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.

Why I am not a “Pinterest Mom”

I am creative. I can bake, cook, sew, paint, craft, do calligraphy, garden, and decorate a home on a budget, however, I am not a “Pinterest Mom”.   I have a Pinterest account, but I use it more as a link repository for stuff that’s cool. I do not make Pinterest worthy stuff.  I don’t take Pinterest worthy photos. And, ya know what? I am more than ok with it.

I know there are a lot of people (not just moms) who pour over Pinterest and try to emulate the stuff they see, thinking that you need 5 craft stations, a candy bar (which is a buffet of nothing but candy), a full themed catered meal, and designer goody bags for an event. I hate to break it to you- Little kids don’t care! A lot of the stuff you see on Pinterest has been done by party professionals- Not your average mom with kids running around, a busy schedule, a house to take care of, errands to run, appointments and rehearsals/practices to shuffle kids to…..

Bitty’s third birthday is today, and yesterday was her birthday party.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.14.41 PM.pngAbout a week ago, she saw the purse cakes at Baskin-Robbins. She asked for one, but she doesn’t really like ice cream.

I looked at it for a few minutes and figured I could make her one out of regular cake and frosting.

I am no means a professional baker, and I hate fondant (it tastes so gross to me and the kids). So I used cream cheese frosting, some decorator frosting, sprinkles, and icing roses.

And the handles were made from licorice. She was so happy, and the cake was delicious. My only tip is not to try and frost a cake when it’s 90+ degrees in your kitchen.  The cake was cold, but the white decorator icing did not want to cooperate.  The cake was pink inside, I made a butter cake and added pink gel food coloring to the batter.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.13.19 PM.pngIn addition, I also made cupcakes! Henry helped make the cupcakes, and Margaret helped decorate them. I figured the cake wouldn’t be enough for the hungry little faces I was going to feed.

No candy bar- Instead I took a lucite bowl that I had painted with faux stained glass paint and filled it with Ring Pops.

And no goody bags- Bitty picked out these cute little Frozen necklaces to give to all her friends who came to the party.

Oh, and no catered fancy meal! We ordered 2 Giant pizzas.  We had bottles water and Honest Juice Pouches.  And because we has a loose Frozen theme, we also had little red apples (because we all know that Sven eats apples- Margaret told me).

I know that there are people out there who love putting out a perfect party that looks great on Facebook and Instagram, but if that’s not in your heart (or budget), BREATHE… Give Yourself some GRACE. Do what you can, what you love, what is in your heart and what is good for your family.  

And I want to especially thank Christine Boyce from Clicks by Christine for taking some incredible candid shots of the party. Her littlest is BFF’s with Bitty.

 

 

Talk Back: Are you a Pinterest Mom? Why or why not? What is your greatest crafting strength?

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?

Get your Craft on (for free) with Craftsy Free Mini-Courses!

If you’re anything like me, you love to learn new stuff. When I found out that Craftsy is offering free mini-courses, I had to take advantage!

If you’re new to Craftsy, the mini-courses  feature student-led discussions and are shorter in length than regular courses. They are a perfect way to learn new skills and experience the Craftsy platform first-hand.

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 9.18.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-17 at 9.19.15 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-17 at 9.19.03 PM.png

Here are just a few of the free mini-courses available:

  • Know Your Wool: Do you wonder where your yarn comes from? Learn about different types of wool and the individual characteristics of each.
  • The Hand-Painted Cake: Elevate your cake with Erin Schaefgen’s freehand painting techniques. Create beautiful and edible works of art with Erin’s tips and tricks.
  • Creative Quilt Backs: Make the back of your quilt just as interesting as the front! Oh, Fransson! blog author Elizabeth Hartman walks you through everything you need to know to make beautiful quilt backs.
  • Modern Buttercream: Learn to use buttercream like a pro! Discover the tricks and tips to construct and create a beautifully finished buttercream cake.
  • Short Rows: Don’t fall short because you find short rows intimidating! Learn four different techniques to creating short rows, and discover how they can make shaping a knitted garment a snap.
  • Perfect Pizza at Home: Stretch your dough and your imagination as Peter guides you through each step of making a pizza. You’’ll make pizza sauces, consider cheese options and bake five types of dough in your conventional home oven. gImpress Italian purists with a slice of your Sicilian-style homemade pies, cook creative flavor combinations for more adventurous palates and even provide gluten-free pizza lovers with mouth-watering meals.
  • Complete Knife Skills:Become faster and more accurate with your knife work, and create dishes that cook evenly and look truly professional. Guided by chef Brendan McDermott, you’’ll explore proper hand placement and the four fundamental cuts. Learn to dice, mince and julienne a range of produce. Find out how to chop herbs without bruising them or losing flavor, and never again cry when cutting an onion. Uncover Brendan’’s favorite shortcuts for working with butternut squash, pineapple, chiles, citrus and more. Discover the four knives every chef needs in their kitchen, and enjoy a bonus lesson on honing and sharpening your knives at home!

I’m taking the Complete Knife Skills Class!

If the classes above aren’t your cup of tea,  Here’s the full list of Craftsy free mini classes to choose from

Which mini-course are you taking?

Learn a new skill from Craftsy for free!!

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.05.01 AM

I love Craftsy! I love making stuff and being creative, but sometimes it’s hard to learn a new skill or hone one you already have on a budget. Craftsy to the rescue! They have awesome free classes where you can learn to do all kinds of cool stuff from cooking and baking to knitting!

The free mini classes can be viewed on any device, so you can learn anywhere! Right now there are 47 mini classes that are free. Mini-courses  feature student-led discussions and are shorter in length than regular courses. They are a perfect way to learn new skills and experience the Craftsy platform first-hand.

Here are just a few of the ones I’ve saved to watch and explore:

For the complete list, click here.

Which Mini-Classes are you going to take?

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.