Sewing & Repurposing

Repurposing Receiving Blankets to Make a Toddler Quilt {for Under $35}

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Ever wanted to make a baby or toddler quilt but don’t know quite where to start? How about with something you probably already have…

I made my first-ever quilt last month. First. ever. And guess what? It cost me less than $35 to make. 

But the best part is that this toddler quilt is not only a sewing project but a repurposing one as well.

I looked at a huge stack of flannel receiving blankets awhile ago and wondered what on earth to do with them. I thought about throwing them out…using them as rags. But no. They still had some use. A lot of them were cute prints.

Then I thought…

Quilt.

Yes I will make my daughter a toddler quilt. She will be transitioning to a toddler bed soon and a new quilt will be nice to have.

I wanted to share the process I went through to make this quilt. So the following post will be largely composed of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

So here you go. 2 ½ months of work squeezed into just a few minutes! Enjoy fellow sewers, crafters, repurposing junkies and lovers of art!

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To begin, I cut out 300 little 4″ squares and laid them out in a design. The quilt will be 20 squares long and 15 squares wide.

 

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Then I stacked up the rows and labeled each row.

 

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They were pinned, 2 at a time.

 

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Then those groups of 2’s were sewn together till each row of 20 was sewn. This part was pretty time consuming.

 

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Now I’m ready to start sewing rows together.

 

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I started with row 1 and 2 and pinned right sides together.

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Yeah woot look at that!

 

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Except the backside was totally messed up. And I only realized about halfway through sewing ALL of the rows. Time to re-do 😦

 

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Now 2 rows have been sewn together for rows 1-20.

 

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Then those rows of 2 were sewn together, giving me rows of 4. At this point, the quilt top is in 5 peices.

 

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One more seam will complete the quilt top, joining the 2 peices.

 

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Sewing the last seam!

 

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Completed quilt top.

 

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The back.

 

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At this point I got out my flannel backing and the pieces of the old quilt I had cut apart and assembled the quilt.

 

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Then I took out the quilt top and ironed the back peices down flat.

 

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About to cut the inner layers to size right against the quilt top. (Notice my cat in the bottom right hand corner. Cats love it when you lay a quilt on the floor.)

 

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Complete!

 

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Then one of the most nerve-wrecking parts, cutting the flannel piece to the proper size and pinning. I had to cut, fold, pin and then re-do to get it right.

 

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Notice my daughter trying to pick out the pins. She did that the whoooolllee time!

 

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Finally. Here I am sewing the last side of the quilt.

 

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The last step was tying the ties. About 150 of them, which took longer than I anticipated. And yep the quilt has been well loved and thus the wrinkles.

 

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Back of the quilt. The ties go through all layers of the quilt and hold everything together. It also makes for a more “flexible” blanket.

 

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I love the swirling pattern.

 

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Close-up of the nursery print with a tie.

 

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Love this print.

 

It was a relief to finally finish this project just a few days before Christmas. I made a few flukes but I don’t really care. The proof is in the pudding, as they say and I think I have a good one.


 

Price breakdown

 

Thread

4 spools beige thread @ $2.90 each= $11.60

2 embroidery floss (60¢ each)=$1.20

Fabric (all new)

-Flannel fabric, for backing, 53″ wide× 64 ½” long= $12.90

(This was from a 110″×54″ peice, or 1 ½ yards.)

-Nursery print flannel fabric, 1 yd= $7.50

Free stuff

-Roughly 8yds (1 yd each color/pattern) of flannel solids & prints.

-inner layer of the quilt from 2 layers of an old quilt.

 

Total cost= $33.20


 

God Bless & stay warm! It’s a cold one out there for sure…it’s been 20 or below here in the midwest for for-ev-er. (So it seems. Probably 10 days at most.) I can not wait for it to warm up!

~Rachel

 

***Measurements: This finished quilt measures 49″ wide × 60 ½” long

Uncategorized

Before You Shop…{12 ways to save on groceries}

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There was a time in our not-so-distant past when our family had a very limited grocery budget. Each and every penny was dear.

I knew, just knew there were resources out there to help me. I knew that I wasn’t the only one. So I dug through the internet, and all the cookbooks and e-books that I could get my hands on so I could find some frugal solutions to bolster my courage and expand my knowledge of the art that is grocery shopping.

And what was most important to me? I wanted to be as frugal, but as healthy with my choices as possible.

I wanted to pass on some of the things that I learned for anyone who is where I was. I still practice a lot of these things, though our grocery budget is slightly larger than it was in previous years.

Plan

1. These items are at the core of any frugal meal.

  • beans
  • rice
  • canned tomatoes of all kinds
  • chicken
  • eggs
  • noodles
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • herbs & spices
  • frozen veggies

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2. Shop the sales and build meals from sale items. This goes hand and hand with meal planning.

3. Meal plan. I use this printable from Just a Girl and Her Blog. It’s got a newer design but it’s the same one I use. I write the sales items from local grocery stores on the back, as well as meal ideas. Then the names and dates of the meals go on the front of the shopping list.

I think of it as a game. I use a sale ingredient, good. I use it twice or even 3x or more, very good. See how many ways you can stretch the same ingredient. 

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Example: celery. I use it in chicken noodle soup, then I use it to make casserole spaghetti. I dice up the rest and freeze it for when I make chicken or beef bone broth.

4. How much do you need?

Believe it or not, when I was newly married I thought I had to follow a recipe exactly and I often made way too much food. Nowdays I will cut a recipe in half or even in fourths to suit my family.

I know about how much meat we will eat (1/2lb-slightly over 1lb, depending on recipe) and what size of pot, pan or baking dish I will need. When you know what everyone will eat, second helpings and all, you can plan better and save money.

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What Is In Season?

1. Fruits and vegetables that are often cheap and available (but not always locally in season) year-round:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • sweet potatoes
  • bananas
  • grapes
  • apples

2. Here are some (typically) cheap, in season foods for October and November:

  • apples
  • pears
  • cranberries
  • grapes
  • kiwis
  • pomegranates
  • some citrus fruits
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • kale
  • mushrooms
  • pumpkins
  • rutabagas
  • spinach
  • squash
  • turnips

It is good to pay attention to The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen. But don’t get hung up on it. If you can afford organic, awesome! If not, remember you are still caring for your family by buying them good and fresh produce. Eat as well as you can afford and don’t worry about the rest.

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Shop

1. Shop the perimeter of the store.

It is typical for produce, meat and dairy products to be on the outskirts of the grocery store. This is a common tip, but still worth mentioning 🙂

2. Buy (selectively) in bulk. 

When you see something on sale that your family loves, buy as much as you can.

Example: when our favorite bread goes on sale for BOGO, (Buy One Get One free) we buy 4, sometimes 6 if our freezer space allows.

Staples of course are good to buy in bulk. My family is small and my children have tiny appetites so much of what we buy in bulk is shelf stable. Honestly lately I have not bought much in bulk.

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3. Buy and preserve favorite fresh foods.

When a fruit or veggie is in season and your family loves it, see if you can buy a very large amount and preserve it in a way that they would most enjoy.

Freezing, canning and drying are all options. This often works best if you buy as close to the source as you can. This way you can maximize your savings and get the freshest and best produce. I’ve done this with apples, plums and corn this year.

4. Know when to spend.

I know. That’s not frugal. Well no it’s not. But knowing when to spend and when to save can save your sanity, which in my opinion is priceless.

Know when to cut yourself some slack and buy convenience foods or non-sale pricier items. For me, when I was pregnant and when my daughter was a baby I let a lot of things slide. My tastes, cravings and energy all varied by day and my goal was simply to stay healthy and get out of the store as quickly as I could.

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At Home

1. Explore MYO.

I learned early on from reading frugal cook books that one of the easiest ways to save money is to make your own convenience food. That may sound backwards but let me explain.

By making your own mixes, snacks and baked goods you have created a special stash of healthy or at least home cooked food for your family. Is it convenient in the sense that it saves you time? Well, not always. But consider the amount of time you spend going to the store and shopping. Is it faster to make some cookies or to buy them?

I maintain a balance of store bought things vs. homemade. Sometimes I make my own, sometimes I buy it.

Generally I make all my own spice mixes…taco seasoning, chili powder, pumpkin spice, etc. I do make my own granola bars because it’s cheaper, healthier and fresher that way.

2. Reduce waste.

There is this awesome blog Don’t Waste the Crumbs that got me started on this. It is amazing the amount of food I waste. It is an almost continual process to brainstorm ways to save as much as I can and make sure it is all used.

Example: save vegetable scraps for bone broth.

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And that’s a lot of what I’ve learned!

It takes practice, but it can be done. Being frugal can be a challenge, but it can also be fun if you look at it as a game 🙂

~Rachel


 

A few resources:

Grocery shopping list printable from A Girl and Her Blog

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Complete Mix Recipe Index from Budget 101

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12 Simple Ways to Avoid Food Waste from Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Caturday

Window Watching and Saving Money on Cat Food

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After she eats in the morning, Stella loves to engage in a little healthy window watching. Loves to scan the backyard for things that scurry and things that fly. I love her fascination for the simple things in life.

After I fed Stella I got to thinking about how I’m trying to save money on cat food lately. Ever since we adopted Stella I’ve been convinced that I should buy the “good brand” of cat food. I hadn’t figured out a way to save money on cat food while still focusing on keeping my cat’s diet relatively healthy.

And then I read an e-book, The Homemade Housewife by Kate Singh, that revealed an interesting game plan. Take the lesser quality cat food and mix it with the better quality one. 

So I’ve been trying it out for the past 3 months and it’s been working swell.

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Here is what I did. I bought 16lbs of Purina Kit & Kaboodle ($9.97) and then a 6lb bag of Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken with Lentils and Salmon ($9.44 with a $2 off coupon).

I then mix them in a gallon ziplock. 3/4 is the Kit & Kaboodle, 1/4 is the Rachael Ray cat food. That way it’s not totally the cheaper brand but also not all the more expensive one.

Our outside cat Shadow gets just the Kit & Kaboodle. He’s not picky 😃

Using this system, I think that 22lbs of cat food should last 2 1/2 months. If it was just Stella it would stretch about 5 months. It comes out to around $7-$8/month.

Stella actually seems to like the K & K better than the more expensive brand so maybe I’ll just buy that from now on.

Idk. I still have the words of the lady at the pet store ringing in my head from the day we adopted Stella. “Don’t feed her anything but these brands over here! That other stuff is like kitty fast food!” We shall see. We shall see.

~Rachel

Food, Seasonal Food

With this apple, I will make…

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It’s October. Such a gorgeous, gorgeous month this year. One thing we love about this month in my house are the apples. Apple season starts typically in August and reaches its peak towards the end of October. That’s the time when you can find the best apples for the cheapest price. I am so very excited about this blog post. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. Buying local, delicious

2. Apples to make into

3. Homemade applesauce

4. Using the crock pot

5. And doing it on the cheap.

Applesauce.

In the crock pot.

Where have I been? Why didn’t I think of this before? I was browsing pinterest, looking for things to do with some wicked awesome apples I picked up in Amish Country when I came across these recipes for crock pot applesauce:

How To Make The Best Slow Cooker Applesauce (Live Simply)

How To Make Your Own Applesauce In The Slow Cooker (One Good Thing By Jillee)

My blog post is based on sort of a combo of these two recipes. I used the ratio of apples to lemon juice and cinnamon from @onegoodthingbyjillee and I did my prep like @livesimply and took her advice and added water and honey.

Because I’ve made applesauce on the stove-top a kadjikillion times, I felt ok just using guidelines from these recipes to make it in the crock pot.

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First, of course, I had to get some apples. So long story short, I found this wonderful place to buy apples. It’s cheap, local and the customer service and product value are exceptional. About a week ago, I went there for the second time to buy more Macintosh apples and some Golden Delicious with the intent of making boatloads of applesauce.

Amount: I ended up buying a 1/2 bushel of golden delicious and 1 peck of Macintosh. I wasn’t really sure on the exact amount of applesauce I wanted to make. Maybe I should have checked out this chart sooner..

According to the chart, I could have made 6-7.5 quarts of applesauce with 1/2 bushel of apples, and about 3 quarts with the Macintosh for a total of 10 quarts of applesauce. That’s roughly 52 pounds of apples for 10 quarts or 40 servings of 8 oz each.

I did not feel like making that much. Plus, I would rather save some apples to eat. The Macintosh are especially good for eating in my opinion. Here is what we brought home.

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Tiny baby hand for scale 🙂
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Add cinnamon and lemon juice.

Mix.

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All Golden, batch #1.
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Batch #2 is Golden + Macintosh.

My method:

1. Peel, slice, cut the apples. I would guesstimate I cut up 6 lbs, or a little over 1/4 of the 1/2 bushel bag. I was aiming to double jillee’s recipe. I just filled the crock pot with as many slices as it would hold.

2. Juice 2 lemons for 3 TBS lemon juice. Again, this is double of jillee’s.

3. Grate 2 tsp. of cinnamon.

4. Pour on the lemon juice and sprinkle the cinnamon over the apples.

5. Then toss it all together and turn the crock pot on high.

6. On batch #1, I added about 3/4c. water and a few TBS honey about 1 1/2 hours into it.

7. Stir it periodically. I had to watch every so often to make sure the apples weren’t boiling over.

The apples actually cooked rather quickly. It took only 2 or 3 hours for the applesauce to be done. I didn’t need to mash them overly either. I actually prefer the semi-chunky texture, so I didn’t puree or alter the sauce in any way.

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It’s very easy, no? As long as it isn’t too sour or cinnamon-y for your taste, you should be good. Live simply used Red Delicious apples in her sauce, but I really wouldn’t use that kind…her sauce was really brown and I think the type she used may have something to do with it. But to each his own! My fav. apple is a Golden Delicious, so I used those. On batch #2 I mixed in some Macintosh with the Golden Delicious. It’s all in your preference, really 🙂

How much did it cost me? About $3 (apples) + $1 (4 lemons) + 79¢ (4 TBS organic honey) = $4.79 for both batches.

We did eat some before I really measured but I think it’s safe to say we made 4 quarts out of 12 lbs. It adds up with the afore mentioned chart (http://www.pickyourown.org/info.htm). So that’s about 3.7¢ per oz, 30¢ per 8 oz serving. And $1.20 for 1 qt, or 32 oz.

The farm that I got my apples from is open year-round. I understand that not every apple farm operates that way though. If you can’t get out to an apple orchard in your area, just remember that apples go on and off sale at the grocery store all throughout the winter. It’s not a must that crock pot applesauce be made from farm fresh apples, although I highly recommend the experience. I would equate it to comparing my Grandma’s homemade strawberry jam to Smuckers jam. You can just taste the difference, and you’ll never want to go back to store bought again.

Cooking food from home is all about combining what your values are, what your family loves, what’s available in your area and what you have time and energy for. There are many many paths to healthy homemade cooking!

~Rachel