Make Lapels Lie Flat

It has been a pet peeve of mine for years…lapels that don’t lie flat. I have sewn the lapels on my pajamas down completely because they irritate my face. I will sew a few stitches in the corners of lapels on my jackets to get them to stay down, but I couldn’t use either method on my winter coat. Sometimes, I need to flip those lapels up to keep warm!

I love my winter coat; but when it first arrived, it had one lapel that bent over. It does not want to lie flat. Every time I wash it, I pin the lapel down and hope it will lie flat after it dries.

That doesn’t work!

Coat lapels

My winter coat with bent lapel

I was washing it and decided I wanted to correct that irritating lapel before I put it in storage. My solution?

SNAPS!

Coat with snaps

I sewed snaps on the corner of the lapel and on the coat.

The snaps keep the lapel flat and I can unsnap them when I need to close the lapels on bitter cold days.

Coat lapels.

Now the lapel behaves

We all know to repair clothing items before storing, but it is also a good time to alter them.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Alter Dad’s Suit for Son’s Prom

I remember shopping for the perfect prom dress with my daughter in 2006. She chose a gorgeous confection in purple – her favorite color.

She did not get to buy it because I had given her a limit of what I would contribute. She saw the dress in a magazine and decided she could earn the money by working three part-time jobs. But the actual price would have purchased a good, used car, and all of her work did not raise enough funds.

We went to the store and she purchased her second choice. It was a lovely black and white strapless dress with embroidery all along the gores of the dress. It was beautiful.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Shopping for prom back then was all about staying in budget. Fast forward to 2011…yikes…no income for me!!!

Luckily, I was not buying a dress but looking for a suit. I always thought I was the most frugal in this household, but that year at prom I was proven wrong.

My son didn’t want to rent a tuxedo, or buy a suit; he wanted me to cut down his father’s pinstripe suit! In fact, he insisted on it!

Halfway through the alterations, I tried to talk him out of it, but he had his heart set. So, I folded over the sides of the vest and sewed them down. I took some tucks in the pants in the front and the back.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

That three-piece suit has a history. I bought it for Christmas in our first year of marriage at a good men’s clothing store. David had a couple elderly relatives pass away and he served as a pallbearer. He had a blue suit and I thought he needed a black one. He started working overtime and I used that money to make payments on this black, pinstripe suit.

He wore it to funerals and weddings and when he wore it on Easter Sunday, people thought he was going to preach! This is a picture of him wearing it as he was the emcee at a Valentine’s Banquet in 1997.

Man in black suit, holding microphone on Valentine's Day

My husband wearing the suit to emcee a Valentine’s Day Banquet in 1997.

 

It is now enjoying a second life in Derek’s closet. It has been to its share of weddings with him, and a couple of times, parts of it have gone along to play with the band he was in.

The moral of my story is:

  1. Buy the best quality you can so it will last. (Who knew…30 years?)
  2. Don’t give up because you can’t afford to buy or rent a suit; see if there is one in a closet to altered. Even if you pay to have someone alter it, it will be well worth the money.

This is me and Derek before he left for prom.

Mom and son in suit for prom.

Me and my son, wearing the altered suit for prom, 2011.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Boot Socks Hack

Rain is in the forecast for the next 3 days.

I am grateful there is no snow in the forecast…after all, it is Iowa! Spring in Iowa is definitely cooler than in the southern states. We save the rain boots for summer and wear our boots with socks!

Feet wearing red boots with boot socks

My favorite red boots with boot socks.

When I wear leggings, I like to have warm socks that cover the gap between them and the boots. Instead of buying “boot socks,” I borrowed some black tube socks from my husband.

He wears a size 14 and I wear a size 7. I had to fold them over a few times to get the look I wanted, but they were free!

A pair of black tube socks.

My husband’s black, tube socks.

I also like borrowing his white, button-down shirt to wear over leggings. It’s a dress on me! It’s just one of the benefits of marrying a man built like John Wayne.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

DIY “As Comfortable As Sweats” Bra

“JUST CUT THEM OFF!”

I was in the Emergency Room with chest pains. It was like a steel band around my ribs that was too tight. I couldn’t stand for anything to touch my ribs.

Anything!

I later learned, one symptom of an inflamed gallbladder is you cannot find a comfortable bra. You can try different band sizes and still, nothing works!

My gallbladder was inflamed for years. This year had been especially hard. Finally, 6 months ago, I decided to make my own bra.

I got the idea from my youngest son! He wears sweatpants/trainers/joggers a lot. They are comfortable because you can tighten or loosen the drawstring at the waistband.

He also hates the strings in his hooded sweatshirts. The first thing he does when he buys a new sweatshirt is to rip out the string. He laughed at me because I always saved them.

I bought a pack of 3 sports bras, and using the strings from his hoodies, I made a bra that is as comfortable as a pair of sweatpants.

DIY “As Comfortable As Sweats” Bra

  1. Cut a small vertical slit in the front center of the first layer of the bra. (If the bra is lined, you will need to cut through the lining.
  2. Stitch around the opening(s) like you are making a button-hole.
  3. Find a cord or shoestring that is 12″ longer than your band size.
  4. Put a safety-pin at the end of it.
  5. Push the safety-pin through the hole, and around the band over the top of the elastic.
  6. On shorter strings, I tied the ends together.
  7. After putting the bra on, tighten the strings, make 2 loops, and tie together.

It was so comfortable that I wanted to apply for a patent on it! (I came up with an even better idea, that would take different materials…maybe I’ll patent that one!)

DIY "AS Comfortable As Sweats" Bra

DIY “AS Comfortable As Sweats” Bra

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

 

Simple Easter

“Come on, get hoppy! Pinners have saved your ideas on 98,178 Easter boards like this.” Pinterest Partner Team

It shocked me when I saw the most popular Easter pin, see post here!

My Easter centerpiece, whose inspiration was the striations in the glass rocks.

My Easter centerpiece, whose inspiration was the striations in the glass rocks.

It is simple and sometimes that is the best way to go! Like the simple table I had on Easter, 2012, see here.

Easter dinner for the extended family.

Easter dinner for the extended family.

It also doesn’t have to be new. Many times I created an Easter outfit out of clothes I had in my closet, see here.

I’m not saying to never buy new, but to buy them when they are on clearance. Yesterday they delivered my Christmas dress. It was a dress sold for Valentine’s Day that had been drastically reduced.

Some years, I am extravagant, like the years I invited my extended family, or the years I made Easter cakes, see here.

My 2012 Easter Cake

My 2012 Easter Cake

My 2011 Easter Cakes

My 2011 Easter Cakes

This year will definitely be simple! My husband suggested “Pork loin in the Crock-pot.”

“Sounds great to me…especially if he makes it!”

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

DIY Queen Costume

Did you see me get my Grammy last night?
Oh, wait…I received my award a few weeks ago…
…but it wasn’t a Grammy.

Our church holds a Volunteer Banquet to feed, thank, and generally spoil all the volunteers. There is a catered meal, games, prizes, and “Star Awards” given to the volunteer of the year in several categories:

“In appreciation for rising to the challenge of commitment, demonstrating an attitude of excellence and sacrificing beyond expectation.”

The theme this year was “Star Wars.” I decided to go as Luke Skywalker’s mom. I have so much in common with her:
• We both have a son named Luke.
• We both have a daughter: hers is Leia and mine is Laura.
• We both married younger men.

I didn’t want to wear black clothes, with the white face makeup of Queen Amidala; and since she died in childbirth, I decided to go as the pregnant version.

The actress in the movie who played Queen Amidala wore velvet a lot. I got out the maxi dress I wore to senior prom because it had velvet on it. The dress is pink, with a wine-colored, velvet inlay and attached capelet overlay. I had to remake it a bit.

I took the cameo off of the front and replaced it with a rhinestone embellishment from my little black dress. That pin had a hole in the center. I folded over several layers of wine-colored tulle and used it to fill in the hole.

Then I made a floor length cape to go over it. I took a velour throw and hemmed one edge. The satin ribbon belt from one of my bridesmaid’s dresses made a good tie. The throw was wine colored, and the ribbon was pink.

I put a “bump-it” in my hair and combed the hair over it. I secured it in the back with a jeweled barrette and put my tiara from a Queen contest on in front. I wore crystal earrings and a crystal, beaded necklace.

Since Luke’s mom in the movie died after giving birth, I pinned some binding to a small pillow to make a baby bump. I wrapped the binding around the front and tied it.

I was all set to win the costume contest because most people said they were not going in costume. We could go in costume, wear a “Star Wars” t-shirt, or wear street clothes. (They jokingly said the only ones in costume were under the age of 40!)

I didn’t win.

Then our family won the award in the music ministry category and I had to go up on the platform…in my prom dress, looking pregnant, for pictures! David was a big help. In the first picture, he pointed to the pillow. Luckily, they took another one!

When it comes to making costumes, you do not have to rent them. Sometimes the most comfortable ones are hiding in a storage tote, or trunk, in the attic.

Queen Costume and the Star Award we won that night.

Queen Costume and the Star Award we won that night.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

Save Time, Money, Water, and Electricity with This Laundry Tip

When my father was planning to retire, he decided to upgrade his older appliances. His dryer worked fine, but he wanted to have a matching set. My dryer was dying and he offered his old one to us. He wasn’t sure how long it would last.

That was ten years ago and his dryer is still running!

What did I do to extend its life?

I followed a tip I first heard at debtproofliving.com:

“Put your dryer on the ‘Delicate’ setting and dry everything on the ‘Permanent Press’ cycle.”

Your dryer’s heating element on low extends its life. The clothes dry just as quickly…even towels!

Another thing I do is get the clothes out of the dryer on the first buzz. If there are items that are not completely dry, I put them back in the dryer and let it run while I fold the remaining clothes. They are usually dry before I get the rest folded. If not, like the double pockets on jeans, I throw them over the retractable clothesline, see here.

I take the time to shake out each larger item before I put them in the dryer. Clothes tangled in a ball take longer to dry, and it leaves them hopelessly wrinkled.

I turn flannel pajama pants and sweatpants inside out to allow the pockets to dry completely. I even fold the jeans into a “Z” to keep them from tangling. (Don’t forget the tennis balls, see here.) It really helps if you have white jeans washed with other white fabrics, see here.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

In November our washer started leaking. The repairman said a bearing was failing and it wore a hole in a hose. He repaired the hose and it still leaked. When he came back he found the second leak was from the gasket on my front load washing machine.

That disgusted me!

We had to replace that gasket twice while it was still under warranty. The gasket cost $100.00 and the labor to replace it was $200.00. The repairman told me to use it until the ball bearing completely failed. We both agreed it would not be wise to invest another $300.00 in the machine.

Our washing machine is 12″ from a drain and there is nothing between it and the drain. It has been no problem to just let it leak when I run it. The water just goes down the drain.

I was so pleased with the dryer’s longevity, that I decided to find a way to make a washer last longer. Then it hit me…

the “Speed Wash” cycle!

That cycle runs for 38 minutes and the regular cycle has an extra rinse and runs for 61 minutes. I started my clothes on the “Speed Wash Cycle” for a few months now and they are just as clean. I treat stains as usual before throwing them in the wash.

The great thing is the washer cycle finishes a few minutes after the dryer’s first buzz. I have time to fold that load before putting the next load in the dryer. A load used to take 2 hours to wash and dry; now it takes an hour and fifteen minutes.

I wash 2 loads a day and I finish in an hour and a half, including the time to fold the clothes. It used to take me over 3 hours to do the same 2 loads. It’s wonderful to finish my laundry in half of the time!

A tip to save time, water, electricity, and wear and tear on your machines.

A tip to save time, water, electricity, and wear and tear on your machines.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

The Top Five Things I Like

New Balance Shoes

These made in America shoes are tough, sturdy, and supportive. The walking shoes are the ones recommended for post office workers who walk for miles on their routes every day. I order two pair of white shoes in the spring and alternate them each day. I order two pair of black shoes in the fall and alternate them, too.

My pumps and boots are made by their sister company, Avalon. They all have removable insoles that allows you to put in custom-made insoles. They offer shoes from narrow to 4E.

Not Your Daughter’s Jeans

Once you have a baby everything changes. After the second or third baby, most clothes look good only on the hanger! Throw in several years on Prednisone and you might feel like shopping in the maternity section. NYDJ to the rescue. They are cut different and have enough spandex in them for stretch and support. I love them.

St. Johns Bay Tees

My clothes are 100% cotton because of my sensitive skin. I love these tees from J.C. Penney because they have extra material where you need it without looking like maternity clothes. They also have a roomier cut for those who need larger than DD in that area. I have tried tees from other manufacturers, but they tend to bunch up around my arm pits. They end up in the Good Will donation box after a few months.

St. Johns Bay makes short-sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, and long-sleeve tees. They come in Vee neck, crew neck, and scoop necklines. Some are embellished and others are plain. I layer them in the cooler months.

Good Will

I can get the above brands at a fraction of the cost. I look for items with the tags still attached. People don’t want to take the time to return items when the size does not fit correctly. They throw it in a box for Good Will and I snatch them up!

Chromebook

I purchased one when I got tired of waiting for my turn on the desk top. At the time I was sharing it with my husband a two kids. It was not expensive. I can even write on those days that I am feeling under the weather. My favorite place to write is on the front room with a lap desk. I can look out the picture window to give my eyes a break and it’s nice to pop out the recliner on the couch!

Score!

I shared in a recent post one of the reasons I shop at Goodwill, see here. Here is another reason I shop there…

I can find new, expensive items at a fraction of the cost.

I love NYDJ (Not Your Daughters Jeans) jeans, but they cost over $100.00 new. I can find them at Goodwill, with the tags still attached, and get them for $5.88. Coldwater Creek is another favorite brand.

 

My last trip to Goodwill was successful.

New NYDJ jeans, complete with tags, and a Coldwater Creek embellished tee.

New NYDJ jeans, complete with tags, and a Coldwater Creek embellished tee.

(Note: Whenever you see a word in blue, it is hyperlinked to another article, resource, or more information. Click on it and it will take you to there.)

A Great Big Box

Dave: “Alvin, what are you getting me for Christmas?”

Alvin: “A great, big box.”

Dave: “Why a great, big box?”

Alvin: “So you can fill it with presents for us!”

Dave: “For you! It’s supposed to be for me!”

Who doesn’t love the Chipmunks! I think Alvin was right in one respect. We should all have a great, big box somewhere that we fill with items for others.

As we are getting ready for fall, we should pull the items out of our closet that we did not wear this spring and summer. They need to go into the box.

Most of our children’s clothes will not fit them next summer, and unless you are saving them for a sibling, they need to go into the box.

If you are planning to donate that box to charity, make an inventory of its contents. Spread the items out and take a picture of them. When you donate them be sure to get a receipt. You have fulfilled three of the requirements to use these items as a tax deduction.

To deduct those items you need to:

  1. Take a picture of the items.
  2. Donate them to a non-profit agency.
  3. Get a receipt from the agency.
  4. Record the amount you paid for each item.
  5. Record the fair market value of the items.

Right now, what you need to concentrate on is cleaning out closets and gathering donations.

Just get a great, big box!

Items to be donated.

Items to be donated.