Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Day I Learned to Love My Machine...

Way back in 8th grade, many years ago (24 years, to be precise, and it won’t be discussed further, thanks) I took a Home Economics class.  I learned many skills that I still use, such as how to make a mean French toast, how to cross stitch a sampler, and how to starch and iron a dress shirt.  However, I totally failed to grasp using a sewing machine.  I tried to make a simple, straight skirt, and ended up sewing it together.  Next, we made stuffed animals.  I sewed my hair to my teddy bear.  I was bad enough that my home ec teacher, bless her, tried to console me by telling me that “not everyone is cut out for it”.  I’ve been scared to try since.

Fast forward those 24 years that I still don’t want to think about too much, and I am now the owner of a sewing machine.  Big Dude’s aunt gave it to me about 2 years ago, and it has sat and gathered dust until today.  I have friends who are divine costumers, and while I have envied their abilities many times, I have never tried to learn.  But today, I hauled it out to try hemming up some baby wipes.
My darling 2 year old, Little Dude, has been having some chronic diaper rash, and we finally linked it to commercial baby wipes.  We decided to try homemade wipes for him, and I am pleased to say that the rash has cleared up nicely since we started.  However, the flannel wipes tend to fray, and I was getting sick of picking bits of flannel lint off of our clothes, floor, and LD’s backside.  Since the idea of hand sewing 48 wipes wasn’t appealing, I hauled out the machine.

It took me longer than I care to admit to figure out the very basics-how to get power flowing, how to get a stitch started, etc.  But I did figure it out, and I sewed probably 4 or 5 wipes before I realized that there must be some way to regulate how the fabric feeds through.  So I whipped out the manual, which conveniently comes in both English and French, and began to flip through.  I saw that there was something called a presser foot, but couldn’t figure out how to lower it.  So I soldiered on, sewing a few more, until I caught sight of a lever on the other side of the machine.  Behold, the presser foot was down!  My loopy and irregular zig-zag stitches took on a more uniform appearance!  I sewed happily until I ran out of thread on the bobbin, and managed to finish all but 4 wipes.  It’s probably a good thing I ran out of thread, because I now want to sew EVERYTHING.

In case this inspires you to want to sew everything, making your own wipes and solution is easy as pie!  All you’ll need to start is a half-yard of flannel, and a pair of scissors.  Simply fold and cut your flannel in halves until you have a decent stack of wipes sized pieces.  Once you have your stack, whip out your trusty sewing machine.  Choose a nice stitch to go around the edges of your wipes.  A chain stitch would work, or something similar.  It’s a little time consuming, but very cheap and easy.  If you really want to skip all the cutting and sewing, inexpensive baby washcloths will also do the trick.  I bought the flannel almost solely because of the cute monkey and soccer ball pattern.

Once you have your wipes down, make your solution!  I use 1.5 cups of water, 2 T of baby wash, and 2T of baby oil.  Putting the oil into the water before you put in the soap seems to keep the bubbles down to a minimum.  Put it in a spray bottle, and either spray directly onto baby, or onto the wipe.  If you prefer a pre-moistened cloth, simply cut the solution recipe in half, stack your wipes into a Tupperware container or wipes tub, and pour directly onto the wipes.  Let it sit about 10 or 15 minutes, then flip the stack over.  Whenever you use a wipe, make sure you squeeze out the excess back into the box.  If your wipes seem to be drying out, just add another batch of the solution.  I store my used wipes in a large Ziploc bag, and machine wash them in hot water. 

These make a really cute (and frugal) baby shower gift!  Find an appropriate fabric, wrap the finished wipes up with a cute ribbon, and put a matching ribbon on the spray bottle.

If you don’t know anyone who could use baby wipes, but you still have the urge to sew rectangles, you could make homemade fabric softener sheets the same way!  Only difference is, you’ll definitely need a plastic tub to store them in.  For the fabric softener solution, use 3-4 c. water, 1 c. white vinegar, and 1 c. hair conditioner (cheap is fine to use!).  Mix them in an empty, clean plastic jug, give it a good shake, and pour some over your stack of sheets.  Whenever you go to use a dryer sheet, flip the stack first, take the top one and wring it out, and toss it in with your clothes.  The vinegar smell doesn’t linger, don’t worry.  When you go to use the next one, flip the stack again before getting one.  Just add more solution as needed!  This can also work with a Downy ball, but you’ll need to thin it out a bit more first.  You can use either water or vinegar to thin it.

There you go-easy, cheap, and green ways to both clean your baby’s bottom and soften your clothes, and an embarrassing story about me, too!

1 comment:

  1. It hasn't just gathered dust, I used it to patch my jeans.