Sunday, July 29, 2012

Is homemade laundry detergent really saving you money?

A couple months ago I posted about how I make my own laundry detergent. I have always read about how much more economical it is, but I never actually did the math to figure it out. Luckily, I have a friend who happens to have a family with an appreciation (and aptitude) for math. They took on the challenge of providing a cost analysis of homemade vs. store bought detergent and recently provided me with the results. Here is what Ray and her family have figured out based on her costs at our local stores:
We have yielded an average of 35 loads over 3 batches.
Batch #1 cost about $8 (for the Zote, washing soda, and Borax) Average of $.23 per load
Batch #2 cost about $1 (for another bar of Zote) Average of $.13 per load for 70 loads
Batch #3 cost about $1 (for another bar of Zote) Average of $.10 per load for 105 loads
Batch #4 cost about $1 (for another bar of Zote) Average of $.08 per load for 140 loads
Future predictions (until we run out of washing soda and Borax:
Batch #5 will cost about $1 (for another bar of Zote) Average of $.07 per load for 175 loads
Batch #6 will cost about $1 (for another bar of Zote) Average of $.06 per load for 210 loads

In between batches I use Purex which we purchase at Walmart for $6 for 32 loads ($.19 per load)
I will have spent $13 for 210 loads of laundry at $.06 per load. Purex would have cost me $36 for 192 loads. We've saved more than 2/3 the cost (and gotten 20 extra loads).

So I am happy to report the answer is YES, you do save money with homemade detergent. On top of the cost savings here are some other bonuses Ray highlighted for me:

In addition, for some of us carrying those bottles of detergent to the laundry room in the basement (100oz or multiples of smaller bottles) can become really difficult. And lastly, think of all the plastic bottles we’re NOT putting in to the landfill (or in the recycling pile).

And one more thing: I have two boys… the stuff works. I don’t need to say anymore than that

A big thank you to Ray and her family for providing the cost analysis and for giving the homemade detergent their stamp of approval. So, what are you waiting for. If you haven't tried making your own yet, you should. And in case you are really looking for the easy way out...look what I found at my local Walmart last time I was there, ZOTE flakes. That's right, they have already grated it for you- just mix and go, couldn't be easier than that.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Navy Maxi Skirt

Well I made another maxi! I just can't get enough of the easy comfortable appeal of maxi skirts and dresses. I have mentioned before here about other maxi skirts I have made using Elle Apparel's tutorial. It is so easy and comes together in about an hour. I bought a heavier weight knit for this skirt and I have loved how it feels and drapes. I think the navy color will be easy to transition in fall as well. I think I may take a break from maxis for a bit and try to focus on some other an upcoming move from our house!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Picture Coasters

So, after we returned from our trip, we had all these great pictures.  I decided to Mod Podge them onto coasters.  I found good tile coasters with the cork already on the bottom at a local dollar store.  

This was super easy to do.  I needed a sponge brush, Mod Podge, coasters, and the pictures.  

First, I cut the pictures to the size I wanted.

Next, I put a layer of Mod Podge down on the coaster followed by the picture I wanted on that coaster making sure to get all the bubbles out.  Then, I waited until that was dry before I put a layer of Mod Podge on top of the picture.  After that layer was dry, I sanded the edges so they wouldn't be bigger than the coaster and peel off, then I put one more layer of Mod Podge down just to make sure the picture wouldn't come up or get ruined.  Here is the finished product - obviously the last layer of Mod Podge is still drying!  I love our memories of New York City!

I love the way they came out!  I already have plans for Christmas gifts with some different pictures although one small change I will make will be to cut the picture a little smaller than the coaster so it doesn't have rough edges.  I will post those when they are done too!

Happy crafting!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chevron Dress

A few weeks back I posted about my wearable "muslin" I made in the hopes of creating a knock off look of this beautiful chevron dress: Chevron Dress Inspiration

I used Butterick 4443 view C without the belt and shortened the skirt. Overall I am happy with the way the dress turned out but I wish I would have bought a fabric more similar to the inspiration dress (which I of course found after buying this print). I don't like that the chevron stripes on my fabric are much smaller-I think part of the appeal for the other dress was the large print...oh well, it will make a nice dress to wear to work since I left it longer than the inspiration one as well.
I worked hard at matching up the chevron pattern on the back bodice and skirt pieces and I am not delighted with the end result...but- close enough. I also thought long and hard about trying to line up the front princess seams but when looking closer at the inspiration realized it wasn't lined up on there so I wasn't going to worry about it either.
I rarely wear sleeveless dresses (I am always cold) so I bought a cardigan from Banana Republic and the gold belt was thrifted. While it isn't my favorite creation and I don't think it is as cute as the inspiration dress, I am happy I at least attempted it. Oh and sorry about these horrible pics- time is limited right now, it was the best I could do :)


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lamp "Refashion"

I, once again, found this idea on Pinterest and couldn't wait to have a reason to try it!  I ended up following the tutorial almost exactly as it is written, but made a few changes.  I was trying really hard to find a lamp I liked at a thrift store, but ended up finding one at Target for about the same price.  My lamp shade was wider at the bottom than at the top.  First, I made marks one inch apart on the top of the shade.  Then, I counted how many ribbons I would need.  I measured the bottom of the shade and divided that number by the number of ribbons and measured that out too.  I think the bottom for my shade ended up being 1.2 inches - not much different than the top.

I cut the ribbons to about 10 and a half inches each.

Then, I hot glued the orange ribbons to the top of the lamp shade.  After that was done, I hot glued them to the bottom using an angle.  

I couldn't decide on a blue to use (I know the original tutorial used orange and blue too, but that is the color scheme I am going for in this room - it will all make sense in a couple weeks!), so I decided to use two different shades of blue.  I hot glued them in between the oranges on the top, then weaved them down at an angle, securing them with hot glue  at the bottom.  The original post says to pin them in place, but I didn't think that was necessary.  

After all that weaving and hot gluing, it is complete!  

Enjoy your crafting!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

DIY Outdoor Sectional

A few weeks back I posted about the progress my husband and I were making on this outdoor project. Well I am happy to say it is almost complete...I say almost because I did not get around to sewing the throw pillows that will go on it. Let's be honest- I haven't even decided on the fabric I will use. So for the photos, I stole some from my living room, which don't coordinate real well, but you get the idea. Here is how the piece turned out.
Now, I will give you the links I used to complete the project but PLEASE read through the advice below before you decide to take on this project- I hope to save you some trouble! The sofa was created using Ana White's plans with the modifications Thrifty Inspirations guest posted about here.
Overall the parts went together well but there was some confusion about the measurements at times. It took several days to complete the building, priming, and don't begin to attempt this unless you have the time to spend. Next, was the daunting task of cushions and here is my advice...BUY seriously, BUY THEM. 

If you are anything like me you are probably thinking, why would I buy them when I can make them myself and save money. This was also my line of thinking, but after finishing these I have changed my mind. Here are the hurdles I ran into that got me to change my mind. First there was the issue of what foam to use. All foam is pricey and saving money compared to purchasing outdoor cushions is tricky. I first purchased the precut Nu-Foam cushions that are created to be weather resistant. This would have been great but they only come in 22 by 22 inch squares and the seats were 24 by 24 inches. I did not want gaps in between the cushions and wrapping the precut squares with the roll of NuFoam would have made them more expensive than purchasing pre made cushions. So, then I went to plan b and purchased 3 inch foam by the yard when it was 50% off from Joanns. This allowed me to cut the foam to the dimensions I wanted since the backs of the cushions did not fall into any of the precut foam sizes.   I ended up cutting 6,  24 by 24 inch squares for the bottom cushions and 6, 24 by 15 inch rectangles for the backs and 3, 21 by 15 inch rectangles for the corner back pieces. I also wrapped the foam with some light batting to help smooth out the edges. The biggest hurdle to creating the cushions this way is that they are not weather I have to take my cushions off when storms are coming or cover the furniture (I have yet to make a slipcover but plan on it). So this is one big reason why buying pre made outdoor cushions would have been better. 
Next, I decided to use drop cloths for the fabric and save some money and overall I am okay with this decision, but again, I think the quality of the pre made cushions out weigh the cost savings of using drop cloth for the fabric. If I would have used outdoor canvas, I would have been spending more money to create my own than purchasing the cushions. You also have to factor in the cost of thread, cording, zippers, and velcro.  I made each bottom cushion with cording around both the top and bottom of the cushions. The back of the cushion has a zipper to make it easily removable. The top cushions have velcro closures on the bottom and both top and bottom cushions have ties attached so they can be secured to the couch. Putting all of this together took A LOT of time. Which is the third reason why I would say it is well worth it to buy pre made cushions. Each bottom cushion took about 1-1.5 hours and each top cushion was about 45 yea, way more time than I wanted to spend! 

What's are still wondering how this came together? You still want to attempt your own? Ok, but don't say I didn't warn you. The best tutorial I found was here and it worked great for every cushion. But again, why make them when you can pretty much buy them for the same price and avoid all the headaches mentioned above :) 

The sectional was supposed to be the first of many projects for our porch. I had grand ideas of a couch, outdoor rug, stenciled curtains, pallet coffee table, etc. And so we made this sectional to fit our  porch specifically and go figure, we sold our house and are supposed to be moving next month. The funny thing is this was not planned, our house was not on the market, but my husband had a friend who wanted to purchase it. So, fast forward a few weeks and we are now packing up and getting ready for a move...hopefully I can find a spot for the sectional in the new house after the many long hours that were spent on it! 


linking up to:
Home Stories A2Z

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Knock-off Skirt

A few weeks ago I came across this skirt: Inspiration Skirt  She does amazing work that looks great and I wish I could afford a $115 skirt, but I can't. So, I set out to see if I could make my own version. First I randomly stumbled across the fabric at Ikea- they also had the blue and green stripe. I bought a yard (which would later cause some issues...I will get to that) and then went home to search my patterns for a pleated skirt. I found a McCalls pattern that I thought would work: 5591 view C. It may have worked out great but when I went to cut it out, the pattern required way more fabric then what I had to create the horizontal stripe. So...I brainstormed a little and thought I could maybe fiddle around with what I had and create a skirt with smaller pleats. I sketched out a pattern using the skirt pattern I had as a guide and here are the steps I followed...there were some bumps along the way, so please read through the entire post to see where you may want to change things if you create the skirt. advice would be to follow the pattern referenced above if you want all the steps laid out in a professional way and you would like to follow a pattern. Whatever you choose, if you create it, I would love to see it! Good luck.

Step 1: Create your pattern
- Cut out a skirt front and back (on the fold) using a pattern you have or trace a similar cut skirt, making sure your stripes are running horizontally. Since my fabric was not wide enough for the deeper pleats I simply lined up the pattern from 5591 with the fabric piece I had and cut out what I could. My skirt piece ended up being approximately a 22 inch by 16 inch rectangle (on the 22 inches long by 32 inches wide when unfolded). Then I took the waistband from pattern 5591 and cut it out. You could also take a pattern of your choice or trace out a simple rectangular piece for the waistband. **If you use pattern 5591 do NOT make the silly mistake I did. If you notice my waistband is solid fabric- not the stripe. This is because I ran out of fabric from cutting the waistband according to the pattern...which is for a back zip skirt. I wanted a side zip skirt. To get around this problem, simply cut 4 of the "front waistband" pattern pieces on the fold and sew the short ends together to create a waistband. Then repeat with the remaining two pieces and you now have your waistband facing.

2. Mark the center of each front and back skirt piece with a pin. We are now going to create the pleats. Because I did not have much fabric, my pleats are smaller. If you have more fabric you can create a deeper pleat. From the center pin marking, measure out 2 inches on each side and place a pin to mark. Bring the outer pins to the center pin to create a pleat. It should look like this:
3. Next, measure 7 inches from your pleat on each side and place a pin. This is the center mark of your other two pleats. Measure 2 inches from each side of these two marks and pin. Bring the pins to the center pin to create two more pleats. Your finished back and front should look like this:
4. Baste your pleats in place by stitching 1/4 inch from the top edge over each pleat. Give the pleats a good pressing.

5. Pin ONE side of your skirt front and back together, right sides facing. To help make sure the stripes are lined up, place a pin every time the stripes meet. This will help prevent shifting. Prior to stitching the skirt front and back together I finished off the edges with my serger.

6. Next create the waistband by stitching 2 short sides, right sides together, to create one waistband. Repeat with the other 2 pieces to create the waistband facing. Take one of the waistband pieces and pin it, right sides together, to the top edge of the skirt, lining up side seams and stitch. Then insert your invisible zipper. After the invisible zipper is inserted, stitch the side seam, right sides together, on the zipper side of the skirt from the bottom of the zipper to the bottom edge of the skirt.
7. Fold in 1/4 inch towards the wrong side of the waistband facing and press. Then, pin the waistband facing (using the non-pressed edge) to the top edge of the waistband, right sides together and stitch (sorry no pics of this part). Turn the waistband right sides out and press to create a waistband should have the raw top edge of the skirt in the middle of the sandwich. The 1/4 inch pressed edge will cover it. Pin and make sure your skirt waistband lines up in both front and back along the top edge of the skirt piece. You will now topstitch on the waistband to stitch the waistband "sandwich" together and to create a finished look. I stitch this on the right side of the fabric to insure I am stitching a straight line. Sometimes I miss catching all the fabric on the backside if I wasn't careful when pinning. I go back and hand stitch anything that was left out and I also hand stitch the facing to the zipper.
8. Finally, fold up the desired hem length and stitch the hem. You are done! Press your skirt well and enjoy.

And a special thanks to one of my beautiful sister-in-laws for playing model :)