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Frugal Friday

With our sweet grandbabies

With our sweet grandbabies

I don’t feel like I’m completely ‘back’ after a busy couple weeks, but I decided I’d better write out a few of the things I’ve done right to get some momentum building again and work my way back fully into the frugal swing of things.

  • Ali

    Sweet Ali

    Last weekend I picked peppers and tomatoes out of our garden to bring to the adoptive momma retreat.  I’d been tempted to just grab ‘perfect’ veggies on a trip to the store, but a walk out to the garden scored me lots of produce that was almost as pretty as store-bought anyway.

  • Thanks to lots of leftover goodies from my retreat weekend, we haven’t had to buy much for groceries this week.  I’ve even pulled together the energy to cook a few times!  🙂
  • I decided to only choose one item from my Stitch Fix box, despite being greatly tempted otherwise.
  • We used coupons when bringing our youngest girls to meet the babies and our oldest daughters at the corn maze this week.  We also combined a couple of errands with that trip to save on gas.
  • I signed up to donate plasma after a friend recommended it.  We’ll see how that goes.  Apparently you can make about $45 for an hour of sitting around, and benefit someone else in the process. (Update: after reading more about risks, I’m feeling on the fence about this, and am going to think a bit longer before trying it.
  • I had the kids pick more raspberries even though we are all kinda tired of picking.  Ditto for more apples and tomatoes.  It is SO hard this time of year to get out there– I’m actually very eager for the garden to be done– but I feel good when we use what we have been so bountifully given.

How have you done in the frugality department this week?

Back home again

OH my goodness. I am so very out of it, people.  I feel like I haven’t been here on the blog forever.  I have NO frugal things to tell you about, no recipes to share, no wise thoughts.  So I think I’ll just catch you up on what’s been keeping me so darned busy.

I mentioned that last weekend I went to a retreat in the Seattle area, a lovely precious time. It was so wonderful, in fact, that I felt intimidated, expectation-wise, about the retreat I’ve been planning for some other adoptive moms in McCall. The Seattle retreat was very low key.  No real agenda except fellowship, conversation, and a few times of Bible study.  It was just wonderful, so relaxing.

I had been planning my retreat in McCall to be more structured, since I’d been planning to share some DVD’s from the Created for Care conference that I attended in Atlanta last spring.  And, frankly, there was this tiny fear that I’d get all these lovely people gathered together, and then have no idea what to do with them. That they’d stand around bored, making stilted, polite conversation, the kind that happens in a room full of strangers.  Which they mostly were, before this weekend. So my subconscious thought was to keep them busy.

When I came back from the awesome retreat in Seattle, I decided McCall needed more empty space, more time just to BE.  I ended up sharing just three DVD’s.  The rest of the time was free for visiting and talking.  And, praise the Lord, my worrying about them not enjoying the time was totally unfounded.  The talking started instantly and never let up the whole weekend. Very little sleep was had, but, oh, the conversations we had. It was just a constant roar all over the house.  SO rich.  So good.

I felt almost apologetic interrupting those conversations to gather everyone together for the DVD’s.  But it turned out that those were appreciated as well; talking together on the last day many moms mentioned good tidbits they’d gleaned from the DVD presentations.  I really should not have worried.  They were a really, really neat group of ladies.  And God was obviously right there in the midst of us, personally meeting our needs in such encouraging ways.   I am so thankful to have gotten to know each of these ladies better.   And if you can believe it, this group of 21 ladies has a combined total of 102 children.  Neat, huh?

These mommas represent a combined total of 102 children!

As you can see in the photo, there were also three infants in attendance, who did a great job tolerating our noise and managed to sleep and nap OK in the midst of it all.  The house where we stayed turned out to be really neat too. Here’s a link if you’re interested– I’d highly recommend it for anyone planning a retreat for up to 30 or so people.

My wonderful husband John came along, and did a TON of work in the kitchen so that I could really just sit and visit and enjoy the retreat myself as well.  Due to the late nights, I suspect that nobody went home very well rested.  But we had a really great time getting to know each other.  Such a blessing.

I hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule this week.  I have some Stitch Fix clothes to tell you about, and a recipe to share.  I also really need to get back to my old frugal ways.  Being crazy-busy is just not very conducive to thoughtful spending, ya know?  Hope you had a good weekend and are doing well!

this week’s frugal accomplishments

I always do better telling you about details when I start a blog post early in the week and this week I actually remembered to do that. On Sunday when we were getting the table set for our family dinner, I asked one of the kids to pick me some flowers, hoping I could put together a couple of bouquets for the table.

bouquet

Well, most of the flowers are getting pretty dry, so there was only enough for one smallish bouquet.  It looked nice, but when I’ve got a table set to seat 20 people, I like to have something pretty at each end of the table.

I got out a pretty teapot that I rarely use, and set it at the other end, but it looked a little out of place.  Finally I had an inspiration and poked three little flowers into the spout of the teapot.  Unexpected, but I thought it was cute, and then I had a fun spot of color at both ends of the table.  Bonus:  the cloth napkins under the center pieces, the little teapot, and the blue rocks in the bottom of the vase were all thrifted at various times.

teapot

Speaking of thrifting, I found myself a really cute shirt at the thrift store for $2, and one of my teen daughters found 4 t-shirts and spent only $9.  Not a bad shopping trip at all.  I think next time I get my Stitch Fix, I might toss a thrifted item into the mix and see if you can tell which one I got at the thrift store.  Maybe you’d be able to tell right away, but we’ll see.

I found bone-in chicken breasts marked down to $1.29 a pound, and also grabbed a few loaves of marked-down bread.  I’m planning on making french toast for breakfast this morning with one of the loaves.  I also bought a bunch of marked-down bananas, many of which we froze for fruit smoothies.

My mother in law who is moving gave me a bunch of jelly jars, enough that I have plenty to share with my married daughters, who also enjoy canning. I added a few dishes to a bin of dishes I keep in the garage for kids who are moving out and setting up their own spaces.  That’s always an exciting time for kids, whether the move be to a dorm room or an apartment, and I like being able to hand them a ‘starter’ set of items to keep that move more affordable.  With four kids in the 16-18 year old range, I’m working on getting that bin fuller than usual.

We got peppers, yellow cauliflower, and a few cherry tomatoes out of the garden this week– hooray! Cabbages are also close to ready.  I made more apricot jam, and gave some apricots away to my daughters.  And there are still apricots on the trees!  It is promising to be an amazing fruit year.

It’s so amazing, in fact, that our best-producing apple tree has branches that are literally touching the ground, weighted down by all the apples.  I went around the tree and nipped off the ends of the most-laden branches, hoping there’ll be less breakage and larger fruit overall. I tossed the wormy apples to the cows and brought 20 or so of the best green apples inside.  They’re pretty sour still, so I’m planning to make my first-ever batch of green apple jelly.


To do that, I bought a couple of Jelly Strainer Bags on amazon.  I was going to buy the little rack that the jelly bags sit in, but then in comments I read that the bags fit into wide mouth canning jars, so I decided to do it that way instead.  I cooked down a bunch of apples, and set the mash into the jelly bags to drip out all the juice.  Though the apples were a bright green, the juice ended up being a rather unattractive creamy tan color, not at all pretty for jelly.

I decided then to add a few drops of green food coloring, but got wayyyy too much green.  So now in my fridge I have some koolaid-green apple juice. I’m planning to simmer down a few more apples, add that juice, and am hoping to end up with a more natural-looking green.  I’ll try to add a photo once I get it done.

Here’s the recipe (source) I’m planning to use once I get the color of the juice to my liking.  Supposedly using seeds and skin will produce all the pectin I need to ‘jel’ the jelly.  We’ll see! Oh, the adventures of trying new things!

Green Apple Jelly

Ingredients

  • 4 lb green apples
  • 3 c. Water
  • 1/2 c. lemon or lime juice
  • Sugar (1 c. for every cup of apple juice)

Instructions

  1. Clean sterilized jelly bag and cheesecloth. Do not peel or core. Just wash and cut into pieces. Seeds & skin contain most pectin, so cook it right along with the pulp to get a firm jelly. Cover the fruit with the water, adding more if needed during cooking. Add lemon or lime juice and boil until tender. Remove from heat and mash. Strain the fruit through a jelly bag.
  2. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RUSH THE JUICE BY SQUEEZING BAG OR MASHING FRUIT DOWN. THIS WILL CAUSE THE JELLY TO BE CLOUDY.
  3. Let the fruit stand in jelly bag 4 to 6 hours or overnight. The following morning add sugar 1 cup for every 1 cup juice. Boil in a very large pot until candy thermometer reads 220 degrees F. It should be a rolling boil that can't be stirred down. Turn off heat and skim the froth. Fill and cap the jars.
http://owlhaven.net/2014/08/01/this-weeks-frugal-accomplishments/

 

Well, that’s all I have time to tell you about this week.  I’d love to hear about any successes you had!

Splash

Frugal Friday

Some of our campers

It’s Friday again. How did your week go? I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by, with driving kids to work, weeding the garden, swimming, and just living.  The short story with me and frugality this week is that I guess you can’t win them all.  Here are the details.

  • We went camping over the weekend, and somehow managed to leave our lunch in the fridge at home.  So that meant a stop at the grocery store on the way to the mountains to buy bread and lunch meat to replace that lunch.  The bonus was that we had an easy sandwich meal already made when we got home.
  • We had to replace two tires on the minivan and one tire on John’s car, so that was a ding to the budget.  Thankfully the flat tire on the wood trailer was free to fix at Les Schwab.
  • One victory over temptation: I went frugal this week with my Stitch Fix package.  I really like 4 out of the 5 items, but I only had credits for 2.  So I chose #2 the striped dress and #3 the striped tank top, for a grand total of zero money out of pocket.  My family has a running joke that all Stitch Fix has to do is send me something in stripes and I will buy it.  I kinda think they’re right.
  • This week I made a dozen jars of apricot jam. The apricots on our tree are just getting ripe, so there will probably be more. This past year we ran out of jam before early spring, so this summer I am trying to make enough this summer so that won’t happen again next year.  Some of the apricots were mushy or had bugs in them.  But those went to the chickens to peck at, so nothing was wasted.
  • John planted flowers in a side flowerbed that he’d grown from seed himself.  He even planted a basil plant for me that I’m hoping will thrive.  We have the new flowers in a flower bed under the swamp cooler, which drains water all day long.  So the plants should stay good and wet without us having to remember to water them–a bonus in dry Idaho in July.
  • Speaking of the swamp cooler, these days that’s what we’re using instead of the air conditioner.  It is able to keep the house a good 20 degrees cooler than the outdoors.  So by late afternoon on 100 degree days, it still feels kinda warm in the house, but it is much cheaper to run than our A/C, and also seems much less likely to need repairs.
  • We still have two steers, which is a bit more than our two acres of pasture can easily feed in the heat of July.  We do have three pasture rotations to move them through, giving a chance for pastures to grow.  But basically in July and August they eat two sections before the third section has a chance to grow up. A week or two ago we decided to start feeding them our lawnmower clippings, something we hadn’t done in the past because we’ve heard that feeding them large piles of grass sporadically can make them sick, especially if the piles ferment.  So we decided to mow about 20 minutes every day, and feeding them just those clippings freshly cut clippings each day. Since we’re mowing about an acre, that’s plenty big enough to mow a little a day.  It looks a little odd to have only part of the back yard mowed at a time, but the clippings delight the cows.  They’re looking fat, and they now are trained to come mooing up to the fence whenever someone turns on a lawn mower.
  • A minor frugal fail this week came on Thursday.  I was having some people over for lunch, and thought I’d have enough time to do soup and bread, or something homemade anyway.  But then a doctor’s appointment for one of my kids went long, and I ended up getting chicken at Albertson’s to serve instead of actually cooking.  It was a perfectly fine lunch and not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.  But I’d wanted to fuss over my guests a bit more than that, and was disappointed that a long appointment plus not planning ahead left me at the deli counter.
  • Another money guzzler this week was opting to drive our largest vehicle on errands, simply because it is the only one with A/C.  But hey, in 100-degree heat, I figure momma’s comfort is worth a little extra gas.  At least that’s how I’m rationalizing it.  I did try to minimize my outings, though, and combined errands to use gas most wisely.

One plan that we have for August is not frugal, but needed.  The boys’ bathroom shower has a leak in the wall that John temporarily patched with duct tape and a shower curtain several months ago. (So pretty!  😉 )  While we’re replacing the shower stall, we’re also planning to bump out a bathroom wall to enlarge the bathroom and possibly fit a full tub up there too.  I think it will be a nice improvement, and if we do most of the work ourselves, it shouldn’t be terrifically spendy.  (I know, famous last words, right?)  I’ll keep you posted.

How’d your week go?

Splash

My hubby’s project

New bed!

Just had to share a link to my husband’s post about the new bed he made for us. Didn’t he do a great job?  He made the bed from walnut that he milled himself years ago.  Makes our bedroom look so upscale that I hardly recognize it.

Also, for any of you curious about what I picked out of my latest batch of Stitch Fix goodies, I ended up sending back the black pants and the grey sweatshirt. The pants were too spendy and the sweatshirt was just too ordinary for the price.

I’d been on the fence about the striped tank top since it is bare in back and I’d only wear it under a sweater. But then I realized it looks adorable with a t-shirt underneath it. (At least I think so?) Here are a couple tee’s I tried with it that I think look cute. The navy tee especially is good because the neckline matches perfectly.  It’d also be great with a plain white tee, I think.
tank with tee's underneath

In any case, being able to wear it over a tee makes it a much more versatile piece for me.   🙂   I decided to keep it, along with both the navy cardigan and the green top. I’ve already worn all the items at least once, and I’m really happy with them.

What’s new with you this week?  Hope none of you are separated from family in the terrible storms in the South.

Things I’m loving

CrochetHeartPattern4

Randomness that I’m enjoying lately:

Gluten Free Blueberry Cake Donuts– yumminess. I found that they cooked more evenly if we just formed them into donut ‘holes’. Lots of times when I make gluten free things, the kids taste them and don’t like them too much, but these donuts were eaten by all until they were gone. One of the kids said they get better after a few hours, when they’re cold. They have a nice tender crumb and we all loved them.

This post from The Better Mom,  especially, ‘what makes us crabby often reveals where our idols dwell.’  So true.


I literally found this  Organic Wear Face Sculpting Trio clearanced at the grocery outlet a few months ago for $5, and have only found it on amazon since then, but I love it.  I wear it on top of foundation, and it adds a glow and a smooth look that I love.


COVERGIRL Bombshell Volume Mascara is another makeup find that I have been loving lately. It is a two-step mascara that really maximizes your eyelashes. Love it. (Hint: I linked to this on amazon, but you can get it cheaper at WalMart. $8, I think?)

This hairstyle is going to be my next cut, I think. So cute.  I might even get some red highlights. Maybe.

StitchFix Stitch Fix is just too much fun.  I keep saying each fix will be my last but then I get lured in wondering what cuteness they might send me next.  And face it, when shopping on my own I all too often default to a blouse that is either turquoise or black.  Seriously, I am so stuck in a rut.  I have another box coming on the 22nd and I am so much looking forward to it!

Isn’t this garland sweet? I don’t know how to crochet, but I’m going to see if I can talk my daughter into making it for me!

 

Have you pinned or discovered anything interesting lately?

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Thank you!

Thanks for all the advice about my clothing dilemma. Your comments about the Star Trek top had me laughing.  I rethought the black pants. I do love them but they are $98 and I just couldn’t pull the trigger, esp when I went to the Old Navy website and found some black jeans for $20.  Not quite the same, but probably close enough.

I still love the striped dress but it is $68 and I just wasn’t sure it was flattering. I may go try this much cheaper dress on at Old Navy to see if it might also have the fun vibe but be better looking on me.  (smaller stripes, not flared).  We’ll see.

I ended up deciding on the JUST the plaid top, since I am sure it is something I will wear often, and it is soft and comfy. I have it on this second– am taking our teens to see Thor later today.

The really good thing about this decision is that (thanks to some kind folks who used my referral link) I had $50 in Stitch Fix credit.  The plaid top is $48, which means $0 out.  My husband and our budget thank you!  And thanks to everyone who weighed in.  It was fun to get your feedback and it made my decision easier.

Frugal, not so frugal

Rolling out dough(I saw this idea at Purposely Frugal.)

Frugal:  Mending straps on two summer dresses so they would fit my little girls this summer.

Not so frugal:  Buying every single item in last month’s Stitch Fix package.  I gave the brown dress to my 17 yo daughter as an early birthday gift– it was the perfect length for her.  Then I swallowed hard and cut 4 inches off the too-short-for-me blue ‘dress’– it  is now an adorable summer blouse for me.

Frugal: Asking my daughters to make flour tortillas instead of running to the store. Bonus = they had fun.

Not so frugal:  Taking my  kids out to lunch the other day.

Frugal:  Choosing lunch at Costco instead of Panda Express

Not so frugal:  spending $49 on a swimsuit when a daughter (who’s worn hand-me-down suits for years) fell in love with the perfect swimsuit at Costco.  (Psst:  Diviine Modestee swimwear is being featured at Costco this summer!  Cute, cute stuff!)

Frugal: Running errands in the tiny car this week even though it was hot and it has no A/C.

Frugal (or dumb?):  Buying a $500 swamp cooler for our house this summer instead of recharging the leaky A/C for $1000, or getting a new unit for $5000.  The swamp cooler worked FABULOUS in 90-degree weather– turns out it can easily make the house 20 degrees cooler than the outdoors. However, this week when the temperatures soared to nearly 110, it was 90 in the house.  Yikes.  Not loving that at all.  My hubby keeps telling me how low the power bill will be, with no A/C running.  But I’m lobbying hard to fix the A/C, just for those above-95 degree days…

~~~~~

How about you?  Give me one frugal (and, if you want, one not-so-frugal) thing you’ve done in the last week or so.

Save Money Furnishing Your Home

Over years of furnishing and decorating our family homes, I’ve always done it slowly and organically. Freshly married, we found living room furniture and a vacuum cleaner and my sewing machine at our local St. Vincent’s. Our kitchen table– adorably yellow Formica like the photo to the right– came from my grandmother.  Our bed came from my childhood bedroom.  Bookshelves came from John’s house.  And here and there were other small things we bought or were given.  Suffice it to say, furnishing our first home didn’t cost much.

Each time we moved to progressively larger spaces, always it worked like this.  Something old, something new, and almost always things that were hand made or thrifted.

As we were planning to furnish an entire new house, my mind was really challenged.  I knew that so many things needed to be shiny-new:  sheets, towels, mattresses, sofas.  But we were, after all, still on a budget. Rather than completely abandoning my usual way of furnishing a home, I decided to try mixing old and new and hand made together.  I was also going to need to find bargains, lots of them.

So in the fall as the walls of the beach house went up, UPS packages began arriving at our Idaho home, to be squirreled away until we needed to decorate this crazy dream of ours.  And in the end we were able to furnish a very large home for a fairly reasonable cost.  How’d we do it?  Here are my best tips.

  1.  Make it yourself. Begin by thinking about the things that you might be able to make yourself.  My husband has mad woodworking skills, and was able to make a beautiful dining table, nesting end tables, a bathroom counter, and even a bar.  Not having to buy these items saved us a bundle and also gave the home some great one-of-a-kind features.  If you can sew, you might be able to make curtains, table cloths, place mats, or throw pillows for the home.
  2. Hunt at thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist. Things we found include wall art, furniture, baskets and other small decor items.  We did well in the kitchenware department too, finding a salad spinner, serving bowls, utensils, and other items in good condition.  Most recently we found a great dresser for the master bedroom at a thrift store right in the same town as our beach home, a big plus since it also saved us the hassle of having to get the item from our Idaho home to our Oregon place.  After a good polish and a set of ‘new’ knobs that I found at a local ReStore, the dresser looked great.  A solid wood dresser like that would probably have cost at least $300 brand new, and we paid $100.
  3. Give an old item a facelift! I was able to paint several dressers and end tables that ended up going over to the beach house, which gave a dated-looking item a completely fresh look.  You might be able to re-cover an older piece of furniture that needs updating.  One super-easy DIY reupholstery projects is replacing the fabric seats on chairs.  Here’s a great youtube that walks you through the whole process, and it doesn’t take a stitch of sewing.
  4. Don’t forget clearance shopping.  Target often has reduced items on sale on the end caps of various departments.  Fred Meyers is another store that regularly marks down merchandise.  I found quite a few sets of nice quality sheets at Fred Meyers.  Ross was a place I went over and over, for wall art and for curtain rods.  IKEA has a whole ‘as is’ department in each of their stores, typically near the check stands.  There it is possible to buy already assembled versions of some of their items. Some things may be slightly damaged, but it’s worth looking.
  5. Be willing to consider a less conventional solution.  When it came to buying mattresses, I was prepared to give up a huge chunk of change.  After all, comfortable mattresses are hugely important to most people.  However, a friend told me of a great experience she and her whole family had with mattresses in a box.  There are lots of retailers these days, including Tuft and Needle, Purple, Leesa, and Loom and Leaf.  But the ones she and her family got are on amazon, and that’s the one we ended up buying, for 5 out of the 10 beds in our new rental.  It is called Classic Brands, and the best thing about it is that a king mattress is (at this moment) only $284.  HUGE budget savings there, and after sleeping on one of the mattresses for a couple weeks now, John and I can’t say enough good things about it.  It is very comfortable.  It has no box spring, just a frame, and that can also be bought on amazon, and delivered to your front door in a box.  Doesn’t get easier than that.  Or (we think) more comfortable.  Read the reviews yourself before buying to get an idea of whether it might be a good solution for you.  We did also buy conventional mattresses for five of the beds in the home  (hedging our bets), and those we got as high quality closeout models at a local furniture store.  Hopefully there will be a bed to please everyone at the house!
  6. Say the Magic Words: As Is.  Some online stores sell returns and one of a kind items in ‘as is’ condition.  To locate those special deals, type ‘as is’ in the search bar of the website.  Overstock.com has hundreds of items for sale on any given day. Some items have true flaws, and not all will be listed.  I bought an 8×10 rug for $80 that had a two inch cut in an edge.  I was able to position the damaged area under a couch where it won’t catch your eye or be prone to great damage.  No big deal. I bought many beautiful sets of curtains on overstock for $15 a pair where the only listed problem was ‘dog hair’  I can live with that.  Here’s a picture of a dining light I just bought for our home here in Idaho. As you can see, the original price was $184, marked down to $90.  Add in a 10% off coupon and I was able to purchase the light fixture for $81 with free shipping.  I’m not 100% sure what I will find wrong with the light.  But reading the reviews, several people mentioned an imperfect paint finish that they were able to fix with just a dab of black spray paint.  Sounds like a very doable fix to me.  Another store that offers as items is Wayfair.com.  They call their items ‘open box’ or ‘closeout’. You never know what you’ll find.
  7. Use a coupon code finder.  Any time I am going to spend more than just a few bucks online, I will take a few minutes to hunt down coupons.  Retailmenot.com is a great place to check for coupon codes.  Honey is a similar helper.  It is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at  checkout with a single click.  Very often I can buy ‘as is’ items on overstock.com, and use a coupon code to lower the price another 10-15%.  And believe me, when you’re buying two sets of new bedding for 10 different beds like I did recently, small discounts can add up to big savings.

Do you have any cost cutting ideas for furnishing a home affordably?  I’d love to hear your hints in the comments section.  As always, if you found this post helpful, I’d LOVE a pin on Pinterest. And if you’d like to see the result of all my careful shopping, here are the finished pictures of our home.

31 Days- 30 minute skirt

I’m so excited about our October Focus and Refresh challenge! I think it will be a really neat chance to get in the habit of doing some things that I’ve been wanting to fit into my life, and a good reminder to spend a bit less time playing on the computer.

My first project of the month is one I saw awhile back on Pinterest and wanted to try.  It’s a little girl’s skirt that you can make in 30 minutes or less using only half a yard of fabric.  Even taking time to snap photos for you, mine took only 35 minutes to make.

Here’s the fabric I started with — it’s just a half-yard remnant of simple cotton fabric.  I got it out of a remnant bin at WalMart after Christmas last year– paid probably $2 or so for it.  Half a yard was a great length for my 7 year old. For a little girl  in the 3-5 year old range you could probably get by with 1/3 of a yard.  An 8-10 year old might need 2/3 of a yard.  Just hold your fabric up to your child and decide on a length that is good for her.

In the photo below you can also see the stretchy 1-1/2 inch fold-over elastic that will form the waistband.  You can buy this kind of elastic in really cute patterns– polkadots, etc– with diaper-making supplies at JoAnns, or online (here’s one place).  For my smallish 7 year old (she weighs 52 pounds) I used 20 inches of elastic for the waist, and could have easily done with only 18 or 19 inches.  The waistband turned out just a little loose, and the skirt turned out long enough that it should fit her for a year or two.

The first step is to form a tube out of your fabric by folding it in half, right sides together, and sewing a seam in the selvage edges (the finished edges) of the fabric, on the side of the fabric opposite from your fold. Here you can see my seam with the selvage edges pressed open.

Next step: hem the bottom and top of your fabric. Here’s where it really helps to get out the iron–sometimes I don’t and then am less than pleased with my results. I did about a 3/4 inch hem in what was going to be the bottom edge of the skirt, ironed it, then tucked the cut edge in under the fold and pressed again so that the edge would lie nice and flat when I went to sew it.  Below you can see the pressed edge, and how I sewed my hem right next to the folded-over edge. I repeated the same thing at the top edge of my tube so that all the edges were finished and would not get loose threads in the wash.

Once both the top and the bottom edges of the skirt were finished, it was time to pin on the elastic. I’d already sewn the two ends together so that it was one continuous piece. Then I pinned the elastic to the skirt first at both sides and then at the front and back. Pin so that the skirt fabric is on the outside, and the elastic is on the inside of the skirt, with as much elastic as possible sticking up above the edge of the skirt. If this is your first time using elastic in this way, you’d probably be wise to pin it in more than 4 places to make the sewing easier.

Now it’s time to sew the elastic to the waist of the skirt.  I used a straight stitch. Stretch the elastic out so that it is as long as the section of waistband onto which you are sewing it. Then begin sewing, going slowly and making sure that you’re catching both the elastic and the skirt fabric with your stitches. I set it up so that as much of the elastic as possible was above the edge of the skirt.  It feels a little tricky at first, but go slowly and you’ll get the hang of it. And really, more pins are better for your first attempt at this project. Just be sure to remove pins when you come to them, so that you don’t break a needle.

Here’s a closeup of the finished top edge of the skirt after it was sewn. As you can see, there are two rows of stitching which I tried to keep parallel as I sewed the second. One is the hem, and then the other is what attached the elastic to the top edge of the fabric. If I had sewn a little further from the edge, and sewn my second line of stitching directly on top of my first row, I’d have gotten more of a ruffled effect.

And here’s the final project on my little girl. As you can see, I wasn’t the only one delighted that I’d finally gotten around to this project.

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Like this project? Be sure to see what my daughters are doing this week. And we’d love to have you along for the ride this month too. So blog a project and join in!

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