Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pillowcases for Charity

The charity I hold dear to my heart, Online Angels, recently received a request for pillowcases for ill children. Upon hearing this, one of the Angels mentioned that they might be nice for putting in the Christmas stockings we make up for Seniors as well. So holiday fabrics, kiddie fabrics, even plain fabrics are welcome. Plain pillowcases will be enhanced with machine embroidery upon receipt by the good folks who run OA.

I particularly love the orange one. The bear print is in a little bag made from leftover fabric. These are so easy to make, I hope to find lots of stash fabric big enough to make more of these.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Three

I was in need of a brown shrug to wear to work. Not wanting to purchase something new if I didn't have to I went to Salvation Army in search of a nice brown wool sweater. I could chop it up into a shrug and have the remainder left for another project.

Sadly, the wool sweater collection was thin and I didn't find what I needed. But I did find a few nice pieces that will enhance the business casual wardrobe I need to grow a bit more for my work. A gorgeous brown sweater of unknown fiber originally from H&M. The content tag was missing and it did not feel like 100% wool to me so I didn't dare cut it up and risk ruining it. But it looks nice on me and will definitely be good for wearing to work.

A very new looking long sleeve Hanna Andersson cotton top in brown with blue trim around the neck. Nice and warm for the fall. Hanna stuff is so well constructed and durable.

A white and gold Liz Claiborne blouse that converts to 3/4 sleeves would have made an acceptable jacket to go over this sleeveless dress for work but I really want a shrug. I bought the blouse anyway, it was also like new and will go with my brown skirt.

The best find was a Calvin Klein blazer that fit me perfectly. The color is a deep maroon with brownish tints to it. This was in need of cleaning but structurally perfect. I debated a little because it would need an initial dry cleaning and I am normally against the process, but I ended up taking it. The price was right, I really need a blazer, it fit well and even with the cost of the cleaning it will still be a steal. Now let's hope for a few nice days in a row so I can hang it outside to air out once I pick it up from the cleaner.

Thank you to the folks who donated these instead of adding them to the trash heap!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

My Dad is one of those people who has everything. Because I understand that he's not being facetious when he answers 'Just your company,' to the question 'What would you like for (insert occasion here)?' I try to respect how he feels. Especially since I understand that too many possessions just weighs us down rather than enhancing our lives.

Before you ask, why not get him a gift card, let me explain that he doesn't really enjoy using them. So something that is used up is the best gift, IMO. This brings me to the gift I planned for his birthday - delicious organic food from our CSA. Being Italian, he appreciates good vegetables, so I selected some nice squash, onions, peppers, eggplant and one fruit, a melon, that I hoped would all keep from when I picked them up on Saturday until we saw him the next day. Turns out we didn't see him Sunday...and I had to work early Monday. Which meant I either had to see him on my way home empty handed and start from scratch for a gift, or I had to do something to keep this food fresh for the day while I was at work. Leaving it in the car was obviously not an option.

What I came up with is small sherpa bags I custom made for each item to keep them padded in the communal fridge at work, and a grocery sack to put them all in. The sack is made from fabric left over from a home decorating project Mom did, so I hope they'll get a kick out of that when I bring it by.

My son is a chef and he'll be there when I go by so it should be a gift Dad enjoys and that won't be sitting around gathering dust for years to come.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday Two: Handle Cover

I recently cut up a pair of my hubby's retired Carhartts. This particular pair was denim, a rarity for him. Loving to repurpose jeans as much as I do, I thought I might make myself a skirt from the parts that weren't too stained. That notion was dashed, however, when I discovered these were from before he gained a few and I lost a few putting us both in the same waist measurement range. I may still make a half-apron out of the top, I'm not sure. In the meantime I created this little beauty.

What is it, you ask? I've prepared some slides with which to better illustrate. (Ten sci-fi nerd points to any person who identifies the reference.)

Once my hubby's tool pocket, this is now a handle cover for my beloved cast-iron cookware.

Unfortunately for me the serger I have, while quite the little workhorse, is not manufactured for heavy-duty use. This meant that while I could serge four layers of denim together, I could not serge over the grommet or top seam. While I would have liked to make the width a bit slimmer, the serger was going to have none of it. Knowing that trying to coax the desired seam out of it would only result in a costly repair bill at the Viking shop I instead serged together the strip you see in the photo. Slip it right inside the tool pocket and slip the pocket over the handle. It is plenty insulated for me.

Another feature I added was to leave a little spare fabric at the top so that it folds down in front of my fingers. No worries about reaching for the pot a little too far up the handle and burning my finger against the bowl of the pan.

Plus it is nice to have a reminder of hubby there while I'm cooking.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Value vs. Price

While shredding old files today I found the receipt for my Birkenstock sandals from 2004. They cost $110.

Yes, that sounds like a lot to some, and quite frankly to me too! Other than work shoes, I was not in the habit of purchasing footwear with such a price tag when I didn't deem the item a necessity.

By virtue of being diabetic, my podiatrist has convinced me that if I want to keep my feet I have to wear good shoes no matter if they're vegan or not. My son had a pair of Birks he swore by. I needed new sandals. I went to The Walking Company and looked.

Generally accustomed to buying $9.99 sandals off a rack at Payless or Target, I was at the point where I no longer could risk shoes rubbing uncomfortably on my feet so I gave in and tried on many pairs of pricier than I'd like summer footwear. I settled on the Birks, took them to the register and cringed as I signed the slip.

I took them home and have worn the heck out of them for six years now. Other than having to punch some extra holes in the straps when my feet got a little thinner after some weight loss, the shoes require little care and show little wear. Mind you I wear them in the rain, to the CSA farm, to theme parks, you name it. They're definitely not lightly used by any definition of the term.

So in my sixth spring/summer/fall of their use I feel very good about their value. They're showing no sign of needing replacement and I feel fairly confident in having them for at least another six years to come, if not more. If my foot changes shape again and they're no longer suitable to me they'll be inherited by my spouse who tends to eventually swipe all my gender-neutral footwear anyway.

Initial Cost $110 (Yes, I still cringe when I look at that.)

Value per year with six years of use - 18.34

Value per year for twelve years of use - 9.17

So at this point I'm ahead of the $20-$30ish trendy sandal of the year at mid-price retailers. In another six years I'll have broken past the $9.99 Payless cheapie per year price and if they last even longer (which I suspect they will as one can have them re-corked if needed) I won't have had to add who knows how many pairs of sandals and the energy and materials used to produce them to the world's eventual trash stream. Yes, the re-corking comes with a fee, but better to maintain and repair what I have than to replace if not necessary, right?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers

Another tasty vegan/GF choice from TJ's. They go great with sliced mushrooms and edamame hummus.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Gets a big star of approval from us. They did spread out quite a bit on the sheet, but I'll take a thin, chewy, good tasting cookie over a thick crumbly one any day. As much as I hate that this mix comes from a conglomerate, upon my first sampling I do love it!

As always, we make them differently than the directions since we need a vegan version. Have you made them according to directions? What did you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yummy Scarf

Yes, I know it is still summer - but not for long. Last year we took a wonderful trip to Ireland. Not being one for bringing back useless tchochkes, my mementoes of the trip were two - a hooded sweatshirt purchased for use on the trip (this was planned ahead of time to save packing space) and a hank of red wool yarn I found on clearance at Blarney Woolen Mills. It cost 5 Euro at a time when the Euro was valued at $1.60, making the cost of this scarf $8.00.

I've had the yarn around, admiring and loving it for quite some time until it told me a few days ago it was ready to be a scarf...and once the funky scarf felts into something different I'll use the fabric in a DIY clothing project.

I really love it and look forward to using it in whatever form for a long time to come. It holds a wonderful memory.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday One

I've got an alliterated theme day!

Years ago when I worked in a retail store warehouse I needed jeans to wear. Being an 80's throwback used to wearing leggings I purchased some skin-tight, stretchy, pull-on jeans which I wore with longer shirts. Well, needless to say, I haven't worn these in years, both because I don't own many long shirts anymore and because I generally wear skirts, even in the snowy days of winter. (You just wear longer skirts with sweater tights under them then.)

I've got at least five pairs of these just waiting for something to be done with them. Today I finally got around to the first pair. I was lazy, since this was supposed to be an experimental project and didn't rethread the serger with black thread, but other than that I will deem this a successful project. It also marks my first use of iron-on hem tape in place of pins. I think I will be using that approach for a while as I have a bunch of it I got with Ikea curtains and never used.

The insert fabric was a piece I had on hand from one of the many remnant bin raidings I have been on over the years. So many little bits of fun fabric come from there!

It was very easy to do, just cut off the legs, sew in the fabric, try on, mark the hem, serge it to the length I wanted, turn under, press in place and sew. My one frustration was that the fabric, as mentioned, is stretchy...ugh...not fun to sew with a regular machine but I did manage.

I'm planning some more of these!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

This was a child's hat I made a couple years back. I hated the way it turned out and couldn't send something I hated to my charity, now could I? I kept trying to talk myself into believing it wasn't that bad, but I knew it was so it just sat here until yesterday when I snipped the top open and began to unravel the yarn as you can see in this first photo.

It took just a little while to make these three hats from the reclaimed yarn. I found myself with some extra left over so I used it for a colorful brim on a solid pink hat. I'm excited about these and very glad to have taken something that was sitting here uselessly and put it to work for Online Angels and the folks in need that OA sends things to.

Have you ever used reclaimed yarn? What did you do with it?