven't mentioned seam neatening; it is up to you to decide whether you neaten the seams or not.
To make a bag you will need a piece of fabric (gingham is excellent) measuring 32cm x 15cm (13in x 6in). Cut in half as shown below.

With wrong side facing you, fold over 1cm along one short edge of each piece. Press to hold flat. The folded edges will be at the top of the bag.

Place the two pieces together with wrong sides facing out.
Begin the side seams 5cm (2in) down from the top edge of the fabric and 2cm (¾in) in from the sides of the fabric. Stitch to the bottom as shown below.

Keeping the top folds in place, press open the side seams (below).

Fold over the top to the point where the side seam stitching begins. Pin in place as shown below. This makes a casing for the drawstring. Stitch this close to the bottom edge.

Before stitching the bottom seam, place the bag on the doll's back to make sure it isn't too long. If it is then adjust the length to fit.

Pin the bottom edges together. Stitch the seam 1 cm from the bottom edge.

Turn the bag right side out and press.

Cut two pieces of narrow cord (or string) each measuring 60cm (24in).
Start at the left of the bag and thread one piece of cord through the casing all the way round so that it re-appears at the left (see below).

Repeat with the second piece of cord threading it from the right.

You should be able to pull the cords on each side to draw up the bag.

Open the bag and let the cords hang down on each side. Knot each pair adjacent to the bottom corners of the bag (see below)

Stitch the knots to the corners (below)

Pull the cords to draw up the bag.

If you want to put dolly's name on the bag then write it on a short length of white cotton tape (or similar) and stitch the tape to the front of the bag.

Have fun!