Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Denim Decorated Organizing Boxes

Life has been a bit busy here lately. I had hoped to post a bunch of denim things that I had made today but I just haven't had time. Nor have I had time to get all the projects done that I had hoped so I have decided to extend my "Denim Days" for the month of February too. I had some other ideas of a fun theme but decided that looking at how much time I had available it would make more sense to continue to work on my denim projects for now (I also want to do some heavy cleaning this month) and then start on a new theme in March.
I do have  a project to share though (and perhaps I will get more blogged about today- we shall see)... It is some boxes that I like to use to store things liked scrap paper, coloring books, craft books and things like that. The ones that I just made with the denim decorations are for the boys. Their desks needed some organizational attention and they thought these would work well. Aaron is planning on using his for Paper things but it sounds like toy guns (that he made) are going in Jonathan's. I was told to label it "Firearms".
To make them I used:

~Empty dry milk boxes (cereal boxes would work too.)
~Denim strips and trim from an old pair of jeans
~ Old maps from an atlas
~A hot glue gun and scissors.
After cutting the box to shape I covered each big side with a map. I also cut out a square for the label in the front and glued it on.

Then I added jeans strips on the corners and around all the edges. I glued all of those in place. This adds a lot of stability to the box and they last for a surprisingly long time! 

 This is the finished product. We are all happy with how they turned out and the boys are busy putting them to work now.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Denim Days {Inspiration from others}

I haven't posted as much about denim projects as I had hoped I would. Maybe I will have to just keep it going for a while or maybe I can get more done yet this week!

Today I thought it would be fun to share some inspiration from other places. So many bloggers have lots of great ideas for using up old denim and I thought it would be fun to highlight some of those.

 I have enjoyed "getting to know" Melissa (a fellow Minnesotan) who blogs at Those Northern Skies in the last few months and she has done quite a lot of projects using old denim. She said that I could use some of her pictures and share some links so here you go...

A decorated tin from Those Northern Skies

Denim Raggy Flowers from Those Northern Skies
A Halter Top from Those Northern Skies
From Those Northern Skies

Here are some other fun ideas that I have found:
I would love to hear other ideas that you might have for using old jeans! If you have blogged about something you have made from jeans I would love it if you would leave a link!

I am linking this up to the Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival

Praise is becoming

Do you strive to look nice each day? Do you spend time making sure you have the right outfit, your hair is done nicely and your face looks good?

 I have never been one to spend a lot of time working on my appearance but at the same time I do like the idea of "looking nice".

 When I read this verse in Psalms last week it made me smile with the thoughts that I had from it. Here is the verse:

 "Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright."
Psalms 33:1

Now I did not go into a deep word study on this verse, looking back in the Hebrew or anything like that. I am simply taking it at face value. But what I see when I read this verse is God saying "When you praise Me - that makes you look very nice!"

 The One that I want to please most in life is God. I do also want to be pleasing to my husband and others that I am around but God is the most important One. What He desires most is not for us to have an elaborate hairstyle or an outfit that is just so- He wants our praise. When we praise Him we have our focus in the right place and you know what, I think we are going to look becoming not only to God but to most people that we are around as well.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Being Prepared

 I have always liked to be prepared. I guess I would make a good boy scout... well, if I were a boy. I guess I can tie it back to the way I was raised. First my parents taught me to be prepared in the most important way- that is having a relationship with Jesus Christ, the only One that can truly help us through each and every situation. We can try to be prepared for every possible situation here on earth but the truth is that there simply is no way that we can be prepared for every earthly problem but if we are right with God it doesn't really truly matter.

  With that said, my parents did teach me a lot about being prepared to the best of our abilities for all sorts of circumstances. My parents have learned how to make much of what they need and live to a large degree a self-sustainable lifestyle. They are not off the grid but if that happened they would still have heat, food and would be fairly comfortable. This is something that I would really like as well but we are not quite to that point yet. We have been discussing it however and this year I hope to make some steps to being better prepared for possible emergencies. Here are some of the things I am thinking about:

In the area of Food Storage:

Having plenty of food on hand is something that I really like to do. A lot of it happens naturally as I buy whole foods in bulk since it is cheaper and more convenient- whether it be driving to a nearby town once or twice a year to get several hundred pounds of grain (My parents and I tend to kind of take turns with this trip), buying 1/2 a beef once a year or just buying 25- 50 lb bags of things from Azure Standard.

I also do a lot of stocking up by getting large quantities when things go on sale. This makes it so we may not have everything we like stocked up at a time but we do have a lot of food of some sort anyway.

 With growing a garden, raising bees, collecting wild berries and herbs and helping my parents with butchering those things also help us to stock up on food.

Lately I have been trying to live of pretty much only what we have stocked up and it has been interesting to see what things we run out of, what from the store we seem to deem essential. With this little exercise I am learning that I want to have a larger supply of oil, butter, salt and cheese on hand at all times, I think it would make sense to buy it in larger quantities. So when I go to the store again I will stock up on those things. Meanwhile it has been a very interesting exercise to see how little of them we can use and still have a diet that we enjoy.

  This area is probably one of my strong points in being prepared but I still hope to work to improve on it this year.

In the area of Emergency Preparedness:

This is an area that has been the focus of my thoughts lately. We are blessed to live in an area that doesn't have a lot of natural disasters (no hurricanes, no earthquakes, tornadoes are rare, we don't live in a flood area, etc.) but we do have cold weather. My biggest concern is that we are very dependant on electricity. Our house is heated primarily by a propane furnace which requires electricity to run, we also have electric baseboards as an alternative heat source- either way we have to have electricity. We don't have any other back up.

 Ken and I were discussing this and the idea that he prefers is getting a generator preferably a propane generator as then it could use the fuel that we would already have on hand. I found this article with some information on Propane generators. These aren't cheap, I saw prices from around $400 up but I don't know if the smaller ones would work for what we need or not, so this is something we need to think on and work towards. I did also find a little stove that you can safely use indoors to heat the area and cook but it is a one time use that lasts for 4-6 hours and costs $20. That is obviously not cheap but I wonder if it might be a good idea to have for just in case. Here is an article that I found with more information on heating your home during a power outage. Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

  Another idea that I had is just having a very small wood stove (like the type that they use for ice houses) and stovepipe handy so in the case of emergency we could install it with a pipe going out a window. I don't know if that would work very well or not but I know even a little stove can give off a fair amount of heat and we do have wood available on our property. Of course our other solution is going over to my parents to enjoy the heat of their wood stove during a power outage. But what if it was a blizzard and we couldn't drive 7 miles? Another thought is to just install a small stove permanently. That isn't the way we currently prefer to heat our home but if there was an emergency it sure would be nice! We would eventually like to put in a fireplace but that is not at all top priority right now.

  Some things that we have been doing to prepare for emergencies are:
  • Storing water. I have been doing some of this but I want to do more and I also want to check about the possibility of getting a hand pump that could be put on our well. I did also buy water purification tablets to keep on hand but would like to get a filter too.
  • Learning! This past year the kids and I read through books on wilderness survival and identifying and eating wild plants. Lately we have been learning about first aid/ CPR and have also been reading about how people made it through the great depression.
In the Area of Sustainable Living:
I love this area. As time goes on we are learning more and more about how to use what we have and buy less from other places.

Somethings I have been doing lately in this area are:
  • Getting my seed order figured out for this summer's garden.
  • Signing Mara and I up for a beekeeping class next week.
  • Working to figure out more ways to use things that I have on hand (like old jeans) to make something useful.

There are so many things that I want to work on in all of these areas. I will try to join Homestead Revival's Preparedness Challenge every month and keep you updated on what I am doing in these areas.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I don't buy.... refried beans

I really enjoy Mexican food and have long loved refried beans. When I was in college I often purchased refried beans to make burritos with, eat with corn chips, etc. While that was pretty cheap fair for a college student I have worked hard to make our food budget for our family even cheaper and healthier. This has caused me to make my own refried beans.

  To make refried beans the first step is to cook the dry beans (you could use canned beans but that would add to your cost and make it less healthy).  For refried beans I generally use pinto beans or dried field peas (not green split peas- these are brown). I think you could probably use about any bean you have on hand.
To cook the beans I wash them and then cover them with plenty of water and I usually do the quick soak method where I bring them to a boil and then turn them off and let them sit for an hour. Otherwise you could soak them overnight (without the bringing to a boil). After soaking I drain off the water and put fresh water on and then cook on a medium heat until the beans are soft.

 To make the refried beans I like to fry a bit of chopped garlic (and onion sometimes) in a little oil (bacon grease or any cooking oil) and meanwhile I use my hand held blender to puree the cooked beans with some of the water still in it. If you don't have a handheld blender then you could also mash them by hand with a potato masher or stick them in your regular blender. Add your mashed beans (with some liquid and possibly some taco sauce) in the pan with the garlic. Also add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and any other seasoning that you would like and cook and stir.

  That's all it takes! You can make a big batch and freeze it for later if you like. Adjust it to suit your tastes however you like.  Here are a bunch of different recipes you can look at for ideas. This is extremely cheap food and yummy too.
We enjoyed it in burritos yesterday, they are also good in tacos and many casseroles and just served plain with cheese and salsa and rice.


 I would love to hear if you make refried beans! Please share your tips and ideas.
I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Learning about teeth

 This month for our homeschool get-together our topic was Our bodies. When we learn more about our bodies I always find it so amazing the detail that God put into them! I had asked our chiropractor to come and speak for part of the morning which we all really enjoyed as he told about our spine and the nervous system and introduced us to an easy stretching routine which he called your spinal hygiene which is promoted by "Straighten up America". Here is a link to the instructions which he gave us. The kids and I have been doing it on school morning ever sense then and I like it.

 Each of the kids were also supposed to present something about a body part that they had studied. In our family Mara studied the Spleen, Jonathan the Ears, Aaron the Nose and Megan wanted to do the teeth. I decided I would tell you about Megan's presentation as I had fun helping her with it.

 We decided to make a puppet with teeth to help us with the presentation and then after we made a little puppet with baby teeth then Megan thought we had better have a big puppet with adult teeth too. We printed off this teeth diagram to help us make the puppets correctly and to learn more about the teeth.

 We made sock puppets so the supplies we needed were: A sock, a couple of thin cardboard pieces cut in an oval to give shape to the mouth (basically the jaws). I used an old cereal or cracker box for this. Red paper to coat the mouth with and make the tongue from. Some stuffing (I used some old bits of a sweater) for the top of the head, "spit" balls made from white paper to use for teeth. (Lay them on the diagram to make sure you have them correct.) Yarn for hair, buttons for eyes, red yarn for lips and a glue gun with glue.

 The head of the puppet will be at the toe of the sock. You put one piece of cardboard inside and the other work to squish the mouth in at the right place on the outside and then glue them together (with the sock in between). Glue the red paper in and the tongue and then start gluing in the teeth. I felt like quite a dentist at this point!
Add the hair and eyes and strips of red yarn for lips. Gluing everything in place. Add any more details that you desire. Have fun with your toothy puppets!

Megan and I told about the layers of the teeth, the fact that they had roots, when you got teeth and then when you lost them again and how many teeth people generally have.

She also brought quite a few items such as a toothbrush, floss, candy, pop, water, etc which she asked the audience whether it was good for your teeth or not.

 We had fun working together on this.

 Do you have any fun ideas to share about teaching your kids about the body? Something you have done either as a child or an adult? I always love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A frayed edge quilt

 Today I finally completed my big denim project for the month- a Frayed edge "quilt" (pieced but not quilted).
  I cut squares (8 rows of 12 squares each) out of old jeans and then again the same amount of squares from old flannel shirts and putting their wrong sides together (the flannel and the denim) I sewed pieces into strips and then the strips together.
 Above is how it looked before I washed it and below is after I washed it and after I cut of some of the really long strings.
 I was having trouble getting good pictures but I do like the finished product. I am not sure if the frayed edges are my favorite as sometimes I don't think it looks truly done but it is different and fun.
 This is what the flannel side looks like.

Yeah for projects that use up things that I had stashed. This will be another very usable blanket for our beds of for camping or whatever.
Button If you want a step by step quide for making one of these I found one here. I did it basically like this except I only used two layers of fabric (instead of their 4) and I skipped their step 9 where they clipped all the seams so that it would look more frayed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adventures in Avoiding Stores

 I had planned to update you yesterday on how my avoiding stores and pretending like I'm stuck in a blizzard and can't get anything project was going but life got busy so here I am today instead. :-)

  Life is going good here at our house! I am having fun with this challenge. I will tell you first that I did actually go to a store this past week.  In my post last week I had mentioned that going without milk was vetoed and so I did need to go get that. It was a blessing because one of our local stores had a sale with 1/2 gallons buy one get one free so that total cost was $2.45 a gallon which is 80 cents less than normal. I got enough to last until (and perhaps beyond- I am thinking about trying to freeze it) they expire. I did also buy dry milk as that is the cheapest place for that as well and that will help us stretch it out even further. So now hopefully I can truly avoid the store for a while. My parents did also give us eggs from their chickens otherwise we would have had to buy those.

  I have actually really been enjoying cooking lately. Something about have a challenge makes me enjoy it more. I think my enjoyment has been showing in the food to as my family seems to be complimenting me on the food more than usual. So everybody is pretty happy with the food situation (though Ken did make his own grocery trip to get his own personal ice cream for nighttime snacking which he had run out of) and meanwhile we are eating some things that had been hanging around here to long. I have been working hard to use up all the zucchini that I grated and froze as well as frozen chopped up dark celery which is good for you but we don't like so much. So we have been eating healthy but the stuff has been yummy too. (Though the tomato soup wasn't a favorite here- but it never is.)

  I did have one situation where I figured I might need to go shopping after all but then I didn't so I was pretty pleased about that. Last Saturday was my little brother's birthday. He and his wife's apartment is tiny so I thought it would be fun to have them and the rest of my family over here to celebrate. I talked to Mom about it and she thought it sounded fun and said we should ask Luke what he wanted to eat. I had thought maybe I would just make something that I knew he liked and I also had on hand but then I thought oh who cares- this is just a silly challenge lets go ahead and let him make the choice. Well he choose Chicken Alfredo (Not pork like I thought he might- and I didn't have) so I was able to make it with food that we had on hand. Yeah! I did end up making homemade noodles for it as I didn't have enough linguine and would have had to use spaghetti too. It was enjoyed by all.

  I also remembered that I didn't have a gift purchased for him yet and so again figured that I might need to go shopping but after some discussing with Mom about things he needs/uses I remembered that I had some thick socks in my gift cupboard and then we thought about how he likes to cook but since he got married he didn't have the apron that he used at my parents so I decided to make him an apron. He seemed quite pleased with both things even though they were very simple. I also gave him some hummus and snack crackers that I had made as a healthy snack.

Luke trying out the apron

I was trying it out after I made it (and it shows a more complete view).
  We have had cooking challenges- but where's the fun if there isn't anything to challenge?
Our cooking oil is running rather low as is our butter. I have been working hard to use as little as possible and make them stretch. I also carefully boiled my chicken bones and skin that I had cut the chicken breast off of and saved the fat that came to the surface which I then used for frying other things. I also got some of the fat off of the ham that we ate and used that for frying and I have also been using some of the beef tallow (which stinks when you are using it, but works) that I had in my freezer for some of my cooking. I also discovered a jar of coconut oil that I had forgotten about in my cupboard so things will stretch further with that.

  Another thing that we are running low on is salt. I have been trying to use more herbs and seasonings that we have in place of it as much as possible but when it runs out I am afraid I will break down and buy more. I am a fairly low salt user but I still like it. It has been good to try and use up more of my herbs and spices. They go bad after a time and they need to get used up- also they tend to be pretty healthy for you. I have been experimenting with using kelp powder and nutritional yeast for more flavor as well.

   We are out of onions but have been using garlic and celery for flavoring instead. I am also growing these cute little bunching onions. I am excited about having green onion tops before long! Sprouts have also been adding some healthy fresh stuff to our diet.

Here is the meals planned for this week:

~Eggs and Blueberry Muffins
~French Toast
~Eggs and Potato chunks and homemade yogurt with raspberries
~Crepes and Fruit
~Blueberry Cornbread
~Omelet and Toast

Main Meals:
~Tomato Soup, Pesto and Cornbread
~Baked Fish, Potatoes and Cabbage
~Ham and Bean Soup
~Bean Enchiladas
~Wild Rice Soup
~Tuna Noodle Casserole
~Homemade Rice-a-roni with hamburger

 One thing I have realized was important for keeping everybody enjoying this shopping from the pantry challenge was the need to keep snacks easily available. We like to snack around here and if we don't have things available to eat then we all get frustrated. So I have worked hard to always have snack food at the ready. Here are some of the snacks we have enjoyed lately:

~Chocolate cake (made with lots of zucchini in it and no oil)
~Homemade Snack Crackers (I tried this recipe) with homemade hummus
~Oranges (I had stocked up a bunch earlier when they were on sale)

  Anyway that what is going on in our kitchen (home) thanks for stopping by! I love to hear what is going on with you too!



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Loving my role as a Homemaker {Looking for some feedback from you!}

  I feel so very blessed with the role in life that God has called me to. The role as a keeper of the home is the best job that I can ever imagine! This verse is one that encourages me in this role:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." Titus 2:3-5

  I have been very blessed in my life to have women around me (Such as my Mother, Mother-in-law, Grandmothers and many other Christian women young and old) who emulate these verses. What a huge help that has been for me as I try to follow this verse as well! Even if you weren't blessed with a Mother who lives this way or other role model like this- I encourage you to work hard and be one yourself! You can do it!

  Our world tends to turn the way things should be upside down but let's not let this be one of them in our lives. Life is so much better when we do things God's way!

I love homemaking because for one thing it is what I feel that God has called me to do but there are other reasons as well. Here are some of the great "perks of this job" in my opinion: Getting to spend the majority of my time with and serving those that I love most, Flexibility - I love to be able to make my own schedule and do the things that I like best and Variety- in what other job do you get to cook, craft, decorate, provide transport, story tell, teach, organize, sew, clean, shop, love, plan and go on vacations, garden, keep bees and so very, very much more!

My love for homemaking and desire to share the fun of it with others caused my to think of an idea that I have been praying about lately. I am going to share that idea with you because I would really love to have your feedback and advice! My idea is this: To start a Homemakers group/club that would meet once a week during the summer. I feel so very blessed to have been taught how to do things like make bread, garden and can the produce, sew, live frugally and other things I would love to be able to share that knowledge with others in a face to face situation. I also think that a group like that could be a wonderful time of each person sharing what they know and so each of us (me certainly included!) would benefit from it.

 I had figured that each week would have a theme such as bread baking, rag rug making, menu planning, inexpensive fun for kids and families, saving money on your groceries, canning, laundry tips and so forth. I thought it would be fun to start with a short devotion (so many verses apply to these topics!) and then go into our discussion or hands on learning.

  Why I particularly want your feedback is because I am trying to decide if this is an idea that others are actually interested in. I put up a couple of polls in my sidebar concerning this and I would love it if you would vote on them (even though you may live a 1,000 miles away- I am just trying to get an idea!) and then I would really love to hear your comments on this idea too!

Have you ever been involved with something like this? Do you think it sounds fun? What topics would you want to discuss?

Thanks ever so much!

I am linking this to Homestead Revival's Barn Hop.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Our kids and politics

Ready to walk in a parade in 2010
Last night at supper we got started visiting about politics (which isn't uncommon in our family as we enjoy our politics) when Aaron decided maybe we should conduct or own little presidential straw poll right then at supper. The rest of us thought that sounded fun so I told everybody to think of who they wanted and then we would say.

  Meanwhile Megan starts chanting "Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul!" The rest of us were saying "Shh!" (as everybody was supposed to make a decision before anybody said anything) but she wasn't to be deterred. I figured she was a pretty typical Ron Paul supporter - young (I think 5 years old qualifies as young), passionate and not to concerned about following the normal actions/rules.

 Later Megan explained "I don't have to think, I just say Ron Paul!"

When everybody had voted and the votes were tallied every candidate had gotten at least one vote but there was a winner. Any guesses on who it was?

 Some times it can rather humorous to hear a kids' take on politics!
 We do think Megan has made progress with her political position- a couple of years ago she gave a little speech (Ken had asked for the kids to give speeches - just in case they would be asked to you know- as we were headed to an event) and it was on how she liked Obama because he gave us money for roads and stuff.  Her opinion of Obama has changed now however and she seems to be an ardent Ron Paul supporter.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I don't buy..... Canned Cream Soups

Cream soups are a staple of modern American cooking. Whenever I look in recent cookbooks it seems like many of the main dishes call for Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery or Cream of Chicken Soup. 

When we were first married we lived near Aldis stores and things weren't that expensive and I would just buy it. Then when we moved up here it wasn't that cheap and I got frustrated that it was in nearly everything and then thanks to The Tightwad Gazette I learned how to make it myself.  It has been a long time now since I have bought any. Not only is that easier on my wallet but better for our health too.
 Here is the process:
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1 tablespoon flour (I do prefer to use white flour for this as whole wheat is not so smooth)
1-2 tablespoon chopped up mushrooms. For this I have used the normal canned mushrooms (and if so then I will use the water the are in as part of the liquid), Dried Shitaki Mushrooms that have been rehydrated or mushrooms that we have gathered from our woods (Don't do this unless you know what you are doing!).
1 1/2 cups milk (Dry milk and water work well too, you can also use the mushroom water as part of this).
Salt and Pepper

To make: In a pan on medium heat saute mushrooms lightly in butter or oil. Add flour and carefully brown a bit (or don't worry about browning it- not that important). Add liquid and salt and pepper to taste and cook and stir (with a whisk) until thick. This is basically like making gravy. Than use as desired.

I recently made Hamburger Rolls with homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup.

 To make Cream of Celery or Cream of Onion Soup simply use celery or onions in place of the mushrooms.

 To make Cream of Chicken Soup skip the mushrooms and then use Chicken broth (with some small meat chunks if you want) instead of milk and then add in a couple of tablespoons of dry milk.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. I love to hear what you do and just love hearing from you in general!

I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Making Sandwich Supplies Last Longer....without going bad

I guess I am into talking about food lately! Oh well, here we go again.....

Ken likes to have a sandwich in the packed lunch that he takes to work. When we first got married he explained that he liked a sandwich and some leftovers in his lunch and I have been packing it that way ever since. For his sandwich he specifically likes a certain type of store bought bread (whole wheat but not just any whole wheat), with thin sliced lunch meat (no bologna or salami!) , cheese slices and mayo.

 The deal is Ken only needs lunches 3 days a week or sometimes less as he has at least two lunch meetings every week. So when I buy the stuff for his sandwiches the stuff doesn't get used up for him before it goes bad. That hasn't been a problem in the past as the kids and I would gladly eat it up but in my continual process of trying to have our family eat healthier and cheaper (which I can enforce best with the kids and I) I would rather not have the kids and I eat this so I decided to try to figure out a way to make it last longer. Here is my solution:

Lunch meat
When I buy the packages of meat (usually they are around a pound) and bring them home I then divide them up into bags in portions that can be used up before going bad and then I stick them all in a larger bag (to protect against freezer burn) and stick them in the freezer. This has worked very well!

I buy this in large amounts at the day old bread store and then freeze them until needed. I used to take a loaf out at a time and thaw it but now I just take it out and get two slices whenever I need them and stick the loaf back in the freezer. It works great. Just for your info we use my homemade bread for the rest of our bread needs.

This one we do use more of as a family so it isn't as much of an issue but if I am trying to stretch it then I will take the pound or so of cheese and slice it up and then divide it up in a few well sealed containers and freeze it. When it is sliced prior to freezing it will still work well for sandwiches after thawing. Many cheeses will fall apart easily after freezing should you try to slice them at that time though mozzarella and Colby jack work well.

This method of dealing with sandwich supplies works well for me!

A Ruffled Denim Bag {Tutorial for Denim Days}

 I have been having fun working at turning the old jeans at our house into something new and useful. Yesterday's project was a new bag for me.

    Lately since I have been working on small knitting projects (socks) I have been taking my knitting with me nearly everywhere. Having a bag that can fit my purse stuff plus my knitting was what I wanted. I had one that worked but I was ready for a new one.

  I thought it would be fun to make something unique and funky so I chose a ruffled bag. I didn't follow any instructions just made it up as I went along. I did take pictures of the process in case anybody else wanted to try and make one too. If I were to do it again I might do a few things differently (for example I think it ended up a little to long and narrow) but you can look at what I did and adjust it to what suits you.
Here are the steps I took to make it:

 1. I cut strips from some old jeans to serve as the base of the bag. I didn't worry to much about what they looked like as they were going to be for the most part covered up by the ruffles. You could also use a solid piece of fabric (which would actually be easier) for the base.
 2. I sewed the strips together. I didn't measure this and if you make it just figure out what size you want your bag to be and then cut out fabric as tall as you want your bag by twice as wide as you want your bag plus a seam allowance.
 3. Cut out a lining material that is taller than the bag fabric.

4. Now to make the ruffles for the bag. I found denim scraps that I then cut into spirals about 1 1/2 inches wide strips. On the outside edges of the strips I zig-zagged the edges to keep them from fraying very much.

 5. Starting at the bottom I pinned the ruffles on adding in some pleats if they didn't seem ruffly enough. I overlapped the ruffles just a little. I didn't worry to much about everything looking completely perfect- the idea was that this bag would have character.
 6. I wanted pockets inside my bag so I cut out another strip of lining fabric to use for pockets. I hemmed one side of it and then pinned it in place (turning under raw edges) and sewed it as shown above. I sewed lines to divide it into 4 sections.
 7. Next I took the denim bag and carefully putting the ruffle out of the way so it didn't get caught I sewed the bottom edges together.
 8. Then I sewed the side edges of the denim part (carefully catching the ends of the ruffle in the seam as I sewed) and the sides and bottom of the lining.
 9. I flipped the outside denim part so that the right side was on the outside and then I slipped the lining inside so that the wrong sides of the two parts were touching.
 10. I folded over the top edge, turned under the raw edges and pinned and then sewed it in place.

11. I added a button and buttonhole to the top so that I can close it up.
12. I sewed on a handle which I had made from a strip (that I folded up so that all raw edges were hidden and sewed) of lining fabric.
13. I added a fabric flower that I made.  There are oodles of types of fabric flowers to choose from. Here is my page devoted to tutorials of them on Pinterest.

Let me know if you have any questions about my tutorial. I will try to help if I can.

Also- If you have made anything out of denim I would love to here about it. Feel free to leave links to your blog if you have one. Thanks!

I am linking this to Fiber Arts Monday


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