Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Recycled Plastic Bottle Pots

This year my husband and I have decided to start a garden.  Our goal was to grow organic vegetables, become a little more self-sustaining, and maybe even shave a few dollars off the grocery bill while at the same time not having to sacrifice fresh healthy veggies.  But we soon realized starting a garden can be a little daunting when you take a walk through the garden section, so many supplies, so many tools, so much money can be spent if you’re not careful.  So, in order to achieve our gardening goal, and not sink a ton of green into our green living, I’ve come up with a few tricks to help us save.  The first of what I hope will be many more cost cutting tips, is my recycled plastic bottle pots.  No, this is not a revolutionary ground breaking concept, but for those of you that are a little slow (like me) maybe this can help you too.
This is a super easy project that requires minimal effort, one tool, and the best part…FREE!  Just dig out those plastic bottles out of your recycling bin, if you don’t have a recycling bin (get a recycling bin) dig it out of your neighbors recycling bin and you’re in business!

Plastic drinking bottles
Potting soil
Plants or seeds

Sharp knife
Ice pick (optional)
Heavy duty gloves (optional for you rebels that like to live dangerously)

Take your bottle (any plastic container will do), lay it on its side on your cutting board and grip securely with one hand and cut 3 to 4 inches from the bottom.  The height of your bottle pot should be determined by the size of plant you will be using this for.  But, be careful not to make it too tall or it will take a lot more potting soil to fill it, and since this is just a temporary fix till your plants are big enough for the garden why waste that expensive dirt?

*A tip for cutting, most of your popular bottles have ridges along the sides as part of their design.  Use this as your marker in order to keep your knife in place as you cut.

After you have cut the bottles, take your knife or another sharp implement to cut small holes in the bottom for drainage.  I put my knife inside of the bottle to keep it steady, and since I still have all of my fingers after, so I would say that it was successful.

As you can see my plants have exploded and have quickly outgrown their fancy seed starter trays they started out in.  But, I’m not ready to plant them in the garden just yet, mostly because I have yet to build the raised beds for them.  Leo is helping demonstrate that the plants are over running their existing home.  He’s so helpful!

Now put your plants in your free bottle pots and congratulate yourself on your thrifty genius!

And it you need something to help you corral all your clever little pots you can reuse the tops of your seed starter.

Or a handy dandy cardboard six pack caddy. 

I hope this helps you in your own gardening adventures, enabling you to provide healthy produce for your friends and family at a much lower cost than the store.   Fresh fruits and veggies should be a part of our daily lives.  And with the economic stress we’re all under, eating healthy should not have to be forfeited for cheaper less nutritious options.
Good luck my green thrifty crafters!  And may the green thumb be with you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tool Roll-up

Here is a handy quick project that you can easily adapt to suit whatever type of tools you need to keep  you organized and mobile in all your creative endevors.  And with a little ingenuity you can adapt it to whatever size or tools you need to suit your needs.   And if that isn’t enough to get your crafty little minds excited, it’s also cheap!  Now are you excited?  That’s what I thought, let’s get to it!


Fabric (I had about a yard with plenty left over, amount of fabric is determined by the size of roll-up)

Ribbon or bias tape (again amount is to be determined by size of desired roll-up)


Heat bond

Buttons or Velcro (depending on what type of closure will best suit your needs)


Fabric scissors (regular will work, but they don’t cut as well)

Iron (dry setting)

Sewing machine

Straight pins

Yard stick

Measure how big you want your roll-up to be, I suggest laying out the tools you plan to use this on your fabric.  Then place your felt on the fabric to determine where you will be cutting the fabric.  Don’t cut the fabric yet!  A helpful hint; I used pre-cut felt sheets and butted them up at the ends to get the length I needed and sandwiched them in the fabric fold and cut around the felt.  It creates a natural line and if you use the fold (pictured below) you will have one less raw edge to finish.  Win win, for all you novice sewers like myself!
*Don’t forget to allow for enough fabric around the perimeter of your project to have enough space to finish your edges! 

Now pin it!  No, I don’t mean pin it on Pinterest, at least not yet, finish that little beauty first then feel free to re-pin.  Pin the edges, don’t be stingy with your pinning, it will help everything stay in the right place to make your sewing go easier.

Next, fold up the excess fabric to create the pocket to house your tools.  Fold it up towards the top of your piece.   Aren’t you glad I told you not to cut that extra fabric off?  I just saved you another sewing step! 

Measure how big you want your pocket to be.  Once you determine how deep you want your pocket , fold your fabric back towards the bottom.  Now that your pock front has been folded twice, and is all lined up with your felt underneath, cut along that felt line I mentioned earlier.

To reinforce the pocket front, use heat bond to iron on to the inside of that fabric fold.  This is a little hard to describe and isn’t easy to see from the picture, so hang with me and I will try to explain it the best that I can.  Unfold the pocket fabric so that you have one big piece of fabric.  Next, lay out your heat bond on top of your pocket fabric.  You want to make sure you have heat bond covering the entire area of the inside of the pocket.  This will be the inside of the pocket so don’t worry this will not be seen.  Set your iron to the dry setting on the appropriate fabric setting.  Now iron on the heat bond onto the fabric (paper side up), following the heat bond instructions.

Once you have properly adhered the heat bond to the fabric, cut the excess bond sheet off.  Remove the paper backing.   After doing that, fold the pocket fabric in half (the half should be the size of the pocket depth originally measured).  Iron this pocket fold.  By doing this with the folding you will have a strong pocket front so that if you are using this to house any sharp tools they will not poke through and will keep heavy tools from sagging or bulging in the pocket. 

After you iron the pocket insides together, fold the pocket up and pin in place.  Now, you have basic structure of your roll-up complete. You’ll notice that by double folding the pocket fabric, I being the oh so kind person that I am, has saved you yet another edge to finish!  You’re welcome!   

Get your tools out and arrange in the pocket where you plan on putting them and pin accordingly. 

Time to sew!  Sew it all!  Sew that bad boy like there is no tomorrow!  Sew you have never sewn before!  Enjoy the sewing pep talk?  I’ll do whatever I can to help to get you excited about sewing, I know it can seem daunting, but it’s really not that bad.  I have given you all straight lines, so some simple straight stiches will get the job done.
Don’t forget to sew all those individual pockets closed.   I went ahead and took the stitches all the way up, but I that’s up to you. 

To finish the side edges, sew binding tape to the sides.

The method to keep it closed is up to you, you can use Velcro, snaps, ties, or buttons like what is shown.  To give it a little more of a finished look, I made some of my left over binding tape run the length of the roll with extra at the ends that I used to create loops for my buttons.

Then sew on your buttons and fill up those pockets!  Roll it up and you have a new great little organizer to keep your tools handy wherever you go! 

You could even adapt it into an apron for tools that will be even right at your fingertips.  However you decide to work it, I hope this helps you stay organized and maybe even buy you a little precious time and sanity when all your tools are right in their place.  Happy crafting!