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Shop Small Saturday

Thank you from SubEarthan Cottage on Shop Small Saturday and Every Day!

I generally try to avoid anything that seems gimmicky. The whole Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, Cyber Monday all seem crafted to make people feel like they must buy all the things NOW. Being a small business owner, though, I wanted to address the “Shop Small” thing.

All those cute memes you see about small business owners doing a happy dance with every purchase, the care that goes into creating and packaging a product just for you, and the direct impact your purchase has on an individual or family? They’re all true, for me at least, and for the other small business owners I know. I celebrate each and every sale. I make sure to package every order with care and a handwritten thank-you. Every sale goes towards helping my family directly.

That’s not to say that big business are bad or don’t help their employees or don’t appreciate our business. Not at all. I’d be lying if I said the big blue Amazon truck never stopped at my house or I never shop at Walmart. They absolutely have their place, too. But, if today or any other day throughout the year you are able to make a purchase from a small business, know that we thank you for your support and are celebrating. Probably with a happy dance, although I refuse to post video evidence.

If you’re not in a position to make a purchase from a small business or what they offer just doesn’t fit your needs, there are other ways to offer support. Sharing their information with others that might like what they have to offer is one way. Letting them know what you like about their products is another.

Spread the Love

If you are a small business owner or know of an awesome one, please leave a comment with the shop’s info so that I and my readers can check them out, whether it’s Shop Small Saturday or some random Tuesday. Artists and authors are welcome, too. I would love to have a list of small business to refer to and to share with my friends and family.

Thank you from SubEarthan Cottage on Shop Small Saturday and Every Day!
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New Snowman Embroidery design

I added a new Snowman Circle machine embroidery design to my shop. I love how it turned out!

Here’s a clip of it being stitched out:

Find my other embroidery design files here: https://subearthancottage.com/product-category/embroidery-files-and-freebies

I’ve been busy working on some new projects lately, but I hope to have a longer tutorial post soon. 🙂

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Hot Chocolate Soap and Halloween Bunting

Just wanted to give you a quick update. The Hot Chocolate Soap I mentioned in my last post is now available in my shop. It’s a limited edition, seasonal soap, so get it while you can. 🙂

Hot chocolate Soap
Hot Chocolate Soap

Also, if you want this Halloween Sugar Skull Bunting, it will only be available until the end of the weekend. If it doesn’t sell, I’m claiming it for my own décor.

Halloween Sugar Skull Bunting (Banner)
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Pumpkin Pie and Hot Chocolate

I’ve been busy making new soap over the past week! The new additions are a Pumpkin Lavender Soap and a Hot Chocolate Soap.

The Pumpkin Lavender smells like pumpkin pie with just a hint of lavender to mellow it out a bit. Not too much, though. I love pumpkin spice.

It’s already available in the shop, along with a Pumpkin Lavender fragrance roll-on and Pumpkin Lavender soy wax melts.

The Hot Chocolate has a rich, chocolaty scent with just a bit of espresso to cut the sweetness. It’s still curing, so look for it to be listed on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. I may list it this weekend and allow pre-orders. If you want to be notified when it’s available, join the mailing list or contact me at csloan@subearthancottage.com.

Both new soaps are seasonal, small batch limited editions, so get them while you can.

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Upcycling Fabric Scraps

Fabric-Scrap-Upcycle

This isn’t going to be a full tutorial because I didn’t do a great job of documenting the process. If you’d like a full tutorial, please let me know. I will link to the page I learned it from here.

I saw this really cool way to make a bunch of fabric scraps into new, usable fabric that is really textured and cool. First, you need a backing piece of fabric. I used an upholstery sample square that I hadn’t found a use for yet. Then, you cover it in fabric scraps. I went with all pieces from my “blue” sorter bin and let them fall all over randomly. I did try to keep it all in one or two layers and moved pieces around to cover all the empty spots. I left some upside down to add more variety in the colors, and I didn’t worry about ironing the pieces first. 

Once I had everything in place, I pressed it with my iron to smooth it down. Then I pinned water soluble stabilizer on top to help hold everything in place for the sewing machine. To sew, I lowered the feed dogs on my machine and crazy free motion quilted everything together. You can see that in the first video below.

 

@subearthancottage

Trying a new technique to make usable fabric from my fabric scraps. #upcycling #zerowaste #asmr #sewing #quilting

♬ original sound – Charity

After I had everything thoroughly stitched down, I rinsed out the stabilizer, shown here.

@subearthancottage

Rinsing out the water soluble stabilizer. It’s so cool to finally see the colors pop out as the stabilizer dissolves. #upcycling #sewing #quilting

♬ Lofi Vibes – Gentle State

That’s it. Now I have this really cool piece of fabric. I can’t decide what to do with it. It almost looks like it could hang on the wall like that as art. I also thought about making a couple of zipper pouches or sets of coasters out of it. It would also be fun to use as patches for clothing. 

What would you make with it? Leave your suggestions below. 🙂

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Heating a Rice Pack Without a Microwave

Hot rice packs are wonderful tools for easing muscle aches, cramps, and just comforting to use in cold weather. I prefer using a rice pack to an electric heating pad because you’re not tied to an electrical outlet.

A few years ago, though, I got rid of our microwave. I have some concerns about whether they are healthy, and we rarely used it anyway. Even if the potential health risks are exaggerated or non-existent, I don’t like having things that don’t get used taking up space. At the time, it was summer in Texas, I didn’t really miss my rice packs. Now that it’s cold, I wanted to find a way to heat them without caving and getting another microwave.

Please be cautious. I’ve seen some things that say anything other than a microwave is a fire-risk, so if you try to heat a rice pack in an oven, please never leave it unattended and use extreme caution. All appliances are different, so what works with mine may not work with yours.

Basic oven method

When researching, I found many people say to use an oven set to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. They also said to put the rice pack on a metal tray or roasting pan, and to have a pan or oven-safe dish of water alongside it to keep it from getting too dry.

My method

I was a little concerned that I may forget about it, and my oven doesn’t have a window so keeping an eye on it would be difficult. I do have a counter-top convection oven, so  that is what use. Because the door is glass, I can see in and keep an eye on things. It also has a timer that turns the unit off once time is up, so even if I get distracted I don’t have to worry about it over-heating. 

I always place the rice pack on a tray and put a dish of water in with it as others have suggested. Any rice packs I heat in the oven are made with 100% cotton fabric and thread. Synthetics melt easier and burn faster, whereas cotton can withstand a pretty high heat and burns slower, so cotton seems like a safer choice. 

I started with 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes. It worked, but I needed it hotter. I upped it to 300-325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. At that temperature, sometimes I have to let it cool for a minute or wrap it in a towel, but it works better for me than the lower temperature. I tend to push the limit with heat, though, so 200 degrees for thirty minutes is probably plenty for most.

Probably safer method

One other method I’ve seen is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, TURN IT OFF, and place the rice pack (on a tray with heatproof dish of water next to it) in the preheated oven. I haven’t tried this yet, but having the oven hot but turned off seems like it would minimize any risk of the rice pack overheating and burning. If I didn’t have the convection oven, I would probably use this method. 

The standard microwave method

Using a microwave is still the recommended method. To heat rice packs in the microwave, warm it in the microwave in 15 second intervals until you reach the desired temperature. Some people recommend placing a cup of water in the microwave as well.

Basic safety

Whether you use a microwave or an oven, be mindful that they can vary in power. ALWAYS test the temperature of the rice pack before using and never leave the microwave or oven unattended while heating. You should never use heat packs on individuals who are unable to let you know if it feels too warm on their skin.

Lavender rice packs at SubEarthan Cottage

SubEarthan Cottage now offers large 100% cotton flannel rice packs. These are filled with a blend of rice and lavender buds for a pleasant hint of lavender. I sewed channels in the flannel to help keep the rice evenly distributed. They can be heated as described above, or kept in the freezer to use cold. Find all of my rice packs here.

 

Lavender rice packs at SubEarthan Cottage.

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Basic Handmade Soap Terminology: Learn About Your Soap

For people new to buying or making handmade soaps, sometimes the terminology can be confusing. Here are a few of the basic terms you’re likely to come across and basic information on what they mean.

Cold process (cp)

This is the most traditional method. A lye (sodium hydroxide) solution with oils once they are both in a certain temperature range and stirred like mad until the mixture thickens. At this point, fragrances, essential oils and herbs can be added. The mixture is then poured into molds and left to harden and finish the chemical reaction for about 24 to 48 hours, depending on the recipe. After this time, the soap is removed from the molds and then allowed to cure for about 4-6 weeks. This lets excess water from the soap evaporate and makes the soap last longer.

Hot process (hp)

Hot process is very similar to cold process, except that the lye and oil mixture is cooked over a low temperature until the reaction is complete. Fragrances, essential oils and herbs can be added after the cook. The cooked mixture is then poured into molds and left to harden. The soap is safe to use immediately after it hardens, although it is best to allow the soap to cure for at least a week or two. Since some of the water evaporates during the cooking process, hp soap doesn’t have to cure for as long.

Melt and pour (mp)

This is probably the easiest for a beginner or for people uncomfortable with working with lye. A soap base that has been formulated to melt easily is melted down over low heat. Once it has thoroughly melted, fragrances, essential oils and herbs can be added. The soap is then poured into molds. This type of soap can be used as soon as the soap has sufficiently hardened.

Soap bases can be purchased from most craft stores, although you’ll generally find better quality bases from specialty suppliers.

Hand milled or rebatched

This is very similar to melt and pour except that instead of a soap base, grated soap is combined with a liquid and melted down. Some soap makers like to make plain batches of cp or hp soap and then hand mill it and add the fragrances, etc. then.

Hand milled bars can be firmer, although it really depends on the amount of liquid added and the length of time the soap is cured.

This is just a basic overview. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

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