Make your Own Cloth Grocery Bags out of old T-Shirts

One of my biggest pet peeves is having all those darn plastic grocery bags strewn all over my pantry.  I also hate that they take up room in the landfill, basically never disintegrating.  When I go grocery shopping (or any other store as well), I always try to remember to bring a cloth grocery bag with me.  Sometimes I forget and I’ll go without a bag if it’s just a few items and I can carry them.  The other day I went through my closet and discovered I had a bunch of old t shirts that had holes in them or some other problem.  I wanted to come up with a creative way to reuse them, and that I did!

I made them into cute cloth grocery bags!  When Mr. Money first saw my finished project on the floor, he said “Oh! There’s that cute shirt I like of yours!” and as I hesitated to respond he noticed that I had cut it up and made it into a cloth bag.  I was glad I didn’t have to give away the shirt because it was cute; plus who wants to wear a shirt with holes in it anyway?  Here’s what I did.  It is so simple, and would be a fun craft with kids.

1. Find an old t shirt.
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2. Cut the sleeves off.
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3. Turn the shirt inside out and sew up the bottom.
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4. Turn back inside out and, voila! That’s it.
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Now you’ve got a cute cloth grocery bag you can stuff in your purse, diaper bag, or leave in your car. If you want, you could always sew along the inside of the arm holes for a cleaner look, but I didn’t bother because I made sure I trimmed it up nicely.  Re-purposing items is one of my favorite things to do!

Do you use cloth or reusable grocery bags? 

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How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

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I had a question the other day from a reader regarding my opinion on dryer balls. Personally we don’t use them any more as we’ve been using vinegar as our fabric softener, but I know there are many people out there that use the infamous blue spiky dryer balls to fluff up their clothes without using fabric softener.  While I do think that they are better for your wallet because you aren’t purchasing fabric softener again, they also have been controversial on just exactly how good they are for you.  In fact, a post on TreeHugger claims:

“What the manufacturers fail to mention, however, is that the the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material the supposedly “nontoxic” dryer balls are made of is one of the most poisonous plastics ever created, posing great environmental and health hazards in its manufacture, product life, and disposal.

Kinda scary, right? It’s sad you are trying to save money and the environment by eliminating all those chemicals in our water and plastic fabric softener tubs in landfills or recycling centers but at the same time may be harming your family’s health in the long run.  Of course, I’d still rather take the dryer balls over fabric softeners as they seem to irritate my skin with the chemicals being set in my clothing and rubbing against my skin.  To each their own.  You can’t be a fanatic about everything.

There are a few alternatives if you’re scared of the PVC in dryer balls. You can use tennis balls (which may not be any better), or ideally learn how to make wool dryer balls.  Here’s how I made mine.

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Materials:
-Wool yarn (I’m a knitter so I’ve got some extra “scraps” lying around)
-Scissors
-Crochet hook
-Old pantyhose
-piece of string

Instructions:

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1. Wind your wool into a nice, tight ball to the size of your preference. Use the crochet hook to tuck the end under the yarn.

2. Stick the yarn ball in an old pantyhose leg and tie the string around the opening so it doesn’t get out and fly around your washing machine. Throw them in with a load of clothing you are washing in hot water. They will felt quicker this way.

3. When they are done washing, you can throw them in the dryer with the clothes and take them out when the clothes are done.

4. Let them dry overnight and then wrap another layer of yarn over the felted wool dryer ball. This helps keep the wool dryer ball tighter. Repeat steps 2 & 3.

And that’s it! How simple is that? If you’re ambitious, you can put a sachet of lavender in the middle of your dryer ball for scent. I like mine plain!

What do you use to soften your clothes? Would you learn how to make dryer balls?

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Frugal Fixes for Flooring: Laminate Floors

Do you remember the flooring dilemma I had a few months ago? I’m almost embarrassed to say that I am just now getting around to solving the problem. I installed laminate flooring into my hallway and bedroom. And I have to say, at this moment I am confident this was the best decision for us.

Not only do I have the peace of mind of having a complete, normal, beautiful floor in my bedroom, but I have the financial peace of mind knowing I didn’t spend $3737.50.  I love the look of hardwoods, but with the dogs I couldn’t justify spending that much money and watching them get scratched.  Going with laminate flooring eliminates that worry.  It’s going to take a lot (knock on wood) for them to scratch the laminate.  Also, I was able to install it myself, which saved us a ton of money.

With the current housing market the way it is, we’ve decided to love the home we’re tied to, and make improvements that fit our lifestyle.  We can afford the laminate flooring.  We actually bought it at Costco and will get 2% back on our purchase because we have an executive membership. Also, I was able to pay with cash out of our hardwood floor fund, and I’ll tell you, when I pulled out my envelope and paid cash for the flooring, it was amazing. It felt so empowering to know that I had been saving for so long to be able to do this, and I wasn’t having to charge it or use my debit card. What a natural high!

Although I was worried about the resale value of the home after installing laminate, I realized that was a silly concern, as there are more serious problems going on that are making my home value go down right now.  We love our house, and although it’s not where we’d prefer to stay for the rest of our lives, it’s where we need to be right now, and we need to make it into a home we can love.  We’ll just have to keep making frugal renovation decisions and realize that anything’s possible if we put our minds to it.  After all this is said and done, I can look back and realize that sometimes the most frugal decisions are the wisest ones when we are pushed to our limits.  I’m thankful the flooring is done in my bedroom, and now I can relax.  Or paint the living room…

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