Archive for the ‘DIY Household stuff’ Category

Now that I am a couple of months past the birth of my third (and final) baby and a few more months before my fortieth birthday, I have been feeling the urge to start running again.  In a happy turn of events, there are now a plethora of running skort options out there for those of us who would like functional clothes without feeling like we are running in our underwear.  These  Tough Girl Skirts from Skirt Sports caught my eye, as I will be running in the cold for most of the next three seasons.  Sadly, I’m not in a place in life where I can justify forking over eighty some dollars for an item of exercise clothing.  So I went to the consignment store sale in the hopes of finding someone else’s cast off skort.  No luck, but I did find a running shirt made out of the same material for $3.  I had an old pair of running tights that I got for free from a boyfriend who was training the BC Women’s Dragonboat team (always fun to look like a sponsored athlete!), but I saw tights at the same store for $5.

I cut the shirt off straight across at the under arms.

Next I pinned it to the waistband of the existing pants, just underneath where the drawstring lies.  I folded it over once and used a zig zag stitch to sew them together.

I don’t have a fancy machine, and I am not a great seamstress, and I have NO patience with stretchy slippery fabrics, so I made the cut off shirt fit the waistband of the pants mostly by making pleated folds and a little bit by stretching the two layers to match.  If I do it again, I might do some kind of darts in a more organized fashion.  Here’s a sample on the back.

And here it is on from a couple of angles.



Back:  (strange angle/ shot; taking a picture of myself in a mirror from the back is somewhat awkward!)

Not perfect, but totally functional, and soon I’ll be going so quickly, no one will have time to notice those funky seams!  It was enough of a success that I feel like going back and trying another one.  Maybe a shortie this time.  If it turns out better or I learn anything else, I’ll add to this post.


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They are calling for up to three feet of snow in the next couple of days and all my serious winter gear is in another country. Those thoughts were getting me down this morning until it occurred to me that I have yards of stretchy waterproof fabric and a sewing machine, which led me to invent… fashion gaiters!

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before but I feel a fashion revolution coming on. I have always begun the inclement weather days of my life standing in front of a coset pondering whether I would don my MEC/ REI gear and be comfortable or suck it up in the comfort department and look a little less like I was hoping for the Everest base camp shuttle to drop by.

These gaiters are the middle ground. Funky, fun, and they’ll keep me cosy, but they’d get shredded on a real expedition of any kind.

This will be the quick and dirty tutorial because I want to go play outside!

First, measure the length of your leg from just under your kneecap to the top of your ankle.  (14 inches for me)

Then, around the widest part of your lower leg, with pants on.  Add an inch or two.  (16 inches for me)

Then add about 6 inches to your first measurement. (So, now 20 for me.)

Cut two rectangles that are the above measured dimensions.  The direction of stretch should be going around your leg, not up and down.  I used polyester dress fabric that has had a PUL laminate layer applied to to it. (I use it for making cloth diaper covers, usually).

I then measured out two different lengths of elastic.  One was  “lastin” (clear bathing suit type) for around my ankle.  The other was something called FOE (for fold over elastic) for around my leg just below my knee.  In both cases, I measured by stretching the elastic gently around my leg and then adding an inch.  I attached the FOE to one end of the rectangles, and then the lastin goes (for me) 14 inches down from that.

I used a three stitch zigzag.

Next, put right sides together, line up elastic and sew a straight stitch seam down the two edges.  This will be the edge that goes down the back of your leg.  Turn right side out and slide it onto your leg.  Put on a shoe that you might want to wear with your gaiters.  Position the ankle elastic on your ankle, and stretch the bottom edge around your shoe.  Fold it under and pin it.  You want it snug, but not so much that when you move your foot it will pull off your shoe.  Sew it, again with a three stitch zigzag.

The last step is getting something on the instep to keep it from sliding up your shoe.  I used a length of FOE, stretched tight.  I sewed it onto the inner edge of each gaiter, and then put a snap on the outer edge.  The positioning of both comes from putting it on and pinning while it is there.  I put a little square of fleece between the layers of PUL on the outer edge so the snap wouldn’t pull out.

And here is a finished gaiter!

On a leg!

Off to play in the snow.

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There’s something about a lot of grass that always makes me feel like there should be something productive eating it. The owners of the house we’re in encouraged us to build a chicken tractor so we did. I started off taking many copious photos for anyone who wants to build their own to look at, but then things got messy, and I thought that the camera should go somewhere safer.  When I finally uploaded the pics to my computer today, most of them had disappeared.  So here’s the one I have, and I’ll do my best rendition of a shopping list.

1- 4’x6′ sheet of corrugated plastic roofing

1- 8’x4′ sheet of outdoor plywood (1/4″ thickness) – cut into pieces as follows (they’ll do this for a nominal fee at the store, usually):  one 2′ x 4′ piece, four 2′ x 3′ pieces (front, back, roof, bottom front)  The two by four piece gets cut in half at an angle, which gives you matching sides for the house.  I did this part with my hand saw.

-30′ roll of 24″ high 1″ gauge galvanized chicken wire

3- 8′ 2″ x 2″s (for the long sides of the base and the uprights at the end with no roof)

1- 8′ 2″ x 4″ (for the ends of the base)

7- 8′ 1″ x 2″s (for the framing of the house and the cage part)

100 #8 outdoor  1.5 ” wood screws

about 10 #8 outdoor 3″ wood screws

half litre can of outdoor wood paint (we just used what was lying around extra in the basement)

5′ of 36″ wide 1/2 ” gauge hardware cloth (for the floor of the house,  the ramp, and some for gaps at the tops of the walls for ventilation)

3 hook and eyes with that locking springy bit on them

wood glue

a japanese dozuki type hand saw

a cordless drill with a #8 drill bit and a driver bit to match your screws

clamps or a friend (or both!) are very handy

I glued and screwed the framing right onto the plywood pieces and then fastened them together by attaching the framing pieces together.  I’ll try to get an inside pic next time I clean it out on a sunny day, but the floor inside the house is like a picture frame with hardware cloth where the picture would be.

The above picture is of the high end of the house.  You’ll notice that the plywood doesn’t go all the way to the top.  The gap is covered with hardware cloth and provides ventilation for the house.  It got pretty cold this winter (snowpocalypse) but the girls seemed fine through it all.

Each end has a small door.   One is for getting eggs out of, the other is for the chickens to get into their yard.  One whole side opens to make it easier to clean inside or to catch chickens.  I plan to add a way to open the non-roofed portion of the yard to make it easier to change their water and give them big food scraps.

Chicken Tractor!

Et, voila!  Here it is with the five happy inhabitants.  France a.k.a. Princess (the Black Australorp), Tree Bark (the Gold Laced Wyandotte), and as yet unnamed White Leghorn, Cuckoo Maran, and Rhode Island Red hens.  Five is the maximum I would put in here, and I would reduce it to three if you weren’t planning to move it around often and keep a watch on whether there are any timid birds being bullied.  The solid front is to give the birds somewhere to cower if something like a raccoon is chasing them around from the outside.  If they don’t have a space like this (and a solid corner would be better), the raccoons have been known to reach inside the wire to restrain the poor birds and just eat them through the wire!  Yes, ugly.  Try to prevent it!

Hopefully I will get around to actually putting some sort of plans with pics on here, and when I do, they’ll be creative commons.  Until then, hope it is useful to someone, and don’t pass it off as your design, please!  Ask questions if something is unclear so I can make this a more useful post.  I certainly would have appreciated free plans when we were starting out with chickens.

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Homemade mattress!

I don’t know why I wasted any energy over changing the old subtitle, as this isn’t exactly a highly trafficked blog, but there it is.  No longer just about gardening with kids.  We moved across the country and left our garden behind, and we just won’t be here long enough to bother with it at this house, so we’ll be spending our time doing other things.

This week’s projects have included making a mattress.

mattress innards

The mattress was born out of necessity; we can’t afford an organic one, but we don’t like the idea of all the carcinogenic flame retardants wafting out of the regular ones into tiny airways.  While we were in the process of figuring out what to do about it, my sister in law announced that she had bags of “throw away” children’s clothing.

So we dug out some old wool sweaters and made a case out of them (wool is naturally flame retardant), and proceeded to spend many hours rolling up little cast off garments and stuffing them in.  When the case was full, we laid a few more sweater layers on top to even it out, et voila!

mattress!(shown here before we  laid on the sweaters and sewed it up.)

E.T.A. It has been in use now for about a month now and is only a tiny bit lumpy on one end where I got lazy and didn’t stuff them in as tightly as I could have.  If I were doing it again, I would also make a cover out of old jeans or some non stretchy, heavy fabric so I could really shove the rolls in tightly.

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