Let me begin this post by stating that I am NOT a seamstress. I know only one or two settings on my sewing machine and can make a moderately straight stitch by hand, but only if forced. Sewing is just not my thing. I'm more of an iron-on hem tape kind of gal. These people that can throw together aprons or kids' Halloween costumes like it's nothing simply astound me. But fear not! A lack of skill in this case is not a deal-breaker. You too, can create simple items that will aid in your sense of self-worth and frugality. (Cue late-night infomercial music.)
One thing that was glaringly evident as I started down the path away from consumerism is just how dependent I was on it. There are so many simple things in our homes that we never even consider making ourselves. Take curtains, for instance. They are really just two straight panels of fabric with one end folded over for the curtain rod to slide through. Yet when it came to decorating my baby's nursery, I spent many fruitless hours scouring the internet for something I liked. Once the realization hit that I could ::gasp:: make them myself, it took less than one hour to visit the fabric store, pick out a pattern, hem the edges with the sewing machine (on the settings indicated in the manual for your everyday straight stitch, nothing fancy here), iron and hang it up. Not only did I now have exactly what I want, but I get the satisfaction of knowing that I made them with my own hands. Unique, one-of-a-kind curtains for my little girl.
But wait, there's more! When I needed extra storage space in my back hall, I used some fabric remnants I had lying around and made a couple bags. Strung up on simple hooks, they made the perfect spot to stuff rags, plastic bags, canning lids and more. Free, fun, and pretty! I didn't even measure anything- I just cut out some long rectangles (and long thin strips for the handles), folded them in half, and sewed up the edges.
Other money-saving projects include cloth wipes, a wet bag for cloth diapering, and covers for a cradle mattress or changing pad. These can cost between $14 and $25 each. For the cradle mattress, I used an old sheet and was able to get three covers from it, with fabric leftover for future projects. My changing pad now has two bright yellow covers made from fabric I found in a duffel bag under my bed (everyone has a random bag of stuff under their bed, right?) For the wet bags, I spent $7.99 for 1 yard of the special PUL fabric, from which I am able to make three bags (small, medium, and large). The cloth wipes? I got a dozen out of one flannel pillowcase. All I did was trace the size I wanted (my silicone pot holder made the perfect stencil), cut them out, and then make a quick zig-zag stitch around the edges to help prevent fraying. Again, nothing fancy- just some hasty measurements done with tailor's tape (making sure to leave an extra half inch or so for seam allowance on most projects), some ragged cuts made with the kitchen scissors, and a quick run through a sewing machine. Hand sewing would take a bit longer, but I find it to be soothing work, much like crochet or rolling meatballs.
Sewing may not be your cup of tea (I prefer coffee myself), and the finished product may not be perfect. The seams may be crooked and the edges a bit frayed, but I firmly believe it is still better than store-bought. Pant hems, cloth napkins, table runners, pillow cases- the skill level is low and the possibilities are endless! With just a pinch of know-how, you can reduce your reliance on the skills of others, save money, and surround yourself with the fruits of your own labor. All this and more for one easy payment of creativity plus shopping and handling!
Amanda is a homemaker who lives in Maine with her husband and new baby girl. She loves raising chickens, baking bread, and making just about anything she can from scratch.
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