Feb 26, 2013

DIY reusable shopping bag

Just as I promised, I attempted to make my own reusable shopping bag.  The experience took me a few hours and was a little frustrating (because I've never sewn this type of material before), but I think that with a little more practice, I could get one of these puppies done in no time. 

So if you missed my last post, I was rambling on about how awesome it was to be green in your kitchen.  Not only does it save you money but it is also kind to earth.  And I mean, who doesn't love earth?  So if you don't have any reusable shopping bags or you do and are up for a fun sewing project, read on!

So this little tutorial is a mini adaptation of the one I found here at pieandcoffee.org.  If any of my directions are unclear, I urge you to check out this website as they have much more detail and better pictures in their tutorial.

STEP 1:  Get some fabric! And have fun people!  I went a little crazy with my fabric choice, but when else can I use outstandingly colorful fabric such as this piece below?  Plus, I am 100% positive this will make my grocery shopping experience a little more fun & bright (pun intended---hawwwink) I bought 3/4 yard of a stretchy denim/canvas combo.  I thought this choice would be a little more durable.


STEP 2:  Fold your fabric in half and cut your fabric 23 in wide (as per the tutorial above)  This is  what I ended up doing, but I think in the future I'm going to leave the width of my fabric as it comes from the store (27ish inches) and cut the height to 23 inches.  This may or may not have been what the tutorial above actually wanted me to do, since they never mentioned a height measurement.  If so, I was confused, but either way works. 

STEP 3:  To form the pattern for the bottom of the bag you need to cut two squares 5.5 inches wide by 4 inches high out of each corner of your fabric.  Make sure you are cutting your fabric on the FOLDED side. 


STEP 4:  Sew the left and right side of your bag.  Leave the top and bottom squares UN-SEWN.   Now the stitch I used.  This was the most difficult part for me.  I couldn't figure out what stitch would hold this fabric without bunching it, coming undone, or just plain not working.  I experimented with different tensions of my thread, spacing, and stitches, and ended up using a ridiculously complicated stitch that was really unnecessary.  After I finished I found out the best method to use is actually the flat felled seem.  Definitely use this.  It takes a little longer on your machine, since it is multiple steps, but it really will save you time and effort in the long run.  This is my go to stitch for future projects with this sort of material. 

STEP 5:  Pin the corners of the bottom of your bag together and sew.  Now the tutorial at pieandcoffee.org has you first sew the bottom shut with the bag right side out and then has you resew the seems with the bag flipped inside out.  This is the method I used as well, and it turned out alright. 

STEP 6:  Hem that puppy.  This is the hem on the top half of my bag.  And yes, I cheated.  The stitch you see was the original hem I created. But I wasn't happy with how my bag appeared to be too tall for it's width.  (which goes back to the whole 23 inch measurement thing)  So i folded my hem down further and used hem tape the second go around.  Honestly at this point, I was so tired of fighting my sewing machine, plus it was late, that I cheated and used my hem tape I've had sitting around for a year.  Hey that's what it's for anyway right?  So if you feel like cheating too, go ahead, I won't tell.

STEP 7:  With your scrap fabrics, cut pieces that are 4 inches wide and however long you would like your handles to be.  My handles ended up a little shorter than I would like, so make sure you presize them with your bag.  Fold them in half (hot dog style) with the print sides inward. Stitch along the edge, but leave the ends open.  When you've got them stitched, flip them inside out so the fabric print is on the outside again. 


STEP 8:  Attach straps to bag.  So I folded that unfinished edge into the tube about 1/4-1/2 inch and then used a straight stitch to sew around the border of the handle.  As you can see below, I made an "X"  to add extra strength to the hold. 

The upside down view from the other side of the bag.  Sorry, blogger won't let me flip my pictures around for some reason!


STEP 9:  Admire your finished product.  There you go folks.  A finished reusable shopping bag.  I bet this thing will hold at least 4 plastic bags worth of groceries.  I have to go grocery shopping later today, so I'll let you know ;-)





Update:
Look at this beaut! She worked and held more groceries than I coulda hoped for.

Feb 22, 2013

The "Green" Replacements

The replacements

In this post I want to share with you a couple ways in which I have saved money in my kitchen and gone "green". I like the idea of being "green", although Dan and I are not experts, we try to do our part wherever and whenever we can. And we have found a few ways to practice being green in our very own kitchen.

Change number 1:
Reusable shopping bags:
I am so glad to see that this trend is finally catching on. Each time I go to the store, whether it be to get groceries, household items, or even clothes, I see at least one fellow shopper with their reusable shopping bags as well. The number of plastic bags I get from a weekly grocery shopping trip (if I forget my reusables) is horrifying! I can easily come home wit 20+ bags and that's just one trip, one person. Imagine how many plastic bags go out the door in one grocery store per day at that rate?! Scary! So invest in some reusable bags. I have an odd collection that I've accumulated over the years. Many of them can be bought for one dollar. Can't beat that for something that can be used over and over again. And I don't know how you'll feel, but I admit I feel very proud of myself when I'm wheeling my cart full of cloth shopping bags to my Car. I feel like Mother Earth is giving me a pat on the back. Stay tuned, because inspired by this post I think I'll try to do a tutorial for you on sewing your own jumbo sized reusable bags. Check back for that one.

Change number 2: Cloth Napkins
Now this one is so simple. Replace your disposable napkins with the cloth kind. Dan and I have a basket of cloth napkins near our kitchen table that's easily accessible. During mealtimes, we grab a napkin, and when we are finished with it, we throw it in a basket in the laundry room to be washed. There are a few reasons I love using cloth napkins. Let me share.
1. They are pretty and fun and come in all sorts of cool patterns and colors. You can change them with the seasons, holidays, mood swings, whatever.
2. They are more efficient. I don't know about you but I easily go though 3 paper napkins during one meal. I dunno, maybe I'm a messy eater, but they rip and tear on me like tissue paper. With cloth ones, that is not a problem. And Dan can't give make fun of me for needing more than one!
3. They save me money. Now I don't have to spend that extra 5-7 dollars every couple of weeks at the store to buy paper napkins. It may seem like so little savings, but they call it "counting pennies" for a reason. They all add up!
4. Mother Nature appreciates me. Again, I love to know that I am doing my part to help keep our planet green, no matter how little and insignificant it may seem. So I get another pat on the back ;-)


Change #3:

Cloth paper towels

I saved my most favorite for last...replace that paper towel roll with cloth ones! Now before you go "pshhh ya right". Hear me out. This has by far been the best " green" change we've made in our kitchen. We used to go through sooooo many paper towels. It was so easy to just rip one off and clean up any and every mess we had no matter how big or small. But by doing that we found ourselves constantly replacing rolls and then having to buy more. And let's face it, they aren't cheap things to be buying constantly. So I found the idea of a "cloth paper towel roll" on a friends Pinterest awhile back and fell in love! It was on an etsy shop. A roll of cloth paper towels that had snaps and attached to each other and looked all cute and everything. The only problem was that it was $50. Cue jaw drop and instant disappointment. No way Was i going to pay 50 bucks for that. Well then my voice took over and I devised a plan to make my own, which I detail in this post here. Since making these, we've gotten sooooo much use out of them. Even the hubby likes them, and they have held up so well after MULTIPLE washes. I am ready to make myself another set here soon, so I will definitely post a new and improved tutorial when I do that.

Well that's it. Three major but simple changes in your kitchen/food shopping habits that will not only save you money but also keep our planet healthy!



Don't go far, I'll be back soon with a few more fun posts!  I have a couple of really sweet projects in the works now that I want to share with you all =)


Feb 18, 2013

DIY fabric journal

I have another cool tutorial-ish post for you all.  A fabric covered DIY journal.  But let's go back to the origination of this idea.  It all started last Wednesday.  Noah bear had his 6 month old well baby check up.  Emphasis on the well.  Well, he came out of the appointment severely pissed off after waiting 2 hours to be poked and prodded by two different doctors and stabbed 3 times by a not-so-friendly nurse.  Needless to say, the rest of the day I had a pretty grumpy baby on my hands.  By that evening, it was evident that the trip gave him more than a sour attitude, he had developed a lovely hacking cough, waterfall-ish runny nose, low grade fever, and generalized malaise.  Yay.  To boot, I hadn't been left unscathed either, sporting a rather stuffy nose and sexy nasally voice myself.

Thank goodness for the hubby.  He has nursed us back to a semi-healthiesh state the last few days.  I am almost recovered, but poor Noah is still miserable.  I really hope his little body kicks this thing soon.  But anyway, yesterday Dan and I decided we needed to get out of the house.  Even though it was like -40 degrees outside, we thought some fresh air would do the family good.  So we took a trip to one of our favorite go to hangouts, Barnes N Noble.  This brings us to the idea for a journal.  While perusing the store, I stumbled across the journals section.  Nostalgia hit as I remembered this portion of the store being my favorite place to hang out as a little girl.  As a pre-teen and teenage girl, I had more journals than I knew what to do with.  There was just something so enticing about writing down my secret thoughts on fresh, clean, stylish pages I couldn't get enough of.  To top off my trip down memory lane, there was a young girl scouring the shelves for the perfect diary/journal right next to Noah and I.  This prompted my own search for a journal.  "Maybe I'll take up writing one again"  I thought to myself.  Cue searching for the perfect match.  Five minutes in, I abandoned my hunt.  Paying anywhere from $10-$30 for a book I may not even use was becoming unattractive.  And then that voice...."You can make one!"

So I came home, determined to conquer another DIY project. So here's what happened.


I gathered some supplies (all of which I had on hand)
1. cardboard
2. iron-on adhesive sheets (adhesive spray would probably work too)
3. scrap fabric
4. notebook paper
5. ribbon
6. needle
7. thread
8. button
9. rubber band

Step 1:  I cut out the "bones" of my journal.  Using the cardboard (it was of the thinner more paper-like variety), I sized and cut out the front, back, and spine of my journal.


Step 2:  I placed iron on adhesive strips all round the edges of my cardboard.





Step 3:  I ironed the cardboard onto the fabric.  
I'm sorry I don't have any pictures documenting this.  I was doing it as I was watching Noah, so I didn't have a lot of time.  But essentially I had a piece of fabric large enough to fold completely in half and cover both sides of my "layout".  (By layout I mean the three places as I have them placed in the pictures above)  After ironing on each of those pieces separately in that layout, I folded the fabric down over top of them all so that the bottom edges aligned, and I ironed that.  

Step 4:  I prepared my notebook pages.  
I used a standard-ruled notebook and cut the pages to the size I needed for the journal, being careful to leave the little round circles from the spiral wire intact.  I then placed these into the journal so that the circles lined up above the little space of fabric to the right of the spine and to the left of the back cover.

Step 5:  Using a craft needle and some sparkly embroidery thread I carefully sewed my pages to the binding of the book.  (I came up through the back of the book first, through the hole, across the spine, and into the space to the left of the spine and the right of the cover).  

This long, rather arduous process yielded this.
Pretty right?!

Step 6:  I bedazzled.  Using the adhesive paper, I attached two yellow ribbons onto the front cover of my journal.


Step 7:  I attached a big white button.  This was a little more tricky.  First I marked where my holes needed to be with a permanent marker.
Next I took a pin and poked through the cardboard to get a pathway started for my big fat craft needle.  Then I threaded my needle through and attached said button in no particular fashion.  I just made sure I criss-crossed, zig-zagged, and all sorts of things to keep that puppy on there tight.


Step 8:  I used a yellow rubber band to make a "tie" for my button.  First I poked a hole through the back cover using the pin and craft needle again.  Next I knotted my rubber band on one end so that it would hold onto the inside of my back cover.  Next I forced the end with the loop through the hole and out the back of my journal.

inside back cover
outside back cover
And looped around to fit the front. (I originally wanted to use a hairband, but couldn't get it to go through the hole, so I gave up when I saw the yellow rubber band).

Well there you have it.  A homemade journal for $0.  Although, it did take a few hours to come together.  Anyway, it's amazing what you can do with the things you have lying around your house.  I love "tinkering" and finding ways to make old or unused items new!

Let me know if this tutorial helped you at all and if the directions were unclear in any part, let me know!
Happy Crafting =)