Monday, March 31, 2008

Mama's 83!

All of my family helped my mother celebrate another milestone birthday yesterday! Any birthday after 80 is a milestone! This is my mother more than 60 years ago. Isn't she beautiful?



Friday, March 28, 2008

Frugal Friday

The Frugal Husband saga continues:

The Frugal tip I learned from my husband this week is "Don't be afraid to Ask".

My husband was driving along past a local Dollar General Store when he spotted these great shelving units sitting out beside their dumpster. He quickly went inside and asked the manager if they were throwing them away and she said, "Yes". He asked her if he could have them and she was very happy to get them off her hands!



This picture shows them in our garage with all the shipping supplies I use for EBay and my Etsy Shop. It looks so much nicer and it is so much easier to locate the size box and other shipping supplies I need. Before they were such an eye sore and in the way.

My husband also put this "don't be afraid to ask" tip to use in another way. He noticed that one of his customers had numerous empty plastic barrels sitting behind their business. He asked if he could have some and they said, "Take all you want!". Each time he visits them he gets as many as his truck will hold. In our area there is a demand for these to use on farms, to make animal beds, to make animal feeding troughs, etc. The biggest demand right now for these barrels is for water barrels. There has been a drought in the South for a while now and water barrels are a hot commodity! He has been able to make some extra cash selling these.

So if you see something interesting that seems to be in the way or unneeded, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK!. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but the person will appreciate getting the items off their hands!

For more Frugal Friday Tips, please visit Biblical Womanhood.

Sew Crafty Friday

I'm so happy that its Friday and am so looking forward to sewing this weekend!

This week I have been making more grocery bags and have sold them all. I also made two more pocketbooks.

The first one is my new Spring bag! It is made from some toile fabric that my daughter gave me for my birthday in February. The fabric has some pink and green in it. She also gave me the pink and white dotted fabric to match. I purchased some green ribbon for the trim. The toile portion is machine quilted.




I accidentally made the bag about 3 inches taller than my normal bags, but didn't have the heart to cut off the extra. If I cut it off I would be losing some of the people's heads in the toile fabric!

I have been using this bag all week and really enjoying it. It has 8 inside pockets which I made by taking various articles that I wanted to put in the pockets, laying them on the pocket fabric and sewing the seam to fit. The only problem now is figuring out which pocket the item I need is in without looking! I take the mail to the post office at work each afternoon and it all fits in my new bag easily.

The second bag is another John Deere bag for my husband to sell. Its the first John Deere bag I have made in the larger size. It is also machine quilted.





This is how I came up with the sizes of the pockets. I just got out my checkbook, memo book, cell phone, etc. and used them to get the right sizes like this.





I have also been working on my clothespin bag pattern and made two of those this week. I hope to have some in the Etsy Shop soon.

For more Sew Crafty Friday ideas, please visit The Waiting For Him Blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Early Spring in Carolina

I truly love my home state. We get a good sampling of all the seasons, without the weather being too extreme. But I might not be saying that in July and August if we have the extreme heat we have been having that last 2 or 3 years!

Late yesterday afternoon when I was sewing I looked out the window and noticed my mailbox. This is what my mailbox looks like in early Spring. That is wheat growing behind it.






It brought back memories of the picture I took of it last August 28, 2007. It was the day after my grandson was born and I took this picture. That is corn growing behind the mailbox in this picture. It was approaching the stage where it would be harvested. In fact, it was only a few days after this picture was taken that the corn was picked.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Uses for Cloth Napkins



I made a stack of cloth napkins from leftover or scrap fabric I had on hand. If you keep a basket on your counter with a stack of these in full view of everyone, they can save a lot of paper towels and paper napkins.

Here are some uses:

1. Of course, when eating meals.

2. Fold into a square and use for coasters. This is my cup of coffee on one while I'm at the computer.



3. Fold in half and use for a spoon rest.



4. Put in lunches you pack for family members to take to work or school.


5. To wipe up most anything.


6. Grab one when the baby spits up and there's no burp cloth around!!!


7. Put one with a meal you might take to a shut-in or elderly person.


I'm sure you could think of many other uses!

For more kitchen tips, please go to Tammy's Recipes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Simple Joys and Easter Joy

These are some simple joys of my Easter weekend.

Knowing my husband was thinking of me is a major joy in my life. He brought me this cheerful little pot of yellow tulips and a sweet Easter card.




We visited a new consignment shop/boutique in the small town near where we live and saw many treasures there. Its located right across the street from my favorite thrift store. This new store has charm and a very sweet owner and will be a new shopping haunt for sure. She offered to let me display one of my pocketbooks in her store and take no commission if it sold. This would be a great way to advertise my wares.

We bought this old tin with sunflowers on it. I will put it in my little sewing room which already has a sunflower theme. It will be great to hold thread, ribbon or bobbins.



We also found this for my sewing room to hang bags on. It is metal and has hand painted chickens.



Sewing brings me much joy. I love to make handmade items to give away and this is a clothespin bag made for a friend.




The most profound joy of a Christian is knowing that Jesus died on the cross for us and rose from the dead on Easter morning. Nothing can surpass that joy!


Happy Easter to everyone!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Grocery Bag Handle Update



This is another handle that is nice on the grocery bags. I got this idea from the book, "Bend The Rules Sewing". The underside of the handles match the lining. The above picture shows what both sides of the handles look like.

I think this style of handle looks really nice and is a little easier to me than the other handles. But I plan to use both kinds of handles on my bags.

This is how I make the lined handles:

For each handle I cut two strips 2 1/2 inches wide and about 14 inches long from the outer fabric and the lining fabric. Turn up each edge on the long side of the outer fabric about 1/4 inch. Then turn under the lining fabric edges a little more, about 1/2 inch. Cut a strip of quilt batting and place it inside the strip made from the outer fabric. Then lay the lining strip with wrong sides together on top of the quilt batting strip and edge stitch along the edge of the lining fabric strip on one side. I have to sew really slow and keep making sure the strip is straight on the side I'm sewing. Then press and sew the other side.



Then pin the handles on the outer bag right sides together like this. Finish the bag the same as the instructions in the Grocery Bag Tutorial in my previous post.




I love the way these handles look!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reusable Fabric Grocery Bag Tutorial


Note: If you want to buy reusable fabric grocery bags, please visit my Etsy Shop.But, feel free to make your own from this tutorial!

I started making these reusuable grocery bags a couple of weeks ago and have been selling some in my Etsy Shop. I wanted to share my pattern so that anyone who wanted to could make their own. Since I have been the recipient of so many great tutorials out there in blogland, it would only be right for me to share mine. :o)

This is how I make the bags that are 15 inches wide, 14 inches deep and have a 5 inch wide gussett on the bottom.

They have 12 inch long handles. Feel free to make the handles any length you like. I have made some with shoulder length handles that work well. Just cut the handles about 28 inches long which allows for a 14 inch drop from the shoulder.

They are lined or you could call them reversable.

First you cut two rectangles which are 16 inches wide and 18 inches tall. On the bottom you cut out two 2 1/2 inch squares like this. You will do this for your outer fabric and your lining. This bag will have a pink and yellow calico outer fabric and a yellow lining.




Then cut two pieces of your outer fabric that are 4 1/2 inches wide and 13 inches long for the handles.



The first thing I sew is the bottom seam of the outer fabric. Place the bottom edges right sides together and make the seam 1/2 inch wide. Sew the bottom seam twice to make them really strong for heavy groceries! Then press the seam open. Always press this seam open before you sew the side seams. It makes it much easier.



You can add a professional finish by top stitching on each side of the seam like this. The distance between my presser foot and the seam is 1/4 inch, so I just put the edge of my presser foot in the ditch of the seam and sew. This step isn't absolutely necessary, but nice.



Then pin the side seams together and sew each of them.



Place each side of the bag on the pointy end of the ironing board and press open the seam. While it is on the board you will notice that the bottom seam will match up to the side seam. Put the seams together before taking off the board, place one pin in the seam and press like this.



Then sew a 1/2 inch seam straight across like this. Sew this seam twice too for extra strength. This creates the rectangular shape of the bottom of the bag or what I call a gussett.



Now follow the exact same steps for the lining except LEAVE AN OPENING ABOUT 4 INCHES LONG ON THE BOTTOM SEAM FOR TURNING THE BAG. Everything else is the same process.



To make the handles, press the edges over about 1/2 inch, fold in half long ways and press. Cut strips of quilt batting to fit and place inside. Press well before sewing. Then stitch on one edge, press well and stitch the other edge.




Pin the handles onto the right side of the outer bag like this. I put mine about 4 inches from the side seams. Make sure the handles on both side are even.




Now its time to sew the outer bag and lining together. Place one inside the other right sides together, with the handles in between. Match up the side seams and pin. Then pin well all the way around and sew a one half inch seam all the way around. Remove all the pins. You will have to stick your hand in through the opening in the lining to get the pins you pinned on the handles with earlier.





Turn the bag by pulling the outer bag through the opening in the lining like this. Its like it appears out of nowhere!!!



Then push the lining down into the bag and press the top edge well by placing it on the pointy end of the ironing board. Then topstitch a 1/4 inch seam all the way around the top.




The final step is to sew up the opening left in the lining. I press it together evenly and close it up on the sewing machine like this. Again, since it is a bottom seam I sew it twice for extra strength.



The final product!!!






Here is another pretty handle:



This is another handle that is nice on the grocery bags. I got this idea from the book, "Bend The Rules Sewing". The underside of the handles match the lining. The above picture shows what both sides of the handles look like.

I think this style of handle looks really nice and is a little easier to me than the other handles. But I plan to use both kinds of handles on my bags.

This is how I make the lined handles:

For each handle I cut two strips 2 1/2 inches wide and about 14 inches long from the outer fabric and the lining fabric. Turn up each edge on the long side of the outer fabric about 1/4 inch. Then turn under the lining fabric edges a little more, about 1/2 inch. Cut a strip of quilt batting and place it inside the strip made from the outer fabric. Then lay the lining strip with wrong sides together on top of the quilt batting strip and edge stitch along the edge of the lining fabric strip on one side. I have to sew really slow and keep making sure the strip is straight on the side I'm sewing. Then press and sew the other side.



Then pin the handles on the outer bag right sides together like this. Finish the bag the same as the instructions in the Grocery Bag Tutorial in my previous post.




I love the way these handles look!

Thoughts for Thursday........

DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! (And a lot of it is small stuff!)

Please excuse me for using the name of a popular book as the title for this post! I don't claim to have come up with that saying.

However, its a good thing to think about. Its so easy to get caught up in the moment and feel as if whatever is going on right this minute or during this day are way more worrisome than they actually are.

I challenge you to put it into this perspective: One year from now will what is happening today make any difference? If it will, then do something about it. If not, DON'T SWEAT IT!

Some things we worry about are just little inconveniences. Like having to wait in line too long at the grocery store, or having someone cut you off in traffic, or someone saying something to you that was inconsiderate.

Even if you are going through something that will affect your life even one year from now, remember it is only a season and this too shall pass.

Waiting in line at the grocery store can help you cultivate patience! Being cut off in traffic can help you cultivate forgiveness! Having someone say something to you that is inconsiderate will help you develop tolerance!

One thing that I think we all need to work on is to not take offense easily. Most of the time people don't even realize that they have offended us and are off on their merry way oblivious to our feelings. Why should we be upset then? It would be better for us to let the every day run of the mill stuff that people say and do just roll off our shoulders and just say, "Oh well".

One way to have more joy is "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff".

I hope you are all having a nice Holy Week and will have a good upcoming Easter weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Instant Party!

This weekend we celebrated my wonderful son-in-law's birthday. I thought I would share with you some simple ways to have a party that are easy and make any celebration special.

This is a picture of my punch bowl, cake plate (still has some chocolate cake in it!) and a few of my punch cups. The punch bowl was a gift to me many years ago. I bought the cake plate at a yard sale, which by the way doubles as a punch bowl! You just turn the pedestal and the cover upside down. The lid fits into the pedestal and makes a great punch bowl. Some of my punch cups came with the punch bowl, but I bought 20 more at a yard sale for $1.00.



When having a baby shower or bridal shower, these party items are perfect, but they are also nice to pull out for birthdays, Christmas or other holidays.

I like to keep some frozen punch in my freezer. Here's the recipe I use. I freeze enough for one bowl full in separate freezer bags and when you are ready to make the punch, all you have to do is take it out of the freezer an hour or so ahead of time and add ginger ale.

Then if you've got cake mix, frosting or a brownie mix on hand, VOILA, INSTANT PARTY.

The glass punch bowl, cups and cake plate make the party special. So be on the lookout for some of these party items at yard sales, thrift shops or on sale at a retail store.

We put my son-in-law's gift and card on his dinner plate, taped some matching balloons to his chair and placed the chocolate cake displayed in the glass cake plate in front of his plate.

Since this is a Backwards Kitchen Tip Tuesday, what are some ways you make a celebration special?

For more Kitchen Tips visit Tammy's Recipes!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Monday Minute

Good Morning! I hope you are ready for another Monday and another week. But not just another week, HOLY WEEK!

Its time to grab those planners and notebooks to check for this week's things to do!

I just checked my planner and see that I need to return library books, use CVS Extra Bucks coupons that expire Friday, and I see 3 bills or drafts that need to be paid this week.

I have added these and several other things to my Master List and marked off several things. Every time something crosses my mind that I need to do or remember, I write it down.

I am doing much better on my ZONE WORK! Thanks to some on-line inspiration, I got started the end of last week and made good progress. I have decided to stay in the kitchen zone until I get it like I want it, no matter how long it takes. I am committed to spending 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes each night working slowly around the kitchen. I guess this is more like SPRING CLEANING than just doing zone work. Some of the things I am doing need doing every week or day anyway! :o)

This morning I set the timer on my stove for 15 minutes and worked in one area of the kitchen. Tonight I'll do the same thing. I have lots of cabinets, drawers, appliances and cob webs to go!

So, the advice of a very imperfect person is JUST DO IT!!!! Getting started made me feel so good about what I had accomplished, I wanted to do more!

I know its another MONDAY, but planning and just doing what you have to do is the key to spending Monday and all of our days with JOY!

Hope you have a great Monday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday Sewing

More John Deere bags! My husband received orders for these two bags and I worked most of the day getting them ready. I would like to make two more just like them for him to have on hand to sell. We have a good partnership going on. He sells and I sew!



I also worked on this clothespin bag. It needs a few adjustments, but I've got my basic pattern now. I think I'll use this one in my sewing room for storage of notions, etc. In addition to clothespins, these bags make good storage for plastic grocery bags, socks, and all kinds of things.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Frugal Friday

If you've ever paid a bill late or forgotten about a draft, this is one way to help yourself remember and avoid any late charges.

Just write down on an index card all your bills, the amounts due and the due dates. This fits easily on the inside of your check book cover. Mine has a clear plastic inside that I can slip this into. Just remember to check this regularly to see where you are on your bill paying for the month and its also a great way to see where you are on your budget.

I go a step further and write down any I tend to forget in my little planner. I have a couple of bills that were always due the same day for years and all of a sudden the due date was changed. I'm set in my ways and just keep forgetting that they are due on a different date. This helps me to stay on top of it!

I got this idea from Laine's Letters. We used to keep a list of all this on a legal pad each month, but the index card is much simpler.

For more Frugal Friday tips go to Biblical Womanhood.

Happy Friday!

Sew Crafty Friday

This week I have been making reusuable fabric grocery bags. I wanted to make them from the pattern based on the plastic bags all the stores use. I've seen two or three sites with the instructions, but the day I was working on them was one of those days when I couldn't tackle a new pattern. I decided to use the pattern I have been using for my pocketbooks and just modify it some. This worked great and makes a nice bag.

My finished grocery bags are about 14 inches wide and 14 inches deep. They have 12 inch long handles and are lined with matching fabric. I double stitched the bottom seams so they would hold heavy groceries easily. (I hope!)

These are pictures of one of the bags full of groceries and one laying flat.






I still want to tackle the bags that look like grocery bags, but I think these are just as nice and they may be sturdier.

This weekend I plan to make pocketbooks, more grocery bags and maybe a clothespin bag. I still haven't made a rag quilt bag, but want to soon!

For more Sew Crafty Projects visit the Waiting For Him Blog.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Kim's Pocketbook



Look at this great pocketbook that Kim made with the help of my recent pocketbook tutorial posts! She did such a great job and I can tell that she is a good seamstress. Thank you Kim for showing us your project.

The pocketbook tutorial is on the left under labels if you want to give it a try too!

DON'T LET GRASS GROW AROUND YOUR DREAMS

On the door of the tiny employees' bathroom located in the back of the file room of my office is a poster. The poster has a captive audience if you know what I mean! LOL. The poster has all kinds of little quotes. Its been there for years and I've about got them all memorized. This week this one jumped out at me: "DON'T LET GRASS GROW AROUND YOUR DREAMS".

I've been dwelling on this quote all week. As you know from the name of my blog, I have homemaking dreams. I really struggle with this because I have so many ideas for being a great homemaker. Things like sewing,cooking,decorating the house, yard work, gardening, cleaning, laundry, etc., get my leftover time.

How do I keep the grass from growing around my dreams? NEVER GIVE UP!

I want you to know that I have fallen short of my goals or failed completely so many times. But, I am determined to get back up and try again and again.

Examples:

This week I have listed on my side bar all the things I want to get done in the kitchen zone this week. I planned to do a little each day and finish up Saturday. I HAVEN'T DONE ONE SINGLE THING ON THE LIST! But I am still determined to work on this list. I won't give up!

Yesterday before work and after work I started on a special order pocketbook. The outside panels were to be quilted. I finished the quilting part last night, but there are so many puckers there's no way I can sell a bag made from them. I have to start all over. I lay awake last night thinking of how I could start over and avoid those puckers. I won't give up!

I have had some recent success however! I made fabric grocery bags for the Etsy shop which sold very quickly and I received great feedback from the buyer. I made more and have great ideas for more items to sell! I found instructions online this morning to make clothes pins bags and have my own design in my head as we speak!

I need to relax and keep on going. I can only do so much, the rest is in God's hands! I trust HIM with my dreams. Meanwhile, I'll keep working at these things and keep going!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pocketbook Tutorial Part Five

All of the previous posts in this series are shown under Labels on the side bar.

The next thing to do is make the handles. Lay the previously cut strips of fabric out on the ironing board and press under about 1/2 inch on each of the long sides like this. Fold the strips in half length wise and press. Cut pieces of quilt batting to fit inside the strips. You can use left over scraps if you have them.



Then stitch along the lengthwise edge about 1/4 inch or less on both sides. If the handles want to twist a little bit, don't worry, after being ironed and sewn on the bags, they'll be fine. It might be helpful to use a quilting or walking foot on your machine if you have one. Just go slow and keep adjusting the handles so that the edges are even.



Pin the handles on each side of the outside of your bag with right sides together. I placed mine 3 inches from each side of the bag. Sew them on using a 1/4 inch wide seam.



Make the loop for the closure by cutting a 1 1/2 inch wide piece of fabric 7 inches long. Fold it in half lengthwise right sides together and press. Stitch a very narrow seam on one side. Then turn it right side out. I use a safety pin for this. It seems like it won't turn, but it will! Iron it flat and press it like this. Then sew down one side across the bottom and up the other side.




Pin it to the center of one side of your outside bag, right sides together and stitch down like you did the handles.

Now, put your lining and outside bag one inside the other right sides together. It doesn't matter which one is on the outside as long as they are right sides together. First pin the side seams making sure they are lined up. Then pin the rest of the bag like this.



Sew a 1/2 inch seam all the way around the top.


Then you can turn the bag right side out by pulling the outside bag through the opening you left in the bottom of the lining.





Press the top edge and pin it well all the way around. Then top stitch a 1/4 inch seam all the way around. You will need to keep adjusting and slightly stretching the fabric to prevent puckers. Don't worry, you'll probably have a pucker or two, but it'll be ok.

We're almost finished!

Next sew up the opening in the lining by pressing the edges together and sewing it together with the machine.

For the hard insert that goes in the bottom of the bag, I use 2 pieces of cardboard cut to the measurements of the bottom of the bag. This one was 4 1/2 inches by 8 3/4inches. Cover this with matching fabric. Cut the fabric big enough to allow for your seams and especially enough on the end that'll be hand sewn. Just sew the rectangle with the machine right sides together, leaving one end open, turn, insert the cardboard, tuck in the fabric and hand stitch the open end. Place this in the bottom of the bag. This makes the bag extra sturdy.

I usually make a button to match the bag using a button covering kit which costs less than $2.00. But, you could find a pretty button or antique button to match! I sew this from the outside instead of coming through the inside of the bag. It looks neater than having a knot on the inside on the lining.



Here is the finished bag!





I hope this has been clear. I will try to answer any questions you may have.

If anyone makes a bag using this tutorial, please send me a picture. I'd love to show case it on my blog.

Trim Healthy Table and an Amazon $5.00 off $15.00 Coupon on Books

I've been wanting the new Trim Healthy Table cookbook and was getting ready to order it for myself on Amazon for Christmas.  I was ha...