Upcycle Feed Sacks!

Upcycle Your Animal Feed Sacks

Do you like animals? Do like to sew? Even if you don’t have a hobby farm you still might have some animal feed bags laying around you could “upcycle” into re-usable shopping bags, beach bags, or a hip bag to take to your local farmer’s market.

In addition to poultry and dog feed I buy a lot of bird seed, both mixed seed and black oil sunflower. Oftentimes the bags have very pretty designs, like this one: 

The best bags are the ones that have a weave as you can use a sewing machine to put them together.

You can use other types of bags, like dog or cat food bags, but those cannot be punctured with a needle without damaging the bag material. You can always make a bag from them using my method, you just need to use glue, instead of a sewing machine.

Once you’ve found the bag you want you should take off both the top and bottom binding material and lay the bag out flat on a cutting surface and trim the edges of the top or bottom if necessary.

I am using a cutting wheel with a ruler made specifically for cutting wheels on my bag but you can use regular scissors. 

Once you’ve evened up the edges you can cut off the top part of the bag so you will have some material to make a handle.

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry if the strip you have to work with is wrinkled or ugly, by the time you are finished flattening and folding and sewing it the handle will be fine.

I cut off enough so that I can fold it in half with the ends tucked in–so maybe 2.5 times the width of the final handle.

Here is the strip I cut in the first picture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the second picture you can see the piece is much flatter after “hand ironing” and clamping with binder clips. I use binder clips for this project because they are much easier than shoving pins into the stiff material.

Once your handle is folded, clipped, and ready to sew you can set it aside.

Turn your bag inside out and use binder clips to fold a seam on the bottom edge of the bag.

You will then sew the seam and also sew the handle.

I sew two seams on the handle, one on each side, which stabilizes it and makes it less likely to roll. (see picture on lower left)

Once you’ve sewed the bottom seam you next sew the corners so you will have a bag that sits up on its own.

You will open the bag up (still keeping it inside out) and use a triangle guide to mark the corners.

I just make a triangle guide out of a reinforced piece of paper.

It’s easier to look at the following pictures to understand what I mean.

First you will turn the bag so the seam you’ve just sewed is running vertically, make sure the seam is centered and place the triangle on the corner and mark it with a pen or marker. 

See how the seam you’ve just sewn is facing you in the picture to the left (the one with my hand almost covering all the seam!)

That is the bottom of the bag and this is what you will stitch to make your bag stand up on its own.  

Here it is after I’ve drawn the marking:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then here it is after I’ve sewn both corners. I’ve left the picture larger so you can see what I mean. See how it is standing up, even though it is inside out?

Now you can turn your bag rightside out.

For the top edge of the bag you are going to fold the top over two times so there are no raw edges showing.

Once you’ve turned it over all the way around you can either pin or clamp it so that it’s even.

Now you will tuck the end of the handle under the fold at whatever two points on the bag you would like your handle.

Again I use binder clips to get everything into position.

Here is a picture of the back side of the bag all clipped and ready to sew!

Once everything is secure, you can sew it. It won’t be easy, the material is stiff and you will have to struggle with it. Just go slowly and keep checking that the slick material isn’t slipping.

Before I show you the finished project I’d like to share a bit about the sewing machine I’m using.

I bought this 1913 commercial Singer machine from a saddle maker who lived at the very end of The Santa Fe Trail (true story!) He was downsizing and had three commercial Singers just like this one. I already had 12 sewing machines at the time so I needed to make and sell a lot of these feed bags to justify the expenditure!

The machine was originally operated by a treadle but the saddle-maker attached a 1.5 HP motor to it and also added this (kind of ugly but very handy) formica top, complete with homemade scissor holder!

He showed me how to operate it when I bought it but it all dribbled out of my head before I actually got to use the machine.

 Luckily, the Smithsonian Institute has a library of operator manuals, so I was able to download a copy of the actual instruction manual

You don’t need to use a 1913 Singer to sew your bag, I sewed my first 50 bags on the first machine I bought for myself back in 1986, which is the cheapest Singer made.

Just make sure you buy a heavy needle adequate to the task and use heavy duty thread.

 

 

 

Okay! Here is what you’ve been waiting for, the finished bag! 

Voila! I hope you give this a try and upcycle a bag of your own. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions!

If you’d like to win the bag I’ve upcycled in this article please come and check out my upcoming Facebook Party on June 18, 2018, where I’m giving away not only a bag, but other goodies, too! NO purchase necessary. Link to Summer Reading List Launch Party!!

Minerva’s Bird Sanctuary by Minerva Spencer

via Minerva’s Bird Sanctuary by Minerva Spencer

The 500-hour skirt . . . (yes, again!)

NOTE: I’m re-posting this by request because I’m crocheting another skirt just like it, but in chili red.

Yes, I really am crazy. . .

Every time I wear this skirt people want to know more about it and also want to know where I found the pattern. I’ve attached the pattern link below and it’s free!!

If you decide you want to make one and have any questions please feel free to ask me as I see granny squares in my sleep. I’ve also made just about every mistake a person can make–at least when it comes to this pattern. 

This time I will post more pictures as I go along.


Last April I decided I had to have this skirt I saw featured on beautifulcrochetstuff.com

crochet-maxi-skirt-free-pattern

I’m a self-taught knitter and crocheter who knows just enough about both to be dangerous (to myself, mostly). By dangerous I mean I frequently get into projects that are well over my head.

 

If I would have stopped and thought about it for a second (which I didn’t) I would have said, “No way!” to making this skirt.

Instead, I looked online for the yarn (well, thread would be more accurate). The woman who designed the pattern  recommends: Alize Forever cotton. I found the product for sale in Latvia. Seriously. It cost less than $2/skein and only took a few weeks to get all the way to the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Here is what it looks like when compared to both a spool of sewing thread and serger thread (finer than normal thread):

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Scary, huh?

I began crocheting the granny squares last April. I wish I had taken photos, but it didn’t occur to me what a monumental task this project would be (told you I didn’t think things through…)

All of the squares looked wrinkly and oddly-shaped and . . . weird. But I just kept going. I made about 10 squares and then put the project away until November 2016, when I finished the squares and began to join everything together. Each row took about 2 hours, not counting the time it took me to undo mistakes I made. Since I worked on this while streaming movies with my husband, I frequently crocheted entire rows that were wrong.

It looked like the skirt wasn’t getting any bigger, even after a few months of working on it 4 or 5 evenings a week. But persistence paid off and so did the fact I wanted it finished for my conference in LA this March.

I was crocheting the frill on the bottom and feeling like it would never be quite long enough when I decided to see if I could press it with an iron and maybe “flatten” it out a bit.

Whoops!

Yes, this was exactly what the granny squares needed to become beautiful and flat. In fact, the skirt became plenty long after I pressed it. It was beautiful . I LOVED it. Unfortunately, once the fibers have been ironed it’s almost impossible to weave in all the loose ends on the garment.

So, live and learn. And also live with dozens of loose ends you are too afraid to cut and cannot weave in. . .

Anyhow, here are some pics of the finished product:

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A close up of the bottom:

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One of those pesky granny squares:

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And the waistband, which you crochet with thread and elastic thread:

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So, there is the skirt. I would make one and sell it for about a million dollars…

 

 

Summer Book Party with Authors 18!!

Please join me and the debut authors 18 group to celebrate the release of our summer books! We’ll be getting together on Facebook for a few hours to talk about the books and giveaway prizes.

When: June 18, 2018

What Time: 6:30-9:30 EDT

Where: Summer Reading List Party!

Pirate Trivia and Prize Mayhem in The Drawing Room May 9th, 6pm EDT !!!

YESSSS! Pirate trivia by Minerva . . . aaarrrg!

Here is a tiny taste of some tough and tricky trivia: 

What was pirate Mark Read’s real name?* (answer below)

Join the fun and win a 12-Book Bundle and MORE!

 Image may contain: one or more people

The Patronesses are hosting a party on Facebook! It costs nothing to join in the fun and there will be trivia and prizes!

Here is the link to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheDrawingRoomHR/

I will be giving away an autographed book and some handmade bookmarks that look like this…

Here is one in an actual book!

 

*Mary Read, one of the only two women convicted of piracy

Hope to see you there!

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, this is a review for adults. No kiddies allowed.

I’ve read a lot of reviews comparing Hoang’s debut to Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game (which I LOOOOOVED) Yes, both books are hilarious and peopled with characters you really care about, but I think The Kiss Quotient pulled ahead of The Hating Game on my list of favorite contemporary romances.

Why? Because I’ve never read a romance novel where the characters are so honest. Seriously, Stella’s reaction to Michael is so refreshingly REAL I just couldn’t get enough.

And Michael? He is nuclear meltdown HOT. And not just his body, he is also funny and hard-working and responsible and self-aware–yes, he is the freakin’ UNICORN of men!!!! But you believe in this unicorn because of Hoang’s deft development of his character. Mainly it is his family that makes you believe.

He has a PILE of sisters who keep him from getting conceited (these girls need their own book. HINT. No, I’m serious. I want a book about Janie. Now.) I love his family.

But back to Michael. Not only is he hot, he is also smart, sensitive, and he knows his way around women’s clothing (see, unicorn, right?) He is a decent, funny, witty (and did I mention HOT) guy who gets better and better the more you get to know him.

My favorite part of the book (other than the sex scenes, which are not only plentiful but SCORCHING) is the fact there are no “too-stupid-to-live” misunderstandings. These guys are about as honest with each other as you can get, which doesn’t mean they don’t both have their secrets, but the things they DO keep from each other you can understand.

This book is a mo*&%$#ing blockbuster. I can SO see it being made into a movie. Just two words about that: Daniel Henny.

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Sign up for a FREE copy of DANGEROUS!

It’s time for FREE advance reader copies of DANGEROUS!!!

You can sign up for a copy either on NETGALLEY or GOODREADS. 

dangerous book cover

What sort of lady doesn’t make her debut until the age of thirty-two? A timeless beauty with a mysterious past—and a future she intends to take into her own hands . . .

Lady Euphemia Marlington hasn’t been free in seventeen years—not since she was captured by Corsairs and sold into a harem. Now the sultan is dead and Mia is back in London facing relentless newspapermen, an insatiably curious public, and her first Season. Worst of all is her ashamed father’s ultimatum: marry a man of his choosing or live out her life in seclusion. No doubt her potential groom is a demented octogenarian. Fortunately, Mia is no longer a girl, but a clever woman with a secret—and a plan of her own . . .

 

Adam de Courtney’s first two wives died under mysterious circumstances. Now there isn’t a peer in England willing to let his daughter marry the dangerously handsome man the ton calls The Murderous Marquess. Nobody except Mia’s father, the desperate Duke of Carlisle. Clearly Mia must resemble an aging matron, or worse. However, in need of an heir, Adam will use the arrangement to his advantage . . .

But when the two outcasts finally meet, assumptions will be replaced by surprises, deceit by desire—and a meeting of minds between two schemers may lead to a meeting of hearts—if the secrets of their pasts don’t tear them apart . . . 

“Minerva Spencer’s writing is sophisticated and wickedly witty. Dangerous is a delight from start to finish with swashbuckling action, scorching love scenes, and a coolly arrogant hero to die for. Spencer is my new auto-buy.” 
—New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt
 
“Readers will love this lusty and unusual marriage of convenience story.” 
—New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter
 
“Smart, witty, graceful, sensual, elegant and gritty all at once. It has all of the meticulous attention to detail I love in Georgette Heyer, BUT WITH SEX!” 
RITA-award winning author Jeffe Kennedy

Book Review: Don’t Call me Cupcake

Don't Call Me Cupcake (The Holloway Girls, #1)Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s not often that a house steals the show in a romance–or in any book–but that’s what happened in Sheets’s debut novel. I LOVED the house. I want the house.

Okay, enough about the house and back to the book….

Emma’s baked goods come with secret ingredients and the fun starts when she sells the wrong magic to Hunter, who winds up being her competitor. Enemies to lovers is one of my all-time-favorite tropes and Sheets handles it with some magic of her own!

This was a fun, romantic, page-turning book from beginning to end. I thought maybe the characters might be too “sweet” but Sheets delivers sweetness with humor and clever charm that keeps anyone from being saccharine. And let’s face it–Hunter is a hottie, so he can be as sweet as he wants…

I don’t usually read “paranormal” romances, or romances with magical elements, but I found this done so well I could actually believe in the power of Emma’s magical food.

In addition to the very amusing house there is Juliette, Emma’s sister, who gets center stage in the next book. I liked Juliette as much as Emma and can’t wait for her story.

One warning: Make sure you are well-armed with snacks before you start this book because you won’t want to put it down to go in search of baked goods!!!

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2018 Debut Romance: Check out these exciting and fresh new voices!

From contemporary to historical to time-travel, from sweet to hot and steamy to inspirational… if you’re looking for love stories, Authors18 debut writers have what you need!

Book review of Christina Britton’s debut novel WITH LOVE IN SIGHT

With Love in Sight (Twice Shy, #1)With Love in Sight by Christina Britton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a sucker for historical romance books with chicks who wear specs and With Love in Sight is no exception.

I liked Caleb, but I must admit I was partial to Imogen and enjoyed her inner workings and watching her personal growth over the course of the book.

Britton does an excellent job developing a couple of my favorite tropes: the wallflower/scrappy spinster and the-rake-with-a-heart-of-gold. I thought she deviated enough from the standard treatments to keep the story fresh and interesting.

There were a couple of points where I wanted to bash the characters’ heads together and yell WAKE UP! but that happens in any fulfilling romance at some point novel, historical or contemporary and Britton was careful not to bog down the story with any TSTL characters.

Overall I found her style engaging and the story kept me turning the pages and rooting for love. I’d read another Britton book in a heartbeat.

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