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Quick Drawstring Bag Tutorial or How to Reuse Your SubEarthan Cottage Soap Wrapping

I wrap my soaps in fabric because it looks nice, it allows the soap to breathe (read here for why), and because it feels better than plastic. I often wonder what happens to the wrapping. I’m sure there are some that toss it. I know of one person who collects the fabric for quilts. For those of you who, like me, don’t want to throw away something that could be useful but don’t know what to do with it, I have a tutorial for a drawstring pouch, just for you.

This is done with the wrapping from one of my soaps, but you could make it in any size you like.

Materials
Cloth wrapper from soap (roughly 8×11 inches)
Jute string from soap (about 29 inches)
Thread

Tools
Needle or Sewing machine
Safety pin or Bodkin
Scissors
Iron

First, iron your fabric flat. Then, fold down a long edge about 3/4 of an inch to one inch and press. This is for the casing. It doesn’t have to be super precise.

Sew a straight seam along the bottom of the flap to form the casing. All the sewing can be done by hand or machine. I have no time or patience, so I choose machine. Fold your material in half with right sides together like a book.

The fold is at the bottom of this photo.

Next, starting just below the casing seam, sew down the side and across the bottom. I use anywhere from a 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam allowance for this. Again, it doesn’t have to be precise.

With scissors, clip the bottom corners, being careful not to cut your stitching. You could probably skip this step, but it helps the corners look square and crisp. Turn your bag right side out.

Now it’s time to thread the string. Tie one end of the string to a safety pin, large paper clip, or attach a small bodkin. This makes it easier to work it through the casing. Thread it through the casing, safety pin first.

Once you get the string to the other side, remove your safety pin or other tool and adjust the string so that the ends are even.

Knot the ends together once or twice to keep it from coming out.

Ta-da! It’s done! Perfect for organizing your purse, storing jewelry or other small items, or as a small gift bag.

Or holding your favorite bar of soap.

Tutorials are always a little complicated to write because it’s easy to overlook small steps in things you do frequently. If something is unclear, please ask. 🙂

If you have any other creative uses for a SubEarthan Cottage soap wrapper, I would love to hear it!

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Natural Furniture Polish

I have quite a bit of finished wood furniture that I love, except when it comes to polishing. There’s always some sticky fingerprints or a glob of something unidentifiable (thank you, Beckett). Most commercial polishes do okay on relatively clean surfaces, but don’t do a great job on the really messy stuff. Sometimes I’d spray some polish right on the spots, polish the rest and hope the globs loosened up enough to wipe away. Once in a while it worked. Other times it resulted in a ring around the spot while the sticky may or may not have loosened at all.

I finally did a little research on homemade furniture polish recipes. Here’s the one I use.

Ingredients:

3 parts olive oil
1 part vinegar
Splash lemon juice (optional)

Combine everything in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Some recommend storing it in the refrigerator or only making what you’ll use in a day. I make about 1-2 cups worth at a time  and keep it at room temperature. So far I haven’t had problems with it spoiling.

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For light polishing, I spray the rag and wipe. For heavier cleaning, I spray directly where needed. I have never had it leave a ring, and it buffs nicely without leaving a residue. It works equally well on furniture with a matte stain and pieces with a high gloss varnish.

I love that this recipe uses things I have around the house and costs less than even the cheap commercial polishes.  I also like knowing that it is completely nontoxic. I can let Beckett help without worrying that it might hurt him if he sprays it in his face. Or my face. Seriously, you never know with this kid.

You could probably customize it with a few drops of essential oils, too. I think something citrus-y would be nice. Also, if you don’t have olive oil, you could try swapping it with whatever you have on hand.

Give it a try and tell me what you think. If you’d like more “green” cleaning options check out my handmade laundry products at http://www.etsy.com/MySubEarthanCottage.

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Random Sewing Tip- Painless Prewash

You know how you need to prewash most fabric to keep your finished project from being a shrunken, lumpy mess? If you just toss it in the wash, though, it comes out a stringy, tangled mess.

If you have a serger, serge the cut edges before washing. I usually just leave the thread tails long and they don’t unravel enough to be annoying.

With a sewing machine, you can sew a quick zig-zag or similar stitch along the cut edges to prevent fraying. Even a straight stitch would probably work, although I haven’t tried it. You will probably need to back-tack or knot the ends to keep it secure through the wash.

This also lets me see at a glance which fabric was prewashed by looking at the edges.

And I know 90% of the people reading this are thinking “Duh!” because it’s such an obvious fix. The other 10% are wondering why they didn’t think of that, much like myself when I first learned the trick.

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How does that even happen?

I have some crafty stuff I was planning to blog about, but that will have to wait. Today I’m going with the weird.

First, a few days ago, the ignition lock cylinder on my car stopped working. You could put the key in and take it out just fine, it did the dingdingding thing when the key was in, but it would. not. turn. Thankfully it decided to break while the car was at home and not while I was at the grocery store with Beckett and needing to pick up Finn and Chris. A good day’s worth of Chris’s own diy efforts and multiple trips to the parts store by bike and helpful neighbor got my car to be less paperweight-y.

Yesterday we decided to go out for dinner. Chris took care of loading the kids in the car while I locked up the house. When I closed the door, I heard a strange “bang” noise, so I opened the door to see what caused it. Or, more accurately, I tried to open the door. What happened was the door guard lock had swung over and locked us out. If you’re not familiar with that kind of lock, here’s an example http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ultra-29000-Polished-Brass-Door-Guard/19869267. No, I’m not joking.

I called Chris over to see the impossibility and we both tried a couple of times to get the bar to swing back over before deciding to go ahead to eat and deal with it later. I won’t go into all the details of our b.n.e. experience for security reasons, but suffice it to say it was an eventful evening.

I don’t know if someone is trying to tell us something with the lock malfunctions or if I have a house ghost who was trying to reclaim the house. All I know is I am in favor of replacing the door guard lock in favor of a chain. If a chain lock manages to lock me out on it’s own, I will probably move.

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Five minute jogging stroller rain shield

I’m really hoping Friday marked the beginning of a nice, rainy fall. I love rain, but hate driving to pick Finn up from school. The car line is almost impossible to deal with, so I always park nearby and walk up. With the time it takes to get Beckett in and out of the car at home and at the school, finding a place to park and then fighting the traffic to get in and out, I’m almost positive walking is quicker. It’s certainly more pleasant. So, I decided to make a rain cover for the stroller. I don’t mind a little rain, but Beckett hates it. Weirdo.

I went the incredibly quick, made with stuff on hand route. I may upgrade it in the future, but for now I’m sure it will do. First, I took some clear vinyl material that has been sitting in my stash for years now and draped it over the stroller where I wanted it and trimmed of the excess length. Then I measured the sides from the edge of the vinyl to the frame of the stroller (14 inches for each side in my case). That part I planned to do in some sort of breathable fabric.

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To attach it to the frame, I planned to use elastic around the edge. That idea came one day last week when I thought I might have to walk in the rain and discovered that a fitted crib sheet almost fit perfectly in place over the stroller. I have some thrifted sheets, so I found a fitted twin and cut the 14 inches off ends with the elastic. I used the serger to attach the cut sides of the sheet to the long sides of the vinyl. (Note to self: vinyl goes on TOP near the foot, not on bottom.) Once I figured out proper material placement, constructing it took maybe three minutes.

It’s still not snuggly fitted, but with a couple of binder clips to tighten the top edge it would have worked for Friday if I hadn’t chickened out due to the possibility of thunderstorms. Rain I can handle, but dodging lightening is a bit much. I will probably add a few darts or snaps to snug it up some if I think it will be used a lot.


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Nap Time T-shirt to Tunic Dress Thing Refashion

I should really start taking more pictures before I start a project. During would be good, too, but at least a before and after shot. I also need to find my tripod and/or maybe just wait until someone other than Beckett is home to take pictures.

Anyway, here’s the final product:

IMG_4518I’m not sure what my crazy child was doing at the time, but it must have been cute.

It’s pretty straightforward: Two similarly sized/shaped/weighted t-shirts cut across the middle and the bottom of one sewn into the middle of the other. The shirts were pretty big to begin with, so the end result looked like a sack. I serged the sides in about an inch per side with the end result being a slightly less big sack. Not something I see myself wearing out much, but for around the house or running Finn to and from school (hence the super-flattering sneakers) it will get some use. More than the original boxy, awkward t-shirts anyway.

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Nap Time Yoga Pants Refashion

This morning I threw on a pair of black Danskin boot cut yoga pants for the walk to school. They were some of the first new pants I bought after Beckett was born. They fit a little big now, except for the length. They were now cropped in a less fashionable, more “look at my ankle” sort of way.

After seeing some pants to leggings tutorials, I decided that was the way to go. With fall arriving any day now (please!), leggings will get more use for under skirts and with tall boots.

I didn’t take any before pictures. This is the inspiration tutorial. Instead of only trimming from the inseam, it looked better if I took some from along the outside, too. To keep it even, I did one leg, tried them on to make sure it fit, then folded them in half and used the finished leg as a pattern for the other leg. I had planned to add a cuff using the fold over waistband. It was black on one side and grey with multicolored stripes on the other. I thought it would be cute and add length. I tried it on one side, and decided I didn’t like the way it looked. With the tighter fit, they actually stay down at my ankles anyway.

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The left leg is rolled up to show where the yoga pants were hitting me. Not a flattering look with a boot cut.

One thing that’s really nice about making the leggings this way is that the yoga pant’s fabric was heaver than most leggings, so they offer more coverage as long as they don’t get stretched too tight. Definitely cut a little bigger than you think. You can always take more off easier than fixing something that is too small.

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Side note about the shirt I’m wearing: I really want to do something to make it less boxy, but I can’t. I’m afraid I might make it un-wearable. Normally that wouldn’t matter too much with a free t-shirt. This one is special, though. Right after Beckett was born, Finn and my mom went to the grocery store to get a few things we needed at home. Someone offered Finn a free t-shirt. He politely turned it down, but then said that maybe his mom would want one, so they gave him one for me. For a while afterward, any time I wore this shirt, his face would light up and he’d say “You’re wearing the shirt I got you!” So, yeah, I will probably wear this shirt as-is until it starts falling apart. Then I’ll turn it into a pillow or something to keep forever.

Also, Beckett just woke up from his nap, hence the no-pants look.

I did learn just how sharp my fabric scissors are while working on this project. I was snipping some threads at the end and managed to catch my finger. I can totally vouch for their razor-sharpness.

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