Save Energy and Money—Hang Your Laundry Out to Dry

MP900255612In this age of high speed everything it is hard to imagine how people did the most mundane tasks as little as 100 years ago. When it comes to doing laundry, we in the developed countries can’t really fathom life without access to a dryer. But folks managed. It was labor intensive, but it worked.

Why would anyone want to go back to those days? For one thing, Americans use the entire output of several power plants just on drying laundry in a machine. We could close several large nuclear plants and cut our carbon emissions substantially just by hanging our laundry. For another, on a more personal note, using a dryer is running up your utility bill. Hanging your clothes is one way to reap the benefits of solar energy without any upfront costs. Just a clothesline and some clothes pins.

There are places that frown on hanging your clothes. In some neighborhoods it is considered unsightly. If you live in a place like that, but are intrigued by the idea, maybe you can work to get enough people interested and change the rule. As the energy profile of the country changes, so will the attitudes about line drying.

So—how do you do it? I am going to assume you are washing in a machine with a spin cycle. (The washing machine is another story…)

  1. Wait for a sunny day with a breeze. The sun is more important than the wind though.
  2. Hang your line. Make sure it is far enough from the ground that nothing will drag, but low enough that you can easily reach with the pins. Make sure it is well secured between two posts, or a fence and a post, or two trees. The line should be taut.
  3. Set a bucket of clothes pins nearby.
  4. Put your wet laundry in a basket and set down near the line.
  5. Take one item at a time and secure it with two pins to the line. Make sure the item isn’t doubled over or you will have wet spots.
  6. Come back in a couple of hours and check. If you are working around the house anyhow you can take your time.
  7. Fold as usual.
  8. Enjoy the fresh scent of air dried laundry.

You may notice that your items are stiffer and less soft than when you use a dryer. They will soften up with use. And besides, this is more than made up for in freshness and savings.

Here are some links for supplies:

Clothespins: http://www.amazon.com/Honey-Can-Do-DRY-01376-Clothespins-Spring-100-Pack/dp/B002CGV57M/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367431614&sr=1-1&keywords=clothespins

Clothesline: http://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-Cotton-Clothesline-Natural/dp/B0002E35X8/ref=sr_1_10?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367431709&sr=1-10&keywords=clothesline

And—if you have no place to anchor the line try this:  http://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-Portable-Umbrella-Style-Clothes/dp/B001H1GUXW/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367432035&sr=1-5&keywords=umbrella+clothes+lines

Don’t Throw Your Old Clothes Away—Mend Them!

 

We all have them—a little pile of cloths that are still it great shape except for that missing button or stuck zipper. You could go out and get a new one. Or, you could spend five or ten minutes doing a quick repair and save the money for something else. Like everything else, some repairs are easier than others. Sewing on a button is at the extremely easy end of the spectrum. Replacing a zipper is one of the hardest.

The first step is to create a sewing kit. Get a small box, about the size of the old cigar boxes. Gather several colors of plain thread, needles, straight pins and safety pins. Also get small pair of scissors, a thimble, and a very small box for stray buttons. The clear boxes that straight pins come in work well.

Then it is time to sort through and get the things that need repair into a pile, and put them into some sort of container. A basket is nice but a cardboard box will do. Pick out the most important item and decide what it needs. If it is missing a button, do you still have the old button? Get out the sewing kit and find out. You may need to buy a new button. Take the item along if you need a new button, so you can match it to the old ones. Then thread a needle with thread to match the garment and tie a knot at the end. Go through the little holes in the button over and over. When it is on tight, clip the thread and tie another little knot.

If the problem is a straight tear at the seam, turn it inside out and re-sew in matching thread using small stitches along the same place where the seam came out. Don’t make the stitches too big or they will gape when you turn it right side out.

Those two repairs are very simple. But what if the tear isn’t along a seam? You may have to use a patch. This is where some judgment comes in. If the item in question is a pair of comfy jeans, by all means patch away. But if it is a silk business blouse you should realize that you won’t likely be able to use it again for its intended purpose. You may have to replace it. But—don’t throw the old one away just yet. Drop it into yet another container. This last container is the patch and scrap bag.

To do a patch, find a fabric that is about the same weight as the target fabric. Cut a piece that will fit over the tear or hole generously. Fold under the edges of the patch and pin down with the straight pins. Then sew a seam all the way around the very outside edge of the patch.

If the trouble is a misbehaving zipper the whole thing is going to take a bit more thought. I am including a link to show you exactly what to do. But you may be better off paying a seamstress to do it for you. It won’t cost that much and may save you a lot of trouble.

While you are at it you should check out your shoe wardrobe. It is always a good idea to repair your shoes for as long as you can. This is generally a job for a professional. Even if you pay someone you will save hundreds of dollars over time.

So next time you are tempted to blow your clothes budget over a little tear, think again, and bust out the sewing kit instead.

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/09/20/frugal-skills-sewing-can-brighten-up-your-life/ General Sewing Post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKGa4St10I Zippers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrSs_DiJ-ZA Buttons

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CALifgXuP_8 Patches

Cut Your Clothes Budget—Take Care of What you Already Own

 

 

Everyone wants to look good, and if you want to succeed out in the world the right clothes are a necessity. But it is not necessary to go out and spend large amounts of money on new duds every month. For frugalistas like us, it makes a lot more sense to take care of what you already have, and only replace things when they wear out. Follow these tips to keep your wardrobe in great shape and keep your money in the bank:

  1. Buy right to begin with. It is OK to have a few delightful dry clean only items in your closet. But always be aware of the maintenance costs when you are considering a purchase. If you work in a very conservative or style conscious profession you may need to get some dry clean only items for work. The rest of us can probably stick with wash and wear.
  2. Know the difference between “dry clean only” and simply “dry clean” on the care tags on your clothes. One is mandatory, the other is merely a suggestion. If is says “dry clean” you may be able to hand wash it gently and either hang or lay flat to dry. Heavier knits and other stretchable fabrics should be dried flat so the don’t get pulled out of shape by their own weight. Lighter, non-stretchy items may be hung up on hangers and left on your shower rod, or hung outside.
  3. Silk can generally be washed if has a light colored dye. The brighter colors may fade if you wash them. Cashmere washes nicely. It may even work to put them in the washer on gentle, then lie flat to dry. Wool should NEVER be dried in a dryer.
  4. Do separate your darks and lights to avoid ruining the lighter items. And pull everything out of the dryer as soon as it is finished to avoid pilling.
  5. Don’t over-wash. Every time you wash an item it gets a little more worn out. Just keep your clothes presentable. Don’t wash them to death.
  6. If you get a stain, try to remove it immediately. The longer it sits the harder it is to get out. Different stains require different treatments. One product that does the trick in most cases is Oxy Clean. Just apply to the stain and wet down. Soak for a few minutes before you wash.
  7. Get things taken up or in as needed. Especially if pants are to long. Hem them before the bottoms get frayed. You’ll look better and the pant bottoms won’t be ruined.
  8. Small tears can be usually be mended. If the tear is along a seam it is very easy. Otherwise you need to access whether it is worth the trouble.
  9. Take off your good clothes and hang them up when you get home. It is just to easy to start watering the garden or cooking dinner and then something might go very wrong. You’ll feel better anyhow if you separate work from play. Changing signals your mind that you are home.

If you follow these simple rules you will come out ahead and still look fabulous.

Here are some links to for more helpful information:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2012/02/28/dont-throw-your-old-cloths-away-mend-them/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2010/08/28/what-about-clothes/

Don’t Throw Your Old Clothes Away—Mend Them!

 

The Sewing Kit

 

We all have them—a little pile of cloths that are still it great shape except for that missing button or stuck zipper. You could go out and get a new one. Or, you could spend five or ten minutes doing a quick repair and save the money for something else. Like everything else, some repairs are easier than others. Sewing on a button is at the extremely easy end of the spectrum. Replacing a zipper is one of the hardest.

The first step is to create a sewing kit. Get a small box, about the size of the old cigar boxes. Gather several colors of plain thread, needles, straight pins and safety pins. Also get small pair of scissors, a thimble, and a very small box for stray buttons. The clear boxes that straight pins come in work well.

Then it is time to sort through and get the things that need repair into a pile, and put them into some sort of container. A basket is nice but a cardboard box will do. Pick out the most important item and decide what it needs. If it is missing a button, do you still have the old button? Get out the sewing kit and find out. You may need to buy a new button. Take the item along if you need a new button, so you can match it to the old ones. Then thread a needle with thread to match the garment and tie a knot at the end. Go through the little holes in the button over and over. When it is on tight, clip the thread and tie another little knot.

If the problem is a straight tear at the seam, turn it inside out and re-sew in matching thread using small stitches along the same place where the seam came out. Don’t make the stitches too big or they will gape when you turn it right side out.

Those two repairs are very simple. But what if the tear isn’t along a seam? You may have to use a patch. This is where some judgment comes in. If the item in question is a pair of comfy jeans, by all means patch away. But if it is a silk business blouse you should realize that you won’t likely be able to use it again for its intended purpose. You may have to replace it. But—don’t throw the old one away just yet. Drop it into yet another container. This last container is the patch and scrap bag.

To do a patch, find a fabric that is about the same weight as the target fabric. Cut a piece that will fit over the tear or hole generously. Fold under the edges of the patch and pin down with the straight pins. Then sew a seam all the way around the very outside edge of the patch.

If the trouble is a misbehaving zipper the whole thing is going to take a bit more thought. I am including a link to show you exactly what to do. But you may be better off paying a seamstress to do it for you. It won’t cost that much and may save you a lot of trouble.

While you are at it you should check out your shoe wardrobe. It is always a good idea to repair your shoes for as long as you can. This is generally a job for a professional. Even if you pay someone you will save hundreds of dollars over time.

So next time you are tempted to blow your clothes budget over a little tear, think again, and bust out the sewing kit instead.

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/09/20/frugal-skills-sewing-can-brighten-up-your-life/ General Sewing Post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKGa4St10I Zippers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrSs_DiJ-ZA Buttons

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CALifgXuP_8 Patches

Never Waste Money on Clothes Again-Buy Right for your Body Type

Proportion is Everything

Why You Need to Measure before You Shop

With the overwhelming number of style choices it is easy to get caught up and buy the wrong thing. If you have been following my posts you know I recommend various ways to get your clothing needs met free of charge or for very little. But even then you won’t look your best if you buy things that don’t suit you. And sooner or later you will be spending a larger sum on something new to wear. In which case it is important to do it right.

What is a Body Type

Unlike your best colors, which stay with you for life, your best cuts and styles can and will change with time. Though you may have a basic shape that stays the same, such as hour glass or string bean, you may eventually become a stocky bean or a large hour glass. Whenever you experience a significant change in weight it is a good idea to reassess your clothing decisions. This is true for both men and women. Though our clothes may be different in many ways, a man in the wrong silhouette will look just as bad as his female counterpart.

The Measurements

There are several measurements you need to know before going to the clothing outlet. These measurements include your proportions both vertically and horizontally. Your vertical proportions determine whether you are long or short-waisted, and also whether you are have long or short legs in relation to your torso. This will determine the best silhouette for you in terms of jacket length, The rise of your trousers and that sort of thing. Get it wrong and you will always look a little “off”. To make these measurements, get a measuring tape, a friend that you feel relaxed around, a mirror, and go to this site: http://www.my-virtual-makeover.com/vertical-body-type.html and then go here to find out if you are long or short waisted: http://www.my-virtual-makeover.com/vertical-body-type-waist.html You can’t change your vertical proportions, so it is important to learn to dress them properly.

The horizontal body type is more familiar. You may have a good idea if you are a pear, a string bean, an hour glass, or the culturally unfortunate diamond. Your horizontal body type may be affected somewhat by diet and exercise, but the basic tendency will remain. For instance, if you are a diamond, whose waist and stomach comprise the largest measurement on your body, you may lose weight and gain muscle tone but still retain a more rectangular shape. You may not be able to get the nipped in waist of an hour-glass figure no matter what you try. That is why it is important to know yourself, accept yourself, and then buy things that suit you no matter what. Anyone can look good and put together with the right information. To discover your horizontal measurements, go here: http://www.my-virtual-makeover.com/horizontal-body-type.html

The Next Step

Once you know what you are dealing with, finding out what to buy is easy. There are reams of sources to tell you how to show off your tiny waist or cover your big hips. In general it is a good idea for women to buy tops and dresses that pinch in or are belted at the narrowest part of the torso. Other than that, check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/Dress-Your-Best-Complete-Finding/dp/0307236714/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305566264&sr=1-2 . From it you will learn exactly what to buy to correct for any visual “flaws” and also how to accentuate your best features. So, if you need some new clothes, go get them. But if you want to save your hard earned money do your homework first.

When You Buy Clothes the Color is Free—So Get it Right

The Power of Color

Before the Color Party

No matter what item of clothing you buy, it comes in at least one, probably many colors. You don’t pay extra for this; it is just part of the item of clothing. The interesting thing is that proper use of color is one of the easiest and most astoundingly powerful ways to really improve how you look. Yes, you can look younger, thinner, more confident, and healthier just by learning what works for you and wearing “your colors” consistently. What’s more you can even change your fortunes in love and business as you look more pulled together, causing others to feel more comfortable with you. I know, it’s not fair, but human beings are hard-wired to react to appearance.

How to do Your Own Colors

The good news is how easy this is to learn and to implement. First, get a whole bunch of paint chips or fabric samples, a book or two on color theory, and a few girlfriends. Set your get together for the afternoon when the light is natural and indirect. Make a big pot of tea (or whatever you gals like to drink…) and get to work. There are several good books on the subject of color typing. I just love The Color of Style by David Zyla. To work his system you have to use your eyes to decipher your personal palette, because his book has no color swatches, just a masterful knowledge of what works. If you want a more traditional approach, get Color Me Beautiful. Then get to work. In a few hours you will have a piece of knowledge that will stand you in good stead for a lifetime. If this seems like too much work, or you are unsure of your own judgment, you could go to a professional and get your colors done.

Next Steps

Once you know your palette, it is time to clean out your wardrobe. Toss all the cloths that are absolutely wrong for you in a box. Bring it to the next clothing exchange in your town or to charity. Take the absolute yes clothes and hang them up. Now evaluate the almost hits. Put them in a separate area to replace as possible. Now you have the power to look better and feel more put together without spending one penny more than you would have to look just “OK”

Here are links to some resources:

http://www.amazon.com/Color-Style-Fashion-Attract-Impression/dp/0525951539/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302746608&sr=8-2 The Color of Style

http://www.davidzyla.com/ David Zyla’s Site

http://www.amazon.com/Color-Me-Beautiful-Carole-Jackson/dp/0345345886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302746689&sr=1-1 Color Me Beautiful

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_analysis Some General Info

 

Tired of Your Wardrobe? Why Not Hold a Clothing Exchange!

At the time of this writing there are millions of people in America that are forcibly frugal. The forcibly frugal often have no budget for clothes at all, but sometimes they still need to fill a gap in their wardrobes. Luckily there is a solution. Get together as many people as you can and hold a clothing exchange.

A clothing exchange is part of the gift economy. It starts when a person with some organizational skills decides to do it. They must call at several members of their extended community and get them to involve themselves. Someone should arrange a space to hold the exchange. It can be a private home, or a public building. Sometimes a congregation will allow a clothing exchange to be held in their church. Use your imagination. Just make sure it is big enough. And it is nice if there is space to change and a mirror, but that can be worked around.

If any of the organizers have clothing racks or other retail display equipment they should bring it. If not, try to get your hands on some as soon as possible if you intend to do this regularly. The more people that attend, the more successful the exchange will be. Try to invite people of many different sizes and shapes. That way no one will feel left out and the choices will be more interesting.

The rules are simple. Bring what you no longer want or need. Take what you do. If someone touches an item it is theirs till they relinquish it. Very simple. Don’t worry if you only have a small contribution. This is not barter. When the exchange is over the remains go to the goodwill. Of course sometimes, if another exchange is coming up and there is a storage space available, the clothes are kept to seed the next exchange.

There is no rule that the exchange must be limited to clothing. How about house wares, or books? Though many exchanges focus on women’s clothing, there are more co-ed exchanges happening every day, and more exchanges that feature other items as well as clothes.

It may not be Macy’s, but clothing exchanges are FUN. They are also much more community oriented then another alienating trip to the mall. You can find some wonderful things at an exchange. I once was at an exchange where a woman was looking for a suit for a job interview. This size two woman found a conservatively cut name brand blue suit that fit her perfectly. That has the mall beat in my book.

Here are some other takes on the exchange process. No doubt your community will form its own traditions.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4551469_host-clothing-exchange-party.html

http://www.suite101.com/content/how-to-host-a-clothing-exchange-party-a235869

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2073707/throwing_a_clothing_exchange_party.html

 

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