Sewing A Gift that Grandma Will Use

What does Grandma really want?
What does Grandma really want? | Source

What Grandma Wants

The most important thing that seniors want is the gift of your time. Beyond that, are you wondering what to get for Grandma when a holiday or a birthday rolls around? If you're at a loss for gift ideas, this year, get a head start on making something that will be put to good use.

Perhaps you have a friend recovering from surgery who uses a walker to get around. One of the challenges is having a place to store small items and carry them when both hands are occupied.

This walker organizer is something you can make that will be used and appreciated every day.

Watch for Patterns to Go on Sale

Sewing patterns go on sale at the fabric store for a fraction of their marked price.
Sewing patterns go on sale at the fabric store for a fraction of their marked price.

Where To Start

Start by finding out which colors and designs are her favorite. Ask if she likes flowers, plaids or stripes. Maybe she's a candidate for an animal print; something to bring out the tiger in her. The fabric store is the best place to get ideas and now is the time.

For the dedicated and experienced person who sews, this project will take a couple of days. The lines are simple and the various pieces to make this organizer are few.

A Gift that Gets Used Everyday

This organizer attaches to the walker with fabric straps held in place by Velcro strips.
This organizer attaches to the walker with fabric straps held in place by Velcro strips.

Finding the Pattern

There are a number of sources where you can find craft patterns. My favorite is Hancock Fabrics where I get most of my fabric.

They run a special every few months where they sell patterns for only ninety-nine cents ($.99) each. That's a real bargain compared to the suggested retail of almost seventeen dollars ($16.95) for this walker organizer.

This Simplicity pattern was ordered online from eBay for around seven dollars ($7.00), arrived promptly on my doorstep and came with free shipping.

Laying out the Pattern to Match the Design

The first part is to lay out the pattern on the fabric and cut it out.
The first part is to lay out the pattern on the fabric and cut it out.

Buying the Fabric

Once you have the pattern in hand, you can check for the amount of fabric you'll need for the project. While you're at the store, pick up the notions like thread and the double-fold bias tape to match.

I was lucky to find a sale on notions where these things were marked half off. If you plan things ahead of time, you might just find the fabric on sale as well.

What I used was double sided, quilted fabric in a color that I knew Mom would like. Be sure to buy enough for matching any designs if you choose a fabric with an obvious pattern.

Reading the Instructions

Reading the directions before making the cut is important.
Reading the directions before making the cut is important.

Organizing the Pieces

Begin by ironing the pattern pieces flat using a warm setting on the iron to get out the creases and folds in the paper. It really makes things easier.

Determine the specific pattern pieces that you'll need for your project and put the extras back in the envelope. It's a good idea to cut apart the individual pieces that are printed on the same sheet. That helps when laying out the pattern on the fabric.

Cutting Out the Pieces

Matching the design and cutting out the pieces takes a bit of planning.
Matching the design and cutting out the pieces takes a bit of planning.

Equipment Needed

A good pair of sewing scissors is important when cutting through double thicknesses of this polyester filled broadcloth. Many fabric stores promote scissors on special pricing at the checkout.

A flat surface and good lighting helps the project move along. It's best to have an area dedicated to sewing that doesn't require everything to be put away after use. Putting it all out of sight demotivates me from finishing a project.

Nearly any model of sewing machine will work. There's no zig zag stitching required.

A good fabric marking pencil helps when it comes to marking the spots that need to be matched up. Even a number two pencil or eyebrow pencil will work in a pinch.

A measuring tape is useful in placing the pattern on the fabric evenly and straight pins are essential.

Notions are listed on the pattern consisting of thread and double fold bias tape, along with sew-on Velcro for fastening the straps.

Marking the dots and sewing notations on the fabric speeds up the assembly process.
Marking the dots and sewing notations on the fabric speeds up the assembly process.

Turning the Straps takes a Little Patience

The most time-consuming part of making the organizer is turning the straps after stitching. This takes a small amount of patience and a keen eye. There are devices made to assist in this part, although not essential. A heavy-duty needle can be used to help turn the fabric right side out along the narrow straps.

To accommodate the walker design in use, I cut out an extra strap. Rather than one fastener in the center, it was better for me to have one on either side of the center.

The Assembly

After the straps are turned right side outward, Velcro is added and the straps are attached to the main body of the bag.
After the straps are turned right side outward, Velcro is added and the straps are attached to the main body of the bag. | Source

Straps for Holding the Bag in Place

After the straps are turned right side outward, Velcro is added and the straps are attached to the main body of the bag. Pictured above are the top straps and the side strap that holds the organizer to the leg of the walker.

Notice how the pattern of the fabric is matched to the pattern on the bag bodice.

Pockets

This is one of the pockets with the bias tape applied after the insert is sewn. Next the pocket is stitched to the bodice.
This is one of the pockets with the bias tape applied after the insert is sewn. Next the pocket is stitched to the bodice. | Source

Improvising

The biggest obstacle in putting the organizer together was the lack of directions when it came to the side straps. A little bit of improvising was necessary to cover both of the raw edges around the strap that attaches to the leg of the walker.

Notice along the side seam where the strap extends from the main body.
Notice along the side seam where the strap extends from the main body. | Source

Making Adjustments

Notice along the side seam where the strap extends outward from the main body. The instructions say to encase the raw edges with the bias tape. That proved to be difficult since the strap is in the way.

The Challenge

Encasing both of these raw edges was not possible with the strap in the way.
Encasing both of these raw edges was not possible with the strap in the way. | Source

I cut an extra strip of double fold bias tape about two inches long to affix to the unfinished edge left after attaching the strap to the main body of the organizer.

There was no way to enclose both sides of fabric around this strap without adding another piece of bias tape.
There was no way to enclose both sides of fabric around this strap without adding another piece of bias tape.

There was no way to enclose both sides of the fabric surrounding the side strap without adding another small piece of bias tape to cover the unfinished edge.

Enclosing the raw edge of the fabric here gave the  strap a more finished look.
Enclosing the raw edge of the fabric here gave the strap a more finished look.

Work Around

Attaching this short piece of bias tape along the edge of the pocket insert will alleviate the issue.

After stitching the extra piece of bias tape.
After stitching the extra piece of bias tape.
Stitching the decorative tape around the strap was easier after that.
Stitching the decorative tape around the strap was easier after that.

Worth the Time Invested

5 stars for Walker Organizer

The Joy of Giving this Organizer

This is one project that is truly worth the time invested. The walker organizer receives a lot of interest from the residents at the nursing home. Several people have asked if I would make one for them as well.

If you're looking for a worthy project to make as an act of kindness, this is one that will bring happiness to the both the receiver of this gift and to you as the giver. The cost to make the entire project is around forty dollars depending on the fabric pricing, buying the notions and pattern on sale and of course, not counting your time.

Walker Tote Bag - No Pattern Needed

© 2015 Peg Cole

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Comments 48 comments

annart profile image

annart 11 months ago from SW England

Brilliant idea! Not only is this useful but it's something thoughtful and made with love for someone who is dear; that means so much to the receiver. Making it with favourite colours etc is a bonus.

Well done, Peg!

Ann


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Peg. When I was out actively looking for books in every location I would see boxes of patterns and wondered if the younger crowd even knew what they were.

Your quilted walker organizer is a thoughtful and useful gift. You take good care of these two fine ladies of yours.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thanks, Ann. Mom has thanked me endlessly for this organizer and told me she receives many compliments from the other residents. I'm delighted to have discovered something she finds useful. When she goes for a shower, it gives her a place to keep her watch and rings. She has a second one now with the fall colors.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Mike, I'm drooling over all the vintage patterns you must have seen during your searching. How I wish I still had mine from decades ago.

You might be surprised at the comeback that hand made items are making. My niece is always looking for yarn to use for knitting and my sister is really into quilting. Back in the day, children were taught these valuable skills at school.

Thank you for your kind thoughtfulness to these lovely ladies.


Rabadi profile image

Rabadi 11 months ago from New York

Wow interesting, I never sewed anything but I find it to be really cool because I love arts and crafts. Great read, you have a new follower.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thank you, Rabadi, for taking time to read, comment and follow.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 11 months ago from The Beautiful South

That is such a great idea! My mom would have loved one of those and would have been going through it all the time. I just get a bunch of smiles picturing her with one! Maybe I will start working on one for me! Aure I will need i one day and I won't have to worry about whether I like it or not if I do it myself!

It would be great to make many of them and take to nursing homes! How thrilled they would be.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

What I know about sewing you can put in a thimble. :) I just stopped by to say hi! Have a great weekend.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 11 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Peg..Thanks so much for this instructional hub. I positively LOVE to sew.

between you and me, I think my bro bill is trying to say that his sewing skills is right up there with his cooking skills. It's not pretty! LOL


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 11 months ago from Hereford, AZ

Beautiful carrier for your grandma to use. I made a simplified one with my own pattern 40 years ago for my grandmother. It was a plain navy blue and I used a braided binding for it, and then made the straps by sewing the sides together. I made two rows of pockets of various widths. The back row was the full depth and the front row was about 6" deep, half the depth of the back row.

She loved it and it was the first that people had seen until then. She always had a difficult time getting a glass of water to her chair. I made one of the pockets large enough to hold a quart mason jar. She could fill it with ice and water and fill her glass with that. It would last her quite a while until the next trip was necessary. She also carried kleenex, snacks, and various other things in it.

I enjoyed seeing how you put this one together. Well written and interesting hub Peg.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

Cute and useful gift for grandparents. I like the possibility of creating several out of different seasonal fabrics and changing them out -- which will be necessary since it'll be an every day item.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Jackie, You know, you're right about them going through the pockets all the time. They don't carry purses anymore. Mom uses it to hold a pen for writing down things she doesn't want to forget along with some sticky notes, tissues, cough drops and other items like dog bones for the resident mascot, a Golden Retriever. Sorry about your Mom. Glad this gave you some smiles.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Billybuc, Nice of you to drop over to check out this sewing hub. We watch a lot of automotive shows on TV and the people who make upholstery often are men. Their talent is amazing. I've wanted a heavy duty sewing machine for years to do auto and furniture recovering.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Paula, Funny comparison about Bill and his cooking skills. Glad to hear that you love sewing. Me, too! Although, it strikes me by moods. Sometimes I can't get enough. Other times, I look into my project drawer and wonder why I bought all that fabric. Speaking of fabric, it's time to get started on the Christmas bib project.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Becky, What a delight to see your comment today. I would have expected no less that you designed something this useful years ago. Your project sounds a lot less expensive than this one with the brocade fabric. I'm sure many substitutions could be made with extra material being put to use in creative ways.

It truly is a challenge to try and carry a liquid while using a walker. You solved this with creativity. The ladies (my Mom and Aunt) also faced difficulty trying to take their dinner plates to the table without spilling the food. I designed a walker push cart with a flat surface to solve this issue and sent it in to a contest. Never heard a thing back.

I hope you and your family are doing well. Take care and thanks for the visit.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 11 months ago from South Africa

What a beautiful walker organizer! I love sewing and also knitting, but at this stage of my life I have barely time to sew and knit the most essential.

I bet you enjoyed making this handy gift, Peg. I also bet you will make a lot of money if you sell them online.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is such a lovely and thoughtful gift, Peg. You've created a useful hub for someone who likes sewing. I think the hub will also be useful for people who don't sew because it will start them thinking about how they can help people in care homes.


drbj profile image

drbj 11 months ago from south Florida

What a great 'Grandma' gift, Peg. Your instructions on DIY are clear and easy to understand. Any person using a walker would be thrilled to receive one of these useful organizers.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 11 months ago from The Caribbean

Brilliant idea! My mother have something to do--packing, unpacking and re-packing those pockets. I really like it. Thanks for sharing.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 11 months ago

This is so great--and the best part is that it's a few inexpensive materials, a little bit of time, and made with a whole LOT of love. Your love shines through. Grandma is lucky indeed (...and I'll bet Grandma is as loving as you).


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Martie. Thank you for checking this out and for the kind remarks. Making things by hand does take a lot of time and you stay so busy with your travels and photo taking. I have to be in the mood to sew, but when I am, it is like a frenzy of activity. I hadn't considered making these for sale on line. Maybe someday. They are a bit labor intensive and the material is pricey. Not sure what the market would bear on something like this.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello AliciaC, Thanks for tuning in to the true message behind the article. Even for people who do not sew or have the time to make a handmade project, it may give insight to the challenges faced by seniors. I appreciate you taking time to read and comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Flourish, Hi, sorry I skipped over your nice remarks. Thanks for the added ideas of making these in different colors for the seasons. Yes, they eventually need to be washed so having more than one organizer is a great idea.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Drbj, Thank you for your visit and for the kind words. We call my mother Grandma, so it's really a Mom gift for someone our age. She's been dependent on a walker since 1992. She tried using a wire baskets but they made her device too heavy. These are lightweight, at least, until she packs it full of stuff.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 11 months ago from New York

Not only is this a great "How to" hub, it is filled with love.

Of course you make this look very easy, but I have a feeling it would be a bit more difficult for me.

Thanks for sharing a great idea and a great gift.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thank you for seeing the love, Carb Diva. For just a small amount of materials and a bit of time, a loved one can reap the rewards that go well beyond the project. It is something that will remind them every day that someone cares about them. I feel as if I am the lucky one to have these two ladies that enjoy spending time with me. They tell me during each visit that I am welcomed and cherished. It is amazing.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Mary, Truly this is not a difficult project. I imagine your sewing talents are well beyond what is needed to complete one of these organizers. Thank you for the thoughtful and kind comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Ms. Dora, You are so right about the packing and unpacking of the pockets. My Mom spends a lot of time digging through her little goodies in the organizer, sort of like a purse substitute. Thank you for the visit. I'd imagine your Mom would love one of these, too.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 11 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Peg, your beautiful walker organizer is not only practical, it was made from the heart -- two things seniors value, highly. This hub is a treasure. :-)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thanks, Genna. I appreciate your support and kind words.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 11 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Peg,

You are an amazing, talented and considerate lady...

Love the photos of the girls as well - I can see how they treasure you too.

Have a peaceful week.

Love to you all, mar


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

My friend Mar,

Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness when it comes to the ladies. They think of you as their long-distance daughter.

Love in return, Peg


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 11 months ago from Shelton

Pegcole, this looks like fun.. practical I don't sew, but boy if I did.. LOL great hub my friend :)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Frank, thanks for stopping in. Sewing is fun. Hopefully, you can sew on a button or mend a rip. Even my Navy Dad could knit and sew.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 11 months ago from Sunny Florida

This is an absolutely awesome idea. I am so glad I found this hub. You have given me the idea for a gift to give at a nursing home. The people there will love this.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thanks, KoffeeKlatch. I'm glad you stopped in and took the time to tell me you found this useful. Without a doubt, the receiver of your gift will be delighted. All the best to you.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 11 months ago from Central Florida

Peg, this is a wonderful idea. I love all the pockets that accommodate anything the user will need or want throughout the day. Your choice of fabric is cheery and very pretty. Not only is the organizer useful, but it adds a bit of style and warmth to the starkness of the walker.

I'll bet you get lots of orders as Christmas nears. What a joyous gift!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 11 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Bravewarrior, Thank you. I've made two of these, now, and that may be my limit. Moving on to other quicker and easier projects like Christmas bibs since the ladies sometime spill stuff when eating. Nice of you to drop in and thank you for reading and commenting.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 10 months ago from Stillwater, OK

This was something that I never even though about. What a smart thing to do!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 10 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Aviannovice, I hope your person enjoys the organizer as much as my Mom does.


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

What a great idea. I can see she is proud of it.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 9 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Aesta1, Thanks for stopping in. Mom loves her walker organizer and tells me so every time I see her!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 months ago from America

What a great idea. My Mom would have loved this for her walker. Pinning and sharing.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 8 months ago from the short journey

Such a great tutorial for a project that is not just practical, but is an easy to make gift that can be designed in pretty ways to please the recipient.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 8 months ago from Oakley, CA

What a great idea! I could have used one of these a couple of years ago, when I temporarily used a walker after my knee replacement surgery.

As my husband was then also going through a bad spell with his heart condition, I did not want to ask for a lot of help. He laughed at me one day, when I was trying to bring laundry to do. My walker did not have a seat, so nowhere to park the laundry basket. My solution was to tie a short rope through the handle of the basket, and tie the other end of the rope to the back belt loop on my jeans. I was then able to keep both hands on the walker, dragging the basket behind me like a trailer. (Though hubby laughed, I think it also made him feel bad that he wasn't able to help.) :-(

Pinned and shared.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 8 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Moonlake, My mom really does love her walker organizer. She gets a lot of comments from the other residents asking where she got it. It's handy to carry her pen, tissues, cough drops and assorted things so she can keep both hands on the wheel. Thanks for dropping in.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 8 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi DzyMsLizzy, It is so tough to do things when both hands are tied up trying to move the walker. My hubby had back surgery and afterward depended on a walker to get around. It's amazing how tough it is to carry anything from a glass of water to a laundry basket. Well done on your innovative solution to the problem. Very creative!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 8 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thank you, RTalloni, I've made two of these now in different fabric colors. It's fun to change them out with the seasons and gives me a chance to wash them between times. Thanks for stopping in.

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