Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Help save the planet AND look like a Super Mom, all with one easy project!

Anyone out there need a Super Mom project? You know...the type that::

a.)you can finish in one sitting (eliminating Project-Starter-Never-Finisher Guilt),
b.) Uses up project scraps or recycled materials so you can feel like a Stick-to-it-Budgeter,
c.) Helps throw a little something at the "Good intentions in my mind don't help the planet" guilt, and
d.) Can make you look like a snazzy, trendy, with-it green parent to all those who don't know it only took you 30 minutes to whip you the project?

Yeah? You're in? Well, here you go --
Washable sandwich and snack bags! (Homemade bread and non-homemade banana chips optional...but if you pack your cute bags with some sort of homemade item...you get double points in the "cool" department!)

Now I absolutely did NOT make this idea up. Lots of people make them. Lots of people sell them. Lots of people make and sell much cuter, much more finished-looking bags than mine. But my method is ridiculously fast and does the job - so I'm opting for that.

You can make these out of whatever you want - I used quilting fabric (from my slowly shrinking fat quarter stash) for the outsides (but wouldn't some fabric from old jeans or something be cool?) and some leftover ProCare fabric from my diaper-making stash. You absolutely don't have to use waterproof fabric like ProCare or PUL for your lining, but it is helpful if you have children like mine who love to add things to their lunches like honey sandwiches and washed but not dried carrot sticks. I will justify the use of this non-organic, probably non-biodegradable manmade plastic fabric by saying that if I didn't use it, I would end up doing a lot more backpack and diaperbag washing....

I used Ziploc bags (sandwich size and snack size) as a pattern - just cut them open, lay them flat and trace on your fabric. Once you get comfy with that, you can start making bags any size you want, based on what scraps you have.

For each bag you need a piece of outer fabric and a piece of liner fabric, cut to the same size. Make sure your piece are big enough to fold in half to become the bag! You also need a piece of velcro/hook-and-loop that is the same width as your fabric. I cut my 1 1/2" diaper velcro in half to make 3/4" wide velcro...but I could have gone even narrower with the same results.

FIRST...put your outer and liner fabrics, right sides together, and sew across the two ends (serger or sewing machine) that will become the top of the bag:
You will end up with a tube that looks like this:
Flip your tube inside-out (so right sides are now showing) and finger press the seam down. You can iron it if you're a perfectionist, but DON'T iron it if you're using PUL or ProCare. Direct heat on plastic...you get the idea. On the LINING side, sew your piece of the hook side of the velcro along one seam, flip to the other end and sew the loop side of the velcro along the other seam (LINING side). Sew all around the 4 sides of each piece of velcro, making sure that the velcro goes all the way to the end of the fabric.

I guess you could just put small pieces of velcro in the centers instead of all the way across, but I'd prefer my snack items to not leak crumbs everywhere, so I want that velcro sewn all the way across and into the seams!

Next, line up your hook and loop ends and seal it shut:
Now, starting at the velcro end, just serge all your sides shut (or zig-zag if you don't have a serger...which you really should start looking for sales at WalMart for, because you can sew things very fast and furiously with a serger!). I sewed mine in a chain, so I didn't have to break to cut threads:
Cut all the excess thread off and get all the bags looking all trimmed and nice. The last thing to do is take each bag and sew a couple reinforcing stitches at the top (just above the velcro) so if your kids yank open the bags, they won't eventually rip open the seams. I broke 2 needles on this step before I switched to a denim needle...so I'd recommend that you switch to a denim needle to sew through all those layers:)
I made all these bags in an afternoon, which included stopping to feed children, put a baby down for a nap, do laundry, make a phone call, etc....but had I not been interrupted, once the pieces are all cut out, the sewing is very, very quick. If you only made ONE bag, it would literally take you 20 minutes - including threading sewing machines, cutting fabric, etc.
We are LOVING these bags so far, other than the fact that they are a little noisy to open in church...it helped to open the bag, then fold the velcro down so the baby couldn't keep shutting it and re-opening it (cuz that's fun!)...but I may need to figure out some sort of zipper/magnet/drawstring bag or something JUST for quiet places. Any ideas??

I figured that all 24 bags I made probably cost me the same as 2 boxes of ziplocs (if I had gone out and bought all the supplies...MUCH cheaper if you use leftover stuff or recycle other fabric)- but we can keep reusing them until they fall apart, and every time you pull one out, you can think, "Dang, I'm awesome! Look how cute this is!"

Now go sew...the planet wants you to :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Make a Valentine's Day Garland...so easy a 4 year old boy can make it!

Yesterday my son and I decided that our house was woefully undecorated for Valentine's Day. I have my table runner (see last post) and a few heart-shaped decorations...and that's it. SO...we pulled my box of February MemoryWorks Express kit...land made this:
I kid you not, this took us 30 minutes! Easy as pie, and you probably have the supplies you need to make your own version at home!

All you need:
*6 chipboard squares - mine were from a Fancy Pants chipboard book set (12x12 Biggest Board Book It set) - but you could even cut yours from a cardboard box if you want. They are each about 3 1/2" square, with rounded corners
*6 pieces of matching patterned paper - also 3 1/2" square each. I used the Crate Paper "Mia" collection - so pretty!
*Chipboard letters (or large letter stickers or someting) to spell out "LOVE". I used My Mind's Eye embossed chipboard
*Some fun things to embellish - diecuts, stickers, buttons, etc. I used some Crate Paper "Mia" glitter die-cuts, flowers from Prima and Petaloo and buttons by Creative Imaginations.
*You also need some ribbon...I used pink and blue sheer ribbon that I had leftover from other projects...you just need something that coordinates - and long enough pieces to tie all the letter square together AND hang it from your location of choice :)
*A crop-a-dile or other tool that will hole-punch through chipboard.

Let's get started! Seriously...my 4 year old did most of the steps - so he will be my tutorial model today!

1. Glue your paper to each square...Use a brayer or other smoothing device to get it down good and tight:

2.) After the glue is dry, sand the edges of each piece:
3.) Use an ink pad to ink each embossed letter:
4.) Here's the part where you get to go crazy - arrange the squares and letters how you like them, glue down the letters...and then embellish like crazy! You can refer back to my picture at the top, or do your own thing!

5.) When everything is ready to go, punch holes through the sides of each square (punch towards the top or your squares will flip over when you hang them) and tie them together with pieces of ribbon. I also tied buttons together on each end before tying on my "hanging ribbons", as shown:
Here's another hanging shot...I apologize for the dark photo - its nearly impossible to get a good picture straight at a bright window!
This was so easy to make..and turned out so cute, that I think we'll be making a "lucky" one for t. Patty's day...an egg one for Easter...4th of July....oh yes, we will be making many garlands, haha!

Have fun! Let me know if you try it - I'd love to see some pics!