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Never Ending Upcycled Chaos Candle Making

I love candles and wax melts, but I hate it when there’s a little left in the bottom of a jar or the wax has lost it’s scent. I don’t want to just throw the wax away. If it’s a jar candle, I won’t throw it a way, so it ends up taking up space waiting for me to find a new use for it. 

I’ve always been interested in candle making, but I honestly don’t know much about the correct way to do it. This is just my, for me, kind of chaotic, fun way of using up the leftover wax scraps and jars. If you try to join in my chaos, always take care with the melting, pouring and burning, make sure everything you use is safe for this usage and never leave anything burning or melting unattended.

My solution is to melt down the wax and make my own candles in the old jars. I bought this wick set for the wicks. I start by picking the jar I want to use and then putting in the same number of wicks that were originally in the jar.

Chaos layered perpetual never-ending upcycled candles candle making
My candles still need a haircut. 😀

For the candles in the above photo, the one on the left was originally a three wick candle, so it got three wicks. The one on the right was a yogurt jar, so I just guessed and went with one wick.

After the wicks are in place, I melt down any scrap wax I have and pour it in. Usually, I do this a little at a time as I finish other candles, rather than all at once. That gives it the cool sand art layered look.

With jar candles, to get the last bit of wax out, if I don’t pour it while it’s still melted from the last time I burned the candle, I set the jar on my coffee warmer (do not leave it unattended!). Wax melts just get melted as usual and poured into the jar.

Coffee warmer
Coffee warmer- Not just for coffee.

I do try to keep the candles mostly the same type of wax. In the photo, the big candle on the left is made from candle wax ends. The yogurt jar candle is made of soy wax melts with a little of the tea light wax remnants added.

Tea light candle wax warmer
My one tea light warmer.

For scent, most of the candles I burn are in the same spicy or vanilla scent family. Since the leftover candle wax usually has a good bit of scent left, I don’t worry about adding my own. With the wax melts, I either just leave them as they are and have a mild to unscented candle, or I add a drop or two of an essential or fragrance oil to each layer as I pour it.

I don’t know if my chaos candle making method will help anyone else, but I have fun with it, and the resulting candles are pretty. It’s also a way to reduce waste and save money.

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Today is a Day for Mending Worn Out Denim Jeans

I realized a few days ago that my favorite pair of denim jeans were wearing through at the inner thigh, so I set them aside to reinforce before they were beyond the point of easy repair.

This morning, I planned to mend them and then tackle adding patches to an older denim skirt refashion. I got all those repairs done and was planning my next project when I ripped the knee out of the jeans I’m wearing.

Worn out knee in my denim jeans

These are honestly worn pretty thin and they’re not my preferred cut, so I’m not sure if I will mend these or add them to the repurpose pile. 

If you’d like to learn my method for reinforcing worn spots in denim, check out this blog post. It’s actually really simple and works well, if you don’t procrastinate. If you procrastinate, then all your jeans wear out at once and you think, “Maybe I should just go get a pair of the ones I like from Old Navy,” but then you discover that they have discontinued that particular style and now you think you’ll never find comfortable jeans again, which is sad because you really like wearing jeans. Or something.

Have a great weekend!

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Six Tips for Going Gluten Free on a Budget

Many people eat gluten free (g-free, gf), either by choice or need. For those with celiac, eliminating gluten is an absolute necessity. Others find that, for one reason or another, they feel better when they avoid it. In my case, I kind of accidentally discovered that joint pain in my hands and feet go away and I’m less brain foggy when I avoid gluten. Other family members suffer from breakouts and rashes that flare whenever they eat something with gluten. I strongly believe that if you feel bad after eating something, you should probably stop eating it, so we do our best to avoid gluten all together.

Eliminating something that is such a big part of your diet is daunting at first, but there are a few things that can make the transition easier and less expensive. These tips focus on gluten, but many will also help if you need to eliminate other foods.

1. Start with real foods

Processed foods often have hidden fillers and ingredients, and specialty gluten free foods are expensive. In contrast, fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, beans, eggs and dairy are naturally gluten free in their pure forms. Rice is a grain that does not contain gluten. Starting from scratch with real food ingredients that you know naturally don’t have gluten is often easier and definitely cheaper than scrutinizing food labels and buying special gluten free versions of normally wheat based foods.

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

2. Go simple with seasonings

For the most part, single herbs and spices are gluten free. Certain spice blends may have gluten, though. Making your own blends is the safest bet, but if you have a spice blend you love, most manufacturer websites list whether their products contain gluten.

While not technically an herb or spice, most soy sauce contains gluten. La Choy is a major brand that is made without gluten. Bragg’s liquid aminos are another form of g-free soy sauce.

Most vinegar is g-free. Malt vinegar is not. You’ll also want to check the label on flavored vinegar to be sure.

Cooking oils don’t have gluten unless seasoned with something containing gluten.

3. Find your current gluten free staples

Look at the foods that currently stock your pantry. What things that you buy are already gluten free? For us, we usually keep a box or two of cereal around for snacking or a quick breakfast. Most cereals are made with wheat and therefore have gluten, but some that we already bought, like Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Rice Chex are gluten free. Knowing that, I can continue to keep a box or two of cereal we already liked on hand.

Likewise, we keep tortilla chips on hand for snacking or nachos. Most tortilla chips don’t have gluten and inexpensive. Since gluten free crackers are both hard to find and usually expensive, tortilla chips are an easy cracker substitute as well.

4. Look for the easy substitute

Like substituting tortilla chips for crackers, there are other easy swaps. Corn tortillas usually don’t have gluten and can be substituted for flour tortillas. Rice is often a good substitute for pasta, or substitute rice noodles. If you have an Asian grocery nearby, you can usually find rice noodles there for cheaper than a mainstream supermarket, as well as leafy greens and spices for cheap.

5. Make it yourself

It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free flour now, so making your own gluten free cookies, pizza crusts, pancakes, breads, etc. is a good option. I love Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. With it, I can continue to make my favorite deserts just by substituting it for wheat flour. There are other good gluten free flours on the market, too. The most important thing is to know if it is blended to be an exact 1 to 1 substitute or if you need to add something like xanthan gum to give it the stretchiness and rise that you usually get from gluten. For example, Bob’s Red Mill has an All Purpose Gluten Free Flour that is not the 1 to 1 blend. It is a little denser and does not have xanthan gum already blended. I like blending it with tapioca flour, which adds some stretchiness. That works well for things like gluten free flour tortillas. For things that need to rise, though, like cakes or breads, I also add xanthan gum if I’m using the all purpose and not the 1 to 1 blend.

6. When buying gluten free, shop around

Sometimes you really just want to get some gluten free penne pasta or a g-free bagel. More and more grocery stores regularly stock g-free pastas, breads and desserts, but they can be pricey. If you find them on sale, stock up and freeze the extras. Alternative grocery stores sometimes offer better prices, too. Aldi has a decent selection of g-free breads, pastas, and baking mixes at a lower price than most other stores. I even found some gluten free donuts there recently.

Locally, we have a surplus/discount/closeout grocery store called Town Talk. They frequently have udi’s bread in the range of two loaves for $3.00. I periodically stop in and stock up when I can.

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Tips for going gluten free

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Make Your Own Aromatherapy Bath Salts Easily from Basic Ingredients

set of salt for bath placed on marble table

 

Creating your own aromatherapy bath salts is a terrific way to enjoy aromatherapy at home. Surprisingly, bath salts are very affordable to make and require no harsh ingredients. In fact, the main ingredients in bath salts include baking soda, table salt and epsom salt. Each of these are commonly found in a local grocery or retail store and are safe to use. The advantage to creating your own bath salts is that you can tailor the recipe to your needs and preferences. This way, you also know that the ingredients are going into your product safe for you to use.

Basic Aromatherapy Bath Salt Recipe 

First, you’ll need a large mixing bowl and spoon reserved for this type of project. Essential oils are not easily washed out, especially if you use plastic, so keep this bowl separate from your food prep bowls. The next step is to add 3 cups of epsom salt, 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of table salt into the mixing bowl. You can also add pink Himalayan salt or sea salt instead of table salt. Once each of the ingredients are added, begin mixing them with your hand or the spoon.

Coloring your Aromatherapy bath salts

If you’d like to color your bath salts, food coloring is a great option. If I’m coloring my bath salts, I try to match the color to the intended purpose of the bath salts. For example, if I’m making lavender bath salts for relaxation, I would choose a calming color like blue or purple.

Once mixing is complete, slowly add the food coloring to the mixture. Adding more drops will darken the color and adding fewer will make it softer. If you’re blending colors, such as blue and red to make purple, mix them before adding to the bath salts. Otherwise, you will end up with splotches of red and blue, not an even purple.

set of salt for bath placed on marble table
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Adding the essential oils

The final step is to add essential oils until the desired scent is achieved. While I have made lavender bath salts by adding the lavender essential oil directly to the salt mixture, it is best to dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil. This is especially important with things like peppermint essential oil that could be very uncomfortable in a bath if not diluted properly (essential oils do not dilute in water!)

I like to use 1-2 tablespoons of carrier oil and add the essential oils until I get the scent level I’m needing. Ten drops of essential oil per cup of bath salts is a good guideline to start. I then add the diluted essential oils to the salt mixture and blend well.

Essential oil alternatives

If you’d prefer not to use essential oils, you can use skin safe fragrance oils or a bit of your favorite perfume. Just be absolutely sure anything you add is made to use on skin. I would use the same method for adding the fragrance as for essential oils.

Storing your Aromatherapy bath Salts

For the best results, store your bath salts in an airtight container. I like using glass canning jars because they are reusable, the essential oils don’t get embedded into the glass, and they are pretty. If you choose to use glass too, just be careful not to drop them in the tub.

Aromatherapy bath salts

I do offer aromatherapy bath salts in my shop, so check them out if you’d prefer not to make them yourself. 🙂

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How I Patched My Denim Jeans And Added an Embroidery Embellishment

Another way to patch denim jeans

My mom gave me several pairs of worn out denim jeans for me to play with several months ago.  A few just happened to be my favorite style from Old Navy and in my size. Rather than cut them up for other projects, I decided to make them cute with patches and a little embroidery. Here’s the method I used for patching denim jeans.

Another way to patch denim jeans
First, the knees.

Patching the knees

Prepping the denim jeans

In order to sew at the knees, you have to carefully rip out the stitches along one leg seam. You don’t have to rip out the entire seam, but you need to give yourself plenty of room above and below the knee to work. One seam is usually top-stitched. To make it easier all around, do NOT rip out the top-stitched seam.

After ripping out the seam, press the denim as smooth as possible with an iron.

Prepping the fabric

To patch the denim jeans, I chose to go underneath the rips and leave the torn edges visible. For the patches, I used cotton quilting material left over from sewing masks . I cut the fabric into squares a few inches bigger than I needed to patch. In the future, I will probably interface the fabric at this time. I knew I planned to interface everything at a later step, though, so I didn’t.

I pinned the fabric to the inside of the denim jeans.

Sewing the patches

Before sewing the crazy stitches shown in the photos, I sewed a single line of stitching all around the patch about a quarter of an inch inside the edge of the quilting fabric. This kept it in place while I did the crazy reinforcing stitches. After it was secure, I stitched in all different directions between the edge of the tear and slightly overlapping the first single line of stitching.

This side was more worn out, so it got more reinforcement stitching.

When jeans rip, usually the material around the tear is worn thin as well. In the past, I often left too much of the worn area without reinforcement. This results in new rips soon after the first repair. This time I reinforced at least an inch and a half around the tears.

Reinforcing the patched denim jeans with interfacing

After I was done stitching, I ironed interfacing to the inside. I did the interfacing last to act as a soft layer between my knees and the stitching. In retrospect, I probably should have interfaced the quilting cotton first, and then interfaced again at this step if I felt it was necessary. So far my jeans are holding up with the way I did it, though.

Sew it up

With the patches done, all that’s left is resewing the side seams. I just pinned it closed and sewed it back along the original stitching line. For the overcasting to finish the raw edges, I was lazy and used the overedge stitch on my sewing machine instead of switching to my serger. Zig-zag stitching along the edge to finish it would also work.

Embroidering the pocket

To embroider the pocket, I first removed the pocket from my jeans. Since it’s too small to hoop, I hooped tear away stabilizer alone and secured the pocket to the stabilizer with a glue stick. I used my Damask Rose embroidery pattern for the embellishment.

After the embroidery machine was done working its magic, I removed the stabilizer and replaced the pocket on my jeans using a heavy denim thread in a close shade to the original thread.

Simple, right? Actually, I tried to do that, messed up the hook timing on my Kenmore sewing machine AGAIN within the first few stitches and had to move to my backup vintage Montgomery Ward Signature machine. It took a few minutes of fiddling with the settings, but once I got it set up correctly it sewed through the heavy denim layers like butter.

In all fairness to my Kenmore, I did probably deserve it this time, between the crazy reinforcement stitches and then trying to sew through multiple layers of denim with thick thread. At least this time it let me reset the hook timing without much fuss.

Have you gotten more acquainted with your sewing machine lately? I’d love to see your projects in the comments.

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Quick Summer Refashion Video Inspiration

spool of purple thread near needle thimble and measuring tape

I’ve been working on some summer sewing and refashions lately. Here’s a quick video showing a few of them. The first is a backless halter top made with quilting cotton and ribbon. The second refashion is a halter tube top with a matching loose kimono/beach coverup. They were made from an old maxi dress that wasn’t getting much love. The beach coverup is my favorite. I love how it turned out, especially the print.

I hope you find these inspiring for your own projects. If you like these kinds of videos, follow me on TikTok. I also post on Instagram and YouTube. I tend to prefer the length options on TikTok, so that’s where most of my complete videos are located.

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Simple Way to Patch the Back Pocket of Denim Jeans

The back pockets of denim jeans are prone to wearing out at the top corners with use. If that’s where you carry your phone or wallet, you’ll almost certainly develop holes at those stress points long before the rest of the jeans are worn out. Luckily, repairing a back pocket is a pretty simple fix.

Pocket with hole

These are my husband’s work jeans. You can see the inside corner of the right pocket has a small hole and another one is forming on the inside corner of the left pocket. These are the steps I used to repair and reinforce the pockets.

Choosing your patch material

The first thing you’ll want to do is add material to patch the hole. The material should extend past the edges of the hole, overlapping onto the good fabric by about a centimeter or so. I like to use the iron-on denim patches, but fusible webbing or strong interfacing works, too. This product is similar to the one I used. You can also just use a scrap of fabric a bit larger than the hole, but I prefer the added strength of an iron-on product. An iron-on product is also easier in that it won’t shift while you sew it in.

Iron-on patch
denim iron-on patch for pocket repair
Wrong side of iron-on patch

Securing the patch to the pocket

If you’re using an iron-on product, iron it on to cover the hole from the inside according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For sewn-in patches, baste in patch to keep it from shifting.

Ironed on patches
Patches ironed in place on the inside of the jeans.

Reinforce the patch

Regardless of whether you chose an iron-on or sew-in patch, you need to reinforce the patch by sewing a strong row of stitches around the edges. For a less visible patch, I like to sew a square of stitching around the hole, making sure to include the corner of the pocket in the square. I sew over the square a few times to reinforce. Choosing a thread that matches the denim or is slightly darker makes the patch less noticeable.

Reinforcement stitching from the inside.

For the actual hole, I like to sew back and forth over the hole in a matching thread. This secures the area to the patch, hides the frayed edges and prevents further ripping.

For a more visible patch, you can get creative with the patch material and choose a contrasting thread. You can also crazy stitch over the area, similar to what I did here.

Preventing the problem

Whenever I patch one pocket rip, I take the time to reinforce all the corners with iron-on patches and a square of reinforced stitching. It doesn’t take much extra time, and keeps the rest of the corners from needing repair in the near future. You could even do this to new jeans as a preventative measure if you have this problem frequently.

Final result

Here’s the finished patches. I’m pretty satisfied with the results. The work isn’t that noticeable and matches the variations in blue on the rest of the jeans. It’s definitely better than holes that will continue to rip in a revealing location.

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Shop sales!

For the entire month of September, all of my handmade soaps are 20% off. Shop handmade soaps here.

My machine embroidery files are also on sale all month for just $1 each! Be sure to check out my latest Halloween designs. Shop embroidery designs here.