Showing posts with label Crafts and Sewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crafts and Sewing. Show all posts

Dec 5, 2018

23 Fun & Practcal Ways to Upcycle Feed Bags

How to Reuse Feed Sacks
If you have any pets or farm animals, you've probably thrown away a ton of feed bags. Each time you've done this, maybe you've wondered: Is there something better I could do with this?

Well in fact, there is! Feed sacks are made from wonderfully durable material and with just a little imagination, you can turn them into all kinds of useful and fun things. Here are some ideas:

1. Nail feed bags to the walls of your chicken coop (or garden shed, or stall, etc.) to help give added warmth during the winter.

2. Use a sack as a container for muddy/sandy clothes or shoes.

3. Cut open a bag or two and lay them flat in a car trunk, to help keep the floor clean.

4. Sew a bag or two into a tote bag perfect for groceries. Or a messenger bag.

5. Sew a feed bag into an apron.

6. Use feed sacks as a grow bag. This might work for potatoes and tomatoes, as I often see online, but I think they'd be even better for herbs, greens, radishes, carrots, and similar crops.

7. Use empty bags in place of landscape fabric, between garden rows. Pull them up every year, however, or you'll end up with bits and pieces of plastic all over your yard.






Outdoor cushions, via ThriftyFun.
8. Use bags as garden totes for hauling weeds, cuttings, compost, etc.

9. Use empty sacks to store manure you'll later use in the garden.


10. Use feed bags as trash bags.

11. Place donated clothes and household items inside empty bags (instead of wasting garbage bags).

12. Cut bags open and use as shelf liners in the garden shed or garage.

13. Cut sacks open and let your kids use them as sleds.

14. Turn old feed sacks into farmhouse decor Christmas stockings.

15. Sew feed bags into outdoor cushions. Talk about low maintenance!

16. Turn empty bags into a tarp.
Feed bag apron, via Scoop from the Coop.

17. Sew sacks into a tablecloth. This would be perfect for garden stands, the farmer's market, a picnic, or even just as a table covering for kids to do messy crafts upon.

18. Sew a sack into a zippered pouch. Really, you could use almost any purse, pouch, or bag pattern.

19. Turn an empty feed bag into a bib.

20. Make easy wall decor.

21. Turn a feed sack into a clothespin bag.

22. Make a pillow. This would be cute for the porch!

23. Sew some feed bags up into a dress?!
Feed sack grow bag, via Linn Acres Farm.



Dec 28, 2017

Top 5 Most Popular Posts for 2017 - Plus Top Posts of All Time!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

2017 is nearly at an end, which means it's time for reflection and maybe some new goals. This year has certainly been a life-changing one for me: Reversing my diabetes (and most of my other health complaints) through a keto diet; hubby no longer commuting 92 miles one direction in order to get to work; and my need to do more to help support my family financially. And one of the things I always do around this time of year is access this blog.

So let me ask: What are my readers (you!) needing from me? Please, let me know in the comments below!

Another way I learn what readers want is to look at this blog's most popular posts from the previous year, and for the entire life of the blog. (Did you know I've been writing this blog since 2009?! Holy smokes!)

Most Popular Posts from 2017


# 5. Catnip for Human Medicine 
This popular post was inspired by the catnip patch that came with our homestead - and which our cat (who also came with our homestead) adores. I was surprised to learn catnip is so beneficial for humans, especially for helping us relax. It also repels mosquitos better than DEET. Find out what else catnip is good for by clicking here.

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/07/catnip-for-human-medicine.html#.WkVtLnlG0dh

# 4. How to Get Out from Under the Laundry Pile
A lot of you struggle to keep up with your family's laundry, and in this post, I give you my best tips for how I make laundry easy and stress-free. 

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/11/how-to-get-out-from-under-laundry-pile.html#.WkVtZHlG0di

#3. Can I Use My Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for Canning?
The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (buy it here) hit the world by storm in 2017, and my third most popular post definitely reflects that. In it, I dispell myths about using pressure cookers as pressure canners. Be sure to read it before you can!

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/06/can-i-use-my-instant-pot-pressure.html#.WkVtnnlG0dh

#2. Cauliflower Chowder Recipe
Combine the Instant Pot and a keto recipe and you get my second most popular post from 2017. This is actually a revised version of a non-keto, non-Instant Pot recipe I posted in 2015. It's been a family favorite, so when I went keto, I was thrilled it was easy to make low carb. It's also easy to make in the Instant Pot (or slow cooker/crock pot, or the stove top). 


http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/03/cauliflower-chowder-recipe-low-carb.html#.WkVtx3lG0dh

 #1. 50 Low Carb and Keto Thanksgiving Recipes
When I started eating keto in December of 2016, I never dreamed that keto recipes would turn into the most popular posts on my blog! It's really a testament to this healthy diet, which truly works for treating type I and type II diabetes, cancer, Lyme disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, metabolic disorder, sleep disorders, pain, infertility (especially PCOS), multiple sclerosis, and other diseases - not to mention for losing weight, especially when the pyramid diet fails. (I've lost 45 lbs., my husband has lost 60 lbs.) Keto works, my friends!

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/09/50-low-carb-and-keto-thanksgiving.html#.WkVt9XlG0dh






Most Popular Posts of All Time


#5.  Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets
Here's a little secret: I hate pickled beets. But my family loves them - and, apparently, so do you! This post from 2014 continues to be among my most read. 

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/08/easy-refrigerator-pickled-beets.html#.WkVuJ3lG0dg

#4. The Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net
I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves a good apron - or two, or three, or...Since 2011, this post has pointed ya'll to some pretty awesome, free patterns for my favorite kitchen accessory.

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2011/05/the-best-free-apron-patterns-on-net.html#.WkVuX3lG0dh


#3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible
I'm so happy at least one God-centered post is popular on this blog! ;)

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2011/06/6-ways-to-teach-kids-books-of-bible.html#.WkVuiHlG0dh


#2. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings & Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen!
It turns out, greasy kitchens are my specialty. I also specialize in finding "lazy girl" ways to clean. This post from 2014 combines both these "talents."

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-easily-clean-ceilings-walls-even.html#.WkVurHlG0dh

#1. How to Train Chickens
This has been my most read post since 2012, which cracks me up! I'd have never thunk it. But I guess hubby and I are pretty good at getting our hens to cooperate and do the things we want them to.
http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-to-train-chickens-and-get-them-to.html#.WkVu1nlG0dh






Aug 30, 2016

Easy DIY Farmhouse Style Toothbrush Holder

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

 Our old suburban bathroom had a luxurious amount of counter space. Our new rural homestead bathroom has almost none. Organizing it is a bit of a challenge, and the toothbrush situation has been driving me to distraction. Four toothbrushes - plus a special toothbrush for my daughter's retainer - all strewn across one sink, along with toothpaste and soap...It was constant mess.

I looked both locally and online to find a toothbrush holder that would hold that many toothbrushes - some electric, with thicker handles than the manual kind - to no avail. Everything was either too breakable, too small, or too chintzy or cheap looking. (And, occasionally, more than I wanted to pay.) So last weekend, I whipped up a super easy solution that also fits in with my farmhouse vision for this house. And I did it all with stuff I had on hand.

First I'll walk you through how I made the toothbrush holder at zero cost, then I'll show you some simple and inexpensive ways to customize the look.
The commercially made inspiration for this project.


How to Make a Farmhouse Style Toothbrush Holder

You will need:

One pint sized canning jar with lid and screw band (I used a widemouth jar)
Small piece of chicken wire
Wire cutters

1. Lay the chicken wire flat on a hard surface and place the jar lid over it. Use the lid as a template for cutting the chicken wire into a circle the same size as the lid. Be sure to use wire cutters!


2. Lay the circle of chicken wire inside the canning jar ring.


3. Screw the ring onto the jar.

Viola! It doesn't get any easier than that!


Variations

* Use one of the "heritage" canning jars, which come in blue, green, and purple.

* Color the jar any color you like; there are many methods for doing this: This basic method; distressed method; "sea glass" look; metallic look; or colored glass look.

* Use any type wire mesh you have on hand, as long as a toothbrush will fit in the holes.

* Use a store-bought toothbrush insert for the jar, like this or this or this.

* Not crafty? Buy the Mason jar that inspired this project!

* Want a matching soap dispenser? That's really easy, too. Just purchase a pump! (This foaming pump insert works, too.)


Dec 29, 2015

Most Popular Posts 2015 - and All Time!

I've been blogging at Proverbs 31 Woman for six years (and have written over 1,140 posts!), but honestly, I never have any clue which posts are going to be the most talked about or viewed. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and judging by what posts are most popular here, I have to agree! It's always a pretty eclectic list. I hope you enjoy it!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")


Most Popular Posts from 2015:

1. Why I Don't Watch HGTV (And Maye You Shouldn't Either)

2. Free Art History Curriculum: Edgar Degas (this whole series is popular, but this is the most popular post from the series)

3. How to Kill E.Coli on Vegetables and Fruits

4. No Fail Healthy Pie Crust Recipe

5. Keeping the House Cool in Summer (With and Without AC)

6. 12 Old Fashioned Birthday Party Games for Kids

7. How to Make a SCOBY for Kombucha

8. "I Am..." A Self Worth Craft for Kids


Most Popular Posts of All Time:

1. How to Train Chickens (and Get Them to Do What You Want Them to Do)

2. Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net

3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

4. Best Ideas for Upcycling Jeans

5. How to Clean a REALLY Dirty Stove

6. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings and Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen

7. Canning Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

8. Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets

9. Freezing Apple Pie Filling


Aug 19, 2015

How to Make an Easy Pinata

What with packing and prepping to move and preparing for homeschool to start, I'm not as organized as usual for my daughter's birthday party. But it's a big one this year: She's a decade old! So last week I worked like a mad woman to pull it together. I'd planned to purchase a pinata for the party - a kitty, to go with her theme. But I didn't order it in time and our local stores didn't have any cat pinatas. I considered buying a generic pinata, but I heard the ones in our local store break too easily. Then I considered making a pinata from a cardboard box - or making a pinata the traditional way, with all those little bits of crepe paper. But finally I decided we'd make a paper mache pinata, but instead of covering it with a gazllion strips of paper, we'd just paint it. Correction: I'd let the birthday girl paint it! And, for that matter, make most of the pinata.

Yes, this process is a bit messy...but my kids had such a good time with it. Making something out of paper mache is a project every kid should try at least once. I recommend making the paper mache part of the pinata outside - somewhere where the flour glue won't hurt anything (because, yes, it will drip all over). I also recommend only making a paper mache pinata when the weather is warm; the hotter it is, the faster the layers of paper mache will dry. If you must try this indoors on a cooler day, add a little salt to your homemade glue; this is supposed to help prevent the mixture from molding if it takes a while for it to dry.

What You Need to Make an Easy Pinata

A balloon. (I used a regular balloon because that's what I had on hand. A punch ball balloon is larger and more circular, and is another option.)

Flour

Water

A whisk or fork for mixing

A large bowl

Scissors

Non-glossy newspaper, preferably black and white

Exacto knife

String

Piece of cardboard

Large washer

Paint (we used Crayola Washable Kids Paint)

Colored paper or felt (optional)


How We Made Our Kitty Cat Pinata

1. Cut the newspaper into pieces about 1 1/2 inches wide.

2. Blow up the balloon and hang it somewhere outside, using string or yarn. Pick a spot where you don't mind the glue dripping on the ground.

3. Mix up the glue: Start by dumping 1 cup of flour into the bowl. Add 2 cups of water and stir well. You want the consistency to be close to Elmer's white glue; don't make it thick, like a paste. If the glue seems too watery, just add another handful and stir some more. Continue until the consistency is right. And yes, the homemade glue will be a bit lumpy.

4. Drip a strip of newspaper into the glue, then, holding the paper over the bowl, wipe it down, so only a small amount of glue remains. Place the paper onto the balloon. Smooth out the paper as much as possible. (Although, trust me, especially if kids are helping, the pinata will be a little lumpy!)

Cover the balloon with strips of newspaper dipped in flour glue.
5. Repeat step 4, overlapping the pieces of paper, until the entire balloon is covered. Let the paper dry completely, then repeat step 4 and 5 until you have at least four layers of newspaper on the balloon. Remember to do only one layer at a time, letting the newspaper dry completely before moving on to the next layer.
This is what our balloon looked like while the first layer of newspaper was drying.

6. Using scissors or a pin, poke a hole in the exposed end of balloon. Remove the deflated balloon from the pinata.

7. Cover the hole where the exposed end of the balloon was with several layers of paper mache. Allow to dry completely.
This is where the end of the balloon was exposed, now covered with a few layers of paper mache.
Here's what the pinata looked like, entirely dry. I put it in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer, to make handling easier.

8. Being very careful, use an Exacto knife to poke a hole in the very top of the pinata. This is where the string for hanging the pinata will go. Now cut a trap door on top of the pinata, over to one side; this is where you will add the candy; the door shouldn't be huge - but it needs to be big enough to pour candy/toys through, and get a piece of cardboard into the pinata. Pry the door open; try not to completely break the door away from the pinata; ideally, the uncut edge of the door will bend a little. (If it breaks off, don't worry; just set the broken piece aside for a moment.)
Carefully cutting the trap door...
Trap door is cut and open.
 9. Cut the piece of cardboard so it's larger than the hole you made for the string, and will fit in through the trap door. Thread the string through the hole you made in the top of the pinata.

Threading the string through the hole.
10. Poke a hole in the center of the cardboard, then pull the end of the string that's inside the pinata through this hole. Thread a large washer onto the same end of string. (We actually used two washers, but I think one is sufficient.) Tie a firm knot. (So the layers are: Cardboard, washer, knot. The washer helps keep the knot from pulling through the cardboard and the top of the pinata.) Carefully insert the cardboard into the pinata. On the outside of the pinata, pull the string tight.
Adding washers.
Getting ready to knot the string.
Putting the cardboard, washer, and knot inside the pinata.
11. Fill the pinata with candy and/or toys. Close the trap door. (If the door accidentally broke off, just set it in back in place on the pinata.) Cover the trap door with a few layers of paper mache. Allow to dry completely.

12. Paint the pinata. Dark colors will cover the newsprint better than light colors. My daughter chose purple for her cat (grin), and she only needed to use two coats.

Painting the pinata.
13. To make our pinata look like a cat's head, we glued on colored paper ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers.

The finishing touches!


Ta-da! All done.

After the party.


Aug 13, 2015

My Crazy Life...and Back to School

The give away pile.
Has anyone ever told you I'm crazy? They were right, you know. Or at least, that's how I feel this week. You see, I've started packing. We have some repairs to make on our house, and we need to have our stuff out of the way before we can start on them. Our little hauling trailer is empty now (the first load of things is already in our shipping container) and soon the shipping container will be insulated and completely ready to be filled with furniture, family photos, books, and yes, even my piano. But I'm doing the packing alone - in my spare time (ahem). Time is a little critical here (gotta get it done before the rainy season). So I'm feeling a weeeee bit stressed.

Because in addition to packing and working on and off for clients, I'm prepping for school. My daughter is begging to start, but I'm not quite ready yet. This year of homeschool will be my most complicated ever, since my son is starting kindergarten and 1) it will be the first time I've really taught two grades at once (to my way of thinking, preschool is so easy, it doesn't count) and 2) I'm working hard to make kindergarten as interesting as possible for my son, who is an unwilling school kid. So there's that.

Plus, I'm preparing for a birthday party. Every year, my husband and daughter share a party, and most of our local family comes. As it happens, this is also the year my daughter turns a decade old, so it feels like a bigger deal than usual. So as I pack, work, and prep for homeschool, I'm also working up games (like a bean bag toss, pin the tail game, and pinata). The good news is, my daughter wants to help with everything. Finally, her "I want to do it myself" attitude is paying off!

At any rate, you can see that all this doesn't leave much time for blogging. So today, I just want to point you to some archived posts about getting the kids back to school. I hope they help you!

* Back to School Breakfast Ideas - Quick, healthy ways to get your kids off to a great start each day.

* Back to School = I Love My Crockpot - Make school time easier by making good use of your slow cooker.

* Age Appropriate Chores for Kids - Back to school time is an ideal time to set up or revise chore charts!

* Sleep Deprivation: The Childhood "Epidemic" - Poor sleep means poor learning; here's how to help your child sleep better.

* 5 Safety Rules for Every Kid - School time often means more time away from mom and dad. Be sure your kids know these important safety tips.

* Why Homeschool Preschool? - Why I, and so many others, choose to homeschool during the preschool years.

* Homeschool Preschool: Thoughts on Readiness - How do you know when your child is ready to learn?

* Letter of the Week Activities - Easy crafts to help toddlers and preschoolers learn their letters and the sounds they make.

* Activities to go with The Little House on the Prairie Books - This series has been a real blessing in our house. If you're considering reading it to your children, consider some of these easy "go-withs."

* Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling - Tips from a mom who's been there!

* 10 Ways to Save Money on School Supplies - In case you missed it.


Jun 24, 2015

Tumbleweed Junction's Harvest Apron - a Review

If you're anything like me, you often find yourself outside meaning to pull just a few weeds or check the chickens' water level, only to end up harvesting veggies or fruits or eggs. And, again, if you're anything like me, you struggle with how to carry the food you've harvested so you can get it into the house. I usually ending up putting it in the bottom of my shirt - which I have to hold up to make a sort of hammock. But this just isn't practical - it's too easy to drop the food or have it stain your shirt. I've always thought that to solve this problem, I needed a harvesting apron.

So when Lorretta of Etsy's Tumbleweed Junction sent me one of  her harvest aprons to try, I was excited. No more stained, stretched out shirts! No more dropping tender fruit as I walked to the kitchen! And in fact, I've found the apron quite convenient. I just whip it on as I head out to the yard - just in case I find something I might want to harvest. It's light weight and comfortable, but sturdy enough for anything I might want to harvest in my yard.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Tumbleweed Junction's aprons. They are made from high end quilting fabric (designed to last!), not the cheap sewing fabric sold in too many chain fabric stores. The sewing is also extremely well done. Honestly, better than I could do - and I've been sewing since Jr. High.

I find the apron works extremely well for light-weight food, including eggs, herbs, lighter weight veggies (like beans and peas), and smaller quantities of heavier veggies and fruits. Recently, a friend brought me some lemons from her out-of-state yard, so I checked to see how well the apron would handle something heftier. It did just fine with probably 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. of lemons, but when I tried to fill the apron up all the way, I found I needed to hold the top of it with one hand, or the lemons would spill out.

Another thing I love about this apron is that people of many sizes can use it. I am currently a size 16 (but heading toward smaller sizes!), and some aprons just don't fit me well. They don't have complete coverage, and/or their strings are too short to tie around me comfortably. But this apron has neither problem - and it also fits my 9 year old daughter! Usually adult-sized aprons are overwhelmingly huge on her. That's not true with this apron. (In fact, she loves the apron so much, she's been doing most of the egg collecting, just so she can wear it.)

Occasionally, Tumbleweed Junction offers this apron in a child's size. Lorretta tells me that if there's enough interest in the child-sized version, she'll offer it more often - and may even start selling mother-daughter matching aprons, too. I'm sure you could contact her via Etsy if you're interested.

Also, Lorretta just began offering a sewing pattern for this apron - both the adult and child's sizes all in one package - so you can make this harvest apron yourself, should you wish. It's a nicely printed pattern, too, with color illustrations and clear instructions.

Overall, I'm loving my Tumbleweed Junction harvest apron.It definitely makes life around this urban homestead a bit easier. To order your own harvest apron, click on over to Tumbleweed Junction's Etsy shop.





Dec 31, 2014

Most Popular Posts - for 2014, and for all time!

The most popular post!
It's always fun for me to see which posts are most popular on this blog. (They are never - never! - the posts I imagine will most interest readers!) Oddly, what shows up as popular depends upon what source I look at; but studying stats from Blogger, Pinterest, and other top sources, it's easy to see which posts are all time favorites and favorites for the year. And since recent months have brought a great many more readers to Proverbs 31 Woman, I thought it would be fun to share these lists with you - especially since many of the posts are from years' past. It's a pretty eclectic list; enjoy!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")

Top 5 Posts for 2014:

1. 52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

2. 10 Things I Learned During Our Tiny House Test Run

3. The Letter of the Week Series, especially Letter R

4. Free Art History Curriculum: Claude Monet

5. Walmart Savings Catcher: Hit or Miss?


Top 10 Most Popular Posts of All Time:

 1. How to Train Chickens  (it completely cracks me up that this is the most popular post among readers!)

2. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

3. Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net

4. How to Clean a REALLY Dirty Stove

5. Best Ideas for Upcycling Jeans

6. Canning Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

7. Harvesting and Making Your Own Chamomile Tea

8. How Much Money Can You Save Gardening & Homesteading

9. 52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

10. Easiest Fruits & Vegetables to Grow

Feb 19, 2014

52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

I've blogged before on teaching children to sew. Not only is it a creative outlet for both girls and boys, but sewing improves fine motor skills and concentration while teaching a useful life skill. However, it can sometimes be a challenge to find sewing projects for kids - or for beginners of any age. So I've compiled some of my favorites, dividing them up between things that can be done by hand (which I recommend for all children under the age of 8) and by machine. Happy sewing!



20 Hand Sewing Projects for Kids or Beginners:

* Drawstring bag. (Depending upon the size, these are great for storing toys, or use one as a girl's purse, or as an overnight-at-Grandma's bag, or as a gift bag)
* Felt key rings.
* Tic-Tac-Toe game
* Sachets
* Felt bookmarks (more here, here, here, here, and here)
* Felt flower brooch
* Tree Christmas ornament
* Handprint scarf
* Ladybug pincushion or toy
* Felt pillows (perfect for dolls or stuffed animals)
* Felt finger puppets (just sew them instead of using glue)
* Braided bracelets
* Cup cozies
* Cloud pillows
* Tissue holder
* Ribbon bookmarks
* Felt scrap bracelets
* Mitten ornament
* Bottle bracelet
* Cloud brooch


20 Machine Sewing Projects for Kids or Beginners:

* Fabric bookmark
* Key rings
* Pocket scarf
* Tea towel and pot holders
* Easy skirt (see this one, too)
* Quilt made of strips of fabric.
* Bandana tote bag
* Pocket organizer
* T-shirt pillows
* Drawstring backpack
* Neck pillow
* Tote bag
* Turn jeans into fun shorts
* T-shirt tote
* Pillowcase
* Sleep masks (sew them instead of using glue)
* Pajama pants
* Jeans leg purse
* Mittens
* Me and My Doll apron kits

12 Projects for Either Hand- or Machine-Sewing:

* Sleeping bag for stuffed animals.
* Bandana quilt or blanket
* Ribbon bugs
* Easy doll dress
* Bandana apron
* Felt pencil case
* Very simple stuffed bunnies
* Easy apron
* T-shirt monsters
* Doll bedding
* Felt animals
* "Softies"



Jul 26, 2013

"New" Old Sewing Machines

When it comes to sewing machines, older is better. I learned this the hard way.

Several years ago, the low-end Pfaff sewing machine my mother bought me in junior high stopped working well. I'd been using it frequently for twenty-some years with nary a problem, but now I thought I'd "step up" and buy one of the new awe-inspiring computerized sewing machines. Ah, the fancy stitches it could do! But I had problems with it nearly from the start, until several months ago when it stopped sewing altogether.

I took the machine to an expert sewing machine repair man. He quickly confirmed what I'd already been thinking: Modern sewing machines are not designed to last. In fact, he was shocked I got a few years out of my low-end Brother. Could it be repaired? Nope. Manufacturers don't stock parts; they simply assume you'll buy a new machine rather than repair it.

When I asked if there was a decent sewing machine out there, he said, "Some modern machines are better than others, but they are all lousy compared to the older machines." He reminded me the modern machines are mostly plastic, that you can't oil them, and that you can't even properly adjust their tension. He suggested I look for a mid-1970s Viking. "They were built to last and have all the features you need," he said.

Of course he wanted to sell me one, but at the time I didn't have the money for that.

Fast forward a couple of months. I was in a thrift store when I thought: "I wonder if there are any decent old sewing machines here." Thrift stores - at least in my neck of the woods - frequently have older sewing machines. Sure enough, this one did, too. I even spotted an old Viking, still in it's suitcase-like container, manual still intact. It was $10. For that price, I figured it was worth a gamble.

When I got it home, my husband looked it over, then I tried sewing with it. The straight stitch worked great, but none of the other stitches did. My husband thought the machine was simply gummed up. So he took the machine to that same sewing machine repair man. When the repair man saw the machine, his eyes lit up. "Now THAT'S a great sewing machine!" he said.

$89 dollars later, the new machine was cleaned up, had new brushes on the motor and a few other small replacement parts - plus a new zipper foot, buttonhole foot, ruffler foot, and extra bobbins. It works perfectly. And I expect it will work well for the rest of my life.


I'm not the only one switching to an older sewing machine. I've noticed serious sewers and quilters everywhere are looking for, buying, and using machines from the 1970s or so. And they are happy. Even without fancy stitches.

Jun 19, 2013

Harvesting Apron Patterns and Ideas

This morning, I wandered past the garden and noticed the peas needed harvesting. I found myself folding up my shirt slightly and dropping pea pods into it...which worked okay up to a certain point, but soon had me wishing - once again - I had a harvest apron.

Why a harvest apron? Holding a bowl or basket leaves me picking with one hand, which generally isn't a great idea because branches and stems are more likely to break. And sitting a bowl or basket on the ground not only requires stooping, but it means getting the bowl dirty, too. A harvest apron, on the other hand, requires no hands, and stays up and away from the soil.

Harvest aprons are as old as aprons themselves, and there are many ways to go about making one. Here are some my my favorites from the Internet:




* Gathered pocket aprons. (See my full review of this apron here.) These are sturdy and hold a lot! I like how it is reversible, too. Here's a similar one.

Harvest apron tutorial at Reformation Acres.
* 1944 "basket" apron - a variation on the gathered pocket apron. Includes scaled pattern.

* Pouch apron. (If you don't sew, this is a really good price, too!)

* Old timey harvest apron - with a tutorial.

* Big pockets - basically just a standard apron with larger than typical pockets.

* Envelope. This style is fine for harvesting small amounts of food. A similar one.

* Half apron. This one has large pockets, but also buttons up for gathering more substantial amounts of food.

* Egg-pron. This is also a cute idea, designed just for gathering eggs. Here's another.

Jun 12, 2013

Turn Worn Jeans into a Cute Skirt

Not long ago, I posted an article with lots of links to inspire you to upcycle jeans. Recently, inspired by several of those links, I turned a pair of my daughter's jeans - ripped at the knee, but otherwise well fitting - into a cute skirt. And it was so easy! Here's how I did it.


You Will Need:
Jeans
Seam ripper
Scissors
A length of scrap fabric (optional)
Thread
Sewing Machine

1. Begin by ripping out the crotch of the jeans. You don't have to go all the way to the hem; just go a little beyond the desired length of the finished skirt.
2. Fold the jeans in half and cut off the legs at the desired length. (In this case, just above the rip at the knee.)
3. Look over the fabric from the legs you cut off. Note any worn areas you don't want to use, or areas you particularly want to use for the skirt. For example, these jeans had a cute embroidered hem detail that I wanted to reuse.

Open up the jeans and lay a piece of leg fabric beneath the back V-shape of the in-progress skirt.

4. Pin the fabric in place, retaining the natural edge fold in the jeans. If needed to make the skirt lay flat enough, rip a little further up the jean inseam and fold under some fabric to make the V-shaped godet lie flat.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the front of the skirt. Trim both V-shaped godets so the hem edge is in line with the rest of the skirt-in-progress.



6. Topstich the godets in place.

7. You may now either hem the skirt by making a narrow hem, or you may lengthen the skirt by adding a ruffle, as I did. To add a ruffle, cut a rectangular piece of scrap fabric about 1 1/2 times the measurement of the hem of the skirt. (If you want a fuller ruffle, use fabric 2 or 2 1/2 times the length.) You may either sew a narrow hem on one side of the ruffle, or you may fold the ruffle material in half, as I did. Sew basting stitches along the top of the ruffle, pull up the bobbin threads, and pin the ruffle to the skirt, right sides together. (See this tutorial for more details on how to gather fabric.) Stitch in place.

Easy peasy!