Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

How to Make Cloth Pads

Twelve years ago I purchased my first Keeper and Glad Rag.  I loved the idea of saving money and resources and decided to give this a try!  The first initial purchase seemed a bit expensive, but they were worth the investment because they lasted for years.  Just recently a friend expressed interest in having some pads made for her daughter, so I decided to make this tutorial for those interested in making your own.  You can save a considerable amount of money making them yourself, especially if you don't have to purchase the flannel.  Recently I was given a pile of flannel scraps leftover from making pajamas.  These scraps made 16 pads!  I want to mention that you can make cloth pads without a sewing machine.  In fact, all of my pads until recently were made without a sewing machine...I spent many hours hand sewing during the long winter months.  I don't have a pattern on my blog, but it's simple to make one, just trace a disposable one that you may already have (add about 1/4 inch all the way around to account for the seam) and customize it for your own needs.  Some people add PUL, waterproof fabric, for leaks.  This is a personal preference.  I chose not to use it because the body needs to breathe and PUL can trap moisture.  I don't have problems with leaks because I use the Keeper too.

For washing, I soak the pads in a bucket of water and rinse them before tossing them in the washing machine.  I have a front loader and small items tend to get stuck in the door gasket so I place the pads in a nylon mesh bag (similar to what you put nylons in).  

I make three sizes: light (4 layers), medium (6 layers), and heavy (8 layers).  
For those interested in making your own, I included instructions below on how to make the medium size.

Cut 2 pieces of flannel fabric.  Place right sides together.

Sew about 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around leaving an opening on the wing.

Invert.  Notice the opening on the right wing.

Cut 4 pieces of flannel (absorbency layers) to fit the center of pad.

Fit the center absorbency layers in the middle of the pad leaving enough space at the top and bottom for sewing.

Using a zig-zag stitch, sew where the absorbency layers meet the pad.  By sewing on the edge, you are alleviating frayed edges after washing.

What it should look like after sewing the zig-zag stitch.  Click the picture for enlargement.

Stitch the opening on the wing closed and add snaps to the wings.  I've used velcro instead of snaps, but the velcro edges always scratch my legs and didn't always stay closed.

So there you have it...pretty easy without a lot of steps!  

Making Potholders & Oven Mitts the Easy Way

I finally wrapped up one of my winter sewing projects!  I made several oven mitts and potholders for myself and friends.  The fabric used for this project were leftover scraps from previous projects.  

When looking for batting, I was excited to see the Pellon brand with the "Made in the USA" label!
When selecting batting, you have many types to choose from, including batting with heat resistant foil.  The foil batting can't be put in the microwave, and not knowing what my users will do with their mitts and holders, I used the 100% batting without foil.  For $14.00 I made 6 mitts and 4 holders with some batting leftover.  

The starting dimension of the potholder was 7.5 inches square.  Three pieces of batting were used for each potholder.  I made a pair with only two pieces of batting but thought they were too thin. 

Adding a design is completely optional but I enjoy hand aplique so I added the cherries and grape cluster.  When adding the design, attach one layer of batting to the fabric so the designs are anchored really well.  If you don't add a design, you can sew diagonal lines like I did for the oven mitts (shown below).

I absolutely love how the cherries turned out!

Looking back I should have added a vine tendril to the grape cluster. 

For the binding, I cut the strips 2.75 inches wide.  This is my second attempt at putting on binding, but this video explains the process.  I used a zig-zag stitch to secure the binding.  



For the oven mitts, I made a pattern by tracing an oven mitt that I already had and added about an inch around the perimeter to account for the seam.

For one oven mitt, I cut four pieces of fabric because two of the pieces will be the lining for the inside of the mitt.  You don't have to use the same fabric for the lining.

Four pieces of batting were also cut out.  Two pieces for each side of the mitt.

To assemble the mitt, see picture above.   There are four layers of fabric for each half of the mitt.

To secure all four pieces of fabric, sew diagonal lines 1.5 inches apart.  I used a washable fabric marker to mark my lines for sewing.

When both halves of the mitt are sewed, trim the edges.

For the binding at the bottom of each half, I cut two strips, 2.5 inches wide and 6.5 inches long.  The width of my oven mitts at the bottom are 6 inches but I add an additional half inch for wiggle room.

For each binding strip, with wrong sides together, iron in half.

Then open it up and bring one side to the center fold and iron, 

and then fold the other side to the middle and iron.

Put the binding on the mitt and sew.

With right sides together, face both oven mitt haves together and sew about 1/4 inch in from the sides.  At this point you are sewing 8 layers together.

If you turn the mitt inside out, there will be a lot of puckering around the thumb.  To alleviate this, trim the excess in the thumb area really close to the stitching.  To reinforce the stitching, it's a good idea to sew the thumb area a few times.  Trimming the excess around the entire mitt is a good idea to reduce the bulk.

Here are two finished oven mitts ready for gifts!  I didn't add the little hanger loop at the base of the mitt but that's an additional detail you can choose to add.

The Neighborhood Rooster Visits the Homestead

Jon, Paul, and I were ecstatic last Sunday when we woke up to a rooster crowing in our front yard!  We were all jumping for joy and I ran to the barn as quick as I could to let the chickens out of the coop.  As you may remember in a recent January post, our golden comets had become very aggressive with the barred rocks and were jumping on their backs, pulling out neck feathers.  Their necks became so raw, red, and unsightly that we worried if blood were drawn, that we would find dead chickens in the coop.  So for three months we have kept the two chicken breeds in separate areas of the barn with separate free-range time because even when they forage together, the golden comets would hunt down the barred rocks and bully them.  For months Jon and I have dealt with the frustrations of isolation which quite honestly is a hassle, and if we had a larger homestead with more animals, all 6 would be processed and put into jars right now.  I have been given advice from other chicken owners on how to deal with the pecking.  Aside from putting some nasty goop like pine tar on their heads to discourage pecking, I have been told that a rooster would solve the problem.  So when this beautiful rooster just happened to be strutting around our front yard, we had a burst of hope that all of the hens could happily live together without isolation.

The rooster's first day here was quite the ruckus and the hens were doing everything they could to evade this fast running rooster!  After all, these girls have been without a dominant male and didn't have the civilized manners a rooster demanded.  He was continuously gathering them up and chasing down the hen that got away.  He was flying and running from one end of the homestead to the other.  It was quite a fiasco, but within two days, order was established and he was taking the hens out foraging in twos or threes while the others remained in the barn or grazed by themselves.  With this change in routine, the hens had their minds occupied and left each other alone.  A few times they would lunge at each other, but no pecking occurred that I saw. 

On the first day, we knew this was the neighbor's rooster, not only by its specific crow but also because there was no crowing next door. (Did I ever mention that when I saw this house for the first time, I heard this rooster crow while waiting for the Realtor to unlock the door?  Hearing the crow was one small reason why we purchased this house.)  One could only guess how this rooster landed on our lawn.  After all, the neighbors aren't within sight of our house so it's not like the rooster had seen our chickens before.

These were my guesses on how this stud of a rooster landed at our homestead: 
1. The rooster was aggressive and the neighbors wanted to get rid of him so they dropped him at our house.
2. The neighbors didn't want a rooster anymore and they thought we wanted and/or needed one.
3. It was funny joke by someone...not everyone wants to listen to a rooster crow at all hours of the day.
4. The rooster's hens were taken away from him at his old home and he wandered the woods with a broken heart and happened to find our homestead.

After talking to one of the neighbor's down the road, the rooster has been around for years and apparently goes wherever he pleases and has even been found a half mile down the road.  There is some confusion on who the rooster actually belongs to so for now it's fine for him to be at our house!!  This fella does "walk the road" so he may just disappear one of these days!

Since we have a free-running rooster who has survived on his own for years without the safety of a coop at night, this guy perches high in a tree to 30 feet!  He has good manners though and waits until all 6 ladies are safe in the barn before he climbs the tree.

If you look closely, you can see one of the barred rocks inside the nest box.  She was in there forever...but Mr. Rooster waited patiently for 2 hours.  He has developed a certain fondness for one of the barred rocks.  

This hen was trying so hard to conceal herself from the rooster, but her big orange butt didn't camouflage too well with the bush!

Overall, we've had a week of excitement around here with this rooster and hope he sticks around for awhile!

Flowers for the Honeybees and Other Beneficials

When we first started gardening, the focus was strictly on growing food.  At the time, I wanted to minimize the weeding and thought flowers took up too much of our time.  After having honeybees for 5 years and gardening organically, I have learned that flowers in the garden play a larger role than just beauty.  Flowers attract the beneficial insects to our garden that keep the harmful pests to a minimal level.  Each year we plant more flowers in the garden and around the property.  In the garden between the asparagus and strawberries, we have a herb and flower section.  Listed below are some of the flowering plants we grow on the property:

Basil flowering in the fall.
  • Chamomile
  • Pincushion
  • Marigolds
  • Amaranth
  • Borage
  • Nasturtium
  • Bee's Friend
  • Cupplant
  • Wildflower Mix
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Foxglove
  • Leeks
  • Firesticks
  • Sorghum

To remember where the seeds are planted, we use small sections of PVC pipe that we found under the porch left behind from the previous homeowners.

Leeks produce beautiful globes that attract a lot of beneficial insects!

Attracting parasitic wasps in the garden is really important when fighting the tomato hornworm.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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