Frugal Life Skills: Mending Clothes

cohdranknsewing4.JPGPrior to being a blogger, I made costumes. All kinds of costumes from Jedi Robes to A Prince Charming Costume for someone’s wedding. One skill that I am adamant about everyone having is the skill of sewing. You don’t need to be able to stitch a wedding dress, but sewing on a button, fixing a fallen hem, and repairing a seam rip are all simple and good, money-saving skills that everyone should be able to learn.

To get started, you’ll need a sewing kit. I have one like this. If you want to gather one on your own, here are a few items that you need:

  • Needles: I usually have a variety pack, like this.
  • Thread: A good variety of colors may not be needed, depending on which colors are in your wardrobe. I recommend Coats and Clark thread. Essential colors are- Black, white, tan or natural, navy blue.
  • Scissors/snips
  • Pins: I prefer pins that have a large colorful head. They are easier to find if/when you drop them on the floor. Spoiler alert: You will drop pins on the floor.
  • Safety Pins: Always good to have safety pins in the house. I usually get a package from 99 Cents Only or Dollar tree and stash them in my sewing box.
  • Seam Ripper: Seam rippers are great for picking out hems that have fallen. Or, you know, ripping out seams when you make a mistake.
  • I also like having a pin cushion. This helps cut down on losing pins and then finding them later. With your bare feet. Ouch. Fun Fact: On the Tomato pin cushion, the little attached pepper/strawberry is full of  pumice/sand that is used for sharpening your needles and pins.
  • I keep all my sewing goodies in a box like this. It’s big enough that I can also stash the foot and cord to my sewing machine in the box. (BTW, if you want to buy one from Wayfair, here is a link where you can get an extra 10% off your order).

Now that your kit is assembled, You’ll need to learn how to actually sew. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I searched on YouTube and watched a bunch of videos trying to find one that is the easiest. I really thought that this video from Nifty teaches 4 simple ways to mend most things.

Recently I had to fix a pair of jeans that had a worn out pocket. The back pocket had worn thin because of  where my husband keeps his leather wallet.

I picked up a package of Denim Iron on patches at Joann’s- I used a 50% off coupon, so they were only $2.14 with tax! And I still have half a package left, so I can repair another pair of jeans too!

I set up the ironing board and iron and set to work.

 

IMG_16461-Find the hole, and make sure that the patch(es) are cut to the right size. You want to cover the hole completely, and the surrounding area, so the patch has some stable fabric to fuse to.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1648
The shiny stuff on the back side is the fusible adhesive.

I like the iron on patches- they have fusible adhesive attached to the back, which is basically a heat activated fabric glue that bonds the patch to the garment.

Once fused to the garment, it takes a lot of get the patch(es) off. For this project, I used two patches: one on the interior of the garment, and one on the exterior. Basically making a hole sandwich.

2- Place the patch(es) over the hole/rip, and fuse into place with the steam iron.

IMG_16513-Once the clothing/patch has cooled, you can stitch around the edge to make it extra secure, however, in this case I did not. I would do that for the knees of kiddo pants or other high wear areas.

Overall, this is a very simple project that anyone can do.

Our culture tends to discard garments as soon as they are not longer shiny or new. If you take care and mend clothing and other household goods, they will last longer and you will not have to spend money constantly replacing clothes and household items.

I spend about an hour a month mending clothing. I do it while watching TV at night. It is worth the time to fix a pair of pants for $2.14 instead of spending $30 to buy a new pair of jeans.

Talk Back: Can you do a few simple stitches to maintain your clothing? How do you take care to keep your clothes looking great?

Disclosure: Some of the links contained within this post are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click on the links above and make a purchase, I may be compensated with a small commission. for more information, check out my disclosure page.

Giveaway: 2 Tickets to PowPac and Pickwick Players Romeo & Juliet

Some of you may not know this, but before I blogged about frugal living and my family adventures, I was a costume designer. I made and sold costumes for a living. All kinds of crazy stuff: Corsets, Harry Potter Robes, Jedi Costumes, Roman, Egyptian, Biblical, and Renaissance. Heck, once I made a Prince Charming costume for a groom to surprise his bride with at the reception.

IMG_5445
Juliet, Romeo, and Friar Lawrence

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 5.35.08 PM.pngLast year, my husband decided that he wanted to put in a bid to direction a production of Romeo &Juliet with PowPac and co-produce it with Pickwick Players.  His bid was accepted, and the magic began! Many hours go into the production of a play.

I was lucky enough to design the costumes for the cast. I love creating costumes that suit both the actor and their character. Small details that reveal more of the characters.. well character. Colors, fabrics, and the lines and fit of costume can really reveal a lot about a characters motives or intentions.

And while the set is very barren and modern (UV lights, glow in the dark, and LED lighting is utilized)IMG_5409.jpg, the costumes and language are classic. And you may notice for the photos I’ve posted that there is also gender blind casting. From this article, “The show used gender-blind casting, something Hewes called both modern and very old. “Shakespeare had no problem with unisex casting, plus it was the law,” said Hewes. “So I didn’t either. I wanted to open the male roles to women.” Hewes said this was to make sure he had the best casting for the role, no matter what gender, and also because it is easier to find female actors than male.”

IMG_5413
Benvolio and Mercutio

Here is an article that was published in the San Diego Union Tribune about the show.

I am also lucky enough to sponsor a giveaway for a pair of tickets to the show. Entering is EASY PEASY.  All you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite play of all time. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare either.  It can be the Spongebob Musical (yes, that’s a thing). 

I’ll select a winner at random at 7/19/18 about dinner time.  Tickets will be held at PowPac will call under the winners name and are good for any showing of the play.

IMG_5429
Romeo & Juliet

Photo credit: Adriana Zuniga-Williams

Simple Sewing Project- Pillow Cases!

I love making Pillow Cases- They are quick, simple projects that you can make for a very small amount of money, and they really can tie together a room.

I tend to buy plain colored sheets for the kid’s beds. Then I make pillow cases with colors or characters they like. In the past I’ve made Batman pillow cases and Thomas the Tank Engine pillow cases for Henry, and floral print and eyelet lace trim for Margaret. Most of our blankets are either down comforters in plain colored duvets or handmade quits.

I found a bunch of 1 yard pieces of fabric this morning, so I decided that today for art for 100 days of art, I was going to make a pillow case or two. I’m doing 100 days of art and chronicling it on Instagram. I’ve done some pretty cool projects so far!

You only need a yard of 45 inch wide 100% cotton fabric, matching thread and about a half hour of time. Oh, and a sewing machine. If you are looking for a good, basic sewing machine, I like this one-  It’s similar to the one I use.

Pre-wash your fabric in hot water and dry on high. This gets all the sizing out of the fabric. There will be no further shrinkage.

IMG_8710Lay fabric out, right side facing up.

IMG_8711

Fold fabric in half so selvedges (the finished edges)are together.

IMG_8711.jpgUsing a straight stitch on your sewing machine and a 5/8 inch seam allowance around one skinny end, turn the corner and sew up the side with the selvedge. IMG_8713

My sewing machine has measured out and notated hash marks on the throat plate (that’s the silver part in this photo).

I use a 5/8 inch seam allowance. It’s what most commercial patterns use as well.

 

IMG_8715

Trim off any stray strings. Set your machine to zigzag stitch, and stitch over the free edge of the fabric. I recommend using matching thread, I used a contrasting thread, so you could see my stitches.

 

IMG_8717

Fold the open edge over twice, pin or press down. Stitch down the folded edge. Take care to open the pillow case and slip the arm (the part of the machine with the bobbin in it) into the pillow case so you don’t end up sewing your pillow case together.

img_8718.jpg

Clip off any stray threads, and turn the pillow case right side out. Pop your pillow inside the case and you are all set!

This is a great 1st sewing project for kids and adults. You can make your pillowcase a little fancy by adding lace or ribbon around the hem of the open side.

I’d love to see what kind of pillow cases you make!

Flex your Creativity: 100 Days of Art!

DSC06719.JPG

I decided last week that I needed to get back to my Artsy roots.

Each day for an hour I will work on some kind of art. Textile, painting, drawing, cooking, whatever. I will try to post pictures of whatever I work on each day on Instagram and Facebook.

Before we had kids, every day when I came home from work I did art in some form or another for about an hour. It was a wonderful way to be creative and keep my mind sharp. And I feel like I need to get back to that.

So far, I’ve worked on some sewing projects, embroidered, cooked, and colored. I’ve started a Pinterest Board too to keep track of my ideas and projects.

So does anyone else want to join me?

When DIY meets frugality….

About 6 months ago, I scored 6 new pillows for less than $10 at Sears, using Sears Shop Your Way Rewards, coupons, and a BOGO sale.

When you get new pillows, you need new pillow covers. I headed over to our local AmVets Thrift Store when all of the linens were on sale and picked up 9 pillow covers for .25/each.  What I didn’t realize is that 3 of them were smaller than a standard pillow, and they didn’t fit. I set them aside, thinking I would find something else to do with them.

Fast forward to this morning. I am pulling the sheets, blankets and pillowcases off the bed, and I notice the pillow cases look gross. Like, we’ve had them since before we were married and they just don’t come clean anymore… That kind of gross. I’ve washed them with Oxyclean, borax, you name it, I’ve tried it to get them clean. Enough. I figure 8 years of rotation means they’ve served a good life.

I rifle through the linen closet to discover that about 90% of our pillow cases need to get pitched. Then, I discover the 3 small pillow covers, and I am struck with inspiration.

warposterSee, My motto for for remaining the frugal steward of our family is, “Use it up, wear it out, make do”. That means, basically: USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

I remembered that I also had a few yards of Eyelet lace in my sewing box. BUT, it’s offwhite. The pillow covers were white. But, wait… We have a box of awful tea in the cabinet. I mean it tastes like burnt rubber and camp fire smoke- blergh. But, it’s perfect for tea dying! Ever notice when you spill tea or coffee on your white clothes, it never comes all the way out? Imagine if you took light colored fabric and soaked it in boiling tea or coffee for about an hour and then washed it?  That’s tea dying.

I pull out the sewing machine and some supplies and set to work. I trim the zippers off the pillow covers, measure the lace, and sew it onto the open end of the pillow case. This serves a few purposes:

  1. Lengthens the pillow case about 31/2 inches. Now it will fit a standard pillow case
  2. Makes the pillow case look nice
  3. I am using up what we have in the house, and now I don’t have to go out and buy new pillow cases.

While I was in the closet with my fabric, I also found a piece of unbleached muslin that I cut into a pillow case. I had enough lace, so why not. If you’d like to make a pillow case, here is a pretty easy tutorial to follow.

I boiled my icky tea, wet the pillow cases, and tossed them into the stockpot. I covered the pot with a heavy plate to weight the fabric down so that it will take the dye evenly.

After about 30 minutes, I turned the stove off, and left the mixture until it cooled… Next, I rang out the pillow cases and tossed them into the washing machine to get out any extra tea (and the gross smell).  And now… Ta Da!  Three refurbished pillow cases and a brand new pillow case!

  • Total out of pocket: Zero Dollars
  • Time: about 2 hours (most of it was waiting for the dye pot to cool)

Now if you want to make your own pillow cases, the tutorial I linked to above is pretty easy to follow, and it’s a great way to use up scraps of cotton fabric that you may have hanging around the house.  Since pillow cases and fitted sheets tend to wear out first, you could also cut up orphaned flat sheets too.