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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sew Your Own Cloth Maxi Pads





I've made the full switch to reusable menstrual products, and I could not be happier.  Mainly because now I know exactly what is being exposed to my body and I am glad to say that it is not much, if anything.

I'm not going to go much into trying to convince you to switch to reusable pads yourself, because if you are reading this, you have either already decided to do so, or you are considering it.  I do want to provide some great information that you can read to make an informed decision about your health.  The links I have here are sites that cite actual studies and real information, not pseudoscience.




Okay, hopefully you've read enough and want to get down to business:  making your own pads.  This is my own pattern, and I've decided to offer it for free.

Download the pattern HERE. 

You will want to print this out without scaling and without margins. Therefore, some of the pattern may be cut off regarding the wings of the front of the pad, but if you either just follow the lines out to the edge of the page with a marker, or you can use the back of pad pattern to make sure they match up well.  If you have difficulty printing using these settings, go here to see about changing your print settings so you can properly print this pattern.

Here are the 3 parts of the pattern:
(Note:  Do not use these images to print for the pattern, be sure to download the PDF file via the link above so that they print out in the correct size.)


Materials:

Cotton fabric (quilting fabric is fine)
Cloth Diapers (1 full diaper per pad)
Snaps and Snap Tool
Thread to match 
Flannel fabric for inserts

First, cut out all your fabric.  It is easier to cut out everything and sew it together like an assembly line than to go back and keep cutting.  For the front and back of the pad, use your decorative cotton fabric.  Use flannel fabric for the insert, and the cloth diaper for the insert liner. 

Take your cloth diaper and fold it lengthwise so that it is in three layers.  The seams already match up, so this should be quite easy:  Fold the left side over the middle, then fold the right side over the middle.  Once this is done, put your template over it and cut through all three layers. You should be able to do this twice with each folded diaper, enough for 2 pad inserts





To sew this, put a piece of flannel (the 2 pieces you cut for the insert) on each side of the insert liner (the diaper).  Sew a zig zag stitch that is close together around the edge, making sure to go through all layers.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Once they are washed, they will get wrinkly anyway, and the flannel will fray a bit, so any stitching imperfections will not matter.


If you have any spots that are further in from the edge than preferred, you may want to trim them a little closer.  this is optional, but it minimized fraying once they are washed.


Next, you will have 3 pieces for the outer pad.  Set aside the larger front piece and work on the smaller back pieces first.  Fold over the straight edges 1/4 inch and sew that seam in place.




Next, put the front and back pieces right-sides together.  The 2 back pieces will overlap, this is how it is supposed to go together. Pin it in place and sew around the edge with as small seam allowance as possible.  I was able to get about 1/8" edge without any special presser feet.  






Once you sew around the edge, trim any spots that have a lot of fabric left on the edge, then turn the pad right side out.

You may want to iron the pad at this point.  

Next, sew around the full perimeter of the pad with another very small seam allowance. You actually can use a regular 1/4" seam allowance, as I cut the pattern to allow for that, but I wanted to make my pads a little larger than the standard size.








Here's how the back of the pad should look at this point.  The back flaps overlap so that you don't need any velcro or snaps to hold in the inserts when used.  This system works very well and is quite comfortable.  I always put this overlapping part toward my underwear when wearing the pads.



Here's the front of the pad after I added snaps.





You can fold up the pads and snap them together for travel.



How to use:




One pad with an insert is good for about 2 hours or so with a heavy flow, or longer with a lighter flow.  I would try it out at home first to see how well it works for you, since everyone is different.  I always carry extras in my purse, and this system allows for that pretty easily.

If necessary, you can use 2 or more inserts in one pad (which is why the pads are a little bigger than the inserts themselves).  I was very pleasantly surprised at how absorbent these pads are!  The cloth diapers as inserts work beautifully.


Be sure to machine wash and dry your pads and inserts prior to the first use, so that the starch and things from the fabric manufacturer get washed out. This will ensure the best absorbency.

During regular use, I usually carry a ziplock baggie in my purse and will put the used pad in the baggie until I get home.  Once I am home, I take the insert out of the pad and put both parts into the sink.  I dump a little bit of peroxide onto them and let it sit for about 30 seconds.  Then, I run cold water on them and wring out the liner a few times until the water runs mostly clear.  Finally, I take a little of my homemade liquid hand soap and pump it onto the outer pad.  I fold up the pad with the soap inside, give it a final squeeze to wring it out, and I put it into a tin in my closet that I have lined with  ziplock baggie, so they are all pre-treated and ready to wash by the time laundry day rolls around.

As for staining, every pad has come out completely clean using the above method for pre-treating, except the yellow fabric did have a very minor stain.  I honestly thought it was going to be much worse, but these babies come very clean!  I know there is at least one person out there wondering about that, since I was curious about it too!

Pictured, you can see where I have stored my extra pads, and next to that is a tea tin with a ziplock baggie lining it, and that is where I put my pads that are waiting to be washed.  (My clothes closet is actually in my bathroom, so I just put all my stuff right in there, in case you thought I had this sitting out in the open.)  :-)




To launder the pads, I wash them in hot water and detergent, and I don't use fabric softener.  The fabric softener can affect absorbency, so if you want to get the most absorbency possible, be sure not to use fabric softener at all.  If you find that they are getting rough, you can add vinegar to the wash, or you can use fabric softener occasionally; just not every time you wash the pads.  You can also put these in the dryer like a normal load of laundry, and I actually recommend it.  The liners are so thick, they won't dry for a few days if you air dry them.

Here is how a liner looks after several washes. It may not look so pretty, but it certainly works great!


Tips for Wearing:

These pads are great, because they are extremely versatile.  They are longer than a standard pad, but shorter than overnight pads.  You can adjust it depending on whether you are sitting or standing a long time, and I love that there isn't any annoying adhesive to mess with!  I did want to provide a tip for wearing these at night, however.  These pads are not as lightweight as commercial pads, so at night time, they may slightly fall away from your body.  The best remedy for this is to wear a second pair of underwear over the first pair.  It may sound strange, but it doesn't feel uncomfortable (and I have sensory issues, TRUST ME: I would tell you if this were uncomfortable!).  It holds the pad to your body better than just one pair of underwear.  My husband actually is the one who suggested this and it works like a charm.

For those of you who have a heavy flow in general, I always like to share my tips. I suffer from Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  This means that when I do have periods, they are painful and heavy.  If you have similar issues, then you know what wearing pads at night can do sometimes to your sheets.  Putting a towel down doesn't always cut it.  The best thing in the world to use is  CRIB LINER!  They are soft like fabric, yet they are completely waterproof.  I slap one of these babies on the bed on day 1 just to be safe.  They also work great for kids who have bedwetting problems, because they are reusable/washable and they don't make any sound at all. Hopefully someone who reads this finds this information helpful!


I hope you find this pattern useful, and please don't hesitate to comment or message me directly if you have any questions or concerns!  I have made the switch for a few months now, and I am loving my new pads that are chemical-free!  

Please share this pattern with your friends, and don't forget to Pin this on Pinterest by hovering over a photo and clicking the "pin it" button.  





















Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scarf hanger for $1.00

I have started to accrue a collection of scarves in my closet, and my lack of proper storage became evident when I cleaned out my closet and got rid of a TON of clothes!  I was so happy to have my closet organized, that I wanted to organize everything!  I had seen several tutorials on Pinterest, but I wanted  a hanger that was durable, pretty, and really inexpensive to make.




I figured that I could use a white plastic hanger that I had on hand. I snapped the little tank top hooks off of it, because ultimately I saw no use for them, but you may choose to hang something else from them, so that is up to you.



I found these shower curtain rings at the dollar store for a buck, and every single dollar store has some form of these for a dollar, and if it doesn't, your local dollar store sucks. :-)


The other supplies you will need are a hot glue gun and glue sticks (probably only one, really), and about 8 yards of ribbon.  I used grosgrain fabric ribbon in mauve.


First, plug in your hot glue gun and get it ready.  Put your hanger on a hard surface that will not be affected by heat (I put it right on the wood floor because I wanted this thing NOW, but you may want to put some parchment paper down on the floor if you do the same).



This part was a little tricky, because the shower curtain rings wanted to move a lot, but I put a dot of glue where each ring met the hanger, and another dot of glue where the rings touched each other.  Since these rings were pretty cheap-o and I was worried about any sharp edges, I put dots of glue where the rings came apart, and it closed off the potential spots that would snag a scarf, and it also connected it to the ring next to it.


My glue sticks are pretty old, so they're kind of yellow. They work very well, still!

Next, I took my ribbon off of the spool and rolled it up small enough so that I could wrap it around the hanger and put it through each shower curtain ring.  This part is essential, so be sure it fits!  As long as you are using 10 yards or less of ribbon, it should not be a problem, but the first few wraps will be a little snug.


To start wrapping, I put a dot of  hot glue on the hanger above the middle of the end shower curtain ring.  While it was still hot, I attached the end of the ribbon to it.  I started to wrap around the edge of the hanger and shower curtain ring, then I wrapped inside the shower curtain ring 2 or 3 times, then I moved to the next shower curtain ring.  You may need to wrap into the next shower curtain ring, then bring the ribbon back into the first ring once to get full coverage with the ribbon.  I'm sorry that I don't have any pictures of this, but I didn't glue it in place again until I got to the end, so my hands were occupied!  You may need to glue it halfway through, just to keep it from getting too loose. the ribbon likes to loosen up.

While wrapping, also keep in mind that the shower curtain rings are not in place very securely at this point, so it is important to work by holding onto the hanger and not the rings while wrapping.


To finish it, I just cut the end ribbon at an angle (as you always should), and I glued it in place at the end in an inconspicuous spot.  I took a little extra ribbon and tied it around the top of the hanger, just because I had extra and I thought it looked cute.


Here is the finished product!  The total time it took was probably 15 minutes.  Not too bad for a buck!
















Monday, January 12, 2015

Bean Bag Toss

I am going to be watching  friend's kids for a couple of hours tomorrow, and this past weekend, I was thinking of ideas for stuff for us to do while I am with the kids.  I was looking to use up some fabric scraps, and I came up with the idea to make my own bean bag toss game out of recycled materials.  It is a huge hit in my house, so I thought I would share the directions!



Here is what you need:

1 cardboard box (I used a box my new sewing machine came in, the dimensions were 7.5"x14"x17"
7/10 yard fabric (for 8 beanbags, less if you want to make the traditional 6 beanbags)
box cutter
paint (optional
4 cups of uncooked rice

First, I took my box and cut it diagonally on the longest sides, making sure to match up the cuts so they are parallel.  This makes the traditional triangle-shaped game board.




Next, I cut the holes through which to throw the beanbags.  For this step, I used a Bath and Body Works 3-wick candle and traced it for each hole.  If you don't have one handy, just make sure the holes are at least 4 inches in diameter.

For the next step, which is optional, I painted the cardboard portion and I reinforced it with tape.  After reinforcing the edges, I used clear contact paper on the top of it to make sure it lasts a little longer without the paint getting messed up.  I also had painted numbers next to each hole for optional scorekeeping. I'm not sure if there is some sort of standard for this, so I just made the lowest hole 10 points, the middle hole 20 points, and the highest hole 30 points.



Finally, to make the bean bags, I cut 8 4x8 pieces of scrap flannel fabric. I folded them each in half and sewed up 2 of the 3 open sides.  Then, after turning them right-side-out, I filled each one with 1/2 cup of rice.  I then folded each end over and sewed it shut for a clean edge that won't fray.



I added a handle to the top of the game board with some yarn and taped it in place on the inside of the game board.  This makes it much easier to carry.



I also used one of those cheapo shopping bags to store the bean bags. It isn't a plastic bag, it is one of those reusable ones that you can get all over the place for a buck, but ours was free from the dentist.


Chunk approves of it, and hopefully you and your family will, too!






Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to get Free Shipping on Amazon with Filler Items

Okay, I want to start by saying that I am not being paid by Amazon to write this blog. I'm also not being given anything for free by Amazon. I am not affiliated with them at all, besides the fact that I love Amazon!

Have you heard of Amazon Prime?  You pay about 80 bucks a year, and you get free 2-day shipping on all Prime items on amazon, no item limit and no minimum amount. You see the Prime symbol next to those items, and that's what it means. In addition to the shipping perks, Prime members get free videos and movies for streaming, and a ton of free Kindle books to rent.  If you don't subscribe to Amazon, you can buy at least 25 dollars worth of stuff in your cart and you still get free shipping.

There are a few items, however, that you cannot get under the Prime deal unless you spend at least 25 dollars in your cart still.  Those are Add-on Items.  They're usually rather small items that would be difficult to ship alone, and so you can only buy them with other things. You see this logo next to the items:



If you try to check out on Amazon without the minimum amount of Prime items in your cart, then you will see this message:



There is an easy solution to this problem, and that is to simply add more items to your cart!  But how about those times when you only need to add a dollar or two to your cart, and you don't need anything on Amazon that is so cheap?  This is why someone invented filler items.  There are whole websites dedicated to filler items.  I used to use filleritem.com, but the website has, since the advent of the add-on program, been extremely unreliable in pricing.  The other problem I find is that the items on the filler item websites are just like random car parts and springs and stuff, with the occasional pen or something thrown in.  Today, I'm going to show you how to get better filler items and use them to your advantage for that sweet sweet free shipping!

First, I recommend that you create a wish list on your Amazon account just dedicated to filler items. This way, once you find a really awesome filler item that you can actually NOT just throw in the junk drawer, you can buy it multiple times if you like.


Your next step is to find some items to put in the wish list.  This is an optional step, but it works best so you don't have to keep repeating your searches.

 A quick reminder: please keep in mind that Amazon prices change periodically, so some items I show you in this blog post will inevitably change price over time.  I apologize for any future inconsistencies.

Now, on to the filler items!

The first and easiest thing to do is to just conduct a search on Amazon for the words "filler items" and see what comes up. 


You can see that a few items right off the bat are pretty useful. Who doesn't need tape and sharpie markers?  I have added those to my special filler item list and plan to use them in the future. I already bought a pack of sharpie markers, and they're great for everything.  You can choose between ultra-fine point and the regular fine tip.


You may want to narrow your results a bit, and you do that by going to the right of the screen and choosing a department.  I chose art and craft supplies.  Then, I went and sorted by price (low to high, of course!).  The last step is to go to the left of the screen and check the box for Prime only items to show in your results. 


You want to look for items that you are actually going to use, that's the idea here.  In my results shown above, there are several gift bags, pens, and tissue paper for wrapping.  I would definitely buy a gift bag or two, because those are always useful--especially around the holidays!  Other items you can search for are things like body wash, sponges, straws, stationary products, cabinet and drawer hardware (which sometimes is as cheap as a penny!), and more. Get your list ready now, so you can use it when you need it.

Another tip is to simply browse by category, choose prime only items again, and then sort from low to high. I found a few filler items by browsing this way, and I have shared them below. I tried to keep them all at 5 bucks or less.  Some of them are definitely worth spending a little extra for:


One of the best filler items is scissors. I always need these, and I am always losing them.  If you don't need scissors at your home, buy these kids' scissors for 67 cents and donate them to a nearby school!

Westcott Classic Kids Scissors, 67 cents






    
Hide-a-Spare Key Fake Rock, $4.98
I thought this was a great item, just because a lot of people use them, and this is cheaper than you would get any hide-a-key kit at a store. Amazon also has a thermometer with a secret spot for a key inside that you can mount on your house, so check that out also!

50 Piece Assorted Picture Hook Kit, 2.97

Who doesn't need more hardware for hanging pictures?  Perhaps I'm just one of those people who moves stuff around a lot, but I consider this a junk drawer staple.


Anyway, you get the gist of it at this point.  If you find a great filler item, be sure to share it in the comments!  Happy online shopping!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cube Drawers From Cardboard Boxes

I am SO EXCITED to write this post, because an Idea I have had for quite some time finally has come to fruition.



 I found a cube shelving unit on the side of the road last year, and I previously used some Dollar Tree bins for yarn storage, but they were very shallow and overflowed rather quickly.  This is what it looked like before:



How embarrassing, I would have never shared this mess with my readers, except for the fact that I turned it into this!



Beautiful, isn't it?  :-)

So, I had been pricing those fabric drawers online, and the cheapest I could find for anything that wasn't designed in colors for a kid's bedroom was 8 bucks apiece.  I mean, they're just glorified cardboard and fabric and I could never justify paying that much for cardboard!  That's when I got the idea:  I have fabric here, and I also already have some 10x10 cardboard boxes in the basement from a prior project.  Here's how I did it:

First, you will need:
Hole punch: (preferable a crop-a-dile or something else that punches small holes and has a long reach, otherwise a nail will probably work just fine.
Fabric: In total, I used about 2.5 yards of fabric, but I recommend 3 yards, because then your pattern will all go the same direction when you cut it out.
Cardboard Boxes: My shelf had 9 spots for drawers, so I used 9 boxes.
Drawer Pulls: Optional, but it really gives it an expensive look.
Spray adhesive--alternatively, you can use a hot glue gun, but I would only use it on the folded over edges, because it can make bumps in the fabric once dry.
Screwdriver for attaching hardware
Hot Glue for assembling boxes
Extra cardboard (a small amount will do)
Marker
Scissors



I got my boxes from Amazon. they need to be 10x10x10 to fit the standard cube shelving units, which are actually 11x11. To start, take out as many boxes as you need and assemble them.  I used hot glue instead of tape, since it keeps the outside of the box clean.  As for the top flaps, I folded them down inside each box to give it strength, and it also made the top of the boxes look much cleaner than if I had cut them off.


Next, I did some calculations to see how to cut out my fabric strips. I wanted to cover the front and sides, with a 1" allowance on each edge to fold around the top, bottom, and back.   This will make them look less like cardboard boxes and almost indistinguishable, even if the drawers are pulled out.  I initially had planned to cover just the front, but I am glad I decided against that.


When I was doing calculations, I figured the boxes are 10x10x10, and so I would need 30" to cover the box itself, but since cardboard boxes are imperfect, I wanted to add 1" of fabric to each edge (which worked perfectly).



This is how I cut out the fabric.  I recommend putting something down and using a rotary cutter if you have one.  Make sure you are only cutting the part of the fabric that has pattern on it, not the white edges (I trimmed those off prior to cutting my pieces).


I tried to get a photo of my 12x32 piece of fabric, but whenever I put fabric on the floor, Chunk thinks he has to sit on it.  I think it works anyway.


Next, You need to lay down some cardboard that is wider than your fabric, so that any overspray of adhesive will not stick to the floor.  Ideally, this should be done outside, but I am stubborn.  Just open a few windows and turn on the fan so the spray adhesive can be ventilated, if you do do this inside.

Next, place the fabric right side down and center your box on it so that you will have about 1" to fold over the top and back.  Pick up the fabric on each side and hold it on the box a few times, moving the box until it is in just the right spot.


I sprayed the right side first, taking care to get glue on all the edges, and then I rolled the box over to the right on top of the fabric. Then, I sprayed the middle and left sides, and rolled the box back to the left over the fabric. 



Then, I smoothed out the front first (since that's what everyone will see), and smoothed out the sides. The spray adhesive dries quickly, so you want to work fast to get good adhesion. If you wait a few minutes, the spray adhesive will still be tacky, but it is a very weak adhesion at that point so you will need to spray more.


I carefully folded down the sides first, then the front top of the box, just like wrapping a gift.


It is important to note that I made sure that I lined up every box exactly the same, as pictured below. I always used the side that had a fold on the bottom to be the front, since it would be a clean edge.  Plus, I noticed that all the boxes had the same lean, as they did not sit completely flat.  Using the same side for the front makes sure this lean is uniform and undetectable.


Here's how it looked after I finished covering all 9 boxes. I was amazed at how much neater it looked, aside from the box of craft supplies on the right and all the dog toys on the left, that is.  Doesn't that opossum look real?  Chunk loves it, he is a very spoiled little dog. 


I loved how the look was so far, but I decided that adding drawer pulls would make these things look really expensive and real.  I wanted to get some of those vintage glass hexagon knobs, but the cheapest I could find those was for about 5 bucks apiece, and I was not about to spend 50 bucks on knobs for cardboard boxes.  I went to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found 9 drawer pulls for 79 cents each, totaling $5.50 after taxes.  They match the fabric well, and they look awesome.


I looked these up online to find the retail price, and they're between 3 and 4 dollars a piece!  Score!

To attach the handles, I used my Crop-a-dile hole punch, which makes 1/8" holes.  Alternatively, you could probably use a nail and hammer to punch holes through the boxes without messing up the fabric.

One thing I always have trouble with is measurements. I'm pretty good at basic stuff, but when it comes to figuring out how to center drawer pulls on a box (not knobs, but the ones with 2 holes), that's a bit tough for me. I can do it, it just probably takes longer than the average person.  Luckily, at my father in-law's suggestion, I made a template, and it saved me SO MUCH TIME! I already knew the approximate center, but I wanted these to be perfect.  Upon measuring the box, I realized that after all the folding, the front from top to bottom was about 10.5" and side to side it was still 10".  I used another box and cut out what would be the front, being sure to match the measurements of a finished box.  I marked the actual center with an X, and then I found the center of the drawer pull. I measured how far out from the center it was to each hole, and that's how I marked it on the template. I measured a few times to make sure it was all correct, and then I punched holes in the template where I marked the drawer pull holes, so that I could stencil them onto each finished box.  I also made sure to mark the top of the template to match up with the top of the box, just because I knew it wasn't 100% perfect, so this way every single box would be consistently "not 100% perfect," and thus less noticeable.


I took out each box, placed the template on top, and marked the holes.  Then, I used my crop-a-dile to punch the holes out.




The screws that came with the hardware were 1" long, and that meant they were longer than what I needed by about 1/4 inch. To remedy this, I cut out rectangles of cardboard a few inches long and about 1 inch high, and used the template again to put holes in them. I then used them inside each box and put the screws through them before I put them through the box:






So, there you have it:  A way to make CUSTOMIZED shelf cubes instead of going broke on the store-bought kind.









I love that the fabric almost makes a continuous pattern throughout the boxes.  If you get really meticulous, I bet you could match the pattern!

Now, I had most of my materials on hand, so this project only cost me $5.50, but if you needed to buy all of the materials, there are a few ways you can go about it. 

I would never recommend that someone use free Priority mail boxes for any home project, since that is illegal, and they don't come in 10x10 sizes anyway.

 A pack of 25 10x10x10 boxes costs $22.00 on Amazon, but you could contact your local restaurants, as they all get shipments each week and thus get rid of many boxes.  Perhaps you could have them collect the size you need.

My Fabric was something I bought for a project a couple of years ago, and I went in another direction with it.  You can get upholstery fabric for this project, but quilting fabric would work just fine.  You can often get quilting fabric for $3.00 per yard when Joann's has a sale, or you can use one of their coupons for 40% off that the usually offer. Check their website for deals.

There are knobs available at Home Depot for 80 cents, so you can definitely find some knobs for a low price.  For just a little bit more, you can get plain white knobs. I used the drawer pulls because it is what I happened to find that matched.


If you make your own, please post your results in the comments, or on my Facebook page.


Happy saving!