Sunday, December 28, 2008
I was going through bills trying to wrap up the year while filling out some financial paperwork this afternoon when I made the discovery. I didn't check our usage but immediately I had a hunch what caused it. For a few months I was like a crazy woman, shutting everything off that was not being immediately used: lights, computer, everything. I admit I have become lax in the last few weeks for no particular reason, but the higher electric bill will cause me to amp up my efforts to keep the utilities down as much as possible.
The gas bill went up, but it always does in the winter since our heat is run by gas, and the electric bill is lower in the winter. This month's was only $12 higher than last month, but still, that's $12 I could spend on something else!
Friday, December 26, 2008
When I first heard of "unpaper" towels I was confused, wondering why just regular kitchen towels wouldn't work in most cases. Then it was pointed out to me that they take up way less space in the kitchen and can be used like a paper towel or a kitchen towel. That made perfect sense and I had to try it. Take a look at my stash of FOUR DOZEN here! Just two little stacks, that's it.
To make these you can use any kind of absorbent fabric, with 100 percent cotton being the best. I had some old sweat outfits that I cut up for these. They have more polyester content that what you would want for this, but they are gradually getting more absorbent as I wash them in hot water and without fabric softener. I like sweatshirts since they don't need to be sewn. I did make two with two layers of t-shirt that I sewed together. Those are much nicer since they are 100 percent cotton but of course the sewing takes extra time. As time permits I would like to make some more.
I use them for drying my hands, mopping up spills, wiping down counters, pretty much anything I'm doing in the kitchen. After use I just throw them in the washer with the towels. Very easy to use, so eco-friendly and so economical!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I made my son this pair of footies in probably about an hour this evening. I used some yarn I got from my mom and single crotched it. I'm going to make him another pair just like it so he'll have four shoes to wear.
We made these all the time for ourselves and each other. You just knit or crochet a square and then sew it up with a crochet hook. Simple, cheap, and so warm and cozy!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
T-shirt bags are a bit more green than frugal but the wonderful thing about being frugal is that it is green most of the time!
I ran across these super easy directions for making T-shirt bags and just had to try it. All you do is turn the shirt wrong side out, sew up the bottom hem, cut off the sleeves and cut a scoop out of the neck and you're done!
These bags can be used for literally anything! I have these three big ones in the picture here. The green one currently contains diapering supplies that aren't used on a daily basis. The white one most recently held little girls' clothes for an overnight visit at their cousins' house. The Winnie the Pooh bag (does anyone recognize this shirt?) is also for diaper/baby stuff since I have an official diaper bag with Winnie the Pooh on it.
My girls have several small bags, most of which my older daughter and her cousin made out of some of their own old T-shirts. Their collection of T-shirt bags consists mostly of purses and baby bags.
I keep intending to make several medium sized ones for using at the store since I do not need one more plastic bag in my house. (We are being overrun with the things.) I keep forgetting to make the bags, though, but once I ever remember I'm going to stash them in the car so they'll be there when I need them.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Here are my family's calculations as far as spending/saving on diapers goes. This is not a very precise or scientific calculation, given that my math skills aren't the greatest, but it gives a good idea of what we've been doing and shows that we have saved money with it, even though we didn't start it until very late in the game.
Okay, here goes:
DIAPER SPENDING AS OF 10.15.08
$36 for a few things from FSOT (For Sale or Trade at DiaperSwappers.com)
$10 for materials to make diapers (two flannel sheets from Goodwill and a few really big men's t-shirts from yard sales)
$10 for sewing notions (scissors, thread, pins, measuring tape, etc.)
$35 for used sewing machine at Goodwill
$20 for a new bobbin case for the machine
SINCE THEN ...
$2 for more materials (new t-shirts at yard sales and some flannel at Goodwill)
$22 for 3.5 dozen Gerber diapers
$6.50 for 1 dozen Gerber diapers
$5 (1 prefold diaper)
$5 (1 pocket diaper)
$15 (3 prefold diapers)
2 AIOs (all-in-one diapers) for a pair of sneakers
4 covers for 11 prefold diapers (this was an excellent trade BTW!)
I am going to say the “sold” and the “traded” cancels out at least the original $36 on FSOT.
I am going to take out the $10 for sewing notions since they can be/are being used for other things than sewing diapers.
I am going to take out the $35 for the machine /$20 for the new bobbin since the machine can be/is being used for other things.
That leaves my original cost of $10 for materials plus the new $30.50 for materials and diapers.
I didn't calculate in shipping costs for mailing diapers sold/traded.
I'm not putting in the cost of extra water and detergent since it is minimal (2 loads a week).
Nor am I counting the cost of my time/gas to go to my mom's to get free materials or my time to make the diapers.
That leaves me with a GRAND TOTAL of $40.50 actual cost for the diapers I'm now using! That would buy less than a month's worth of disposable diapers using a big $10 Fred's brand (our favorite brand) each week. We've been doing this for three months.
If I LEAVE IN the $10 for sewing notions plus $35/$20 for the sewing machine that gives me an actual cost increase of $65 which brings the total to $105.50, which would buy about 10 weeks worth of disposable diapers. That would bring us to about breaking even on diapers right now. We are now using probably one small $5 pack of disposable diapers every four to six weeks.
So either way we have saved/will save money! WHOOHOO!!
I expect him to be in diapers for four to six more months, and I'd also like to have another child that we would cloth diaper starting at a few months of age. If we had another one I could diaper that child pretty much for free, since I already have a size large stash and enough materials to make size small and size medium stash and plenty of Gerber diapers to supplement it.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Here is what I do:
First, I rinse wet diapers in the sink or dispose of solid waste in the toilet and then rinse off in the sink. (A shower sprayer would work better; I have this on my list of things to get since it would get double use.)
I place rinsed diapers in a pail with water and a splash of vinegar. I use plastic one-gallon ice cream buckets (great use for all those buckets we accumulate) but a larger pail would work just fine. The diapers stay in these buckets until I get ready to wash, which is every 2-4 days.
When I get ready to wash, I dump the buckets into the washing machine and do a cold rinse. Then I add detergent, fill the washer with hot water by starting the wash cycle and let the diapers soak for a while. If I need to whiten and further disinfect my diapers I add a little hydrogen peroxide, about half a cup or so. I use a few drops of tea tree oil on occasion.
My detergent recipe is one bar of grated up Ivory soap, 2 cups borax, and 2 cups washing soda. Store in an airtight container and use one teaspoon to one tablespoon depending on load size. You don't need a lot of detergent to wash your diapers especially if you have rinsed the diapers off as soon as they come off the baby.
When the regular wash and rinse finishes I rerinse with about a half a cup of vinegar and then dry in the dryer without a dryer sheet. You don't use a dryer sheet on your diapers because dryer sheets coat your clothing and reduce absorbency.
Here is another slightly different method of caring for cloth diapers, from the book "Organic Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck. (My method is very similar to hers, I was delighted to discover.)
Managing the Messy End of the Diaper Cycle
1. Half fill the diaper pail with warm water and add half a cup of borax. The borax will help reduce odors and staining. Or if your baby is having trouble with diaper rash, soak the diapers in water with a couple cups white vinegar instead of the borax and water. The vinegar will help kill the bacteria that can cause diaper rash.
2. Rinse out the urine and scrape the solid waste into the toilet before putting diapers into the diaper pail.
3. When the diaper pail is full, drain as much of the water as possible into the toilet, and lug the pail to the laundry room.
4. Put the diapers into the washing machine, and set the dial to the heaviest wash cycle and the hottest water setting. If your machine has a separate setting for the spin cycle you may want to use it to spin the excess liquid out of the diapers before starting the wash cycle.
5. Soap can leave a residue that may irritate baby's skin. Use a gentle unscented detergent. For the sake of the baby's future, try to choose a detergent that is biodegradable and phosphate free. For the sake of the baby's skin, try to choose a detergent that is free of fragrances, dyes, bleaches, and brighteners.
6. Add one cup vinegar to the final rinse cycle.
7. Dry the diapers using the cotton setting of the dryer.
8. If your baby is having problems with diaper rash, try drying the diapers outdoors in the sun. Sunlight is a very strong disinfectant.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
A very easy way to make a diaper cover is to get an old fleece blanket and use the Rita's Rump Pocket diaper pattern like I did with the covers in the photo. I just sewed up the part that you would leave open if it were a diaper. I put elastic in that spot before I sewed it up.
These covers could have velcro on them but I left them without closures and I use pins to close them. That way I can get a custom fit every time.
Here is another pattern for a fleece cover:
How to sew a pull-on fleece cover
I have not used this pattern but it looks very easy. You could find more by searching "fleece diaper covers" or something like that.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Rita's Rump Pocket diaper pattern
I took some photos as I was making one of these and posted them in my favorite diaper message board.
Sewing a Rita's Rump Pocket diaper -- photo tutorial
Her directions are very easy but sometimes it is good to have photos you can look at.
The pattern calls for two layers of cotton so I used some old flannel shirts and other cotton fabrics to make our pocket diapers. It doesn't have closures like snaps or velcro on it so you can pin them to get a good fit every time. Some people like to use different fabrics for them and add closures. You can basically make this diaper any way you want; I found that I love it according to the pattern.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
How to make a prefold diaper from T-shirts and scraps
How to make a prefold diaper from one T-shirt
How to make a 10-minute prefold
How to make a prefold with two large pieces of fabric
How to make a prefold the "real way"
I have used the top one most; it is the pattern I used to make the diapers in the photo. I have also used the second pattern and really like it. I have two diapers made from the third pattern and I recommend using a stretchy fabric with it and with the fourth.
There are other patterns on the Internet; just search "sew cloth diapers" or something like that and you will find lots of links. These links I have posted here use mostly recycled materials like old clothing since that is how I like to make my diapers but there are many other patterns with other fabric choices out there.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The Plushy Penguin Prefolds that live with us now. They were pillowcases and a couple of t-shirts yesterday.
We have a new family of six Plushy Penguin Prefolds that have come to live with us!
They cost $1.50 (actually less) plus an hour of my time to make.
The kids and I went yard saling yesterday afternoon and for 50 cents each I got two king size super plushy penguin pillowcases! I got two diapers each out of the pillowcases for a total of four penguin PFs made with that style. The fabric is so plushy that I just used the two layers already there without sewing anything in the middle.
With the scraps and a couple of t-shirts for 25 cents each, I made two embellished penguin PFs.
Now we have a set of six beautiful and super soft and plushy penguin PFs!
(I promise I'm just about finished talking about sewing diapers if my two or three readers are terribly tired of hearing about them!)
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The yummy soft and squishy diaper set I made to trade with another cloth diapering mama who sews her own diapers from recycled materials!
Finally I got to make some girly diapers! I'm doing a trade with a mama from DiaperSwappers.com and I made up this set of four soft and squishy diapers for her. They are so little, 10x12, for her baby-to-be, much smaller than the big 13x16s I've been making for my son.
They are made from some flannel and old t-shirts my mom gave me.
For my end of the trade, I'm getting two Mickey Mouse prefolds made from an old bed sheet and two blue and brown flannel diapers made with a single strip of fabric each with the 10-minute prefold pattern! I'm so excited, and I'm so glad to trade with her. She and I have similar diapering philosophies -- it's supposed to be simple and cheap. Like myself, she has made her entire stash with recycled materials.
When I get my new diapers I'll show off her work.
Monday, November 3, 2008
The baby's new diaper set, made from one super-soft flannel shirt and some t-shirts.
The baby has a yummy new diaper set today thanks to my purchase of a 25 cent flannel shirt (huge and the softest flannel shirt I've ever felt) and a few t-shirts this weekend and a sewing marathon of sorts last night.
He's got a prefold diaper, a flat diaper, two pocket diapers, and two inserts, all with a yummy soft green flannel pattern.
I did a couple of slightly different things with this set of diapers. For the PF, I used two different color t-shirts for the body; black on the outside and white on the inside. That was because I ran out of enough t-shirts. For the pockets, I used three layers (two flannel and one t-shirt) instead of just two layers of flannel. That too, was improvising because I wanted to make two pockets with the two sleeves, but didn't have enough flannel for two inner layers. Well, I should say boyish flannel. I have a bunch of flannel with little green rosebuds on it that my mom gave me. So I put the rosy flannel on the inside with the plaid flannel on the outside and a layer of t-shirt next to the baby's skin. That extra layer makes the diapers so much softer. They only take slightly longer to dry as they are a tad damp at the elastic coming out of the dryer.
I have another piece of flannel for another PF but I thought I was out of t-shirts. I have a few thin white ones but one of them might work. Who knows what I might find if I go digging around in my fabric box.
I washed diapers yesterday morning but had to do another load last night to get all these clean. They are ready for him this morning!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Some of the pocket diapers I've made.
The pocket diapers I've made using the Rita's Rump Pockets pattern are just so stinkin' cute! I made a baker's dozen with these fabrics, mostly plaid since that seems to be the pattern of men's flannel shirts! The green plaid on the bottom left was a sheet, and the off-white gender-neutral fabric on the top left was a sheet. I used the off-white fabric inside all the plaid diapers except the green one.
Now I need some more shirts and sheets to make some more. Not only are they cute, they are easy to sew, easy to use, and they work great!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Our diaper stash! Inserts (clockwise from top left), flats, prefolds to use as inserts, pocket diapers, and prefolds!
We now have a complete diaper stash, and almost all of it I made!
We have a dozen prefolds made from flannel shirts and sheets and old t-shirts.
We have a dozen pocket diapers made from two flannel sheets and a couple of flannel shirts.
We have two dozen inserts/doublers, made from flannel and t-shirts.
We have a dozen and a half flannel flats. Half of them I made from flannel and the other half are flannel baby blankets.
To round things out we have eight or so cheap prefolds that I use for inserts/doublers.
We also have a few other assorted things like fitted diapers, covers, and all-in-one diapers that I bought from a few mamas on DiaperSwappers.com.
I am going to make a few fleece covers for when it gets colder but I'm not worried about that right now.
I'm proud of our stash and glad I started doing this. We will be saving money by cloth diapering and we have saved even more with me making everything from recycled materials. It's also nice to know that I've made something practical for the baby.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Aren't these precious?
We now have a dozen of those adorable pocket diapers I posted about a few days ago!
I have been sewing on them the past few days and finally have them finished.
I used two different sheets I bought at Goodwill for $3 each to sew them with the FREE Rita's Rump Pocket pattern. I got tons of diapers out of those two sheets plus lots of doublers/inserts.
These diapers are two layers of flannel with elastic around the edge and an opening to insert doublers. The pattern calls for pinning the wings but some mamas put snaps or velcro on them. We are still pinning them but I may put velcro on a few to make it easy for daddy.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I've spent $111.
$36 for a few things from FSOT (For Sale or Trade at DiaperSwappers.com)
$10 for materials to make diapers (two flannel sheets from Goodwill and a few really big men's t-shirts from yard sales)
$10 for sewing notions (scissors, thread, pins, measuring tape, etc.)
$35 for used sewing machine at Goodwill
$20 for a new bobbin case for the machine
And a lot of my time, which is priceless!
I got most of my materials for free from my mom and she has a lot more for me to make some more diapers if I want.
I have made sure that all of the materials I've used are being recycled with nothing bought new for this project. Of the few things that I've bought from Diaper Swappers, they were all mama-made and had a life before coming to live with us.
We have enough for 3-3.5 days right now but I wash every two days because I can't stand dirty things laying around even if they are well contained in my presoak buckets (also recycled, they are one-gallon ice cream buckets). He still wears disposable diapers at night and sometimes on the weekends when his dad changes him.
These will last him through the next few months. At 18 months, he's got at least six more months in diapers, but being that he's a boy (they are hard to potty train) he may be in diapers longer.
If we'd started this earlier we could have saved more money but you can't think of everything.
Friday, October 17, 2008
A dozen t-shirt/flannel prefolds (mama-made by me out of old t-shirts and flannel shirts, and the green plaid is a sheet I bought from Goodwill)
Receiving blankets used for flats and flannel flats cut from the back of men's shirts
Pocket diapers I just made with the Rita's Rump Pockets pattern out of sheets I bought from Goodwill
Cheap Gerber prefolds and t-shirt/flannel inserts/doublers
We have a few other assorted things, a few fitted diapers and AIOs (all-in-ones, they have a cover on them) we don't use a whole lot, and of course there was the dirty flat and doubler, and the flat and doubler on the bum while I was taking these photos.
I'm going to make a couple more pockets to make it an even half dozen and then make a couple of fleece covers.
Our cloth diaper stash is small on purpose since I'm trying to save us some money with this.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The four pocket diapers I've made. Made of two layers of flannel and elasticized legs, the fit is great!
I've been sewing t-shirt prefolds and went through all the t-shirts I had on hand. I had the Rita's Rump Pocket pattern that I wanted to try. It's a diaper made of two layers of flannel and elasticized legs. You stuff it with prefolds, inserts, etc. for absorption.
I haven't had time to sew in a week, and then when I sat down to do it late last night I had scissor issues (very dull all of a sudden) and my very old sewing machine was having no parts of sewing any elastic or anything else for that matter. It hadn't sewn in a week and so it had to warm up, then the needle broke, and then it just plain hated the elastic. But I kept going and ended up with two pockets. I didn't make any more last night because I wanted to try the fit to see if there needed to be any adjustments. They fit perfectly so I made two more today.
The pattern calls for longer back wings and using pins to close. I made the wings not quite so long because of the size fabric I had. We are pinning for now but I think I'm going to try putting velcro on the next one I make. That would make diaper changing so fast!
My sewing is rudimentary at best but it's working and the second diaper looks much better than the first.
The elastic is kicking my butt on these. My sewing machine is old and cantankerous (like an old cat) and she hates elastic. The thread breaks repeatedly while I'm sewing elastic. I think I'll make a couple more to make an even half dozen of these and quit this, and find something else to sew that she likes better.
The open diaper (the first one of four I made)
Stuffed with a Gerber prefold and a mama-made by me t-shirt and flannel doubler (waiting for some love)
And lastly, here is the second one I made being modeled by the resident diaper model (who greatly approved).
I have to say that as soon as I took these pics the diaper MODEL turned into a diaper TESTER and put his new dipe to the ultimate test. I'm proud to say it held up very well.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Here's how I've been using them:
* The back: Flat diapers. Tthe backs are probably big enough for fitted diapers, too.
* Two front panels: Stripes for the backs of prefold diapers. A beautiful black and white plaid was used on the diaper in the photo.
* Sleeves: Soakers, an extra few layers on top of the diaper for absorption. I've been sewing old T-shirts inside.
* Scraps: Wipes, handkerchiefs, etc.
I'm getting better at fully utilizing all of the fabric in the shirts, which is good because flannel is so wonderfully soft and absorbent!
Share your ideas for old flannel shirts!
Monday, October 13, 2008
The "green" set ... four prefolds, two flats, and the solid green thing is an insert for more absorption. The green plaid all came from a flannel sheet that I bought from Goodwill. There is still over half of the sheet left so I am going to try to make a different kind of diaper with what is left. The bodies of these diapers and all of the ones that I have made are old T-shirts that came mostly from boxes of old clothes at my parents' house.
The "blue and orange" set ... three prefolds, a reversible "pocket" for a prefold, and an insert! All of the plaid came from an old flannel shirt that I pulled from one of my mom's many yard sale piles this past weekend. The shirt was my dad's, I think.
My favorite, the "black and white" set ... two prefolds and a flat. The flannel came from a shirt that someone gave my husband. Since I took this picture I made a soaker insert with the black plaid. The insert has an old T-shirt of mine folded up and sewn inside of it.
The "red and white" set ... a flat, a prefold, and an insert! The flannel came from a shirt I got out of one of my mom's yard sale piles last weekend. I made another insert after I took this picture.
This set is just a lone prefold and insert. The plaid came from a shirt that my sisters wore in high school. (I need a picture of that!)
I wasn't intending to make "sets" but it just happened since I was using the same shirts to make different diapers.
Now I'm tired of sewing and washing diapers so I think I'll give it a rest for a while.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Here is a set of prefold diapers I made the other night. The orange one has a pocket on the flannel stripe, but it's kind of hard to see. I think I'll sew a button on it so you can see it better.
Since I got my sewing machine fixed earlier in the week I've been busy making the baby more diapers. I'd like him to have enough to last for 2.5-3 days. I think we just about have that now.
He's wearing prefolds and flats that I made for him from old flannel shirts and old t-shirts, and a few others that I bought from a few mamas at DiaperSwappers.com. The ones I bought were all made by mamas as well. I'm proud of the fact that I've made something for him, that we can save a lot of money with them, that I recycled materials to make them, and that the ones I bought were all made by mamas like me who sewed them to save money.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I found a wonderful tutorial about how to make diapers from old t-shirts at the DiaperSwappers.com forum and thought it was something I could do easily. I went to my mom's and collected up some old flannel shirts, old t-shirts, and a sewing machine, which is actually a high end embroidery machine that belonged to my grandmother.
I made all of a half-dozen prefolds and a half dozen flats before the machine shut down after three days. I took it in to the shop and they discovered some nicks in the bobbin case. That's $85 to look at it plus whatever for a new case for a total cost of around $150. Plus the machine would be in the shop for two weeks.
A few days passed by and I was trying not to go crazy without a machine, and my mom didn't have another one to loan me. Plus I wanted a very basic one that I could keep on hand, since I'm giving my grandmother's back to her when it gets out of the shop. I went to Goodwill on Sunday and picked up a very basic old White model for $35. It's just like (or very similar to) the one I used to sew my clothes on in high school.
I got it home and it had no bobbin case!
I can return it within 15 days for an exchange but I WANT THE MACHINE, I WANT TO SEW! (Blast it all.)
My mom thought she had a bobbin case to fit it but she's 30 minutes away. I took it down to the shop and bought a case for $20. So now we're up to $55 on THIS money-saving deal.
I got it back home, put the case on it, and then the needle wouldn't go up and down! I didn't have that problem before I put the bobbin case in there.
I called the shop and told them what was happening, and they said it sounded like something (a belt maybe) could be slipping and to bring it on back so they can take a look at it! She said it didn't have anything to do with the bobbin case although the needle and everything was going up and down just fine before.
I took it back in to the shop, not very hopeful by now that I can ever get anything sewn.
It turned out that I had shoved the bobbin case in too hard and that was what was keeping it from working. The man at the sewing machine shop took it out and took the case workings out and put them back in and didn't charge me for it.
I brought the machine back home, plugged it up, and held my breath.
IT WORKED! IT WORKED!
The tension was a little bit messed up but was working.
I've made several more diapers since I got the last problem fixed. The tension problem seemed to have worked its way out.
I've still got a lot more sewing to do to make up for the $55 I spent on the machine. I know that's not much to spend on a working machine but I was thinking I could sew for free. (Silly me.) I am also going to try to see if I can find a better price on getting my grandmother's machine fixed.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Right now I'm still in the process of sewing diapers for the baby.
My daughter and niece want to learn to sew on it and this one is a good one for that. They've already been helping me stitch around flat diapers.
This machine is just like the one I used to make my clothes when I was a teenager.
Monday, October 6, 2008
My $14 Goodwill/yard sale haul from last week
A few days ago I hit Goodwill and a yard sale in search of mainly things for my diaper-sewing project I last posted about. For around $14 I got all the stuff in this photo plus a few more things:
Flannel sheet, $3
Four large men's T-shirts in very gently used condition, 50 cents each, $2 total
Dress for my daughter, $3
Baggie of sewing essentials like thread, needles, elastics, thimble, etc., $2
Yarn, crochet hook, and a beautiful strip of a crochet something that my daughter loves as a stole, $2
Bible with tabs for all the books, $1
Brand new (of course) Estee Lauder lip gloss and matching (somehow) Avon nail polish, 50 cents each, $1 total
What a haul! I had hoped to find more sewing supplies at Goodwill but they were rather low the other day. I was thrilled with the flannel sheet, though.
I just love Goodwill and all the great yard sales around here. They are held every single weekend here where we live now. You can get a lot of very gently used items for very little money, and that sure helps!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I have not cloth diapered my children up until now but it's not foreign to me since I helped cloth diaper several younger siblings. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it until now for my own kids, but better late than never.
I did some research on the Internet and found the best and easiest directions on the Diaper Swappers forum. I decided I would use one for a prefold, which is a flat diaper that is already the size it needs to be, with a strip of thicker fabric going down the middle. This is what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers.
I started scrounging around the house for old flannel shirts and T-shirts, and came up with quite a few. I went to my mom's house and collected a sewing machine, some old T-shirts, lots of flannel and other cotton fabric scraps, and a few other essentials like thread and bobbins. I stopped by Goodwill and bought a flannel sheet for $3, and gathered a bag of thread and other sewing things at a yard sale.
The back of a man's large flannel shirt works great for a flat diaper, which is just a piece of flat flannel (or whatever cotton fabric is used) that you fold into the shape you need. I cut out a few flats from a couple of flannel shirts and a few out of the flannel sheet. My son really loves the feel of the flannel flats and so do I. For extra protection I lay a prefold on top of the flat and fold the flat around it.
I made some prefolds next, using old men's large T-shirts as the front and back, a strip of flannel down the middle on the outside (that helps keep the cotton jersey from stretching too much and is just cute) and some of my brothers' old folded up wife-beaters to stuff the middle section.
For someone who hasn't sewn anything other than mending the last 20 years or so, the diapers turned out great! They work really well and are holding up really well. The machine broke before I could make enough to last longer than one day, though.
There are all kinds of other diaper styles that you can make, and I want to try to make a few other styles. I'm not going to make a lot of them, since my son is (hopefully) just months away from potty training.
Whether you buy them or make them, cloth diapers are an investment up front, but you can greatly reduce the cost by making them yourself out of old clothing and sheets. I spent about $10 on the sheet plus supplies like thread, scissors, pins, and stuff like that. So far I've gotten about 10 diapers out of it with enough fabric scraps and old clothing to make a whole lot more.
We are still using disposable diapers for nighttime and when we leave the house, but our disposable stash is moving a lot slower than it used to. Hooray!
A prefold diaper I made from a couple of my old T-shirts and an old flannel shirt someone gave us.
Three prefold diapers I made from old T-shirts, a flannel sheet, and a pair of old flannel pajamas.
Three flat diapers I made from a couple of old flannel shirts and a flannel sheet. You saw the black and white check pattern on a prefold in the first picture. This is my favorite pattern so far and it came from an old flannel shirt that someone gave us. You saw the green and blue check pattern in the second photo. This came from a flannel sheet I bought at Goodwill for $3. I'll have a lot of diapers with this pattern before it's all over.
Saving the best for last, here is my son modeling his favorite diaper (mine too), a flannel flat cut from the back of an old shirt. It's so soft and comfy and he looks so adorable in it.
Friday, October 3, 2008
(The links at the bottom of the article appear to be dead but they must be included with the article since I am reprinting it. The information contained in the article is still very valuable!)
The Benefits Of Natural Cleaning
by Lisa Fraley
There are benefits if you use a homemade natural cleaning product instead of a chemically laden commercial one.
Making your own cleaning product doesn't consume a lot of time and it is inexpensive too. How long does it take to fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, water and a few drops of essential oil? About a minute or two.
Once it's done you have an appliance and glass cleaner that's natural and chemical free.
Commercial cleaners can be very expensive and the prices are rising. Homemade alternatives cost only pennies to make and you don't need to use as much.
Most homemade natural formulas are multi-purpose so you will need less space to store cleaning products. This is a big help for those of us who are limited on storage space.
You can be creative with your packaging too. Wash out those old containers that use to store the commercial products and reuse them to store your homemade natural products instead. Store car and wood polishes in recycled coffee tins (the kind with the plastic lid). For your homemade powder cleansers reuse sprinkle top plastic containers (bulk spices come in these).
Essential oils are available in health food stores and you can find them online also. Be sure you are buying pure, undiluted oil and not one that has been diluted with carrier oil. Store your oils away from heat and light to keep them potent for the longest amount of time. The bottle will come with a dropper and that is what you use to measure how much you put into your cleaners. Essential oils can irritate the skin and must be diluted with either carrier oil or other liquid before use.
Here is a list of oils and herbs to have on hand if you are just starting out:
Citrus (sweet orange or lemon)
Wintergreen (take extra care when handling this oil)
Thyme - antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral
Rosemary - antibacterial
Basil - anti-fungal
Mint - antibacterial
Oregano - antibiotic, antiviral
Lavender - antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal
Lemon Balm - antiviral
Sage - antibacterial
Here are a few natural cleaning product recipes you may be able to make right now. The ingredients are common items you may already have on hand.
Herbal Sink Scrub
? cup baking soda
? cup coarsely ground sage leaves
? cup ground rosemary leaves
Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and blend together by shaking. Sprinkle a small amount into the sink and scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse the sink well. Use only whole dried sage and rosemary leaves.
? cup baking soda
Juice from half a lemon
Sprinkle the baking soda directly on the rust stain. Sprinkle the baking soda with lemon juice. Let set undisturbed no stain overnight. Wipe away baking soda and rinse thoroughly.
No Scrub Toilet Bowl Cleanser
1 cup borax
1 cup vinegar
Combine both in a plastic bowl or bottle and pour all at once into the toilet bowl. Allow it to sit overnight and in the morning just flush. This works great for toilets that have an everlasting ring around them. By morning even the toughest stains will be gone!
Laundry Fabric Softener
6 cups of white vinegar
1 cup of water
1 cup of baking soda
Combine all ingredients into a plastic container (heavy duty). Only takes 1 cup in your rinse cycle per load for wonderfully soft clothes. If you want to scent this, simply add about 15 drops of your favorite citrus essential oil.
Lisa Fraley is the author of "Frugal Comes In Green." An e-book packed with earth friendly ways you can have more money for the things you want. http://www.home-works-enterprises.ws/frugal-comes-in-green-ebook.html
She is the owner of Home Works Natural Skin And Body Care. Where you can purchase natural products for the natural you. http://www.home-works-enterprises.ws
Visit Lisa's natural product blog for articles, tips, do-it-yourself recipes and more. http://www.all-natural-products.info.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I joined Frugal Hacks and the 600 or so blogs on the list. I spend a little time each day checking out a few of the blogs on the blogroll and have found some great ones.
If you have a blog related to frugality be sure to join and get the blogroll, too. If not, just enjoy all the blogs!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
My blog I Hate the Kitchen is full of recipes and ideas for feeding the family on the cheap. It is pretty much my online collection of recipes that we have made up, tried, and will try in the very near future. I prepare a lot of meals with a very limited amount of time and fixings on hand, but they usually turn out pretty good. Either that or I have hungry kids who will just about eat anything!
Check it out and let me know what you do to cook on the cheap!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
What are some things that your family does to cut costs and tread lightly on the earth?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saving money in the baby's/children's room
* Use cloth diapers. They are an investment initially but that's all there is to buy other than the laundry detergent to clean them. I have not done this with my own until now, but helped cloth diaper several younger siblings. You can sew your own out of old flannel shirts and T-shirts and reduce your cost to almost nothing. Here are the directions for a couple of styles.
* If you aren't that adventurous, try store brand diapers. My favorite are at Fred's. The tabs and elastic back are unbeatable and I like the fact that there are no dyes or fragrances. A large package costs only $9.99, and sometimes they are on sale for $8.99. Kroger (Comforts brand) and Wal-Mart (Parent's Choice brand) also carry quality store brand diapers.
* Use baby washcloths in lieu of baby wipes at home. This works wonderfully. I have a stack of store-bought baby washcloths that were given to us before the baby was born that I use for cleaning up after dirty diapers.
* Use cloth to wipe little runny noses and wash dirty little hands and faces. I have a separate set of cloths that we use for this. My mom and I have made all of these from old T-shirts and thin baby blankets.
* Use soaps, shampoos, and lotions for the entire family rather than purchasing separate products for the baby. Baby products are expensive, contain fragrances and other chemicals, and for us, they just don't work! We have a couple of little ones with eczema/sensitive skin so we must be careful what we use, but white Lever 2000 soap is great for everyone. We also order our soap, shampoo, and lotion products from a wellness company called Melaleuca. The entire family uses their white bar soap, herbal shampoo, and Renew lotion.
* Recycle plastic shopping bags by using them to dispose of dirty diapers.
* Shop for kids' clothes at yard sales and secondhand stores like Goodwill. You can also pass clothes around with family and friends.
* Get LED nightlights ($1 at most dollar stores) instead of leaving a lamp or even worse, the bathroom light, on all night.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Saving money in the bathroom
* Take short showers. Don't brush your teeth in there.
* Make sure the little kids run just a little bit of water in the tub. For babies, use the kitchen sink (or a baby bathtub) instead of the tub for bathing.
* Use hair conditioner (or a cheap shampoo plus conditioner) to shave your legs. You already have it, it's cheaper than shaving cream, and it provides a much better barrier between your legs and the razor.
* Don't run water down the sink while you brush your teeth.
* Clean the toilet, sink, and tub with natural cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and borax.
* Mop the floor with a little vinegar in hot water.
Baking soda has tons of beauty uses:
* Brushing your teeth. Use it plain or mixed with hydrogen peroxide.
* Washing/exfoliating your face. Use it plain or mixed with a very small amount of facial cleanser.
* Washing your hair. Use it plain or mixed with a very small amount of shampoo. I usually use it with shampoo.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Saving money in the laundry room
* Make your own laundry detergent. Here's my recipe, and some other recipes as well.
* Use vinegar in the rinse cycle to boost detergent. You need less detergent when you use vinegar. It can also be used in lieu of fabric softener, again used in the washing machine. I just put a half a cup or so in when I start the water. The clothes come out clean and very fresh.
* Baking soda can also be used as a detergent booster. It also freshens clothes, gets rid of odors, and lets you use less detergent.
* Wash in the cooler part of the day, early in the morning especially. Electricity is less expensive then.
* Wash in cold water, at least the clothes. I sometimes wash towels and linens in hot, just to be sure.
* If you use fabric softener, use only half a sheet with clothes and none with towels.
* Hang your clothes, towels, linens, etc., out to dry.
* If you don't have a clothes line (I don't; I'm working on that) you can dry at least your linens and blankets by tossing them over chairs, bunk beds, the exercise machine, etc.
* Clean out the lint collector after every use and scrub it with soap and a toothbrush every couple of weeks or so. Stuff off of fabric softener sheets builds up and air can't get through.
* Keep the outside vent clear of lint. We learned this the hard way. We got rid of two probably perfectly fine secondhand dryers because they wouldn't dry our clothes. Turns out the outside vent was clogged with lint.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Saving money in the kitchen
* Run a sinkful of water for rinsing dishes instead of running the water.
* Make your own dishwashing detergent. It can be used to clean just about anything, not just the dishes.
* Use baking soda for removing stuck-on food, counter stains, and everything in between.
* Use a diluted vinegar spray for wiping down the counters, cleaning off the stove, etc.
* Mop the floor with a cup or so of vinegar in a sink of hot water.
* Recycle those mesh bags that produce like apples and onions come in. They are great for scrubbing pots and dishes and are much cheaper and cleaner than scrubbing sponges.
* Use your leftover coffee grounds! Just add half the amount of fresh grounds you normally use to the leftover grounds. If you normally use two scoops of fresh, just add one scoop of fresh to the leftover grounds. You can do this at least once with the leftovers.
* Make baby food so much cheaper and healthier with a food processor, blender, or just mashing it up. At first you may want to cook her food separately but later on you can just mash up what everyone else is eating. If she isn't going to eat it right then, freeze it in portions in baby food jars.
* Save chicken stock, meat broth, etc. and freeze it for use later. It's wonderful for cooking rice, pasta, and soup.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Saving money in the entire house
* Adjust the thermostat to over 75 in the summer and under 68 in the winter. You probably want to change the temperature a degree at a time over the span of about a week. Spot cool with fans; spot heat with portable heaters. You'll see savings on your very next bill.
* Turn the attic fan on anytime it's cooler outside instead of running the air conditioner.
* Keep the windows covered in the summer to keep sunlight out. Open the curtains/blinds in the winter to let warm sunlight in.
* Turn off lights when no one is using them. Don't turn them on unless you have to.
* Turn off and unplug things like the computer when they aren't in use.
* Use natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, washing soda and borax to clean everything. They're much easier on your skin, nose, environment, and of course, your pocketbook. Plus, they clean better than harmful commercial cleaners. Here are some recipes for homemade cleaners and homemade laundry soap.
* Use florescent light bulbs. They're cheaper than they used to be and are more readily available. We put them in when we moved in this house over two years ago and haven't had to change any of them.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Coming up over the next several days are some easy tips for saving money at home, room by room. They have been tested by me personally, and most of these ideas are also environmentally-friendly as an added bonus.
Check back tomorrow and be sure to share your money-saving ideas!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
* Set up an email address that is strictly for free sample requests. You shouldn't get spammed but sometimes to get the free sample you sign up to get a newsletter, too. Some of the free sample sites I visit (see below) offer a newsletter that you'll want to subscribe to as well. Some request forms require you to confirm your request before you can receive it so don't forget to check your free sample email every few days. Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and Mail.com are just a few excellent free email services. Yahoo now has the Ymail and Rocketmail domains, and Hotmail now has Live. Mail.com has an endless variety of domains including Email.com, USA.com, and many others.
* Set up an Internet phone number. I use AIM Phoneline. It's free and you can either take the call or let it go to voicemail. You almost always have to enter a phone number and most people aren't comfortable with giving out their landline or cell phone number.
* Download either the Google toolbar with AutoFill or RoboForm for one-click form-filling. I was filling out forms line by line until I realized that I didn't have to. You just download the program and then go in there and put as much or as little information as you want. I just entered the information that is typically asked on a free sample form: name, address, email, phone number, and birthdate. When you open a form for a free sample, simply click the AutoFill box or RoboForm identity box and presto, the form is filled out for you.
* Bookmark some great free sample sites and visit them every day:
Mommy Jobs freebie board (This is my Internet home; I post links to most of the samples I send off for here)
Frugal Inspiration (The best freebie board I've seen on the Internet; she has categorized all the freebies)
My Savings (They list new additions and user favorites)
Free Sample Forager (A great freebie blog)
My Precious Pennies (A sidebar listing of freebies I haven't seen anywhere else)
Walmart.com (Go to "In stores now" and then "free samples")
Money Saving WAHM (That's this blog. I post links to samples I've received and will soon start posting links to ones I've requested.)
Most of these sites don't make anything from posting links to free samples, so be sure to visit one of their advertising sponsors while you are there!
Happy free sample requesting!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Fiber one cereal and bar
Coromega Omega-3 fish oil supplement
Playtex Gentle Glide (different sample)
Splenda coffee flavors
Head and Shoulders shampoo and conditioner
I've also received a double sample of Cascade gel packs and a full-size Mr. Clean eraser from Wal-Mart, but those are gone now. Here's a link to a free mini Mr. Clean eraser:
Mini Mr. Clean eraser (I just sent for this so I don't have it yet)
If you like getting samples, check these free sample sites every few days! All of the samples placed on these sites are 100 percent free with no strings attached.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Here is the link to the free kit along with links to some other great samples I've received recently!
Free diabetic kit
I am still waiting on a couple of other different diabetic samples. Here are the links.
One Touch meter
Unistik lancing device
I found these great diabetic samples in my daily searches for free samples. Get some to have on hand if you or a friend or loved one is diabetic.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Save your leftover coffee grounds and use them to make the next pot of coffee!
When you make a pot of coffee, save the grounds until the next time you make coffee. Put half the amount of fresh coffee grounds that you normally use in with the leftover grounds. For instance, if you use two scoops of fresh grounds, place one scoop of fresh grounds on top of the leftover grounds. Brew the coffee with the same amount of water you normally use.
You can't taste the difference, or at least I can't!
You can do this at least once and I've even used the leftover grounds twice.
(If I could just cut back on the amount of sugar and creamer I use I'd really be saving some money.)
What are some ways you like to use your leftover coffee grounds?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
It does me. Or, it did. Now I just break out the scissors and solve the problem.
Just cut the tube in half! You'll be very surprised at how much is still in the tube, even after not one more drop will squeeze out.
Store the tube halves in a plastic zipper seal bag, or put the cut ends together, one inside the other. I like to use the plastic bags since no air gets in to dry out the toothpaste or whatever it is.
Monday, September 15, 2008
You may be familiar with the actual Freecycle, where you get on the Internet at www.freecycle.org, join a group in your area and offer and receive things completely free of charge with no strings attached. It's a wonderful way to recycle; I've written a few pieces about it for newspapers in my area.
The more informal version is what most people think of as "putting things out on the side of the road." You know, for the city to pick up. It turns out that here in the "big city," household items get picked up at the curb once a week, and people put out some great stuff that is still useable and in good condition.
The secret is stopping right when you see it because if you keep going and say you'll get it when you come back, it will not be there. Not even if you come back in 30 minutes.
On my way to pick up the girls from school one afternoon last week I spotted this plastic drawer cart on the side of the road. I stopped, backed up, and got out and checked it out. I determined it to be free of pests and cleanable, so I stowed it in the back of the van. After we got home I set it outside and cleaned it with some of my homemade cleaner (half borax, half washing soda, about a teaspoon or so in a half a bucket of water). I haven't decided what I'm going to put in it yet.
We have plucked a chair, a vacuum cleaner, a bicycle, and other great items off the side of the road. We are still using all of them. My sister, who lives in another city, snagged a baby changing table that I used to store the baby's clothes and necessities for a while. We've also grabbed a few things that didn't work, so out to our curb they went.
We aren't just on the taking end of this "roadside Freecycle." We've put loads of good working items that we just didn't care to keep anymore out on our curb. Things like televisions, computer monitor, a desk, stove, dishwasher, etc. All of them were useable and just required a bit of tinkering. My sister-in-law was only too happy to grab a television and a desk that I had set out on the side of the road. She happily watches the TV set in her bedroom while her kids play on a computer that is perched on top of the desk she scooped up. We saw the stove in a secondhand store. The poor dishwasher and the monitor sat out on the side of the road until the city came by after it.
If your city picks up household items once a week, keep on the lookout for good finds! (You might want to join the real Freecycle, too.)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I think we can really reduce the electric bill with less dryer use. Turning the thermostat down made some difference so I'm positive about the dryer. I don't think it'll have much impact with me just draping the bedding around the house to dry and still using the dryer for towels and clothes. Until I get a clothes line I'm going to continue draping the bedding around the house and the towels, too.
Friday, September 12, 2008
My Goodwill finds for the week! Quite a load of useful stuff for just $32.
Goodwill is an excellent place to find gently used items of all types for really cheap! I shop there often for clothes for my kids and myself, and I find great household items there too.
This week I've been there twice! For $32 here's what I got:
* Girl's bike in great condition -- $8
* Electric skillet in great condition -- $8 (we were just saying we needed another one)
* School outfit, top and bottom -- about $2 each piece
* Three-piece dress outfit (I got the pieces from three different racks, a skirt, top and wrap) -- about $2 each piece
* Two pairs of barely worn girls' shoes (they're too big for anyone right now but with as many girls as I have it won't be long before someone can wear them) -- $2 each
* Lunch box, brand new -- $1.50
* Few other little assorted things (hair rubber bands, etc.) -- $2.30 in total
These things were all in excellent condition and will get lots of use at my house!
Goodwill's prices are a bit more than what you would pay at a yard sale but then again you don't have to wait until the weekend or sort through piles of stuff that probably should have been thrown away!
Sometimes I go into Goodwill looking for certain things and come back out with them. Sometimes I'm looking for something and leave with things totally different. And sometimes I just go in there to see what treasures I can find!