For a variety of reasons, so many people are turning from breads and grains, from gluten concerns to worries about gut health and even the fattening ability of carbs. There is a stigma about bread, and now it’s almost unfashionable to order the sandwich rather than the lettuce wrap. Upset stomach? Cut out the bread. Can’t lose weight? Bye, wheat.
Now, I’m not denying that there are legitimate health reasons (Celiac’s and the lot) that are preventing many from partaking in fresh-baked pastries and loaves. But what on earth happened to our grain and breads that took a food staple of the world and reduce it to a side dish that sickens more and more of our population?
With the introduction of commercially-made breads and preservatives we’ve seen a significant decrease in the quality of nutrients and health benefits to breads. Whole wheats and protein-rich grains used to provide substance and serious amounts of nutrients and vitamins. The migration from whole wheat breads made with natural, wild yeast has taken us away from natural and the helpful bacteria that is allowed to flourish in leavened breads.
Unless you live under a box, you’ve probably heard all about the good bacteria for your gut that we should all endeavor to consume on a daily basis. One of the easiest – and nature’s oldest – ways to increase your intake of prebiotics and probiotics is by consuming more fermented foods. Nature has been giving humans fermented foods long before we knew how good they were for us – foods like pickles, sauerkraut, beer & wine, sourdough breads, yogurt, kimchi, miso soup, cider, vinegar, it goes on! We’re just now learning about how important consuming these products, and other fermented products, really are – keeping your gut flora thriving can help you fight obesity, prevent diseases (even auto-immune diseases), prevent depression, and squeeze out extra vitamins and nutrients from our food. (Why didn’t we know this before? The good bacteria dies as soon as it leaves our gut, so it’s not been easy to study…)
Things like too many antibiotics, chlorine, highly-processed or unnatural foods, antibacterial soaps and cleaning products, and even stress knock out the good bacteria. The challenge becomes trying to find ways to promote gut happiness on a regular basis – and why not turn to bread?
Sourdough, when made from a starter and allowed to naturally ferment, can be a fantastic way to integrate healthy bacteria into our system. It’s also a super easy bread to make – my sourdough starter contained 2 ingredients: flour and water. My sourdough bread took very little kneading and contained 4 ingredients: a little sourdough starter, flour, water, and salt.
But what’s the secret to unlocking the healthiness, in all of those simple ingredients? Time.
Given the proper time, your flour and water reacts with wild yeast that is naturally-occurring all around to begin to sour – to ferment. This fermentation unlocks previously-unattainable nutrients, introduces lactic acid bacteria (good gut bacteria), and begins to pre-digest the gluten – and apparently some gluten-sensitive people can even eat sourdough without issue. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg – and let’s not forget the delicious taste of sourdough on sandwiches and as a dip for soups, plus how you can transform your sourdough starter into recipes for pretzels, rolls, bagels, you name it!
This past week, I sat down to try my hand at a sourdough starter and my first loaf of sourdough bread. I’ve struggled with adequately kneading bread in the past – while the flavors in my breads have been adequate, they’ve always turned out very dense and heavy. While this version probably still needed a few more passes at kneading, I finally felt successful at producing a tasty and fluffier loaf!
I used two different recipes for my sourdough – one for a starter, and one for an actual recipe. I by-passed using a kitchen scale for the starter but it turned out to be very helpful (and almost downright necessary) for following the correct amounts in the sourdough bread recipe. Thanks to around 5 minutes every day for a week and then a little bit of prep work on the dough, we feasted on some delicious sourdough for breakfast this morning, served up with some tasty farm-fresh eggs and homemade blackberry jam. YUM!
Time for a shout-out – one of the school parents contacted me this weekend and asked if we would be interested in any old canning supplies. Thinking it would be a small box of assorted jars and lids, I went ahead and said yes, but when I showed up at Ambre’s house I was floored! She and her husband greeted us with boxes and boxes of goodies!
All in all, we came home with 49 jars, a grocery sack stuffed with canning lids, an awesome sifter/sieve for jellies and sauces, and a pressure cooker! It’s old school – sorry, vintage 🙂 – but now we can process low-acid foods and vegetables along with our normal veggies but at a much faster rate. It was such an amazing and thoughtful donation to our homestead – THANK YOU! (And we’ll bring you canned goodies this fall!)
I’ve made a sourdough starter from scratch – just flour, water, and some time on top of the fridge collecting “wild” yeast. Looks like I’ll have a starter to make some sourdough this weekend! Today was day 4 of “ripening” and the smell was incredible – I’ve heard friends reference the sour smell of naturally-fermenting foods, but this took the cake. How is it possible for something to smell so sour and yet so healthy and organic all at once?
I gathered my sourdough starter recipe from Emma Christensen at Kitchn – the starter takes 5 days to “ripen” and requires daily feeding with flour and water. I can’t wait to see how it tastes this weekend – anyone have any favorite recipes for sourdough bread?
Thanks to my amazing mother, we have a new patio set for the next season – solid, rust-proof steel and seating for six. With warmer temperatures ahead, we may find it even more difficult to stay inside with the cats. And we all know how much they hate the sunshine and fresh air…
There’s nothing quite so satisfying as making something by hand.
I’m no master sewer by any means – I’d barely qualify myself as a crafter. I value the ability to craft my own items rather than purchase them and to conceptualize how projects can be formed by its smaller pieces and the process of assembly. I’ve found myself studying my bookshelf, a cheap purchase that is held together one of those cardboard backs and tacks, and theorizing how to best build one of our own. Making something from scratch helps you appreciate how items are held together and the purpose of each step in the creation process.
The last two weekends I picked a couple of simple projects for around the house – a couple of outdoor throw pillows and a floor cushion for the living room.
Last year, I took an old sofa frame that my husband used in his dorm room and painted and waterproofed it for our patio. This year, I wanted a softer touch to the basic frame and simple brown cushion – some throw pillows would do nicely!
I picked up a couple of pillows for sale at JoAnn’s and some outdoor fabric – while nothing explicitly stated that it was waterproof, I think these will be great additions for when we’re outside enjoying our garden and they’re easy to toss inside to stay out of the rain.
When I settle in for school work and need to spread out, I enjoy sitting on the floor with papers and books scattered all over my coffee table and floor. (The kitties love all the crinkly paper to roll on, too.) I usually pull up a cat cushion to sit on but I don’t much prefer all the hair that follows me around afterwards. So, why not a floor cushion so Momma doesn’t have to steal the kitties’ pillow?
This project I conceptualized on my own – remember those paper dice we made at school as kids, where you cut out the series of squares and folded them together to glue into the cube? I made this floor cushion the same way.
This project could have easily gotten out of control in price had I filled it with piles and piles of fluff and batting. Thankfully, I’d recently cleaned out my fabric bin of scraps and bits that were unusable and created a stash bag of leftover fabric for just this project. All of the extra t-shirt scraps from my t-shirt quilt? Lumped together in a big pile of fabric. I stuffed all of these into my cushion and, therefore, eliminated the need to purchase bags and bags of poly-fill. I did buy one bag to soften the outsides of the cushion by surrounding the scrap fabric in a layer of fluff, much like the layer of sweet and juicy pineapple fruit surrounds the less desirable and bulky core.
Now, I have a special spot of my own in the living room – when Cattigan and Olivia aren’t occupying it themselves, of course.
When we first switched to shopping at our co-op, certain products suddenly became incredibly expensive. Household products, cleaning materials, detergent – buying natural suddenly doubled or tripled the prices we’d paid at the grocery store up the street. We only had so much to spend on a first year’s teacher salary and a (then) bartender-server salary, so even putting dryer sheets into our cart stung at checkout.
I started attacking Pinterest for ideas to substitute or prolong the life of my purchases. I dug out my 3 favorites and wanted to share them with you!
1. Make-Up Remover
This make-up remover is natural and easily removes even waterproof makeup with the aid of a damp washcloth, made with only witch hazel, your choice of oil (I like jojoba or almond), and filtered water. The blog this recipe comes from encourages you to use a preservative of some kind and to be careful of any bacterial growth – I’ve been using this mixture for months and have not had any issues with bacterial growth, thanks to the witch hazel (or eye issues, for that matter).
Price: A 6 ounce bottle of this make-up remover costs $3.54. 2 ounces of the chemical-laden leading brand can cost upwards of $5!
Witch hazel – $8 for 16 oz (Certified organic, I purchased mine from our co-op, but it’s also sold through MountainRoseHerbs.com)
Almond oil – $11 for 16 oz (available from Amazon)
Water – It’s not the same as filtered, but I use water from our PUR water filter
$19 for 32 oz of supplies, which means you are paying around 60 cents per ounce.
Not only were the natural sheets starting to feel expensive, but all those sheets getting trashed was wasteful! Thanks to Stacy Barr from “Six Dollar Family”, I made these reusable dryer sheets for free.
Choose a fabric – I took an old, beat-up tea towel and cut it into rectangles – and add vinegar, water, and essential oils. I know what you’re thinking – vinegar in the dryer? Believe it or not, your laundry won’t smell like vinegar – just the essential oils you add to the jar.
What a steal! This homemade laundry detergent cuts the costs of natural detergent in half. Instead of around 20 cents per load, this costs only around 10 cents per load. This recipe calls for Borax, Washing Soda, a bar of soap (grated), and baking soda. You’ll need to pick up the ingredients from your supermarket – I couldn’t find Borax or Washing Soda at the natural grocery stores.
I found this detergent to work just as well as our normal detergents – no issues with stains or bubbling. I spilled red wine on my sheets the other night – trying to read in bed with a glass of wine resulted in me just falling asleep and knocking over the glass (I’m a brilliant person sometimes) – and with the addition of some vinegar to the load of laundry and this soap, it all washed out.
Check out Sarah Mueller on her blog, Early Bird Mom, for the recipe and more details!
I love finding new ways to save here and there on our grocery budget – plus, it’s a proud feeling to know how to make staple products for my household that I can recreate with little effort. Do you have any favorite DIY products for your home?
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Tonight, we’re visiting the third house on our house hunt. No, not our house hunt – our homestead hunt. We’re finally getting close to being able to declare our hunt as officially in season, but with that comes the question of what we’re looking for – a homestead. But with that comes the question of, “Why?”
Although society is starting to relax and open up in so many ways, there are still these stereotypes about life and your success in life depending on getting that college degree, getting a well-paying job that provides you with retirement accounts and 401(k)s, settling down and having two kids in a nice neighborhood, and spending your weekends at a furniture mart shopping for bedroom sets. Your food and supplies come from big mart stores that provide convenience and ease, your social media provides inspiration and social status. Your backyard is perfectly groomed and has the occasional flower garden and there’s no point in creating items when you can buy them at a store on sale.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting this or even wanting this – it’s just not for us.
For me, my journey started three years ago when Evan and I first moved in to our current rental home. We were in the middle of the zombie apocalypse craze – with the TV series and movies chronicling the events of a small group of people following some kind of world collapse, there was suddenly this thought:
“Wait, what if this ACTUALLY happened? How WOULD we live?”
It was unsettling to say the least. I can’t even cut firewood (thank goodness I chose a partner significantly more skilled in that arena), much less know how to build shelter that would keep me alive for the night, not even thinking about a zombie attack. It started us thinking about not having the life skills that our grandparents had – keeping livestock, growing and tending crops, using resources on the land, creating the items you need for your survival or day-to-day happiness.
At first, our journey was about being stocked with emergency supplies – stockpiling rope, freeze-dried food, duct tape, portable cookware, propane lanterns, a hatchet, and desalinization straws. I began looking into how to prepare food for long-term storage – dried noodles can only go so far in survival packs. One of my family members joked with us that we were becoming doomsday preppers. As we were growing our stores, I still had a feeling that this wasn’t the right direction – we were missing something. Then, I came across this eye-opening read:
“The Prepper’s Cookbook” by Tess Pennington introduced me to a whole new direction – while you should be preparing for the worst, the worst may not be a zombie apocalypse but a staggering veterinary bill or major car repair. What will you do next week when you’re suddenly at the emergency vet’s office facing the possibility of a $900 bill for an overnight stay to monitor your diabetic cat? (This was us three weeks ago – thankfully, Cattigan is now home and happy.) Suddenly your grocery money goes out the window – so you should be growing, harvesting, and storing the food that you will eat every week rather than bags and bags of cheap noodles and salty flavor packets or cheap, overly-sugared cans of baked beans that no one would want to touch on a good day.
This book helped us count and calculate which foods and how much of them to grow, preserve, and/or purchase for the house. We started keeping bulk dry beans and pasta as well as cans of pickles and diced tomatoes to pull from when we cook. Just last week, we cracked open a can of sauerkraut I made last summer when we were grilling bratwurst during a freak February warm spell. The idea is to be able to sustain your own lives and lifestyle despite any type of emergency – from wrecking your car to a zombie in the garden.
I finally had the right plan.
I was canning from our garden and stocking up on bulk rice and nuts or jars of peanut butter when it went on sale at our co-op. We’d buy bags of potatoes or peppers when they were put in the price-reduced bin and slice and freeze them for later use. I up-cycled this beautiful book shelf and now stock it with supplies like pasta and sugar or boxes of onions – it stays cool and dark in our basement and provides us with a pantry supply of food. Plus, now I don’t have to worry about staring at bare cupboards while planning dinner – I have so many options for soups, chilis, Mexican, roasted vegetables – you name it.
But that wasn’t the end of it – the next step became whether or not we can continue to produce that kind of food on a regular basis and provide for ourselves every day, and not just during times of shortage.
It was time to think big picture and long-term, and this is where we’re doing most of our learning – what did our grandparents do to keep their plants alive during sudden freezes? How did they keep chickens alive while roaming pastures to avoid buying feed all the time (which makes them more expensive than just buying organic eggs at the store)? Before power or even during power outages, how did they keep their house cool in the summer or warm in the winter? While we want to live with the modern conveniences of air conditioning and internet (we are very much a Netflix/Hulu household), we want to reduce our carbon footprint and our dependency on the grid to heat and cool our house or power our cars. Especially in light of recent political events, I want to control where my money is going and how my money is buying my energy if the government won’t protect our environment. This can be a whole conversation on its own – but, for example, we believe whole-heartedly in the sustainability of solar – so let’s invest in solar panels and get our money out of coal power plants.
What’s wonderful is that anyone can do this – my husband has been pouring over this book about finding self-sufficiency on 1/4 acre. It’s been essential to us as we do calculations and come up with ideas for maximizing space and the power of our dollar, and is jam-packed with everything from gardening to canning and dehydrating to soil health and composting, and more.
Rather than 1/4 acre, however, are aiming for 2-3 acres for our future homestead. A homestead of this size gives us the breathing room and space to do so much, from keeping a goat or two to including a cottage for my mother-in-law. I want the space to sew more t-shirt quilts for family or floor cushions (that my cats steal – thanks, guys…) when we’re not outside tending patches of tomatoes or harvesting black beans (Let me digress for a second – black beans are one of the easiest plants to grow and take care of – you literally water it all summer and wait for it to die in the fall before you know you’re ready to harvest – I love ’em!). We can work with a local energy company to at least lease solar panels to power our property and maybe even invest in an electric car. I dream of free-range chickens that provide us with fresh eggs, pest control, and soil maintenance (small amounts of manure but lots of scratching and stirring soil). Over the years we can use crops and crop rotations to improve the soil health of our land so that every vegetable or fruit we grow is bursting with nutrients that are missing from commercial and mass-produced foods – plus, doesn’t farm-fresh just taste better?
We’re big dreamers – I often happily imagine a snowy, Kansas Christmas around a fireplace with our family out on our glowing homestead – but we’re ready to be realistic. We know that to get a piece of heaven so close to our city means that we’ll probably be sacrificing on the quality of house we’ll find to stay in our price range – no 5 bedroom mansion with a 4-car garage and heated barn for us. (We will likely be stuck with a cramped ranch-style home with a scary basement and overgrown property that screams “RUN AWAY” rather than “Future Garden of Eden”.) We’ll be starting small, and our first garden will probably be terrible with very little production on this nasty northeast Kansas clay soil. But every year we’ll plow a few more garden beds by hand, search the internet for second-hand chicken coops, and maybe even save up for a pressure cooker to help with canning or a new patio table to fit more than 3 people out back.
The idea of the American dream is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps – that hard work pays off and gives you the life of which you have always dreamed. We’re unlucky compared to most farmers – we’ve inherited no land and we haven’t hit rich with any lottery ticket to give us a head start. We’re going to be moving forward with the love and support of our family and it’s going to take time, and we’re okay with that. We’re building the Epperson Homestead from scratch – and every little thing I learn how to fix or make means I am that much more proud and invested in my home. We’re getting back to our roots – valuing the work our hands can do, cherishing the seedlings that sprout in the plant tray on my bookshelf, reading and expanding our knowledge and imagination, putting the importance back on happy animals and happy soil that, in turn, only make us healthier and stronger.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this quote to ruminate over as we all dream of spring and greener things:
“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ” -Michael Pollan, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”
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It’s here! I’ve finished my first-ever quilt, and I am so proud of this project! It is by no means perfect, but it worked for me and my amateur sewing skills and I think it looks wonderful in its imperfections. (My cats love it, too! They were glued to it during every step in the process…)
I didn’t follow any particular pattern as I made this – I did some research on Pinterest and didn’t find anything or any particular approach that I loved. I knew I had 12 KU Band t-shirts (my husband and I met and fell in love thanks to marching band, and this quilt is here as evidence!), I wanted to include sashing (the red polka-dot stripes in between each t-shirt panel), and I didn’t want anything that took me too far beyond straight-stitching. (I saw patterns where they used t-shirts offset on top of black squares to create a shadow effect – while this was a neat effect, it was a little above-and-beyond for my first go.) I gathered some info from quilting friends and diagrams, and off I went!
To preface these instructions, please know that this is not likely to be the most perfect pattern – I picked the steps I did because they made sense to me, not because I have a PhD in quilting. My measurements were not perfect – I ripped out plenty of stitches and tried to hide my cutting mistakes as much as I could – but it’s good enough for my cats and my home.
If this (and the thoughts of photos taken in the evening with poor light) doesn’t deter you, then read on below for my pattern!
DIY T-Shirt Quilt Instructions
You will need:
T-shirts (I picked 12)
Fabric for sashing (stripes between shirts)
Fabric for backing of quilt
Interfacing for t-shirts (I used iron-on) to keep the t-shirts from stretching while sewing
Quilt batting or fleece of some sort (I used iron-on fleece) to line inside of quilt
Thread to match your fabric
Iron (if you chose iron-on interfacing/fleece) & tea towel or light material to guard t-shirt ink while you iron (mine started to smudge!)
Scissors (or better yet, a rotary cutter! This was a life-saver – it’s like a pizza cutter that cuts fabric.)
Highly recommended by technically not necessary is a quilting square – I purchased a 12×12 (measures 12 1/2 on the outer edges for seam allowances) transparent quilting square to help cut my t-shirts into perfect squares. Again, another life-saver!
Decide on numbers. Choose how many t-shirts you will use – my 12 t-shirts made a throw blanket that would not completely cover a twin bed – the more shirts you use, the bigger your blanket. Also, pick how large you want to cut your t-shirts – I purchased a 12×12 inch quilting square to help me cut my shirts and decided (randomly) to go with 3″ of sashing in between each shirt and along the border of the outside.
Using your measurements, draw a diagram to help you figure out how much square footage of fabric you’ll need and divide down to find out how many yards of fabric you’ll need.I purchased 2 yards of fabric for sashing, 4 yards of fleece iron-on interfacing*, 4 yards of blue fabric for the back of the quilt.
*In retrospect, this should have been 2 yards of normal interfacing rather than fleece to line the shirts and 2 yards of the fleece interfacing. My quilt ended up being twice as thick and it made my machine a little unhappy at the end, but it worked.
Pre-wash all t-shirts and fabric to eliminate extra shrinkage/stretching.
Cut your t-shirts & interfacing to your desired size. Using my quilting square, I cut each of my t-shirts to 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 (my quilting square has an extra blue edge that adds 1/4 inch to each side) and cut an equal amount of interfacing pieces to match. I should have been using normal interfacing rather than iron-on fusible fleece interfacing for this, so my shirts were a little thicker going into the sewing stages. Iron your interfacing to your shirts, keeping a tea towel or other cloth between your hot iron and your t-shirt ink – you don’t want it to run or smudge.
Cut strips of sashing to run along one side of each of your t-shirt panels. My pieces were 3 x 12 1/2 to match the length of my shirts.
Sew your sashing strip to one side of your panels. For each t-shirt, choose one side to sew your sashing to – make sure you pick the same side for all shirts or you’ll be piecing things together. I chose the right side of each panel. Face the right sides together and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat for all t-shirts.
Right sides facing on other.
After sewing, sashing piece is pictured open.
Take a break and lay out your panels to adore your work so far! You can also start to decide what order you want your panels to lay in – I had a bunch of colors of shirt to work with and wanted it to look balanced.
Sew your t-shirt panels into rows. Face the right sides together of your panels, pin as needed, and sew together with 1/4 inch seam allowance – continue and repeat until you finish a row. Repeat with the rest of your panels to form rows.
Cut long strips of sashing to run in between your rows. Measure the length of each row and allow for some wiggle room – at least a couple of inches. For me, this meant cutting 53 x 3 inch strips to line the bottom of each row.
Sew your sashing to the bottom of each row. As you did before, face right sides together, pin as needed, and sew using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Sew each combination of sashing/row to one another to create your almost-finished front of your quilt. Now it will start to take shape! Starting at the top, take the top two rows and face right sides together, pin as needed, and sew, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Cut longer strips of sashing to complete the outside edges of your front panel. Measure the outside edges of the top and left of your quilt sides and add several inches to your total – also, make sure that you allowed for 3″ around the edge of the quilt to match the other outer edges.
Sew your sashing trim to the outside of your front panel and trim edges. As before, face right sides together, pin as needed, and sew with 1/4 inch seam allowance. After all sashing has been sewn to your quilt, spread it out flat and trim any extra pieces that are hanging out or that look rough. One side of my quilt ended up off-kilter with itself – I decided just to trim this to gradually taper to the correct width.
After trimming – rough edge!
Measure and cut your back panel(s). My quilt was too wide to accommodate 45″ fabric widths (the typical width of fabric you purchase), so I needed to piece two panels together to create one big piece. Unfortunately, I didn’t write these measurements down to share with you – they should reflect the total measurements of your quilt front. I knew I was going to have a rough edge with the off-kilter right side of my quilt that I trimmed earlier – I went ahead and ignored that as I cut my back panel and I’m fine with the back panel showing a bit around the edge after finishing.
Sew your back panels together. Allowing a 1/4 inch seam, I sewed my two back panels together to create one giant full panel for the back of my quilt.
Cut your quilt batting/fleece interfacing to the size of your back panel(s).As I reflect on this, you could have done this step one of two ways – the way I have described it here, or having cut and attached the fleece to the two back panels and then stitched them all into one big panel. That might’ve been easier to maneuver and manage, but this way worked, too. Using the same measurements as before, cut your iron on fleece interfacing to match your back panels.
Iron on your fleece interfacing to your back panel(s). I’m not sure how you would use regular quilt batting in terms of sewing this to your back panel – I used iron-on, so I pressed the interfacing to the back panels and didn’t have to worry about stitching.
Sew your front panel to your back panel. Start by facing your front panel to your back panel, right sides facing each other. Carefully pin around all the edges and pick a corner to keep un-sewn – you’ll sew almost all the way around and leave around 8-10 inches open so you can reach in and pull the quilt inside out. (Or, technically, right-side in, since it’s being sewn inside out.) Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Turn quilt inside-out. When you’re done sewing, snip the corners so the corners won’t bunch when you turn it inside out. Reach in and pull the quilt inside out, and admire! You’re so close!
Hand-stitch corner of the quilt closed. I know you can machine-sew this somehow, but I’m not confident in my ability to stitch in a way that hides the stitches, so I hand-stitched the open corner closed.
Anchor front and back of quilt to each other. Let me start with what I tried, which may or not work for you (and didn’t work for me initially).I decided to “stitch in the ditch” to anchor the front of my quilt to the back – I didn’t want repeated washes to overly-separate the two pieces and create gaps. However, having used two layers of fleece (hopefully you’ll use one layer of fleece and a layer of thin interfacing, so you won’t have this problem) made my quilt pretty thick and it tried to fight with my machine a bit as I was stitching. I used some red thread (to match the sashing) to attempt to sew a straight line through the center of my sashing, and the thickness and some slight variance in measurement of my back panel and front panel (they didn’t exactly line up) meant that I had some bunching issues – some really obvious, but most I can overlook. I’m going to go back and tear out one of my lines of stitching to try to remedy this.
If you’re pretty comfortable that your front and back are exactly the same size and won’t pull as you stitch, then go ahead and try this method – with my thickness of quilt and mismatch front and back (just by half an inch or so), I probably should have just put in a couple of small darts by hand in the corners of my t-shirts and not sewn across the whole quilt. But hey, it’s a small problem to have, and stitches can always be torn out (albeit with much effort).
Crack a bottle of wine, curl up with your new quilt, and enjoy!
My husband and I met in marching band – our first few months as friends were spent on the KU football field and in the stands, entertaining ourselves with jokes and trying to stay cool in the late Kansas heat at the games. By the time our winter games and the cold, 6am game day rehearsals in the dark rolled around, we had swapped cell phone numbers and had a hard time saying goodbye after our evening practices. Evan was a senior at the time and I a freshman (scandalous, I know!), and now the Epperson household has 7 years of KU Band gear accumulated.
KU’s School of Music was very lucky to receive swag from our sports teams that was personalized for the marching band – every year we left one of our early rehearsals with piles of t-shirts, sweatshirts, ball caps, gloves – you name it. All of our sweatshirts and t-shirts have spent years squished in a box under the bed or rumpled up in a drawer, and sorting through them this winter inspired me to turn them into something far more useful.
I’m grateful for the sewing skills and knitting skills I’m slowly acquiring, but I’m determined to only make useful items for our home. Our goal is not only to cut down on our carbon footprint but to also cut down on our homestead footprint – do I really need 7 potholders sorted by holiday, 16 scarves, 4 quilts for every season, and throw pillows so plentiful I can’t find my couch? It doesn’t make it easy for storage, moving, cleaning, or even remembering that those items exist. I don’t mind knitting or sewing items as gifts for family and friends, but utility and usefulness are a big part of my craft investments.
So here I was with two armloads of old t-shirts that we haven’t worn or looked at in 5 years that have just been taking up space and plastic storage containers under our bed, and I decided that a simple t-shirt quilt will be just the right thing to give them a new life. I picked out 12 shirts for a 3 x 4 quilt pattern and researched some ideas on Pinterest (both helpful and unhelpful all at once), and I’ve settled on a simple throw pattern with sashing to border the t-shirt squares and outside edge. It’ll be smaller than a twin-size quilt, but I can easily hang it or use it as a throw for my KU-themed guest bedroom. I’ll detail the full project in a future post, but here is a sneak-peek of an early step in the process:
This is only a tiny glimpse into our pantry of canned goods after this past summer. Even come December, we were still overflowing with jars of pickles, jalapeños, strawberry & blackberry jam, sauerkraut, and hot sauce. We used Christmas as a way to spread the wealth – we brought a crate of canned goods and let our families pick their favorites. They were delighted – and we are delighted that our hard work is being utilized, appreciated, and eaten.