Product Review: Dryer Balls

While browsing one day, I came across some Laura Ashley dryer balls in Marshall's.  I was intrigued to say the least!!  The package claimed several things, one of which was very, very dear to my heart: no chemicals.  They are meant to replace dryer sheets and softeners.

I have a daughter (and myself) who has reactions to many things in her environment.  She was diagnosed young with eczema, but I came to realize that wasn't the case.  Her symptoms would come and go, sometimes very severe.  I soon realized that she had skin allergies.  Anyway....the dryer balls aren't coated with any chemicals, softeners, fragrances, etc.  They're just hard plastic balls.

So, I'm standing in Marshall's, wondering how these plastic balls are going to help me save money, energy and best of all, give me a life with a few less chemicals in it.  The package says that the balls bounce around and separate your laundry while in the dryer, making it more efficient.

I've used them for about 4 months now and I'm very pleased.  My daughter itches much less now and that makes me a happy mama.  At first I noticed a bit of static on some items, but that seems to have resolved itself.  I honestly couldn't be happier that I tried this product!

There are lots of different versions of the balls, many of which are wool.  You can even add essential oils to them if that's something you want to do.  Here is a great tutorial on the Live Simply blog that shows you step by step instructions on how to create these wonderful, colorful balls.

I know there are moms out there that are struggling with eczema or allergies in their families.  I'm here to tell you this is one step closer to your goal.

Happy Spring!


Changing Pad Cover Tutorial

A changing pad cover is a simple item to make, requiring beginner sewing skills.  This tutorial assumes you know to back stitch at the beginning to secure stitches, etc.  Here is my tutorial on how to create a changing pad cover.  I recommend you read the whole tutorial first.

Not feeling so creative?  I also make and sell custom crib bedding.

Items you'll need:

- 3/4 yard quilting cotton (44" wide)
- 1 yard or less of 5/8 wide braided elastic, white
- Thread
- Basic sewing skills, serger is a bonus!

We will start with our fabric.  When starting any project, it is wise to wash and dry your fabric so there aren't any surprises. I never use heat when washing/drying my fabrics so as to minimize shrinkage.  Press fabric with selvages together, how it came off of the bolt.  Fold the fabric with selvages together and then bring the folded side up to the selvages, lining everything up on your cutting mat to make sure we have square edges. Trim excess.  This is called squaring up your fabric.  Do this with all sewing projects!

Once you have your fabric squared up, cut your fabric to 44"x29".  The fabric should already be 44" wide, so you just need to cut to 29" to get the piece you need to make the pad cover.  From there, take all 4 corners and put them all together, lining them up perfectly.
Once all 4 corners are lined up, cut a 5"x5" square .  Unfolded, it looks like this:

Now we will make the pockets of the pad cover.  Take only one corner cut-out and fold the two "points" together, right sides together.

When you do this, you'll have the two cut edges line up.  Pin this together.  This will form your pocket.  I always serge this edge and then straight stitch for durability.  If you don't have a serger, that's okay!!  Just straight stitch that edge with about a .25" seam allowance.  You can then either zig zag the edge or some machines come with a "serge stitch".  Repeat for all 3 remaining corners.  Trim the excess threads as you go.  

Next step is to finish the edges of the fabric.  I serge around the whole perimeter of the fabric, which is now in oval shape.  Again, if you don't have a serger, simply zig zag the edge or use your machine's serge stitch to finish.  

Now it's time to add the elastic.  I use a zig zag stitch, which allows the elastic to stretch.  You'll also need to lower the stitch width, which is usually signified with a zig zag picture on your machine.  On my machine, I lower mine to 3.5.  I also stitch the elastic to the fabric, I don't create a channel where you feed the elastic around.  It's my preference.  Make sure your thread color somewhat matches your fabric color. 

With wrong side of the fabric laying up on your machine, fold over the edge only once, and only enough to get your stitching on the top side.  Place the end of your elastic so it covers the stitching on the fabric. See pictures below.  The idea is to enclose the stitched edge of the fabric under your elastic so you don't see it.  With your elastic in place, stitch and backstitch over the first half inch or so, to secure.  If you have a "needle down" feature on your machine, set that for needle down.  

You are going to gently stretch the elastic as you zig zag on top of it.  You might have to give some gentle pulling contrast on the fabric that has been sewn in back of your machine, but you don't want to pull the fabric through, you're just giving some reinforcement to it.  Fold the edge of the fabric over and stretch that elastic and stitch.  Make sure the width of your zig zag is not wider than your elastic as you want to stitch ON the elastic to secure it.  

Stretch and zig zag the elastic on all the way around the perimeter of the pad.  When you get around to the beginning of your elastic, just back stitch a few times and cut the elastic off.  Now is the time to look for threads that need trimming, etc.  That's it!!  Now you have a gorgeous, custom made changing pad cover!  Not feeling so creative?  You're in luck, I also make and sell custom crib bedding and other home decor items.  Hop on over to my shop to contact me about your custom items!

Happy Sewing!