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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Alternatives to Getting Stains Out of Clothing - How to Tea-Dye Clothing

Turn a drab white shirt into a creamy vanilla dessert! :) This shirt was white, and it had some stains on it that wouldn't come out - even after repeated attempts.

Instead of giving up on a light-colored clothing item that has a persistent stain, why not go ahead and try tea-dying it? The chemical impact on the Earth is negative (put those used tea bags in the compost pile) and the results are great! :)

I brewed some strong tea - just the discount kind and in tea bag form - and got out my big turkey roasting pan and poured in the hot, strong tea and some more hot water. I took out the tea bags, but some people leave theirs in.

 Then I just put the shirt in and squished it down into the tea mixture (watch out! - it's hot!)

In fact, I put a couple of items in there together. So you might want to look around for any other clothing items this might benefit.

A few times, when I'd walk by the pan, I'd move the clothes around and squish them down again just for good measure. :)

After a few hours (you can experiment with leaving them in longer to get a darker color), I wrung out the water/tea mixture and put the clothing directly into the washing machine, where I ran a load of my regular, light-colored clothes through the wash. I threw them in the dryer, and they came out a wonderful mottled, imperfect, creamy color where any "flaws" in color just add to the appeal. 

Keep in mind that there will be mottling and spots and regularities, but for me, that's just part of the charm. On the shirt pictured, I also added hand embroidery and some wide satin ribbon to cover some problem areas (not associated with the tea-dying) and any darker spots that I thought needed some softening.

Also keep in mind that some threads may dye differently than the fabric itself, but that can be fun too. This shirt had all-over machine, thread embroidery, and the thread didn't take the dye/tea as well as the fabric. It only added to the charm, in my opinion.

It's up to you! Have fun! And let me know how it goes for you! :) Take care.

Save the Planet While You Shop! :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

How to make a lace fashion scarf - fast, easy

This scarf was made from salvaged sheer, stretchy lace fabric with other matching (non-stretchy) lace sewn on both long edges and down the middle. It has several soft colors in it: peach, pink, white. The lace strips are allowed to fall below the edge of the stretchy lace for a very feminine, soft look. It measures 6" x 47".

This is a sweet, excellent, light-weight, summer fashion scarf that can also be worn in the winter as a fashion scarf. It is very soft and scrunch-able. It is also very easy to make on your own - either by hand or on your sewing machine!

How to make your own lace, fashion scarf:

1) Gather your supplies -
-You will need a length of lace about 5-6 inches wide and about 48 inches long. Feel free to measure and have a look and see if you want yours wider or narrower or a different length. Use your favorite scarf and measure that one to get a size that works for you. If you are making it for someone else, remember to take their size and height into consideration.

-Consider going to your local second-hand store to have a look in their linen/curtain/fabric section to see if a gently used sheer curtain or long doilie/table runner will work for you. Stretchy lace is nice, b/c it doesn't necessarily need a hem to keep the edges from fraying. 

-You will also need some lengths of narrow lace, that are a bit longer than your scarf, to sew on the edges and down the middle. Get colors that work with your scarf lace/fabric. I used 2 different types of narrow lace (just b/c that's what was here and handy :). Feel free to let the ends dangle longer than I did for an even longer, feminine look.

2) You will need a few straight pins, thread, scissors, something to measure with and either a sewing machine or a needle and thread. This project can be done by hand or on the machine.

3) Measure and cut the basic scarf out of the lace. If your lace scarf is not of stretchy lace/fabric, this is the time to sew a narrow hem along each short end only - see photo on right. We'll take care of the long edges momentarily.

-Measure your narrow lengths of lace to sew on the sides and middle - remember they should be longer and extend past each end of the scarf. Find the middle of all pieces of lace/scarf and mark each with a straight pin.

4) Starting in the middle, with one length of narrow lace on one edge, match middle straight pins, so that the lace extends past the end of the scarf at each end. Pin lace in place with your straight pins. If you are using stretchy lace and your machine, remember that a ball-point needle is best for stretchy fabrics.

5) Beginning in the middle and working toward one end, sew the narrow lace along the edge of the scarf. Use a zigzag stitch on your machine to cover more area and ensure stretchiness. Then go back to the middle where you started, and go the other direction, to the other end of the scarf, sewing. Treat each strip of narrow lace in the same manner.

- If you are using fabric that is not stretchy, you will need to turn under a narrow hem to keep it from fraying.
To do this:
With right side up, turn the hem UP toward the top/front and lay the narrow lace on top of it and secure with straight pins, then sew down, so that the raw edge will be sandwiched under the narrow lace. Depending on the width of your narrow lace, you may want to sew down both edges. I machine zigzagged one seam down the middle of the narrow lace, since the scarf edge on mine was stretchy and didn't need a hem. If a hem was needed, I would have sewn down each edge on the long, narrow strips of lace to ensure lack of fraying on the scarf edge.

The photo below shows the back side of the scarf with the 3 narrow lengths of lace sewn on. You may decide you only want 2 strips of lace - one on each edge. It's up to you. :)

I hope you have fun making your own scarf! Contact me if you have questions or suggestions; I always welcome feedback! :)

And if you would like to purchase the one pictured instead of making your own, you can always go to:

 Where, in a effort to reuse and recycle, all items are one-of-a-kind designs and made with recycled/reclaimed/repurposed materials and garments. 

As always, thanks for Saving the Planet While You Shop! :) 

Upcycled lemony rayon jumper dress.

Thanks for stopping in! :)

This is a lemony yellow rayon jumper dress that used to be straight and long (had some holes too). See the photo on right for the "before". :) Has jumper straps and buttons up each side. A friend donated it, b/c she had had it for years and didn't know what to do with it. She decided to just give it up and see what I would come up with.

I really wanted to give it some more sassy-ness and swing, so added some rayon gores of fabric that used to be a sarong (and yes, I have a terrible time cutting into a "perfectly good" sarong - the first cut is the worst! - and was so worth it!:).

I also added some fun patches of color to tie it all together and to cover up some challenges it was having. :) It has a cute little pocket on the front bib.

This is a very light, swingy dress to wear - very cool for summer. The drape of the rayon is very nice (wind is blowing it around in outside photos). The print is a small yellow and white check with a small dark blue flower.

Tag still says size Large.

Measures 37" long from shoulder to bottom hem. Measures 44" around the waist seam.

And this dress can be cinched in at the waist with a dress clip to fit just about any size, in case you are not a large and are coveting it. :) (Photos show a dark blue dress clip). I make and sell custom dress clips if you are needing one of those. For this dress, I could even make one out of the dark blue batik fabric to match the gores/patches - just let me know. 

This dress looks fantastic over sleeved or sleeveless shirts. I put it over a light-weight, dark blue jersey shirt and a strappy tee. A light-weight white shirt would look great too! :)

This is a cool, light-weight, summer dress!

Dry clean only when needed or hand wash in cool water and hang to dry.

In a effort to reuse and recycle, all items are one-of-a-kind designs and made with recycled/reclaimed/repurposed materials and garments. Everything I sell is recycled/repurposed.

Allergy info: cats and dogs helped make all products

May it serve you well! :)
Thanks for Saving the Planet While You Shop! :) 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Head Coverings for Bald (and all) Heads - Recycled, Sustainable, Reclaimed

This is an original design. I started designing head coverings years ago after reading an article about a group who knitted hats and donated them to a local oncology clinic.

So far, I have 3 original designs made especially for people without hair, b/c sometimes regular hats and head coverings just don't work as well on a bald head. After all these years, I am still designing, making and donating hats to that same local oncology clinic, and I LOVE doing it. People with hair seem to love these designs too.

I took a regular do rag apart and proceeded to change the design. I made it deeper/longer, so that it covers more area - including the ears if you choose (it depends upon how you tie it) - and a few more tweaks here and there :). I make them out of fleece for winter and out of cotton/rayon fabrics for the summer. The summer ones can have a turn up on the bottom edge, depending on the head size. I can make reversible ones too.

Because they tie in back, they can fit many head sizes. In the summer they provide coverage from the sun and are still light-weight enough to not be too hot - I try and make them super absorbent too for summer. All are prewashed for maximum absorbency. All are machine wash and dry.

They can be made for men and women (I have plenty of colors for both) and can be tied very tightly - and low or high on the forehead - for extra warmth/coverage and to fit all size heads.

Guys like the do rag for bike rides, b/c you can really get a snug, protective fit. A male customer called and said the summer do rag was good up to 70 mph (that's as fast as he's gone with it on - it might withstand faster:) on his Harley. :)

I only use repurposed fabrics from garage sales or second hand stores (must be in excellent shape), and some is given to me by others who know I make recycled stuff.

Allergy info: Dogs and cats helped make all products.

May it serve you well!

And thanks for Saving the Planet While You Shop! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Next Upcycling Wood Project

My next wood project:  Make this into a table. This is one big piece of wood given to me by a friend who was cleaning out his workshop. It measures 26" x 48". It has grooves cut into it to make it look like several boards glued together. Should I keep it rectangular? Should I paint a design on it?
I'll keep you updated! :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

 They only sell upcycled/recycled wood furniture! Check them out!

"Dream" and "Believe" Table
100% Recycled Material. Reclaimed Wood, Water-Based Paint, and Clear Coat. Dimensions: 19"L x 9"W x 20"H. The artist used the natural wood swirls (knots) in this top to swirl the design around. She burned the design into the wood and then painted it. "Dream" and "Believe" are inscribed on the table. For her, it represents the creative/Goddess/inception energy of all things. The legs are made with found branches and trimmings from trees in her yard or from open natural areas in Colorado. The bark is left natural and only comes off if it falls off naturally. The tenons are hand-cut to ensure a really strong fit for the mortises. Wood glue and screws are also used to ensure an extra strong fit. This table would look great as a side table, bedside table, or altar table.
Category:Side Tables

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Alternatives to Paper Napkins and Paper towels - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Paper vs. Cloth Napkins

Saving the planet is not just about recycling, it is also about reducing our use of natural resources and reusing those things we already have in new ways. I am constantly looking for ways to save our planet. Many ideas come to me in dreams, :) I borrow some ideas and expand on them, and also follow the tried and true - like simply putting my household recycling out on the curb every other week. I also love reusing and upcycling items that may have been thrown away (because as we all know: There is no such thing as “away”). 

One habit I cultivated in myself is the use of fabric, reusable napkins. I have been using fabric napkins for years and love them. I have my favorites that are worn into softness, their design faded and difficult to see.  I don’t think I’ve had to throw any of them away yet, either. I think they’re all still functional – although some really are showing their years. J Because they are of natural fibers, I will probably just cut them up at some point, as they become too worn for use, and put them in the compost bin.

My daughter argues that I have to wash cloth napkins and am therefore not really reducing. I think I would agree with her if I used a different napkin for each meal. As it is, though, I pick one for the week and use it until it is time to do the wash on the weekend.  This idea was taken further by someone else (and I’m sorry, but I can’t remember where I read this several years ago), when they suggested color-coding the family’s napkins for the week.

They suggested giving each person in the household a different color/patterned napkin for the week - that way everyone can remember their napkin and reuse it the entire week. Then you only have those very few napkins to wash at the end of the week, and they can be thrown in with the regular wash, taking up very little space, time and money.

I have noticed, much to my dismay, that companies that produce household paper products have not reduced their production of paper products, as might be expected when we are finally beginning to realize that we have limited resources. In fact, it seems to be the opposite.  There is a paper product for just about everything.  How did the human race survive without disinfectant wipes, baby wipes, plastic/paper diapers and sanitary napkins and tampons, make-up removal wipes, personal hygiene wipes, etc?  There’s a ‘wipe’ for everything!  And it’s made out of paper! I haven’t done any research, but surely they are not ALL made out of new paper, are they? Is anyone using recycled paper for their wipes? Are they at least doing that? And don’t get me started on the effects and repercussions of bleaching the paper products! Apparently, as a society, all our products must be “clean, bright white” to be appealing and/or effective – interesting comment on our society, I think.

But at least all this over-production of paper products made me question the use of paper in my own house.  I stopped buying and using paper towels. I just can’t stomach it – I feel too guilty. I don’t buy tissues; I use hankies. I do still buy and use toilet paper – not sure I want to deal with any of the alternatives. But shouldn’t I be willing to deal with, even that, to walk my talk? :) I have no “wipes” of any kind in my house. When my daughter was a baby, I carried cloth wipes that I made myself and used cloth diapers.  It was/is more work. It does take water, soap and time to reuse them. So what uses less energy and resources:  1. Using paper products, or 2. Using fabric and then having to launder it? I think it depends on how you use the fabric alternatives to paper. Interesting how the original (fabric towels, wipes, sanitary napkins, wash cloths, dish towels, etc) has become the “alternative”.

So think about whether you are willing to wash a few more small pieces of fabric each week as opposed to buying and using paper napkins. Will it save you money? In the long run, probably. Will it save trees? Probably. We can only begin where we can – one small step at a time.  Think about cutting up that next worn tee instead of throwing it out. Cut it into 12”-15” squares of fabric and use them as napkins. They don’t really need a finished edge or hem to be effective. They’ll wash just fine and ravel very little, if any. And if you color-code, you’ll only be washing very little extra. And if you need a jump-start, do to and have a look at the options. :)