Scented Rice Pack, Ribbon Gift Bag and Flowering Rosella

Today, I made up an organza bag to go with the hot rice pack I made last week. Well, I don’t think it’s proper organza, just a nice white sheer fabric I’ve had hanging around for ages. I finished it off with some of the new pretty deep pink ribbon I got from Lincraft the other week. My old machine did catch on the fine fabric, so I’ll probably have to get around to that service soon.

To make the scented rice pack, I used a cup of rice (I got 10kg when on special), and added a tablespoon of dried lavendar petals, some dried homegrown marjoram, basil flowers, and lemon myrtle along with a drop of rose fragrance oil. I used more of the soft red cotton material, although I know red is not the best colour for a relaxing eye pack, but it is nice and soft. And it smells simply divine, if I do say so myself! It would be handy as a relaxing eye pack, or you can heat up it up in the microwave for a minute on high to use as a soothing hot pack. Alternatively, you can put it in the freezer to use as a cool pack. These rice packs are very handy to have around!

Flowering at the moment is our new rosella plant which is really taking off in this humid weather. We can’t believe we picked this one up in the bargain bin at our local nursery for only $1! Its got a heap of fruit on it now, and also some optimistic white meally bugs. I sorted those bugs out, so hopefully we will have some fruit to try and make rosella jam in a month or so.

Pretty Covered Coathangers

Every wardrobe is not complete without a few of these covered coathangers! I don’t know why I haven’t made these before, they are so easy.

Many years ago I replaced all the old coathangers in my cupboard with plastic ones. But you know how these things multiply, right? Somehow, I now have three old wooden hangers in my cupboards and I’m not sure how they got there! They really needed covering, the wood catches on delicate clothes, and the corners leave imprints in the shoulders. Covering them fixes that!

I searched around on the net for ideas on how to do it, but they all  seemed a bit too fussy. For mine, I just cut up some recycled foam packaging and secured it with elastic bands. Then I simply hand stitched the pretty material straight over the top, folding in the edges, using blanket stitch. I folded in the ends and stitched that down, too. The lavender ones have pretty white buttons to secure the ends. I then finished off with a very simple little bow to cover the tiny gap for the hook. These are a cinch and don’t take long to make at all.

Lovey Dovey Buttons

I’ve been wondering if I could use recycled plastic milk bottles to make buttons, and thought to try it today with some of the left over love heart print.

This post about how to make a fabric button made me wonder if I could make the pieces from recycled plastic, instead of buying the kits from the craft store. Buying new something so simple just to make a button seems wasteful to me. I had three goes at making the pieces from the plastic, going smaller and refining it as I went. My result is, I don’t think this makes a very strong button! You could use it as a decorative button only, not a functioning one on clothing. I also cut and covered a small piece of plastic to form the missing piece for an old fabric button, which worked ok.

So then I went back to the net. This post about how to make a fabric button without a kit prompted me to go through my large button collection for any faded buttons that were candidates for a fabric covering. The large once-were-purple buttons worked the best, the smaller faded blue ones were more fiddly. By trial and error I found the smaller ones really need a round of cloth that was neither too small or too large. I also watched this video on making fabric buttons with a kit, it looks very simple and I wonder if I could make my own. I really like the picture frame on the wall behind her, it’s holding 4 rows of cotton threads, looks cool! (wonder if I could make one from recycled materials … )

So that was a productive day today – I learnt how to cover buttons with fabric! I’m sure to need that skill at some point ….

edit: I’m thinking of trying to make fabric covered thumbtacs when I’ve collected enough tiny plastic bottle tops (eg. toothpast etc).

Lovey Dovey Boxer Shorts

I found making this pair of boxer shorts challenging, but I carefully worked through the steps I knew I needed to pull this off. I took no shortcuts like I normally do with my sewing, so I’m proud of the results.

David likes the love heart motif, but would like to have some choice when buying clothes. Love heart options for women’s clothing are abundant, but for men it’s pretty much limited to g-strings with hearts on it. And that’s just not our style! I saw this love heart printed material and decided to grab a metre with the thought to try and make him some boxer shorts. I would copy a comfortable pair he already has, but making pants in the past has usually resulted in failure. So before doing this, I made a couple of pairs of pants for toys, going so far as to use a paper pattern for the fashion doll pants. Big teddy needed some jeans, so I threw them together from the bottom part of already cut up jeans, to check if I understood the pant pattern shape. Teddy’s pants wouldn’t be complete without a big cheery red button!

Today I was ready to try and make David a new pair of boxer shorts. I started by making a paper pattern by copying David’s black boxers, leaving space for seams, and cut out the shape. Pinning the material, I cut it carefully in half so I had two pieces of material. I folded a piece in half and pinned the paper pattern to the fold, then cut it out, removed it and did that to the other piece. Then I pinned the whole thing together first, before starting the sewing, something which I normally do not bother to do. First I sewed the tummy seam, then the back seam, then the crutch. The boxers looked huge! But when I checked the size by placing the black shorts on top, I saw they weren’t too much larger. I made a pocket for the elastic along the waist, and threaded it through. All that was left to do was hem the bottom of the legs and wait for David to come home so I could check the elastic and sew it up.

Bouyed by my success, I decided to make the scraps into an itsy-bitsy pair of boxer shorts for me! To my surprise they actually worked and are wearable, David even says they are cute! Needless to say, I won’t be modelling them and posting a foto!!

Simple Tube Top

I just whipped up this cute little top using some material that caught my eye when I was at Lincraft last week. The weather is so hot and muggy here right now, this is just what I need for wearing around the house as a boobtoob with my pretty aqua blue skirt!

I really liked this print of Japanese fans so just got half a metre, not knowing what I would make with it, although I did think perhaps I would make a little cami. The grand total cost of this top was $4.49! I didn’t have any orange thread which would have been best, but this emerald green thread worked just fine, it’s good to have finally found a use for it! I don’t ever remember buying green thread, it must have come to me along with some other coloured threads. I already had the elastic in my kit and that’s all I needed to make this.

I simply sewed up one side of the half metre fabric forming a tube. Then I made a pocket along the top to thread the elastic through. I cut 10cm off along the bottom to form straps which I’ve decided not to use. Then I sewed a fine hem along the bottom. This has got to be the simplest top to make. It might look it too, unless you find some really nice material like this silky look print, and at less than $4.50 its not bad. This simple tube top is fine for wearing around the house, seeing as I don’t have a strapless bra because this thing is unsuitable for ‘outside’ unless I get one!

Recycled Jeans Bag

This is my first attempt at recycling an old pair of jeans into a bag. I remember a couple of friends from school used to make bags or skirts by cutting off the legs of old jeans. But when I was a teenager I never had the luxury of having an old pair of jeans to cut up, so have been wanting to try this now I can!

For skirts they would sew a large square of material to the bottom after the legs were removed, and kept using the top of the jeans, leaving the buttons as they are. I can’t remember if they would line their bags, but I gave it a go here. I haven’t lined anything before and I could have done it better, that’s for sure! I didn’t match the width of the lining with the width of the jean waist so had to gather some lining to make it fit. The hardest part was sewing the lining to the jeans and then threading the cord through the lip I made in the lining. If I was going to do this again, I’d make the lining fit before sewing it, and I’d make the lip for the cord wider.

Perhaps this bag would be better if I made a handle out of the legs and sewed it up the sides …

Lovey Dovey Eyemask

After a late night raiding, David wanted to sleep in but complained of the light waking him up. He joked he needed an eyemask like mine, although his needed something ‘loveydovey’ on it! ‘Oh, I could do that’ I said and this is what I came up with!

I decided to use some left over red cloth that is like that brushed cotton, nice and soft. I thought that would make a nice sleeping mask. I considered cutting out lovehearts and sewing them on where the eyes should be, but knew that shape is tricky to hem and not have fray. I came up with the idea of using a simple embroidery backstitch using loveheart cookie cutters as the template. But what could I use to draw the shape onto the material? Most pencils and pens would not work, and a permanent marker might show through to the other side. What I needed was some white chalk … I used to have some stashed away, but I hadn’t seen it in a while so I must have gotten rid of it. Then I remembered the set of screwup children’s crayons I had in the guest room. Why would they have put white crayon in a child’s colouring set, I had wondered. Well now I know. So I can use it for my sewing!! It worked perfectly.

To make this sleeping mask, I used one I already had as a template.
1. Using an eyemask as a template, cut a shape that is twice the size with the top being the fold. Leave a good inch for the seams.
2. Embroider any pattern or words you want on one side, draw any outline on the wrong side of the cloth.
3. Fold in half with the wrong side of the cloth on the outside, and machine sew down one side and along the bottom.
4. Turn in the right way and place a layer of packing sponge inside.
5. Turn the opening inside and machine sew the edge, keep going around to the other side so it looks even and neat.
6. Cut a 2 inch wide strip of matching material, fold the edges in and sew on the right side, making sure there is enough space inside the tube for a safety pin.
7. Measure the length of elastic you’ll need to fit comfortably around the wearer’s head, use safety pins to pin the elastic to the mask to get an accurate measurement.
8. Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the thin tube (use a large safety pin at the other end of the elastic so you don’t loose it inside).
9. Use safety pins to pin the covered elastic to the mask and recheck your measurement just to be sure.
10. Hand stitch the covered elastic to the eyemask, about halfway down each side.

What comes out must fit back in?

After my brother and his family visited, I left my airbed folded up ready for the war of push and shove that would inevitably ensue. How is it these things never, Ever fit back into the box? Oh yes, I’m supposed to spend half an hour tightly folding it, inch by inch, squeezing every little goldfish bubble of air out of it as I go. Just so the thing will go neatly back into the box that it came in.

I decided to invest said 30 minutes into making a bag instead, one that was generously sized so this would no longer be an issue! I have metres upon metres, of cheap blue cotton material saved from my old life. These were purchased for a sea musical I directed for a primary school where I was the music teacher. For certain scenes of the show, we had a couple of kids hold the ends of these swathes of cloth, moving their arms up and down so they would make waves. Lol! I just have to laugh at the silliness of it, where did I get those ideas from? I didn’t want to waste the material so saved it for a rainy day like today!

To make this very simple bag a bit more challenging, I planned to sew the letters for A-I-R-B-E-D on it. I had several options, but in the end went for white shoe laces (of which I have a copious amount and I don’t know why) with contrasting red thread. Actually, the thread was red from working on another project but I thought it looked nice so kept it. Once the lettering was done, sewing up the bag was very straight forward.

1. Cut a piece of material twice the size of the object you want to go in the bag, plus a couple of inches extra to make it easier to go in, and for seams.
2. Using pins, plan where the shoelace writing will go, plastic ends of laces will be the ends of letters, so you don’t have to hem edges.
3. Machine sew the shoelaces with a contrasting thread, let the cut ends of laces fray for added effect.
4. Machine sew what will be the lip of the bag, make it wide enough for a nappy safety pin to go through.
5. Turn the lettering to the inside and sew down the two sides (the 3rd side is folded).
6. Turn the bag right way around.
7. Attach a nappy safety pin (I find those easiest to handle) to the end of some brightly coloured cord, and thread it through the lip of the bag.

Lavendar Afternoon

Last Easter, when we visited David’s father and his fiance in Stanthorpe, we stopped by a lavendar farm and got our very own lavendar plant to grow. So far it seems to have adjusted to the climate change (it can get very cold in Stanthorpe). We gave it a good sized pot and put a lucky grow charm at the base. I’m trying to shape it by pruning lightly. I’m supposed to do this after it finishes flowering I know, that’s why there aren’t as many flowers on it as there otherwise might be.  After the flowers finish, I deadhead them and keep the dried flower. It prefer’s a sunny spot and a good water, but doesn’t like to sit soaking.

After the stresses of the morning, I knew I had to take my stress management into my own hands and decided to make a lavendar bag! I made this one in about 30 minutes and did it by hand, not machine, as I did it for relaxation more than anything. It’s quite easy, this is how I did it.
Fold a scrap piece of pretty material in half with the back of the material on the outside, the front facing each other inside.
If a seam of the lip will fray, hem it first using blanket stitch and some matching coloured thread.
Using backstitch hand sew down the side of each of the two edges.
Turn the bag right way out.
Fold a scrap piece of thin white ribbon in half, put a knot in the end.
Sew the half way point of ribbon about an inch down from the top of the bag.
Put some tablespoons of dried lavendar inside and twist the ribbon around the bag to close it.

On one of our trips to Indoorpilly with David’s mum and his sister Michelle, we stopped by the T2 Tea shop, which is full of relaxing teas.  While we were there, some tea cups and saucers fell from a high shelf, as if of their own accord. One tea cup remained intact, so I declared it a lucky tea cup and bought it! I also picked up a packet of dried lavendar from there. Lavendar tea is very good for stress management and soothing migraines. I didn’t know you could drink lavendar tea like that, and through trial and error this is how I’ve come to prefer my lavendar tea.
Add 2 teaspoons of dried lavendar to a small tea pot with a removable mesh cup.
Fill with boiling water for no more than 2 minutes.
While waiting, jiggle the pot!
Test the colour every 30 seconds to make sure its not too strong.
Add 1 teaspon of sugar per teacup of tea before sipping.

I remember a song my dad used to sing to me when I was little…
“Lavendar blue, dilly dilly, lavendar green.
When I am King, dilly dilly, you shall be Queen.
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so.
Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, who told me so.”

Things You Should Never Buy

There are some things you should just never buy. If you’re organised, you can source certain items by collecting them as they come to you, usually in the form of packaging when you buy other things. Knowing what to discard is important too, otherwise you’ll end up with a big pile of unsorted rubbish that is practically unusable. Stash away these small things, always the same items together so you can find them when you need them. There is no point at all collecting these things if you can’t put your finger on it when you need it, so do a stocktake of what you have and where it is in your house. One secret I’ve discovered to being thrifty is, know what you have in your cupboards, so you know what not to buy.

Elastic Bands. You get these free all the time, from rolls of newspapers to bunches of broccolini. I keep my stash in a handy-for-nothing-else sugar bowl. Throw away old rubber bands as they age. Test them by stretching them out, if they break or don’t stretch, they are too old!

Small Safety Pins. These usually come on clothing when you buy it. I stash mine away in my paper clip holder, or my sewing box.

Small Pieces of Ribbon and Elastic. Clothing and gift stores give you these all the time and they’re handy for craft projects. I also cut off the ribbon from inside t-shirts and dresses that stores have so the garment will hang on the hanger. When you wear them, these ribbons are annoying and often peek out from under your clothes, so I snip them off and use them for things around my home, like a way to tie up my green shopping bags, etc.

Buttons. Once you’ve got your initial collection you need never buy buttons again. When you buy clothes there’s often a spare button, along with ribbon, safety pin and a small zip lock bag. Before throwing away old, ripped clothes, or if using them for rags, make sure you remove the buttons. The key to having a good collection of buttons is to have them sorted so you can find one of a certain colour and size when you need it. I collect the small zip lock bags buttons come in and use them to sort my button collection.

Bag Ties. I keep the plain white ones from bread bags to reuse on freezer bags, and throw out the rest. I keep a bunch of ties that came when I’ve bought some plastic bags. Sometimes I’ll keep really long, tough ones that tied some electrical item to it’s packaging, as they are handy.

Pretty Tins and Boxes, eg. biscuit tins. These are often given as a practical gift and I always save biscuit tins, after we’ve eaten up the bikkies! They are very handy all over the house to put things in. You also often get pretty boxes as packaging when you buy things. Especially useful are plain boxes with no labeling, or easily removable labels. The see through ones you get with the pack of 30 Ferrero Rocher chocolates (my favourites) is particularly handy, as it’s see through and stacks. Here’s a picture of one that David uses as a bits and pieces box.

Strong Cardboard Boxes. If you’re a renter like us, strong boxes in good condition are useful. If you don’t have a good collection of boxes, you’ll surely miss that when its time to move again. Some boxes I use to put things in, some boxes I store flat to be used at moving time. I often stash the boxes things came in, it’ll be easy to pack them up when we move and I’ll know what’s inside because there’s a picture of it on the box. These are pulled apart and stored flat wherever possible.

Packaging. Again, this is very useful at moving time. I also keep small pieces of foam that have come to me in the form of packaging and use them for projects like coat hanger covers. I keep all bubble wrap, and some paper wrapping you get from places like the kitchen store, etc. These are organised in a box in the storage room so when I have to start packing to move, I’ll be ready. I also recycle the pages from telephone books as packaging for glassware at moving time.

Strong Plastic and Paper Shopping Bags. Bags with no advertisement on them are good, but even if they have one, if they are strong with good handles they can be recycled. I use some strong paper ones to hold different wool projects in. That orange one from T2 Tea is great, nice colour and it’s got a strong rope handle. I’ve collected too many plastic ones though, so I’m thinking I might turn the pretty coloured ones into plastic wool. I’ll let you know how that turns out with a future blog!

Cosmetic and Toiletry Bags. I pick these up as special deals when I’m buying something else. I’ve also got some handy shopping-bag sized handbags when I’ve bought magazines. Here’s a picture of cosmetic bags I didn’t buy empty, and they’re good quality. I get heaps of use out of them.

Shopping Lists and Small Note Pads. Any piece of paper that would otherwise be thrown out, if it has a blank side, I fold and cut into quarters, and staple to make a small note pad. I always seem to have plenty.

Pieces of Cardboard. If you ever need a piece of cardboard for craft projects, keep a small stash of the best pieces. You often get these in the form of packaging. eg, I bought some books from BigW online, one book came with two A4 pieces of strong cardboard. I’ll never need to buy cardboard for craft projects, and any fix it job around the home that needs it.
That gives me an idea for a future blog article – Times when you’ll need a Piece of Cardboard! lol

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