Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Found Energy!

It's been a long while since I had any energy to do anything more than look at wonderful project ideas from all of my favorite bloggers, so today (and yesterday really) have been a real treat for me!  I got to put some of those great ideas to work in my own home!

Yesterday I finally got around to sewing up my first "test" diaper following the newborn sizing of a Snail Shell.  It isn't pretty and had way too much elastic to really be "useful" I think, but it was a good "first try".  I even followed it with making the next size up!  The size small is much easier to sew since it does not have the umbilical cut out.  You can sort of see the cutout on the red diaper...I don't like the location of the blue snaps either, those are to hold the PUL liner in place (not made yet).  On the Newborn sixe, it is right on the seam allowance!  If I can even use this one, I'm going to have to hand-stitch around those snaps to stop the loose material from fraying.

The Green diaper is the small size, it went together so much easier!  First of all, I used less elastic, and I pulled the crud out of it while I was stitching it in!  For the first one, I just secured the ends of the elastic and then turned and top-stitched so the elastic was left "loose" in the channel.  On the green one, I zig-zagged the length of the elastic, I think it really helped a lot!

I think, after making one of each, that I'm going to stick to the size smalls and just pin the center down if I need to once baby is really here (and will then be "real" and not just a blip on the doppler).  I may get really adventurous and try to modify the newborn pattern slightly to exclude the cutout, but that is more "work" than I really want to take on today.  I won't be making anymore (except a liner) until after my trip next week.  I'm taking these two south with me to play dress-up on my sister's youngest (he's almost 5 months old now).  Then, I'll be back "in the swing of things" and can really get sewing on these!  Of course, I'm also bringing our 4 year old nephew home with me for a week long visit, followed by another visit from my Mom and a cousin who has yet to see our place (yikes, I better get cleaning energy soon)!

Yup, you saw that right...I'm taking on the 4 year old (again)!  In all honesty, any of the kids are pretty easy on a one to one basis, for me anyway.  The older boys have to wait until school gets out this year before they get to make the trek, but by then we should know if they are getting a boy or girl cousin!  I've promised both of them I'd take them shopping and let them pick out special outfits "just from them" while they're here (our local thrift shops sell baby gear for $0.99, I figure I can give them a $5 limit and let them each go hog wild, lol).

The 4 year old might even be lucky enough to get in on some "building" while he's here (assuming I get my butt in gear and get to Home Depot soonish)!  Rather than looking for and spending a ton of money on a dresser and (or) a changing table, I found this site!  I'm planning on making 2 of the 4-basket tall laundry basket dressers, at 48-49 inches high, it means I won't have to be hunched over while changing diapers and Garrick (who is 6'6") will only have to hunch minimally.  Nothing I do, save getting a step stool for me to stand on will make the table top an easy level for he can just deal with my "best" solution, lol.  I've priced out the wood for each dresser (since I need to make two of them) and that should run us about $45 if prices online for Home Depot are on par with in-store (they usually are).  I didn't price out the nails, glue, etc...but, I did round the price to an even $100 for both dressers.  To that, I'll need to get 8 laundry baskets (measured so they fit the dresser)...the ones used for the project are the "cheap" Sterilite ones, available at my local Wal-Mart for $6.50 each ($6.50 * 8 = $52)!  So, the dresser project works out to be pretty spendy in the long run, around $175 if I round up for paint and such.  But, considering we could just as easily spend $200+ on a dresser and another $100+ on a changing table (that has no real purpose past the time baby learns to roll over) sort of brings the price into perspective a bit.  I'm waiting until closer to June for this project right now...I want to get them painted ASAP after they're built!

Back to projects I have accomplished though!  I ran across this site several weeks ago and have been toying with the idea of making my own Laundry Soap ever since.  You see, everything I read about cloth diapering (or rather washing them) tells you all the things not to use!  Dreft is out, All is out, the list goes on and on and on!  I thought I had found a "solution" in the form of Planet laundry detergent, except, the store I "knew" stocked it doesn't stock it anymore!  So here I am, with a pile of pre-owned cloth diapers just begging for a wash (I found stains in them I'd like to try to get out) and nothing to wash them with!
Getting started in Laundry Soap making!
 So, after doing even more research on the topic last night (and spending several hours laying awake thinking about it in the middle of the night), I decided today was the day, I was going to take the plunge and give it a try!  Besides, someone mentioned that this homemade stuff was good for people with Eczema and other skin issues (which my BIL and nephews all suffer from).  How could I not try this?  There's also the money saving side of things...The site I linked up top there stated that she did the math and the cost per load worked out to less than $0.01 per load!  I'll do my own math in a bit...but we'll go with that for now, talk about a money saver!
Ivory soap ready to hit the water and become laundry soap!

And while I was at it...I also picked up a container of LemiShine (it's a powdered rinse aid...I had never heard of it before)!  With it, the Borax, Washing Soda (and check this out for even more money saving), and some Kosher Salt (I have this from when I made the SauerKraut), I have all the makings for homemade Dishwasher Soap too!  Do not be surprised if this years Christmas presents are Laundry and Dishwasher soap...I think this stuff is pretty danged cool!  I found the "recipe" for that here.

So, my price breakdown...
     Laundry Soap:
Borax (76 ounce box) - $3.57                  Borax (4 ounces) - $0.19

Washing Soda (55 ounce box) - $3.17    Washing Soda (4 ounces) - $0.23
Ivory Soap (3-pack) - $1.69                     Ivory Soap (1 bar) -$0.56

Since I can't buy these things "in bulk" and get just the amounts I need, I had to buy the boxes and use what I needed.  The box of Borax houses 19 half cup "servings" and the Washing Soda contains 13.75 half cup uses (going by weight of course).  I chose to use a whole bar of Ivory, but your soap usage may vary.  My first batch of Laundry Soap cost $8.43 (and the rest are all free) or I can make at least 2 more batches costing $0.98 each before I need to replace any ingredient!  That's under $1 for 2-gallons of Laundry Soap!  Usage varies a bit as well, I've seen recommendations for anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2-cup  per load.  At "max dosage", that's 64 loads of laundry at $0.015 per load.  And because I like to be difficult...if we use the first way of "mathing it", it's $0.13 for each of the first 64 loads, and the next 128 loads are free!

Done and starting it's "overnight" sit!
Next time I need to buy supplies (assuming "we" like this stuff and I continue making it and saving us the $18-20 per 60 loads of laundry we pay now for Tide), I'm going to give Castile soap a try, it's a coconut oil based soap (think Dr. Bonner's here).  It's supposed to smell "less soapy" but work just as well, some say better.  It's on sale right now at Fred Meyer for $2.09 for a 3-pack, so the cost per batch would go up a few cents, but not much.

Cost for the (as yet unmade) Dishwasher Soap (which can be turned into pre-portioned "packets" as well)...

LemiShine (12 ounce bottle) - $3.66 LemiShine (8 ounces, doubled cause we have hard water) - $2.44
Borax (76 ounce box) - $3.57            Borax (8 ounces) - $0.38
Washing Soda (55 ounce box) - $3.17   Washing Soda (8 ounces) - $0.46
Kosher Salt (?? already had it) - free      Kosher Salt (4 ounces) - still "free"

So, assuming you also have salt lying about (the author used regular iodized table salt with no ill effects), the "batch cost" here is roughly $3.18.  Not bad...especially if you have priced out those little Cascade pouches recently!  You only need 1 Tablespoon of this stuff too, so if I do the math there...3.5 cups * 16 Tablespoons per cup...that's 56 loads of soon to be clean dishes!  Or, about $0.06 per load.

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