I heard last week that my smocked evening bag project was a runner-up in a hand sewing contest run by Instructables.
There only was one proper prize (and 25 runners-up), so I had no real expectation of winning even though I am tickled pink with how my bag turned out. There’s still a chance that it will earn me a prize in another Instructables contest, one dedicated to bags. I’ve also entered a shopping tote tutorial into that competition. Fingers crossed!
I’ve opted for a stainless steel mug as my runner-up prize instead of the usual T-shirt because I already have several Instructables T-shirts. I’m hoping that the mug will be suitable for taking on cycling holidays, ie robust but not too heavy. At present we take aluminium camping cups that have to do for everything from cups of tea (when my dear husband consents to cycle across Europe with a travel kettle, which isn’t often) to wine, beer and water – I don’t like drinking out of plastic bottles so you’ll find me beside the bike path carefully decanting water into a cup, much to the amusement of passing cyclists with their camelpacks and other “hydration solutions”. But an aluminium cup looks awful and I don’t feel happy about using mine for anything acidic.
Revitalising a watch
I’m definitely thinking about this year’s cycle tour already. Where will it be? When will we go? Probably because it’s in my mind, I thought immediately of cycling holidays when I found an old Casio watch in a drawer a couple of days ago.
I don’t like to take my “good” watch on the sort of trips that involve sleeping in a different place every night and, potentially, ending up in a ditch through lack of attention after a long day in the saddle. My “cheap” watch is a Swatch on a fabric strap and really too nice to put through the sort of abuse it gets on a bike trip, like sweat, sun lotion and scratches from bushes I’ve strayed too close to. Plus it’s got a large face which leaves me with a big circle of white skin, which then gets burnt when I return home and start wearing my much smaller “good” watch again.
The Casio watch is small and also cheap enough for me not to care if I lose it or wreck it. I think it might even have come free in a packet of something or other. It’s so old that, not only had the battery failed, but the original rubber strap is perished. I bought a new battery to check the watch still worked before doing anything else, and it does. Now I need a strap.
I was going to buy one, but then I realised that I have some thin leather of a similar blue to the case. It’ll need to be used double to give it enough strength and firmness to survive as a strap. I made myself a paper template for the non-buckle end and cut two strips of leather, each with a flap to go through the gap between the case and the springy pin-thing that holds the strap in place. Here’s what it looked like when I was testing the fit.
I could have just cut a double length strap that would fold at the case end, but that would mean a single thickness passing behind the spring pin and with this thin leather it wouldn’t last 5 minutes.
I first stuck down the flap onto the back of the strap piece that will be on the underside, against my wrist, leaving enough of a gap at the fold for the pin to fit through. Then I stuck the second strap piece onto the first, wrong sides together, with the flap curving round over the first flap onto the underside. I trimmed the edges and, hey presto, it looks reasonably OK and it fits. Stage 1 done.
Stage 2 requires more thought, because that half of the strap needs to go round the spring pin at one end and round the buckle at the other. The hinge pin in the buckle isn’t removable, which means I’m going to have to cut the old rubbery strap off it when I’m ready and use the flap technique at that end as well as at the case end. Otherwise, I’d probably have made a double length strap that folded around the buckle, reinforcing it by sticking a small piece of leather on the inside of that fold. Now I’m wondering whether I should use that single-piece-with-reinforcement technique at the case end instead. It would make it much easier to get the two layers to line up properly at the buckle.
In the meantime, I shall wear the watch with the buckle end of the old strap – which isn’t too perished – and my new leather non-buckle end. (Is there a name for that end, I wonder? If I call it the strap that doesn’t seem right, because the whole caboodle is a strap.) First I need to punch some holes in it, and that’s a problem too because I don’t have a tiny enough punch. Maybe a nail would do it, unless I can find a miniscule steel cylinder that I can sharpen.