Today’s post is by Jennifer, a Simple Year reader who blogs at www.sortingbuttons.com. She is working on decluttering her home with the KonMari method and pursuing more zero waste practices, as well as exploring her love of sewing, handcraft, and homemaking.
Hello again! Today I’m sharing some more inspiration for zero waste sewing projects. In my own sewing lately, I’ve tried to think beyond the usual crafty decorative projects and discover how I can use sewing to serve practical needs in my home. These are projects that can be made from scrap or thrifted fabrics, and which will serve useful functions, either replacing disposables or replacing things you’d buy new.
I made a string of bunting this summer for a birthday party, and realized it was the perfect zero waste party decoration. It looks far more classy than paper or plastic banners, and it’s a great sewing project to use up pretty scraps or secondhand sheets or clothes. You could even make matching napkins for bonus points! I’ve heard of it being used for baby shower decorations, then given to the mom-to-be to decorate the baby’s room.
My bunting is made from some scraps I had, plus some thrifted pajamas, and was for a summer birthday party. I’m pretty pleased with the fabric combination. I think the effect might even rival the popular British designer Cath Kidston’s prints!
A tutorial for sewing bunting can be found here: http://www.glorioustreats.com/2012/06/how-to-make-a-fabric-bunting.html
Cloth pads are probably one of the most useful things you can sew, and the perfect ‘end of the line’ project for small fabric scraps. You will save a lot of money making them yourself, not to mention what you save by avoiding disposables. Also, I know this is weird, but they are one of my favorite ‘self-indulgent’ sewing projects. They are quick to make, useful, and don’t have to be perfect or please anyone but me.
My favorite tutorials for making cloth pads are found on two YouTube channels, which I’ve linked below. Their channels offer tutorials for making your own pattern, sewing pads, and how to use repurposed fabric for making pads. Both are aimed at beginning sewists, so have no fear!
I’ve made quite a few pads in different shapes, using old sheets and worn-out clothes. I started with a free online panty liner pattern, and then altered it a number of times to suit my needs. My larger pads have a hidden PUL (waterproof) lining, so they are leakproof. Both YouTube channels I’ve linked below include instructions for how to make this sort of lining.
The core of most pads is made from an absorbent fabric. My favorite way to make the core is by piecing together the most scrappy scraps of cotton fabric I can find. First, I use the pad’s core pattern to cut a layer out of plain flannel: this will serve as the base layer for the core. Then I layer small scraps strategically on top of it, fitting small pieces together until I have about 4 layers of overall thickness. Then I take the whole thing carefully to the sewing machine and stitch back and forth along the length of the core, in lines about ¼” apart, to hold the whole thing together, much like quilting. The finished core will always be enclosed inside the pad, so it doesn’t matter what it looks like.
These two YouTube channels have great tutorials for cloth pads:
Flow of the Goddess: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp0FoBQb_wWXmTLcLp8HzaA
My panty liner pattern and sewing instructions originally came from this site: https://sites.google.com/site/shewhorunsintheforest/
Shopping cart organizer
When I started bringing my own containers for grocery shopping, one problem was the time I spent digging through my tote looking for the right bag or a pen, and the way my daughter reached back into the shopping cart and pulled all my cloth bags out. So I made an organizer to hang from the handle of my shopping cart and keep my cloth bags organized, with pockets for different sizes and types, plus pockets for pens, and a few hankies to clean up spills or toddler messes. Then my big tote bag, in the cart itself, contains nothing but jars.
My organizer is made from the top of a pair of old men’s jeans. I cut off the legs, sewed up the opening along the bottom, and then attached three straps to the top which fasten with Velcro and hang the organizer from the shopping cart. It keeps everything within reach and lets me separate my bags by type.
This might be overkill if you shop alone, but if you shop with small kids, it could be useful! A couple of people have complimented it when I was in the grocery store.
As far as I know, my old jeans version of this organizer is unique (in the best way, I’m sure…), and I made it up as I went, but here’s a tutorial for a shopping cart organizer that would serve a similar purpose: http://www.bluecricketdesign.net/2009/08/cart-caddytutorial.html
It’s very easy to make zip-top, waterproof wet bags out of PUL fabric. Now, this fabric is not at all ‘natural’, being a polyester fabric (i.e., plastic) with a waterproof coating, traditionally used in cloth diaper covers. At the end of its life, it does become trash because it is synthetic. However, for myself, I deemed that having a few wet bags made from PUL would make using cloth pads and diapers much easier, so in the grand picture it seemed worth it.
My wet bags are about the size of a pencil case, with a zipper on top and a loop which snaps shut to attach to a bag. I use them for cloth pads, as well as for soiled wipes when we travel. I have never had any leak problems, and the bags can be machine washed and quickly air dried.
A tutorial for this style of zipper bag can be found here: http://sewdelicious.com.au/2012/09/simple-zip-pouch-tutorial-for-beginners.html
Just use PUL instead of regular fabric.
My PUL came from www.diapersewingsupplies.com. For what it’s worth, it’s billed as “Eco PUL”!
More and more, when I think, “I need a…” I ask myself whether I can make it using what I already have. I’m often surprised that I can.
Have you been inspired lately to make something unexpected?
Next up: Lots of updates for our Friday post.