You're using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic grocery bags. Check.
You're using reusable snack bags instead of Ziplock. Check.
What about plastic produce bags?
Mesh produce bags are perfect for the grocery store!
Apples, oranges, bell peppers, carrots, onions, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, shallots, garlic, eggplant, squash--have you given a thought to how many plastic produce bags you bring home each week to be recycled?
Each bag is quite sturdy, constructed with French seams. This means no frayed edges shedding threads on your food. All seams are triply reinforced so that you can easily carry a half peck of apples (~ 12 medium apples) without risk of straining the bag.
My produce bags in action at the grocery store.
The all-cotton drawstring cord with which all bags are now constructed, is very sturdy and secure. You can either cinch and tie off the end, or leave it just cinched. The inherent friction of the cord in the channel will in most cases keep the bag shut.
The mesh panel has a dual purpose. First, it allows the PUL code on the produce sticker to be easily read at the checkout. If for some reason the number is tough for the cashier to read (some cashiers bristle at all reusable bags not matter what!), you can easily un-cinch the top to read the number.
Second, the mesh allows produce to breathe. If you are storing potatoes or onions and need them to stay in the bag a while, the mesh prevents rot from setting in earlier than necessary.
There are other uses for this bag as well! Many of my customers are using them at the beach for sand toys or shell collecting.
Visit my Etsy shop to purchase yours today!
Like my page on Facebook which is where I preview all new bags and designs. Sometimes a bag will be spoken for via Facebook before I even get a chance to list it on Etsy or bring it to a show!
The pretty and fun fabrics make it more interesting to go food shopping. I find that people are more likely to bring their bags to the store if they are made from beautiful fabrics. What will you put in your mesh bag??
This idea may be obvious, but one way we have cut down on plastic baggie use is with information going back and forth to school.
Those of you with children in schools probably collect Box Tops as an ongoing fundraiser. Typically, we would send them into school inside homework folders in ziplock baggies.
Here are a few different ideas, since those baggies are simply thrown away as soon as the tops arrive at school to be counted.
This is a plastic sleeve from another product purchase (imagine a piece of cardboard stapledd to the top with something like Rainbow Loom bands inside the bag). It might not need sealing, usually the static cling keeps the bag closed until arriving at school.
This is an "envelope" from a gift card received at the holidays.
As long as it isn't overstuffed, close the tab and send them on their way.
Most often, I send them into school with a paper clip. What school couldn't use a few extra paper clips?
With any of these methods, you can't wait a whole year and send in several hundred labels with one paper clip (though, I've used black binder clips for bigger stacks). You have to send them in regularly, or every time a thoughtful family member gives you a stack.
Happy school fundraising!
Of course you already use snack bags for crackers, grapes, sandwiches and carrots. What about squishy foods? Or food that needs to stay fresh in the fridge for a few days?
I still use Rubbermaid, Tupperware, whatever brand makes hard-ish plastic containers.
Stainless steel and glass are great alternatives to Rubbermaid types of plastic. Since they can be very expensive, I am phasing my replacement of containers slowly over time.
This one I found on Amazon for just under $8.
It holds about half a cup, great for kids lunches and other snacks on the go. There is no rubber-like seal, so it's completely plastic-free. It has proven difficult for the little hands in my house to open because of the snug seal and slipperiness of the metal.
While shoved in my tote bag, there's no danger of my raspberries becoming sauce before it's snack time.
So far I hand wash the container, which is extremely easy being stainless.
Do you have any favorite types or brands of reusable non-plastic containers?
An easy-to-sew gift for Valentine's Day.
These were made last year following this tutorial (http://jessicapeck.blogspot.com/2011/01/valentine-candy-heart-pillows-tutorial.html?m=1). I used felt and poly fill stuffing, but brightly colored fleece would be cute too.
One was made using felt letters, the other with a really bad satin stitch on my machine (I do NOT recommend this unless you are very good with embroidery.) Trying to cut corners and save time the night before the holiday didn't work out so well.
These have been through the washing machine a few times (line dried), hence the pilling.
In spite of that, they are a much-loved decoration around here this time of year. Have a very sweet Valentine's Day!
Heart Bean Bags--Tutorial
If you're looking for a candy-alternative for this Valentine's Day, these heart shaped bean bags are very simple to make. It's a great idea for nut/food-free classroom parties as well!
Here are the supplies you'll need:
A heart-shaped template
Bag of dried Navy beans
Red or other festive fabric
Scrap Paper for impromptu funnel
Basic Sewing Supplies
Cut out two hearts from your Valentine fabric for each bean bag you would like to make. I made 8 bags, so I have 16 hearts (I did not take photos with each step, so please let me know if anything needs clarification.) My hearts are about 5.5" wide.
With right sides of your fabric hearts facing, stitch around the perimeter of the heart with a 1/2" seam allowance. Leave 2 inches open for turning (make sure this is on a straight edge, not the curve at the top of the heart).
Go over all seam allowances with pinking shears to make for smoother curves at the top of your heart. Turn right side out.
Then top stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave the 2 inches open for stuffing.
Use about 1/4 cup of dried beans (Navy beans were a good size for this project, though you can certainly use a variety of materials such as rice, lentils, whatever you have on hand.)
Now comes the fun part! Use a scrap piece of paper, rolled up, to make a funnel. Carefully pour the beans through the funnel into the bag, trying not to spill any on the floor (not like I happen to have done this or anything).
Stitch your opening closed, following the top-stitching already in place, and you're done! Make sure this closing seam is very secure, as you don't want the bag to explode the first time it's tossed across a room. Or at your child's sibling.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Zippered pouches are one of my favorite and most popular products. They can be used in so many ways, I thought I would show you some options you may not have yet considered.
Cosmetics and travel toiletires
Wet bag--holds two prefold cloth diapers
Wet bag--hold's a child sized swimsuit (or adult womens' two piece). Suit shown is a girls' size 7/8.
Wet bag--holds messy things when you are out and about so that you don't need a disposable Ziplock. Just machine wash on cold, line dry when you're finished with the mess!
Cold and flu season is here--what do you do with your kids' used tissues until you find a trash can??
Handbag organization. The little lip balm containers and mints would be lost at the bottom of a larger handbag.
Toy bag for on-the-go play.
Take along project bag for sewing, knitting and crafting.
First aid kit.
Nail polish supplies.
Rainbow Loom supplies!
Clutch purse for when you are running out for an errand and only need keys, phone and wallet.
Do you have a use for the lined zippered pouch not listed here? I would love to hear it!
Let me be upfront about something--I don't like to smell bad. But I also believe in the body's natural way of cooling itself. So, for many years I have not used an antiperspirant. I use deodorant to be springtime fresh.
There are lots of studies about aluminum and other antiperspirant chemicals being toxic, but I'm not going into that now.
For at least a decade, I have used brands like Toms of Maine and more recently, this Arm and Hammer version of deodorant.
Time to go a few steps further.
Enter Lush and their deodorant bar. NO packaging when you buy it in the store! NO harmful chemicals whatsoever. It takes some adjustment using a powdery bar, but it's completely worth it!
The bar comes with a wax coated bottom, seen here starting to break off after lots of use.
So far this one bar has lasted several months of daily use, justifying the $9 price tag. I have not, however, tried it out in the hot humid summer months yet.
It has a light and very pleasant lemony scent. They only offer the one scent, T'eo at this time. They have other deodorants, but this is the only package-free option.
Try it out, I think you'll like it!
Does anyone have experience using the last crumbly bits once it nears the end??
**All opinions expressed here are my own, Lush did not contact me in any way. I received no compensation for this product review.**
The zippered pouches that I had so much fun making last month inspired me to try a tote bag in the same style.
The neutral background and colorful applique seems classic to me; an earthy frame for the fabric design. I tried something new and love it!
This design has a mix of applique and embroidery with the added level of complexity having the design spill over from the pocket onto the body of the bag.
The flower petals are made from the fabric that lines the front pocket.
With the rope fabric, I stuck with the nautical theme and lined the interior with navy blue anchors. It has a magnetic snap closure and is the same size as my beach/farmer's market totes.
In the coming weeks/months I plan to make several of the flower design with various colors. I would love to hear your feedback!
When I was first getting started, I wanted to minimize costs wherever I could. Thrift stores were a gold mine of sewing notions. Not only were the prices low, it was a way to reuse discarded materials--perfect for my business goals!
Bear with the grainy iPhone pics. It was late at night, it has been raining for days, and taking photos of anything sewing-related is a challenge during a New England winter.
You might find single zippers still in packages, or bags of 10 mismatched colors/sizes lumped together for $1.
Thrifted zippers, I learned, are often quite old. Many are filled with metal, unlike their modern counterparts. Metal zippers are useful, but that metal can lead to nasty crashes with your machine needle if you make a mistake. Plus, you don't know how much the product has degraded sitting on a dusty/sunny shelf in someone's studio for decades.
Buying in bulk from eBay has its own issues. You get a great price per zipper (maybe 1/10th the cost of new ones), but you rarely get choice. This was part of a lot of 200 zippers that ranged in size from 4-22" long in a rainbow of colors. No packaging meant unknown manufacturing, age and origin.
I've settled on a specific type and color of zipper for all of my Dancing Threads products. I also now only buy new ones from a reputable Etsy seller. They cost a bit more, but the reliability of the zipper itself is more important to me at this stage in my business practices. What to do with this old pile 'o zippers?
Image via Pinterest from http://emptynesterreviews.com/.
So I started playing.
I got this far and decided I didn't like the pink and would stick with blue, black and red.
That's better. Then I keep playing to see where this is going because I'm curious. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it at this point.
An idea starts to form. I make a large rectangular weave and secure it all around the edges with half a zillion straight pins. If I don't, it will fall apart when I try to move it. Not like that happened at first or anything...
Now what??? Stitching the perimeter so I can ditch the pins sounds like a good place to start.
I joined them with black thread to hold everything relatively together.
Because I'm working with, essentially, zipper "fabric" at this point, I used a denim needle in my machine.
And that's as far as I got. I have a few different ideas, but I'm setting it aside for now until I explore a few more options.
Playing, I mean recycling, can be a lot of fun, and a great way to get your creative groove on!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.