Across the field, I can hear the churning of a tractor as a monk cuts silage to store for the cows’ winter feed. Off in the distance among the trees, I hear the hum of a chainsaw bucking logs as a couple of brothers gather wood to store for the toasty winter fires in the monks recreation room.
Beyond the lake, I hear the tapping of a hammer as a monk fashions a field gate into repair to protect the half-acre vegetable garden from the bear, deer, and the 30 cows the monks raise for beef. Just past the 50-year-old azaleas and roses, a smell of burning iron is wafting along the pathway as the final grinding and welding is done on a new iron gate.
Today is a beautiful day in May and the monks are busy working here and there on the lovely Abbey grounds.
A Solution to Protect Safety GogglesWhen the monks at the Abbey need to cut wood, trim and mow grass, mend fences, and weld gates, they wear safety goggles to protect their eyes and ear plugs to protect their ears. Not too long ago, a brother asked for a pouch of sorts in which to store his safety goggles and ear plugs to protect them from scratches and getting lost.
After designing a pouch and presenting it to him, he showed the other brothers. I soon had orders for five more pouches, some of rip-stop nylon and some of cotton weave.
Sewing has been a part of my life since I made my first dress in a scout troop in fourth grade. I enjoy sewing and consider it a hobby I can do anywhere, being able to hand sew and machine sew. I mend my husband’s and my clothes and the monks’ cassocks as well.
I measured a pair of safety goggles for the size of pouch needed and estimated the area needed for a few pair of ear plugs. They requested to have some pouches made of rip-stop nylon in order to use out in the fields and possible inclement weather. Other pouches they asked me to make will be made of cotton weave to use while welding, as cotton will not melt when sparks from welding land on it. The following directions are my own design and are suitable for either the rip-stop nylon or the cotton weave.
How to Make a Nylon PouchPlease refer to the photos for a better understanding of these cutting and sewing descriptions.
Cut four pieces of fabric, two 5-by-4 inches and two 5-by-8 inches. I always make the pouches multi-colored with one color on the top and one color on the bottom. This is both for a fun look and for quick identification of which end holds the goggles and which end holds the ear plugs.
The black tabs, which help gloved or cold hands to open the pouch, are 2.5 inches and each pouch needs four of these, two for each end. The strings, used to cinch the pouch shut, are 16 inches long. There are two strings at each end inserted in different directions, for a total of four strings that are 16 inches long each.
Use a half-inch seam unless otherwise indicated. With right sides together, sew a large piece of fabric to a small piece of fabric along the 5-inch edges.
To make the casing on each of the four edges, turn down three-quarters of an inch and sew ¼-inch along edge to complete the casing. If your fabric is cotton, or otherwise frays, turn under ¼-inch and then turn the ¾-inch to prevent fraying while in use.
To sew on the black tabs, fold a 2.5-inch strip in half. Place it on the right side of the fabric just below the casing in one of the corners. Sew to secure. Do this on all four corners of the right side of one side of the pouch.
Sew down the length of the sides, with right sides together. Start at the bottom of the casing. Do not sew through the casing ends, as that would cause the casing to be closed off and you would be unable to thread the cord through.
There is a seam between the small pouch and a large pouch. Sew a seam on the outside right on top of the seam which holds the two colors together. When you’re finished, you will have two pouches rather than one tube.
Feed the 16-inch small cord through the eye of a closed small safety pin, and then feed the safety pin through the casing.
Feed the cord through one end of the casing all the way until it comes out the other end of that section. Insert the cord into the adjacent section all the way to the end of that section. When you’re finished, both of the cord ends should be coming out the same side.
Adjust the cord ends so they are even. Knot the ends together. Do the same in the opposite direction on the same casings. This gives you the ability to pull the knots in opposite directions to close the pouch and then pull the tabs to re-open the pouch.
Mary Ann Reese has been a freelance writer for many years and is published in several magazines. She and her husband are Benedictine Oblate missionary volunteers at an abbey, where they serve with the seminarians and monks. Read all of Mary Ann’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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