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

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle: The Art of Repurposing

Today’s post is on the second item in the Holy Grail of sustainability—reusing. For many Americans the default action for fulfilling needs has been “buy it new”. For some, it has been look for it used, which is an improvement. But—it may be unnecessary to buy anything at all. Why not look around at what you already have and repurpose something?

In the home it may be using empty jars for food storage, a rock as a doorstop, or a wheelbarrow as a planter.

In clothing it could be cutting a dress in half and making a skirt, or using a big scarf as a beach cover-up. There are things all around us everyday that could be used for something else if the need arises. All it takes is some ingenuity and a desire to live frugal and green. What have you repurposed? How did you get the idea? Share your stories here!

As inspiration I suggest the following links:

http://www.stampington.com/greencraft/

http://www.amazon.com/Restore-Recycle-Repurpose-Beautiful-Country/dp/1588167690/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346364207&sr=8-1&keywords=recycle+restore

 

Frugal Furniture-Don’t Buy It When You Can Find It!

Get Your Furniture Free of Charge

If you live in a decent sized city, you have a frugal decorating tool in your belt that you country cousin doesn’t. If you need furniture, try scrounging first. I am not saying that this sort of gift NEVER happens in the country, just that the quality is a lot more likely to be compromised when something has been left by the roadside for quite some time. In the country you get people’s “outdoor” couch left sitting by a back road in the rain. In the city there are more finds, and of higher quality.

But—if you see something good, be prepared to get hang out with your find until you can get help moving it. If you leave it you likely lose it. There is also more competition in the city.

There are also things you should pass on, no matter how tasty a deal you think it is. Things like mattresses, pillows, or other bedding. With chairs and couches check for fleas or other undesirable qualities. Also pass on bloodstains or anything nasty like that, not that I need to tell you that. But lesser stains can be dealt with. As for tables, chairs, bookcases, and other “hard” items, there is no downside.

If you see something that has the right profile (size, etc.) but is a hideous color or has a few holes or some other defect, grab it anyhow. You can refinish or paint wooden items, and reupholster fabric furniture. Or just throw a colorful sheet or blanket over it.

For more helpful information:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/09/19/frugal-home-decorating-how-to-make-your-home-comfortable-and-beautiful-without-breaking-the-bank/

Get More Flavor for Less Money—Grow These Five Herbs Indoors

Beautiful Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs add great flavor to home cooking, but buying them at the market is prohibitive. The herbs come in bunches much larger than usually called for, and only stay good for a few days. But if you have a sunny windowsill you can grow your own herbs for the cost of a pack of seeds. Then you can trim just a few leaves off as needed without hurting the plant. This is clearly the frugal solution.

You will need a bag of rich potting soil, a bag of something called perlite which is added to the soil, and some powdered limestone. You will also need some nice small ceramic pots with saucers, and a few seeds for each herb that you are planning to grow. If you know a seed saver you may be able to get them to give you a few, otherwise you may have to buy a whole pack of seeds for each variety.

Take the potting soil and mix it two to one with the perlite. Add a teaspoon of the limestone to each 5 inch pot and mix well. The pots should be filled to one inch below the rim.Then poke a two hole with your fingers and plant one seed in each hole. Water the pot gently and put in the windowsill. Keep just moist and in a few days you should see your little seedlings popping up through the soil. To get started I recommend you grow these five easy to grow herbs: Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Chives, and Mint. They all like full sun, and to be kept moist but not overwatered.

Try growing these five and see how much money you save and how good they make your food taste. Then perhaps you will branch out and create a whole indoor garden.

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 Buy Store Bought Salad Dressing Again-3 Great Dressings You can Whip Up in Minutes!

Simple Ingredients

Making salad dressing at home is one of the easiest things you can do in a kitchen and in many cases it is also less expensive as well. But even when the cost is the same in actual dollars, the homemade dressing is still better. When judging the frugal choice it is important to factor in quality and not just price. When I decide what to cook I either want a real cost savings or I want a much better product at the same price. Once in a while it is possible to get both.

Simple vinaigrettes generally cost less for a higher quality. Fancier creamy dressings may cost as much as the store bought kind when you add in the high cost of certain ingredients, but if you are a serious frugalista you likely already have a windowsill herb garden if not an entire kitchen garden.

Here are three simple salad dressings to try:

Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup good olive oil
  •  1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 gloves garlic peeled and minced
  •  1 tsp prepared mustard
  •  a pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Place an immersion blender on the lowest setting with the whisk attachment. Whisk till the mixture emulsifies. It will look almost creamy. This will take less than a minute. Put in a pint jar and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using. This dressing will keep for several weeks.

Ranch Dressing

  •  3 scallions
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil 1 garlic clove minced ½ cup mayonnaise ½ cup plain yogurt
  •  ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 pinch salt
  •  freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients and whisk by hand or with an immersion blender till thoroughly blended.

Russian Dressing (sweet)

  •  ½ cup ketchup
  •  ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T prepared horseradish
  • 1 T minced onion
  •  1 tsp  Worcestershire sauce a splash of vinegar

Mix together and use on salads or as a spread for a corned beef or Reuben sandwich.

There are hundreds of other simple inexpensive salad dressings you can whip up fresh in just a few minutes. So, if you have been relying on over-priced, over-preserved store bought dressings just stop– and find out how great a completely fresh salad can be!

Frugal Skills-Sewing Can Brighten up Your Life

 

Sewing is Frugal Fun

If you haven’t been bit by the sewing bug yet, now is a good time to give it a try. Sewing is a basic frugal skill, whether you are mending a rip in your old jeans or creating a whole new wardrobe. It may seem complicated at first, especially if you get mired down buying equipment.  That is why I suggest getting a simple used machine at first, and only upgrade if it becomes necessary. To find a good used machine, try asking around, and if that fails, keep an eye out at garage sales or try Craigslist. Until you are proficient you don’t need bells and whistles, just a few basic features.

Once you have your machine, you will need fabric and a pattern. And probably a lesson or two. Going to the fabric store may well prove to be a lot of fun. Try making something really simple like a gathered skirt to begin with. It is just two seams and a waistband with elastic in it. This way you will have an early success and not get bogged down. As for lessons, if you know a seamtress they might answer a few questions or even show you a thing or two. After that try your local adult education facility or Junior College. Almost every community has some inexpensive sewing classes available. After you enroll your teacher will guide you in picking good projects.

If you are the type that does well with books try the local library. There are many great how to books in the sewing and fiber crafts area. Pick an easy one and work your way up. Also look at the magazine section in your local book store. If you see a pattern you like it may be worth the price of the magazine.

Though the sewing industry has changed and it is harder to find a real old-fashioned fabric store there are still a few if you are willing to hunt them down.

The other alternative is the “crafts store”. Go only if you must. Hang out, ask questions, and see what patterns are out there. There are thousands available for clothing, home decorating, and costumes. Even if you have never sewed before you will be able to find what you need.

Once you learn this valuable skill you will be able to enhance your wardrobe, beautify your home, and maybe even make some money if you stay with it. Once you start it could become a wonderful obsession.

%d bloggers like this: