The atomic pouch and the chemistry free TV

atomic pouch front

For Christmas, I bought myself a sewing machine. I have been wanting to learn to sew for a while and maneuvering the idea into my boyfriend’s head for a few months. He likes to remind me of how small our apartment is. But the notion of having clothes repaired or tailored, custom made curtains and a pillow case for his body pillow, was too good to pass on. So I bought the machine right before Xmas vacation and for the last month or so, I’ve been practicing. As with crochet, I have been teaching myself. Mostly by reading blogs and asking friends for advice and by making many mistakes.

This pouch was the first serious project. I made my own pattern (below), using a mix of ideas from tutorials I’ve read. I made the pouch for my friend Brit, who is a fellow crocheter and chemist. These days, most of our friends are fellow chemists. It’s not like we don’t like other people or enjoy spending time with non-scientists. It’s more like, these days, chemists are the less liked of scientists. So in earnest, it is hard to interact with folks who don’t know anything about what we do, but are happy to hate us for it.

I know, you think I’m exaggerating. Maybe a little bit. But let’s do a test. Think about a famous physicist from the last 50 years. Hawking? Higgs?. Probably the names you thought of. Or at least names you recognize. Now let’s try with the biologists. Jane Goodall or Jacques Cousteau, perhaps?. Let’s finally try with the chemists.

Nothing comes to mind, does it?. Because we chemists, are not cool. You don’t see chemists in movies (with the exception of ‘The Rock’, which is one of my favorite movies of all time). You see astronauts, physicists, adventurer biologists or geologists or even crazy mathematicians (Russell Crowe anyone?). But the chemists are not there.

I can’t blame you. We really do have a bad reputation. We have contaminated waters, designed pesticides that kill bees and turned food into a Petri dish. Or at least some of us have. While the rest get the blame and none of the merit for all the things we have done right. The rest sit in front of their TV, while watching their nerd show, and see commercials that claim carpet cleaning without chemicals. Because apparently water stopped being a chemical.

The truth behind that evil, environment destroying image, is that most of us are trying to contribute to the betterment of society. Or at least not trying to harm it. The truth is also that you could not survive a single day without chemistry around you and inside you. The human body is the most complex chemical machine we know of. Proteins, DNA, RNA and lots of small molecules hard at work. Molecules that store and burn energy, that allow your tissues to keep on living, that keep you awake and help you sleep and even make you sad or happy.

Think about your regular work-a-day morning. You get up, get in the shower and use soap that a chemist formulated and another chemist tested for quality control. You brush your teeth with the toothpaste a chemist invented and put all sorts of different chemicals on your skin. We call it lotion. Then maybe you eat a bowl of cereal with milk that has something added to it so it does not immediately go bad. You may also take medication. Drugs that were discovered by an organic of pharmaceutical chemist. Before another chemist came in to find out what the best delivery method was. Nevermind the oil in your car, the dye in your clothes or the plastic in your coffee cup.

But still, we chemists are not cool. Nobody knows Andrew Ellington (the sexiest brain on Earth) or Thomas Cech. Nobody is interested in hearing about the nanomachines that allow us to survive by pushing electrons back and forth. Not even food chemistry is really trendy anymore. And if I started writing about chemistry on a daily basis, nobody would read this blog. Or would you? (leave me a comment or a like and I will!).

Insert end of rant

Now for that pouch pattern…

atomic pouch


2 pieces of (6×9 in) exterior fabric

2 pieces of (6×9 in) lining fabric

2 pieces of (6×9 in) of interfacing, fusible or not

A 7″ zipper of contrasting color

Matching/contrasting thread

Rotary cutter or scissors

For the process, I recommend you look at this fantastic tutorial  Tips: I highly recommend you iron the fabric before you do any cutting. Don’t skip the interfacing. It gives body to the final product and allows it to stand on its own. Remember to cut the corners for a cleaner final look. If you’d like to change the size of the pouch, aim for a width that is about 1 inch larger than your zipper.


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