Wednesday, July 27, 2011 3 comments

DIY Mailing Envelopes

Today I'm going to share a thrifty tip that I found on a blog called Patchwork Posse: making your own packaging envelopes.

First of all, you may be wondering why I even thought of this. Well, to be honest, it caught my eye because it's really cute packaging. Then I found out the money it could save me, and I was hooked!

Here's the cost breakdown:

6x9" envelopes - purchased (0.08), made ($0.02) - You can make 4 for the price of buying 1.
9x12" envelopes - purchased ($0.10), made ($0.04) - You can make 2 for the price of buying 1.

Maybe that doesn't seem like much to you, but after you've bought 25 of each, you're saving $3.00, plus the packing tape you would usually have to seal them with. The thread to sew these packages together doesn't even come close to the cost of tape, and this has the added bonus of being cute in a rustic kind of way. (Can you say that about those other envelopes?)

I realize this isn't for everyone, but I really like it and thought I'd link to it in case anyone else would like to make these, too.

Here's one of my packages of fabric, ready to be mailed. I blurred it to avoid showing the addresses, but I hope you can get the idea. I've discovered that these packages are much thinner, for some reason.

Another benefit of this packaging is that you can make these any size you want. If you're mailing an odd-sized item, you can customize the envelope size to fit it.

For my purposes, I found that the 28"-wide paper was the better deal, since I wasn't wasting any paper that way. Here are the cutting sizes for 6x9" and 9x12" envelopes:

6x9" - Cut a 10" length of paper, then cut it in half width-wise. You end up with two pieces measuring 10x14". Fold it in half along the 14" side, and you have two envelopes that measure 7x10", which should be about right after you sew the edges. No waste!

9x12" - Cut a 10" length of paper. Fold it in half along the 28" side, and you have an envelope that measures 10x14". You can trim the extra 1" off the edge to make it 10x13", or just leave it as is. It doesn't cost any extra to mail that way, so I just leave it. Again, no waste!

To see the rest of the details on making these envelopes, check out Patchwork Posse's great post.


P.S. I've mailed quite a few of these already with no problems. Just make sure you tie off the ends of the threads and clip them close so they don't get caught in the machines at the post office.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 2 comments

Homemade Gift: Guest Book #11

Supplies: paper (ATD, The Paper Company, recycled Kinkade image); stamps (Inkadinkado Coffee House alphabet); ink (Jet Black StazOn); composition notebook.

This is one of my favorite Kinkade images. However, the more I look at his paintings, the harder it is to pick more than one "favorite". I think most of them are "favorites," if that's possible! :)

I'm linking to ... Upcycled Awesome,



A Marvelous Mess

Monday, July 25, 2011 5 comments

Who wants to make a quilt with me?

I ran across a quilt-along of sorts last week. It's called the Summer Beginning Quilting Series over at Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom, and it's free to follow along. I really like the finished product (which is rare for me for a quilt-along), so I decided to join in.

As you might have guessed, I'll be using my vintage sheet materials. In fact, since I already have scraps cut to 2-1/2" strips, a lot of the work was done for me. It was almost like having my own "jelly roll."

She has great instructions, but I thought I'd address a few questions.

What if I want to pick my own fabrics?

If you're not using a jelly roll and want to go out and buy fabric for this project, you'll need 1/4 yard of 10 different fabrics. You don't want fat quarters, since they aren't 44/45" wide. She recommends that you stick to two color families, ranging your prints from lights to darks.

Once you get those fabrics home, you'll want to straighten the grain and then cut two 2-1/2" x 44" strips from each fabric. When you're done, you will have made your own jelly roll of sorts.

Is the kit a good value?

Of course, I did the math and discovered that the kit she's offering through Discount Sewing Supply is actually a good price, based on regular per-yard prices at my local Hancocks. (I didn't figure in shipping.) It's all a matter of whether you like those fabrics or not. I did notice that the shop offers to work with you on a customized fabric selection.

What is the hardest part of this first step of the project?

Precision is essential in cutting and sewing this pattern. If you vary much at all, you may discover that your "squares" are wonky. Here's an example:

I'm chalking it up to a cutting error, since I was very careful with my sewing. Vintage fabrics aren't as stiff as the yardage you buy in the fabric store (since they've been washed a few times), and mine must have shifted a little during cutting.

Is there any way to correct wonky squares?

If yours ends up like mine did, never fear. Your finished quilt will be smaller, but you can salvage your hard work by squaring them up. Now before I show you how I did this, let me inform you that I have no idea how everyone else does this. This is just what makes sense to me - and works for me.

First of all, I lined up one of the edges so that it was straight on my cutting mat grid at the bottom. Then I determined how much I was going to have to trim off the edges to make them straight.

I trimmed it first on the right side, then on the left side, being very careful about my measurements:

Then I flipped it so that my newly-straightened edges were on the top and bottom. Again, I straightened first the right edge:

And then the left edge:

I ended up having to trim my blocks to 4-3/4" square, so my quilt will be quite a bit smaller than the original. That's okay, though, since I might be able to make up for it by adding in extra sashing. If not, that's okay, too.

Can I do this using the QAYG method?

I'm not sure yet, since there is only one part of the tutorial up right now. Part two will address piecing the top, and that will be the telling part. I'll be analyzing the method of construction to see if I can turn it into a quilt-as-you-go project, and I'll be sure to let you know if/when I figure it out.

So, have I piqued your interest yet?? Is anyone interested in joining me? I'd love to see your progress, if you do. (I'm sure she'd love for you to post a link to your progress at her blog, too.) I'll be posting my results from Part Two next Monday, so stay tuned!

I'm linking to ...

Friday, July 22, 2011 1 comments

Homemade Gift: Guest Book #10

Supplies: paper (Making Memories, recycled Kinkade image); stamps (Inkadinkado Coffee House alphabet); ink (Jet Black StazOn); ribbon (Michaels $1 bin); composition notebook.

I hope you're not getting tired of these guest books. :) If I were making them all for the same person, I certainly would be changing them up a bit. However, since they're all going to different people, I decided not to mess with a good design.

By the way, this is the time of year to be looking for good deals on these composition notebooks. Last year I think I was able to get them for $0.25 at Wal-Mart. I don't think it's as good a price this year, but even $0.50 for one of these is good.

I'm linking to ... Upcycled Awesome,


A Marvelous Mess

A Marvelous Mess


Wednesday, July 20, 2011 5 comments

Passage to India Wristlet

Don't forget, this is the last day to enter my fat quarter giveaway!

Today I thought I'd share my favorite new "purse" with you ...

... my Passage to India Wristlet. I can't tell you how much I love this little bag! I have been carrying a huge bag ever since my first child was born nearly eight years ago. I'm a small person, so it's nice to carry something small for a change! :)

I'm one of those people that likes to carry along everything but the kitchen sink, "just in case." However, I've found that I don't usually use any of those specialty items in my purse.

So what I've been doing is going through my bigger purse (that's still sitting where I usually keep it) and only grabbing what I'll need for the trip I'm taking. As you can see from the picture above, this little bag can hold quite a bit. This is what I took along on my grocery trip yesterday, and I didn't miss anything.

Obviously I've been using this one, so it won't be going into the shop. However, I do have several wristlets in the works right now, so keep an eye out. :)

I'm linking to ... Upcycled Awesome,


A Marvelous Mess

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 2 comments

Reusable Shopping Bags from a Shower Curtain

If you're a fan of Sophia's Sundries on Facebook, you may remember that I asked for ideas of what to do with a polyester shower curtain someone had given me.

My kids thought it was cute, but it doesn't match any of my bathrooms (which are all floral - surprise!). They also like to fill up bags to take with them anytime we go anywhere - out shopping, to church, to visit, etc. So when I ran across the idea of making reusable shopping bags from a shower curtain, I thought it was a great idea. I'd make them and give each of my kids one as a tote bag.

Some parts of the shower curtain were more colorful and the design was fuller than others. So when I cut them out, I paired a "busy" cut with a "less busy" cut:

You're probably wondering how hard this slippery fabric was to work with. Well, once I got going, it wasn't hard at all. I just pinned it well and took my time.

Also, if you're familiar with this kind of fabric, you know that it frays like crazy. That fraying is like angel hair. To prevent lots of annoying fraying on the inside without having to line them, I simply edgestitched the seams with a zig zag. I had a specific overedge foot for my sewing machine that makes it look a bit like it's serged. However, after I sewed the original two bags for my kids, that foot mysteriously disappeared. I have since cleaned that room top to bottom, and it is nowhere to be found. I'm afraid it ended up in the garbage with scraps. Good thing for me, it's not hard to do without one of those overedge feet.

I suppose all shower curtains are a pretty standard size. I was able to get a total of 8 bags out of this shower curtain. I made them at 15" square, and that makes the finished bags approximately 13x12x4". It's a nice size for grocery shopping, since it limits the amount of heavy items the clerk can try to shove into your bag. Some reusable bags are so big you wouldn't be able to carry them if they were stuffed full, yet a lot of the baggers are teen-aged boys who can carry about anything ... and sometimes think the rest of us can, too. :)

For the handles, I used a bright yellow, 7/8"-wide grosgrain ribbon.

If you're inspired to make some, I'd love to see what you come up with. If you're not that handy with sewing (or just not interested in taking the time), I've listed a set in my Etsy shop. I have a total of 6 bags available (3 sets).

I'm linking to ...


Monday, July 18, 2011 4 comments

Homemade Gift: Passage to India 15" Tote

Don't forget to enter my fat quarter giveaway!

Today I'm going to give you a sneak peek of a gift I made for our Conference President's wife.

We have our annual conference and camp meeting coming up in the next few weeks, and it's always a busy time for her. I know she does a lot behind the scenes (and makes sure it stays behind the scenes), so I wanted to make something for her in appreciation - and to help brighten a few stressful weeks. It's something I've thought of for a few years, but I usually think of it during camp meeting when I can't do anything about it.

So I made her this 15" Passage to India tote from some of the Paul Kaufmann decorator fabric my husband found on a thrifting excursion. Although I forgot to take pictures of the inside, I designed it like the rest of my totes - with pockets that match the outside.

It's lined with the lovely dark brown vintage sheet gingham that you can get a peek at if you look at the top of the tote. I added a zipper to make it more secure to carry things in, and I really, really love this tote.

Here you can see about how big it would be to carry. It's about the perfect size for someone my build who just can't get by with a huge bag, but really needs to carry more than you can fit in a purse that usually "fits" my frame. :)

And here you can see it in relation to the other totes I've made in the last little bit. It's an in-between size.

Although I'm saving this one for my Conference President's wife, I think I may just make one up for the shop at some point. I have lots of the fabric, and I personally love this tote.

I'm linking to ... Upcycled Awesome,

A Marvelous Mess