Spring Cleaning: handmade storage solutions

Spring Cleaning is awesome! It feels so good to remove clutter and bring joy back into the home. This year as we clean, we are also working on updating items to reflect the way we feel. If you have read Love the Home your in that I wrote a few months ago, then you will understand what I mean.

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For us, that means creating a home that is full of both functional and beautiful items. And also, to showcase our own talents and skills-not what is readily available at thousands of stores across America.

Today was the day to get rid of the plastic toy containers, that no matter how hard I have tried to make them work over the past couple of years, they just don’t. The things that are organized into them look great for about 5 minutes.. The shelf that used to hold them took up wall space we didn’t have, leaving rooms to feel cramped, and they just don’t bring joy.

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So as I cleaned them out and sorted the items, I decided that I should just sew up a bunch of bags to hold and hide the stuff. In the past I attempted the method of toy storage by purchasing zipper garment bags. These work great, except they can’t hang and they don’t bring me joy when I see them.

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I keep seeing all of the great things out there on Pinterest, and that is where I went again today to visualize what would work for me.

This was my criteria:

  • Fast and Easy to sew
  • To use what is on hand (dual purpose: spring clean the sewing supplies by using it up!)
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to store
  • Attractive to the eye

After taking inventory of supplies and searching tutorials, I whipped up 3 bags in about 2 1/2 hours (including interruptions from kids).

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They aren’t perfect. I didn’t take time to iron, or even make sure each piece of fabric was cut perfectly straight. But they look great, were fast and easy,  I didn’t have to make a trip to the store to complete them and most importantly they are functional! Also, I made sure to double stitch every seam so that they will hold up to the abuse they are sure to get.
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I want to make a few more, so the next article in this series will have a tutorial for you!

For now, here are some of the places I visited and found inspiration:

Toy Sack with tabs

Hanging toy storage

Lego sack

Hanging laundry bag

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

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Sewing Tutorial: Pretty Little Denim Pouch

Denim is one of  my favorite fabrics to re-purpose with. It might be because we get a lot of holes in the knees of pants around here, and there is only so many times you can patch a hole. So, when the pants are beyond repair (or the mending basket is overflowing), they get tossed into the denim box to be utilized in another way.

It’s readily available, and comes in soft shades of blue-pretty much anything goes with denim. It looked great even using it for the peg-loom rug!

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To make the Pretty Little Denim Pouch, you will need:

  • any denim (preferably an old pair of jeans, any size will work)
  • a zipper that is roughly the size of the pouch you want to make
  • scissors
  • sewing machine (or super awesome hand-sewing skills-denim is tough!)

Some optional supplies:

  • scrap fabric
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle
  • button or other notions

*Disclaimer: my sewing technique tends to be more towards the “just wing it” side than the “perfection is a must” side of things. My projects always tend to turn out best when I just allow for creativity. It just comes naturally.* (winky face)

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This is a pant leg to a small-humans pair of pants. I would guess about a 4T or 5T size.

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After cutting off the remnant of the knee hole at the top, it measured about 10 inches in length.

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The length is about 5 inches before cutting off the hemmed edge.

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I prefer to cut this off too, but you could potentially leave it on…your end seam would just have to be to the inside of this since it is too thick to sew through.

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After all of the trimming, it is now about 8 inches in length. I really like making pouches and bags from pant legs because you can utilize the existing side seams. Here is a full picture of what our pant leg looks like now:

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The next step is to decide on your zipper placement.

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The zipper I had to use was roughly 9 inches in length.

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The length ended up being just barely too short for the fabric. I thought it could possibly work, but it just wouldn’t grow…more on that later. (I warned you about my natural ability to “wing it”)

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Once, the zipper was in it’s happy place, the fabric needed to be cut to make a place to insert it. To do this, I just simply unzipped it and cut down the middle. After cutting, the pant leg now looks like this when opened up:

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If your pant leg or fabric was long enough to fit your zipper you can scroll down to where it says “Continue with Plan A“. Unless of course you decide you would like to have pretty fabric ends on your pouch, then just proceed as normal.

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This pretty piece of flannel was leftover from a blanket project long ago.

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The flannel was cut to the width of the soon-to-be pouch. Then it was cut in half:

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Next, I did a test layout to see how the measurements were. I never really decided how long to make the fabric accent on each end of the pouch since it only needed an extra inch or so, it wasn’t something I was concerned with. But if you lean more toward the “perfection is a must” style of sewing, you may prefer to decide this ahead of time. I found that mine were going to be too wide making the length of the finished pouch be longer than I wanted. So, I just folded one of the pieces in half and cut again:

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This gave me two pieces that would work much better. These ended up measuring around 9″ by 5″.

One more test to make sure the length is right for the zipper:

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Time to take it to the sewing machine.

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Putting right sides together, each accent end was sewn to the denim. There was not large seam allowance, I just ran it right along the foot.

(Continue with Plan A)

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Folding at the original pant leg seams, I arranged it and tested out the zipper placement one more time.

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Flipping the zipper directly over, lines it up for sewing the first side in place.

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My machine does have a zipper foot, but since this was just a quick little project I chose to not change it out. The zipper foot does allow for an easier made seam, so you may want to use it if you have one. Instead, I just put my needle in the far right position, with my fabric on the right side of the machine. If it were on the left, you would want the needle in the far left position.

Do the same thing to the other side:

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Line up the edges with right sides together, be sure to check your needle position before you begin sewing. Notice this time my fabric is on the left, so the needle is also positioned to the far left.

Turning it right side out, check to see if the zipper seams are secure.

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Once, it is sewn well the first time, sew each side again making it a double-stitched seam for durability. As mentioned above, my mending basket tends to be full, so fixing a zipper on this pouch would probably be low on the priority mending list. Making sure it won’t come apart from the pouch is important.

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Open the zipper and then turn the pouch inside out so that the end seams can now be sewn.

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I noted on mine that the “tails” of the zipper needed sewn before moving on the the end seams.

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Lining the edges up sew this edge closed. Be sure to check your needle position and other settings from sewing the zipper in. You may also need to change the foot if you had changed to use your zipper foot.

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After doing this, check the seams again. Mine had a hole.

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I ended up sewing the hole closed on sort of a diagonal.Because of the zipper the needle couldn’t reach to sew it shut doing a straight seam.

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It mostly fixed the issue. I could have messed with it some more but determined to fix it later with some hand sewing.

Ta Dah!

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Our Pretty Little Pouch is complete-minus embellishments.

Here is a photo of one without the accent fabric ends and with embellishment:

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It will work great for pencils or whatever pleases the user.

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I like them for holding crochet hooks, knitting needles, or other related tools. It would also  make a great cosmetic bag or for hair accessories.

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I love the embroidery and crochet button flower on this one. Decorate yours and share a photo!

 

Here is another type of bag that I have made with a denim pant leg:

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The hem of the pant is the top of the bag and all I did was sew the other end shut. For decoration on the front I hand-stitched a thrifted doily. And on the back, machine sewed some belt loops from the pants to hold a strap:

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The strap is a belt-like accent piece that was around the wrist of a jacket. The other one was missing so this one was taken off for repurposing. This bag is a favorite for small knitting or crochet projects. It hangs really nicely on my wrist and I can work on my project while walking or standing in line.

Let me know how you liked this little tutorial and post a picture on the Facebook page if you try it out!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

Love the Home you Live in

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Welcome in this month of love, charity, hearts, roses, glitter glue, and a few less days to get through.

Do you love your home? It may not be the castle you dreamt up when you were still missing your two front teeth, but have you taken matter into your own hands and created a space that gives you comfort and warm fuzzy feelings inside?

The only perfection happening in our home, is that it is perfectly lived in. So the best way for me to create an atmosphere that stays in harmony with my toothless-age dreams, is to make certain that what surrounds us is both useful, and makes us happy.

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I find this statement to be filled with truth. The things in our homes that don’t belong there are a “burden”, and this burden is added to :“whoever has to care for them”-that would be me, who either cares for or directs the care of the things in our home.

To make our home be in accord with the spirit of cheerfulness, it takes removing of those “superfluous articles” and replacing them with useful beautiful things.

We learn by further reading in this section of the Handbook of Domestic Science (see graphic above for full reference) that we should observe:

…those times in the world’s history when it was consciously sought to make the common things of life beautiful; when the potter, the carver, the metal worker, the weaver, the embroiderer were all artists in their way.

Interesting that May Haggenbotham should mention “the weaver”. I just so happen to be dabbling in the art of weaving-no realm in the fiber arts shall escape me! harharharhar…..

The most recent ornament I created for our home just so happens to be this cozy rug:

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It was made on a very simple loom called a “peg loom”, that we built here at home. A mix of cotton print and denim scrap fabric make up the weft. As an experiment I used some jute string for the warp. It turned out pretty good, and my husband is happy to have something warm for his feet to land on in the early morning and for his knees to have a soft place for prayer at night on his side of the bed.

What will you make to show that your home is cherished? Do you need to fill a box with “burdens” and haul it off to  your local donation center?  I find it easiest to have a box or bag handy every time I clean a room: immediate removal = instant bliss.

Love the Home you Live in. Make it full of glitter and love like your toothless-age dream castle!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

p.s. If the rug weaving and peg loom prick your curiosity, I strongly suggest that you follow this site by email. There will be more to come on those topics in the near future with a fabulous tutorial….and you will want that post to arrive in your inbox so it won’t be missed! Alternatively you can also follow us on FB or Twitter (@knittyheidi) to get all article updates as soon as they publish.

You might also like to read “5 little habits” and “Defining Domestic Science”

Life Journaling (part I)

Are you recording your life?

Will your posterity be able to one day know who you were and what life was like in your time?

You may think that keeping a journal, a diary, or a genealogical record is not necessary now in this vast world of tech. There is unlimited amount of information about this age as endless digital information and you regularly update your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social pages…

But how much of it is real. 

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Will your great-great-great-grandchildren be able to connect with you through a microchip of saved data and photos? Or, would they know you more as they see your handwriting, read your thoughts on the day to day life that you live-experiencing with you all of the ups and downs you have traversed, celebrate with you in your moment of joy expressed on an old wrinkled page smudged with messy handwriting, misspelled words and maybe a smudge of chocolate? The photo of me above is a very real moment in my life, one that did not get expressed to its deepest core on social media, but was recorded in my personal journals as this experienced changed and refined me into who I am now. No one can really know (except Jesus) the deep feelings of my soul until they someday read it in my own words. Sometimes I even go back to remind myself what this moment in my life was like.

Currently I am trying to read a book I thought looked interesting, The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. The subject of which the book is written intrigues me, however, the way some of the information has been shared thus far has been hard to digest. Until today, when the author was sharing some background on Reverend Horace Bushnell who had profound words to say on the topic of “the age of homespun” and it’s place in the past. It wasn’t his speech that appealed to my imaginations, but what was said of his mother:

“Dotha Bishop Bushnell had no more than a common school education, but according to her son she was never self-conscious about her disadvantages. She clothed her six children in linen and woolen of her own making,administered a home dairy, boarded farm laborers, and during part of the year fed the workers in “a homespun cloth-dressing shop” attached to her husband’s mill. She sent her children to the district schools-and Horace to Yale-clothed “in better, cleaner homespun than any others.” All this work she accomplished year after year, working thirteen or fourteen hours a day, without a word of complaint. “What mortal endurance could bear such a stress of burden! And yet she scarcely showed a look of damage under the wear of it, but kept the appearance rather of a woman of some condition.”

The information shared of Dotha was obviously from the point of view of a son who thought well of his mother. While his reminiscence of her, piqued my interest in this section of the book, it did not satisfy my curious appetite. According to her son, she worked thirteen or fourteen hours a day providing for her family-“without a word of complaint.” Now isn’t that a woman you want to interview? I admire her stamina-and the mother-of a large family-keeping a farmstead-homemaker in me knows it wasn’t easy. To be able to read her thoughts as she worked on steadily through hard times, and renewed her ambitions in the good times would be such an encouragement.

So I ask again, Are you recording your life? In a real pour out your heart and soul kind of way?

You may not think it to be of much interest or importance, but your great-great-great-great grandchild-niece-cousin…..will be intrigued, entertained, and perhaps even inspired by your life.

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There are unlimited ways to keep a record of your life. Pinterest and Youtube are full of inspiring ideas. In Part III of this Life Journaling series I will share how I keep mine, and the improvements it has made in my life.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Part II- Journal Your Way!

little things are sometimes Big.

 

Yesterday I did a small thing-and then realized it was a big thing—

I cleaned the laundry room.

It was in such a state that one could not get in the door let alone to the washer and dryer. This is a bad scenario when you have to do 15o loads of laundry a day-I might be exaggerating just a little, but the concept remains the same. Who wants to go into a room that you can’t see the floor of? My 3 year old son told me he heard a monster in the bathroom sink-it could easily have traveled the water pipes and be lurking in the laundry room. The last thing I need is to encounter a sink-monster when trying to find a clean shirt after being peed on. I am very happy today that the laundry room is clean and can be used in a productive manner again-whithout fear of a sink-monster attack.

This has been the theme of my thoughts of late. We are surrounded by little things that have big impact. Even Jesus taught of small things that have large importance. From the creation of the earth beginning with the basics of things such as light, water and planting the seeds. Then of course when we think “seed” our mind goes  to the parable of the mustard seed that teaches us of faith. We can see a pattern in all of the examples in the Bible that illustrate to us that it is important to have a special reverence towards the seemingly insignificant. 

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The list of things I can make that are small yet largely important in my life is so endless that I can not pick what deserves to be in this article the most. So I will just stick with the most recent discovery of a clean laundry room and leave you to ponder the little big things in your own life.

I will however, bring this topic around a corner and point it towards these little lost skills I am being directed to learn and teach. It has started with knitting, but it doesn’t end there, and each skill is as important as the other.

This description, given in “Our Vanishing Landscape” by Eric Sloane,  makes a great illustration that can be used as a comparison to those things that have been forgotten or un-taught, in that, they can be learned again and the generations after us can indeed benefit.

Imagine a farm abandoned….The summer after cultivation ceases, the plowed fields will have become overgrown with weeds. The next year you will find grass and berry seedlings that have blown in with autumn winds. At the end of five years the fields will be a complete tangle of briars with occasional clumps of birch and juniper from seeds brought in by bird droppings. In ten years these trees will be a head high above the briars and in their shade will be hundreds of tiny oak and maple seedlings. In forty years…..the fields will look like woodlands that had never seen a plow. Fire or insects and disease may decimate this second-growth forest, or winds may blow it down, but it will miraculously build itself back again….

This little thing of teaching how to use traditional skills for our benefit today-could be a big thing.

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It could mean that our children and grandchildren know how to survive.

Without (enter large chain store name here).

 
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A little skill now, could be life-altering later. 

 

Next Month…

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The topic will be “slow food”.  This differs from my original lesson plan for 2016. It was going to be the topic for November but yesterday I started a rescue mission for my sourdough start that has been neglected and so it is perfect timing. In the past, we have successfully made all the bread our family needs from scratch-with little effort. Bread isn’t all we will learn, so make sure to follow by email (click the button on the sidebar) so you can get next weeks articles! I will be sharing recipes too!

Thanks for learning with me about what we can do to give “New Life to Old Traditions” this past month!

Heidi

Connect with me on Facebook!

You might also want to take a peek at:

Beginning Knitting Lessons

Skill Development Lessons

Free Patterns!

 

5 little habits

I just returned from putting my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It was a familiar shock of cold from my growing up years. The younger kids were surprised, as the only “ocean” they remembered was the the warm Gulf from when we lived in Texas.

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This cutie is now 8-she was one surprised by the temperature change!

As we traveled we drove along many different rivers and streams in varying sizes. But one constant remained. They all lead to the ocean.

John Dryden used this natural occurrence to illustrate the importance of good habits:

All habits gather by unseen degrees-As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.

What habits do we have that are seemingly insignificant, yet lead to excessive stress in our lives?

How often do we say: “If only I had time…”

When I drag my feet about the simplest household task it goes one of two ways:

  1. I tell myself :”I’ll get to it later..”
  2. I tell myself: “later never comes, now is all there is…”

If I skip out on switching the laundry as I walk by, or washing the mixing bowl while the recipe is cooking, the mess never shrinks. It becomes an overwhelming list of tasks that have to be completed before I can enjoy what really matters.

 

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Laundry is ALWAYS the issue in a family of 9!

Don’t worry. I don’t keep a magazine cover home. It just isn’t reality when you live in your house whether you are single,married, or have one to a dozen kids. Things don’t put themselves away. It takes habit training. And from my experience,it’s not vacuuming, sweeping or really even doing the dishes that makes the difference.

D.S.W. is a tool to bring others to realize the importance of handmade, to share and learn forgotten life skills and preserve past traditions. If you look at the traditional homesteader-there was work to do every day. Pleasures were spent in the evening with family and the occasional outing or church picnic. The “simpler life” was not exempt from work.

 

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My son helping to build the barn. Sometimes work is fun!

Learn with me as I try out new creative ways to live a traditional lifestyle as God inspires. Let me know if there is a skill that you are being inspired to preserve. I would love to hear about or even help you with that journey!

For now, here are 5 little habits that keep your chores from running to the ocean:

  1. If you drop it,step over it/on it- pick it up.
  2. Take the 30 seconds to walk 5ft to put things where they belong. Don’t create clutter piles.( I ask my kids: “30 seconds now, or 30 minutes later?“)
  3. Fold and put away the clothes as soon as it comes out of the dryer. (this is a new laundry rule for our house I intend to implement in the near future)
  4. Figure out your “drop zones” and place a basket so it looks more tidy. (such as for shoes,dirty laundry, and mail)
  5. While waiting for water to boil, the video to load or other small moments-clean up several things in your immediate area. It really is amazing what can be completed in the little bursts of time.

Bonus Tip: Only keep and buy the things that really matter to you and your family. You will be more likely to care for them. As we have decluttered our home and made intentional purchases, there has been an improvement in the care that is given.

Room by room we are training our habits, decluttering, and replacing with quality necessities and pleasures. My goal is to create a home where we enjoy all that is around us, and can find pleasure in our work.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi