Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Using Elastic Thread in Your Sewing Machine

Not too many sewing projects (at least that I have come across) call for elastic thread, but when one does and you've never heard of such a thing or personally used it, it can throw you off a bit. I remember when I first went searching for it in-store I was having a heck of a time. It wasn't with all the thread?! Der, it was with the elastic, and it is definitely not as thin as regular thread! 

Since there is a first time for everything and for everybody, here's a simple tutorial with photos to help you get started on using elastic thread in your sewing machine.

As a heads up, in this case, I am NOT changing the tension or thread length settings on my machine. You'll do that for rouching projects. Keep your settings at 'normal'!!


Elastic thread can be purchased at most any craft/sewing supply stores pretty cheap and in several different colors (Example). Here is a picture of my elastic thread... it didn't come on a spool like my example link does, it was in plastic packaging hanging on the wall.


Thread your upper thread with regular thread (thread...thread...thread...!!) of your choice for the project.

Take an empty bobbin and begin wrapping your elastic thread around it. Don't pull too tightly, just slightly! You don't want it wrapped really loose but you don't want too much tension, either. When I start wrapping mine I hang on to about 1.5 inches so that it won't slip around the bobbin as I get the first several rounds going. You can see my excess in this photo laying over my pinky.


Take your time winding it. I have accidentally dropped the bobbin, then it rolls away, and I have to start over! Argh!

Once you fill the bobbin about half-way, maybe a little more, go ahead and snip the loose end back to where it isn't hanging out, and of course detach the other end from the elastic thread roll.


Follow the instructions for placing the bobbin in your machine.

I'm not sure if you really need to cut the end of the elastic thread like you do your regular thread, but I do anyway. Hold your finger over the bobbin (not on the camera like me) to keep it from moving then quickly yank the elastic in to the cutter. Pulling slowly like you do your regular thread doesn't work so well.

The very first time I ever used elastic thread I opted for some experimenting on scrap fabric (preferably scrap fabric just like whatever your project fabric is) to make sure I had it down. I suggest you try this too.

In this project I'm using a knit material. It's already stretchy but for a waistband I want to make sure the thread doesn't break. Using the elastic thread helps it have more give and leave the knit material with its stretchy quality.


I've flipped the fabric over here to show you what it looks like coming out from under the foot.

When you are finished sewing and hit the 'cut thread' button (or however you do it on your machine) most likely the elastic will not cut. It's hit and miss in my case so be careful when pulling the fabric from the machine... you might accidentally yank several inches off your bobbin which could be frustrating especially if you aren't done using it. Pull the fabric away gently and if it is still attached, cut the thread with your scissors. You should be GTG now!

I'll be honest, this particular project was a flop but it had nothing to do with using the elastic. It was an experimental deal that I plan to try again and hope will be a success. My point here is just simply about the elastic thread and its use in your sewing machine :)

Happy elastic thread usage!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adventures in Homemade Laundry Soap!

I've been making my own laundry detergent for about 3 years now. I love it! Only twice in that 3 years have I messed up timing of making more vs. running out and had to go buy stuff from the store >_<  I hate that! I'm all about saving money here and buying detergent is a waste, not a save!

I use the Duggar Family recipe for liquid laundry soap with Fels-Naptha bar soap (found mine at Kroger). I won't go through every single step since Michelle has basically laid it out for you, but here's my pictorial post about it.

Aside from the ingredients listed in the recipe you'll need a few extra things, one being a 5 gallon bucket. It has been a while but I believe I paid $4-$5 for mine at Walmart. I learned this go 'round that my bucket had a crack in the bottom so I patched it with a pool repair kit I had handy (remember, I'm saving money!). To be safe I put a couple garbage bags in the bucket when I began to fill it up. Later I learned the bags had leaked but thankfully the bucket and my patch had not!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I recommend a blender or food processor (I used my Ninja) for grating the soap. Faster and better than using the cheese grater, IMO. Also have a large funnel and ladle on hand for when you begin to fill up your smaller containers.


  Here is what the soap looks like after it sets for 24hrs. It definitely takes on a creepy goo form!


I use all different sorts of containers to store the soap. These are glass jugs from Santa Cruz organic apple juice.


Where the funnel and ladle come in handy!


  I am trying something new here... I decided to fill the lid of my Tide Stain Release bottle and dump it in one of my laundry detergent bottles. Yes, I make my own laundry detergent to save money but I still buy Tide Stain Release. But you better believe I buy that stuff on sale with coupons. I probably pay less $2 a bottle. Personally I really like it. Anyway, I usually only add the Tide to my laundry loads with clothes that I know have some stained items. With a 4yr old that's about every load of clothes. I'm going to test this out and see if it works just as well as adding the Stain Release separately. (BTW I do not use the recommended amount per the Tide bottle in each load, that's just outrageous. I use maybe 1/3 of what they suggest and have had good luck with it.)

Tideless detergent on the left - Tidefull detergent on the right


 And here you have it... every bottle I could find filled with detergent!

I still have about 4 inches of soap left in the 5 gallon bucket to distribute in to containers once it empties.The cost is incredibly minimal. I used my last bar of soap this time but I still have the same boxes of Washing Soda and Borax (down to maybe 1/2 full) that I had when I first started making detergent. I believe this is my 4th batch in 3 years? It must only cost a penny per load, if that!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sewing To-Do List

We are a couple of days in to the 3rd trimester chugging right along! 


July is my busy calendar month and August is my planned prep-for-baby month. While writing it down I realized there's quite a bit to do in the sewing department for Maddox, so I want to make a list not only to help ME out, but maybe to help other mommas out who may be interested in making some baby & momma goodies!

1.) Make a personalized onsie for a Onsie Exchange in my September due date Facebook group!  DONE!!

**Infant Tulle Tutu**

I've been given a few tidbits of information about my randomly picked person so that I can try and create something for her baby that will be special! I'm excited about this. I put this first because I have to have it shipped by August 6th, so I really need to start working on it SOON! Just in case my person happens to read my blog I won't give ideas away yet, but I definitely plan to post the final product once she receives it!

2.) Cloth diaper inserts DONE!

I still have a lot to make. I need to do plain ol' microfiber for my pocket diapers, more fleece/microfiber, possibly Bamboo fleece, and even recently learned that minky is a great material used for inserts. You can check out the inserts I have already made HERE!

3.) Cloth diaper wet bag DONE! (still need to create and link a post)

I guess I could buy one, and I know people have said they use just a gallon baggie but I really wanna take a stab at making my own wet bag. HERE is a link to one by Little Birdie Secrets that has given me some great tips to get started!

4.) Hooded bath towels

I may succeed (or fail) at only making one, or I may enjoy doing it and end up making a whole slew... who knows with me! Every project is so different I just never know if I'll like doing it or not until I do it. HERE is my inspiration from Blissful Sewing. She has a PDF file for specifically a hooded blanket, but if you change up the material, you have a bath towel :)

5.) Baby wipes DONE! (still need to create and link post)

Since we are cloth diapering, why not do cloth wipes? It can't possibly make too much of an impact on the laundry we'll already be doing, and it'll definitely make even less of an impact on the environment.  have found a few tutorials during my research. Many suggest using old knit t-shirts cut up. I totally have a stash of those in my sewing room. Check!! Flannel makes another great wipes material (check out THIS cute tutorial by Sewing Much 2 Luv). I've also seen folks make them with terry cloth.

6.) Moby wrap DONE!

**Moby Wraps & Ring Sling!**

I have wanted one of these since I found the tutorial last year during our 2nd pregnancy. It looks so cool and simple! I just can't bear the thought of paying $45-$60 on the real deal when I can so easily buy the fabric on sale and do it myself, then if I don't like it... oh well, lots of knit fabric for other projects! A Load of Craft has 2 wonderful tutorials (HERE is one of them) plus videos to help you learn how to properly wrap it with baby!

7.) Big Sister/Little Brother shirt and onesie for Jaiden and Maddox

These are so popular on Pinterest and a billion people on Etsy make them, so to be the rebellious and frugal momma I am, I will so make these and make them rock! Ok, I HOPE I will make them and make them rock. I hope.... :p

8.) Car seat blanket cover

Maddox will be here mid September so around that time we can expect the weather to be in its changing period. It's hard to predict around here but either way we'll have a new baby in the warm AND cold months so I want to do what I can to help protect little guy from the elements. Workman Family has THIS tutorial to get me headed in the right direction!

Ooo, on to Mommy things now!!

9.) Delivery gown DONE! (I simply took this Target clearance maternity dress, lopped off the length just above the knee and hemmed the bottom edges... still need to create that link!)

Mr. Maddox will probably be the last baby for us. Lord knows I love being pregnant and wish I could raise a huge family, but my husband and I have agreed that 2 is where we stop (until years down the road when I'm itching to get pregnant again.. I can already see it lol) My daughter was a voluntary induction with a few hours laid up in the hospital bed, then an epidural, about an hour of pushing and voila! It was beautiful, absolutely would not trade it for anything in the world... but this time I would like to experience labor come on naturally, walk around and work my way through it, scream bloody murder because I refused an epidural, and have a baby that I feel nearly killed me in the birthing process. Instead of looking like a hospital patient in the ugly drapes they provide, why not look like a hospital...not-patient-in-ugly-drapes?! Yeaaaah... That being said, I have decided that I would like to make myself a comfortable and cute delivery gown. Now, my luck things will go the exact opposite or happen so quickly I'll never get to wear it, but I still wanna make it :) 

HERE is one idea by Pretty Pushers of what style to make. I have seen different styles sold on Etsy that literally look like a hospital gown but obviously much more cute and customized, wrap skirts, long maxi-like dresses and such. I'm still not 100% sure what style I will do... it depends on what I have in-stock or what I find in-store for cheap that I can alter.

10.) Nursing pads

My hope is to have a successful nursing relationship with my son just as I did with my daughter (although she and I struggled a bit at first). I have a decent stash of the disposable nursing pads, a nursing necessity, in my hall closet I purchased with last year's Flex Spending Account funds. There are probably between 4 and 5 months worth. Mostly Lansinoh, my favorite brand, and I believe a couple boxes of Medela brand which I have never tried. But of course as my trend seems to be around here, I want to see if I can make some reusable cloth nursing pads and make them work! With a little determination and a sewing machine you can search "nursing pads" on Etsy and get fabulous ideas on how to make your own. I'm still doing my research on these... so many fabrics to use and shapes to work with!

I believe that covers it for now. Maybe I have inspired you to try making some of these on your own?! Or maybe I've reminded you of things you'd like to make and subsequently your baby prep to-do list has increased and you want to strangle me... either way! 


Friday, June 22, 2012

Thrift Store Skirt to Maternity Skirt

Yesterday I did my 10 minute sleeved maternity dress to sleeveless maternity dress.... today I did regular jean skirt to maternity skirt! 

(Please excuse my cell phone photos, they aren't that great. This was a last minute idea and I didn't have my camera handy)

I think it took about 20 minutes or so to make. Nothing incredibly fancy, but nobody will see my handy work outside of this post... and it fits with room to grow, woo! The point was to do it cheap and make it work.

I paid $3 for this Tommy Hilfiger skirt at Goodwill last year.


I took the skirt and folded it with the crease in the front and back so that I could get an even cut around the front to put the 'band' which I made using old t-shirts, courtesy my sweet husband!
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I went ahead and cut out the pockets on the inside since they'd be about useless now. I sewed across the original stitching on the pocket to close them up.

I failed miserably at getting pictures of making the belly band so I'll try and explain it:

I cut a long and wide swatch of t-shirt then folded it in half, laid it over the skirt how I'd want it positioned for the final product (the fold runs along the top in the final product btw) and using a pen I had handy, drew a sloppy line around the contour of the cut I made.

I had to feel my way through the t-shirt material as to wear to draw the line. While still folded I cut the material about 1/2in outside the line I drew. Then I folded the material the opposite way, right sides facing and sewed around the raw edges leaving about 1 1/2inches open at the end so I could flip the material right side out through the hole. That was my quick way of getting clean edges for the band on top of the skirt.

I laid the band on top of the skirt and pinned it on. From there I straight stitched the band on to the skirt!


It's quite comfortable! A little bit loose right now but it stays up and as I said earlier, there is room to grow. You can definitely do this with pants also, the suggestion I have would be to try them on and maybe make a little mark with either a pen/marker or even using a straight pin down below your belly where you'd like the lowest point of the band to be. 

$3 skirt to maternity skirts cost me, well $3 :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Clearance Maternity Dress Conversion

About 3 years ago I needed to purchase an outfit to wear at Thanksgiving. The cutest thing I could find was a maternity dress at Target. My daughter was a year old at this point so maternity wasn't a very accurate term for me, but it fit and best of all?! I paid like $11 for it!


You can tell it slightly droops in the front to make up for preggo ladies and their cute bellies. I have worn it occasionally since I purchased it but with the long sleeves, even though they are sheer, it made it difficult to wear during the hotter months. The whole dress is a sheer material with a black slip underneath to cover the important parts. 

Today while going through my closet I found it shoved way back in the back and thought how I'd love to wear it now that I'm actually pregnant, but ugh the sleeves! Duh, I own a sewing machine and a pair of scissors so surely I can fix it. I took about 10 minutes of time, cut the sleeves off leaving about 1/2 in of fabric to fold under for a clean edge, then sewed all the way around the arm holes to get a super cute summer sleeveless maternity dress!

My husband was still at work so I had to set up the tripod and get these pictures. I feel as if I have some sort of smirk on my face?? I promise I'm happy though!


Then my little girl had to join me... 

Have to say I think it looks much much better on the intended consumer (someone who is actually pregnant) AND sleeveless!


Monday, June 11, 2012

From Old(ish) to New - Crib & Changing Table

I can hardly believe we have approximately 100 more days to go until our son is here! With his impending arrival I'm doing little projects here and there to prepare. So far I have done a lot of room organizing, furniture painting, and even started making my own cloth diaper inserts. I waited until I finished what I *think* is all of the furniture painting for the room before I posted about it. Now that it is done, see our 4 year old crib and changing table get a Maddox-approved makeover!

The crib before Jaiden was born back at our cramped little apartment.
(We had cats, hence the crib tent, but ultimately it got taken off because the cats never bothered her)

 Changing table heavily stocked before her arrival.

And for Maddox


(still lots of stocking to do on his table) 

Painting the Crib:

Obviously the furniture matched to begin with, but it didn't look right on the hard floors and really, those plain wood colors are kind of 90's! I started with the crib a couple months ago. I'm not going to lie... I'm lazy and really did NOT want to sand that thing. I found a blog a long time ago about someone who spray painted their crib without sanding by using several coats of primer spray, then used the color spray paint they wanted the finish to be. 

I used Krylon brand spray from Walmart. At the time it was the best priced spray I could find after checking local hardware stores. I was going for either Krylon or Rustoleum. 

I primed maybe what I thought were 3 coats. Apparently my coats were not really "coats" and more of touch-ups of the first coat. When I applied a gazillion coats of the gloss white spray I was having issues. (It really does take a gazillion coats... the downside to spray paint!) I had a couple bubble and crackle spots, and after a couple of days it was chipping easily. Luckily the bubbly spots were on a rail so all I had to do was turn that rail to face the wall. To prevent chipping I slathered the entire crib in 3 coats of Polycrylic. Now it doesn't chip and looks beautiful!

Painting the Changing Table:

After the crib I vowed spray paint was a thing of the past. I convinced myself it would be easier to hand paint. Ha. I gave up that idea when I decided I was going to go ahead and use the changing table. I did not plan to use it and was trying to come up with other creative changing table ideas but without spending money I don't want to spend that was not going to happen. I dug the old table from the outside closet, laid all the pieces out and went to town. I tried to be more liberal with the primer this time. Since I had 3 cans left I went ahead and used every can before I moved on to using the gloss spray. The finished product was more durable than the crib (pre-Polycrylic) and since baby will not actually be sleeping in this I opted to not Polycrylic it. 

Total cost of BOTH projects was simply the cost of the spray paint. I bought about $45 worth in the beginning including primer spray. It happened to work out the way I did the crib that I had just enough spray to do a good finish on the changing table. I already had a quart of Polycrylic so I won't include that cost. A quart will go a LONG way! I still have way more than half a can left and the crib has made the 4th or 5th big project I used it on.


Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Trash to Treasure Tuesdays at Kammys Korner

Friday, June 8, 2012

DIY Insect Repellent and Anti-itch Remedy

We have a hard time around here keeping up with insect repellent. I buy some every year and it gets left outside to suffer miserably in the elements. Not to mention my husband complains every time he puts it on, and I hate spraying my daughter with it reminding her to keep her eyes and mouth closed. And we all know how nasty it feels on your skin!

This year I've decided to try something different; homemade insect repellent. One of my favorite natural substances with multi-purpose functionality is coconut oil. I use it as a moisturizer for my skin as well as an eye makeup remover. With a quick Google search you can find dozens of uses for it outside of being an incredibly healthy cooking oil. 

I had heard you could use it as an insect repellent so I went to work and found a recipe to make it myself using what I have on hand.

DIY Insect Repellent

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (I use Nutiva brand that I purchase on
Peppermint Oil (You can buy this at GNC or any store that sells essential oils)

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

The recipe I found says to use about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted, then add 5-6 drops of peppermint oil. I found the container I want to store the oil in and started scooping out tablespoons in to the container. I was able to fit 9 tablespoons in to my little Glad brand plastic cup. 

I then took the oil and transferred it in to a microwave-safe bowl and heated it for 10 seconds to melt the oil down, then poured it back over in to my Glad cup. Since I used about 9 tablespoons I added 17 drops of peppermint oil, then stirred it around to mix it all together. 

Place the lid on your container and store it in a place where kids or pets won't get to it. My dog has eaten an entire jar of coconut oil so I know this will be enticing if left somewhere accessible. It's best if you store it in a cool place where it can harden back to a solid form. it's easier to work with that way in my opinion. 

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Apply to exposed skin before venturing outside.

There you have it, homemade safe and natural insect repellent!!

~ If you sweat or are swimming you'll need to reapply occasionally. Unlike commercial bug repellents this stuff doesn't stick to your skin (which means it doesn't leave behind a really gross sticky residue and make you feel yucky). It's like a lotion so just as you would reapply sunscreen that's not water proof, reapply this.

~ Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees so as soon as it comes in contact with your skin as a solid, it quickly turns to a liquid. Keep that in mind while traveling or leaving your container outside. It melts fast and can be messy if not stored in a container that will contain leaks. Be careful when opening a container just in case it has melted... I opened the Nutiva bottle on vacation and poured oil all over the bathroom, whoops!

Anti-itch Remedy

Coconut oil has so many benefits, one of them being an anti-itch remedy! If you lather it over a mosquito bite it will not only help subside the annoying itching, it will also reduce the swelling of the bite in about 30 minutes. I have also read that it works great with the itching and burning of those evil fire ant bites! I wish I had known that when I was a kid living down south. Thankfully we don't have fire ants in Kentucky that I know of or have seen. 


Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory


Friday, June 1, 2012

Traveling with Dogs: Tips for the trip!

I'm not a trip-taking pro but I thought I'd take a stab at helping folks prep for a long trip with a dog. I'm not going by some professional's tips, this is just what I figured out for our first ever road-trip with our 3yr old Labrador Retriever, Neha.

Over Memorial Day weekend we visited my Dad and his girlfriend at their lake house which is about 8 hours from where we live.

We have a Town & Country minivan so for now space is not really an issue with a 3-person family. We stowed away the back seats as well as the unused Captain's seat behind the driver to give us enough space since we'd have an extra "passenger" this time.

My big baby girl and I on the dock, our last day at the lake.
(She was not leashed most of the time on the lake but this was our last day and I didn't really want a wet dog in the van when we left later)

Here is my list of things + tips you may need for your trip!

- Make a list of extras:
        ~ Before you leave make a list of everything you know for sure you'll need or would like to have with you for the dog. Start the list about a week or so before you pack that way you can jot things down as you use them or remember them. I grabbed a few extra toys and her shampoo/conditioner since we were going to a lake.

- Potty breaks:
        ~ Please make sure you get your dog to pee & poop before you get on the road!! We got Neha to pee at the house before hopping in the van (early morning) but she wouldn't poop. She was overly excited about going with us. When we stopped for gas before we got on the interstate I took her out and let her try again and she had a successful BM. That eased my fears about van poop accidents (it's happened to me before and it smells absolutely awful!)
        ~ Since I am 6 months pregnant potty breaks were not really an issue in terms of remembering to stop. We were stopping every couple hours as it was so maybe every other stop we would let Neha out to try. 

-  Kennel, crate, or barrier:
        ~ We have a large wire crate we use for her in the house (kinda like this). Plenty of room for her and she is a very large in height Lab. This was a MUST to take with us. She is not a very mellow car dog especially if she has space to move, plus we don't want her trampling all over. The kennel was placed front-facing behind the driver's seat to where we could open the kennel door and she could easily hop out the passenger sliding door rather than it sit in the back of the van and have to be accessed by the back gate where shifted belongings could fall out upon opening.
        ~ Depending on your vehicle and situation you can also use one of those metal car barriers. A lot of people with cars or SUVs use these to allow your dog to roam free in the back but keep them from coming up front. 

- Comfort:
        ~ Make sure you have a good comfy blanket for furry friends to lay on... they'll be in there for a good duration even with potty breaks so you want them to be comfy.
        ~ Your dog's favorite chew toy or something they enjoy that will occupy their time may be handy. We gave our dog a rawhide bone which she normally loves to chew on for hours on end but honestly she didn't touch it this trip at all. It was so different for her I think it threw her off, but we were prepared JIC!

- Kennel cover: 
        ~I put a large sheet over her kennel leaving the front exposed so that hair didn't escape everywhere and also to help keep her calm by minimizing distractions that she would otherwise be able to see. Also, if you have a shedder like we do, lay a sheet down underneath the kennel and anywhere your dog may trek when exited the vehicle.

- Jug of water (ab $.89 or so) & a dog bowl: 
        ~ The water jug came in super handy along with our "travel" bowl that's made out of waterproof fabric. We made sure to offer a little water at each stop and if any was left over we just put it in the kennel with her. If anything spilled it just got on the comforter she slept on, no biggy!

- Dog food, of course:
        ~ Make sure you have enough accessible during the trip if your traveling runs in to a regular feeding time, but also make sure you have plenty for while you're at your destination, unless you'd just rather buy some when you get there. I placed dog food in a couple gallon Hefty bags. You can also now buy 2.5 gallon Hefty bags. Or you can use a small plastic container with a lid... whatever you have handy.
        ~ We don't do treats, she usually gets leftover fruit, but if you do treats, don't forget those!

- Leash: 
        ~ Unleashed animals are a no-no in my opinion when it comes to public places. You never ever know their temperament especially in a new place and you never know how well they will listen to a return command. We took with us a 15ft long leash with no retraction or anything. It was something I purchased as part of her obedience training. Leashes with length can give you a good opportunity to let them explore a little more than you may be willing to walk when you stop for potty breaks. We also took a regular 6ft leather leash.

- Medication:
        ~ Obviously you don't want to leave any medication your dog regularly takes behind so be sure to grab that. If your pup has high anxiety in the car check with your vet about something you can give to relax them. We were going to go the Benadryl route (check with your vet on proper dosage!) but opted not to since I had none in the house. I figured if we needed it we'd buy it but we didn't so we saved money!

- Air Freshener:
        ~ Yes, I'm serious. We could have used it a couple times. Our poor girl had a few nervous stinky farts on the trip down and it meant rolling down windows at 75MPH to air out the van. A little air freshener would have been nice. Not to mention her breath was stinky and she had periods where she would breathe very heavily and we could smell it, Blech!

 Neha and my husband on Neha's first ever boat ride.

Ultimately my biggest tip is don't spend money you don't have to! If, once you get to your destination, you realize there is something that you just have to have that you didn't have at home to bring with, then get it, but otherwise save the money for your vacation. Your dog surely won't die as long as you at least have food and water for them but some of the above listed things will help make it more comfortable for them (and you) if you are able.

There was nothing I didn't list that I thought "Shoulda brought the whatchamacallit!" so for most people, I think this should suffice and cover pretty much all bases!


Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory