What we’re eating this week: easy low waste vegan family dinners

 

Our shopping is almost back to pre-pandemic days in terms of packaging – yee haw!  We’re still getting a few packaged goods in paper & cans.  We’ve pretty much avoided plastic for plastic-free July this year :)!

We’re using these new tags on the bags too so we can write down the PLU#.  LIFE.CHANGING.  You can get a tag on a bag if you want to order No Trace veggie bags HERE.

These meals are SIMPLE, VEGAN, LOW WASTE, & FAMILY FRIENDLY.  If you’re looking for gourmet vegan, you’ve come to the wrong place ;).

 

So here’s what we’re eating:

  • Vegan chili with beans & TVP.  First soak black beans in water, and pintos & kidneys in separate water.  You can cook the pinto & kidney beans together, & black beans on their own so they don’t overcook.  In a big soup pot, sauté onions, carrots, celery. Add lots of chili spices.  After a little sauté, add the beans, some canned tomatoes, small TVP granules & veggie broth.  Cook another 20 minutes, then season to taste.  We ate it with avocado chunks & croutons on top – so yummy!

 

  • Red lentil soup with fresh corn, carrots, onions & rice, toast.  This is an old standby in our house. I’ve written the recipe HERE.  The only difference this time is that I added fresh corn to the soup just before we sat down to eat.  We love to pair it with rice or toast, plus roasted cauliflower.

 

  • Broccoli stir fry with large TVP chunks & brown rice.  This is perfect for using up whatever veggies are still in your fridge.  Sauté onions, carrots, & celery.  Add broccoli and any other faster cooking veggies.  Add greens like chard or kale at the very end. Cook until all the veggies are just tender.  Cook the TVP separately.  Shred purple cabbage.  Make a simple teriyaki-style sauce with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar (or any sweetener), sesame oil, onion powder, & ginger (fresh or powdered).  Then toss the cooked veggies & cooked TVP in a large bowl with the teriyaki-style sauce.  Top with shredded cabbage & sesame seeds. Delicious and fast.

 

  • Pasta with ratatouille.  Takes a little more time, but so worth it. Slice thin slices of zucchini & yellow squash, mushrooms, & eggplant.  Toss each type of veggie in a little olive oil, salt, & pepper, keeping all the veggies separate.  Pour a little crushed tomatoes to coat the bottom of the pan.  Then create a ring of veggies, alternating the types of veggies, to get a rainbow look.  Keep going around, towards the center, until you fill the entire bottom of the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes on 375F, until the veggies are cooked all the way through.

  • Easy vegan mac n’ cheese.  Super easy last minute meal.  I like Nora Cooks Vegan recipe here for an easy cashew cheese sauce.  Pour it over cooked pasta & you’re done.  You can dress it up with bread crumbs or chopped parsley on top if you’re feeling fancy.  We usually serve it with roasted veggies on the side.  It’s perfect for next day school lunches too.

 

Each of these meals comes together with very little packaging. or in paper/cans/glass (NO PLASTIC!).  We get most of these ingredients from the bulk bins & fresh produce aisle.  Staff of Life & New Leaf in Santa Cruz have most of these dry goods in bulk bins.

 

What are your go-to low waste meals?  Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

Liz

 

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DIY zero waste travel kit

My family of 4 takes a few road trips around the west coast every summer, and we try really hard to avoid creating trash while we travel.  We’ve definitely had our moments of last minute, unplanned fast food stops (vegan burgers from Burger King aren’t too bad!). 

 

But now that things are opening up a bit more, we’re able to avoid most trash when we travel with a pretty simple DIY zero waste travel kit and a little bit of planning ahead.  

 

This is what we bring with us on road trips and when we travel by plane.

Here’s a quick caveat for you: we aren’t trying to travel super light.  Vegan kids don’t always have lots of choices and might be a little picky at times, so we tend to overpack a little to make travel go more smoothly for everyone.  You might find that you don’t need all of these things if you’re more minimalist and flexible in your foods.

 

  • travel mug for everyone who might want a hot or specialty beverage. 

I drink coffee most mornings, and my daughters like the occasional boba tea or frozen lemonade or orchata. And as I’m filming this, most businesses are letting you bring in your own reusable coffee mug again. So we get our coffees, frappucinos, or frozen lemonades in our own containers.  Just wash it well before you bring it in and don’t be afraid to ask!

  • water bottle – for everyone. 

Pretty self explanatory.  On road trips, we keep a few extras in the car with extra water. On plane trips, we bring a couple of extras too in case they won’t refill our water for us and want us to use their plastic cups.

  • travel size fork/spoon/knife (but not on an airplane) or spork for everyone.

If we’re eating somewhere that doesn’t use real silverware, we’ll ask them to keep the forks .  Usually they oblige, sometimes they forget, but if we’ve got forks and spoons, we know we can skip disposable ones. Putting them on the table helps remind the staff that you don’t need utensils.

  • reusable straws

This is one of those items you can probably get away without, but if you’ve got kids who get excited about frozen lemonade or boba tea, one of these is a nice addition to your DIY zero waste travel kit!

BTW, if you want a little pouch that holds your utensils & straw, I’ve got a tutorial video HERE

  • cloth napkins

We always have a few of these handy.  They let us avoid paper napkins & are great for a spill in the car. I have a video tutorial HERE & a blog post HERE on how to sew your own napkins here.  Remember to ask folks to hold the napkins if you’re eating somewhere that doesn’t use real napkins.  Sometimes we still get paper napkins on accident, which we use & compost or save it in the car for emergencies.

  • mason jar, bento box or container, and/or a wax wrap or waxed snack bag

It’s great to have a couple of containers to hold leftovers or snacks on the go.  I’ve got a video tutorial on how to make a waxed snack bag HERE. This lets us avoid takeout boxes, which usually end up as landfill waste.

  • cloth bags for snacks & pastries

If we didn’t finish the chips or breadsticks, we can just put them in a bag.  It’s also great for packing sandwiches for lunches.  We usually bring a drawstring bag & snack & sandwich sized bags.  They’re usually holding our snacks on the way out of the house, so we often don’t have to think about packing these.  I’ve got a video HERE on how to make a drawstring bag & a video HERE & tutorial HERE on how to make snack & sandwich sized bags too.   

  • shopping bags.

Depending on where you’re going and for how long, you’ll probably need to shop for some food, so remember to bring your own bags!

  • compost container

We always try to compost when we’re out and about.  Some places that you visit have compost collection these days, which is great. And if not, there are resources: sharewaste.com & litterless.com have compost finder maps.  Local community gardens, or even a local farm might be able to take your compost.  If none of those are available and you’re driving, you can just bring it home to your own bin.  If you keep the lid on your compost, it should be fine until you get back.  If we’re traveling for over a week, we’ll usually have a large bin with a lid for our compost and drive it home with no issues.

 

And here’s a couple of bonus tips for zero waste travel:

  • Find local bulk bins near you

Litterless.com has a great list. Zerowastenerd.com has a list too.  Look up some local bakeries & delis for unpackaged bread & treats. 

  • Pack awesome snacks.

Having awesome snacks from the bulk bins & fruits & veggies that travel well can help you avoid last minute, spontaneous stops for food.  We usually bring a couple of fresh loaves of bread & some yummy spreads (homemade cashew cheese, hummus).

  • Plan ahead!

Think about those meals that might be a little rushed or unscheduled – like the dinner on the road in between your stops.  You might be able to find a place to eat if you look online in advance, or maybe you’ll remember to pack a meal for that stretch of your trip. 

There’s how to create a truly DIY zero waste travel kit. I hope that’s helpful for you!  Is there anything you’d add to this list? Leave a comment below! Or anything you know for sure you wouldn’t use?  Tell me that too.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Liz

 

 

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Low waste vegan family dinners – what we’re eating this week!

 

More stores are allowing for reusable bags again (yay!) & our groceries are slowly getting back to pre-COVID plastic-free levels.  Here’s what we’re eating this week:

  1. Pasta night!  This includes pasta in a paper box and marinara in a jar or can with TVP for protein, plus a green salad .  We reuse the jar and donate it to the local thrift store when our cupboards get too full of jars.  Or recycle the can, which has a high recycle value.  This is an easy and fast dinner for nights when the kids have sports stuff.
  2. Vegan crab cakes & seared Napa cabbage!  I found these 2 recipes on TikTok (time well spent, I guess 😉 ).  The vegan crab cakes are made from jack fruit, hearts of palm, chic peas, onions, Panko bread crumbs, vegan mayo, and seasoning.  We can find all of those ingredients plastic free except the bread crumbs (which we could also make if needed!).  The seared Napa cabbage is dressed with a miso-based dressing, and all of those ingredients are available plastic free too!
  3. Red lentil soup, toast & roasted veggies.  This is a staple at our house.  Red lentils cook so fast.  I love to season them with onions & carrots, plus cumin, tumeric, ginger, salt, pepper, and veggie bouillon.  We have a big brown bag of red lentils that we got last year and are still working through.  We can usually find these in bulk too.  For the roasted veggies, I’ll roast either cauliflower, broccoli, or brussel sprouts.  My easy-peasy approach is to toss them in olive oil, salt & pepper and then cook them at 450F for about 30 minutes, with a stir halfway through.  So yummy.  I love having roasted veggies leftovers for lunch the next day too!
  4. Buddha bowl!  Is it okay to use that name?  I saw the general idea of this dish at MinimalistBaker.com and we LOVE it.  It’s basically a grain (like quinoa or rice) plus veggies & tofu or TVP in a bowl.  We like to include roasted brussel sprouts or broccoli, plus fresh carrots & cucumber, sometimes avocado.  Then we drizzle it all with homemade tahini dressing.  So delish!
  5. Sushi bowl!  Kinda self-explanatory, but we make sushi rice, then add in avocado, cucumber, carrots, and baked/sliced sweet potatoes if we have them.  Plus TVP (I like the beef-strip style for this dish) tossed in a homemade teriyaki sauce.  Add a little soy sauce & mayo – so yum!  We don’t usually have any nori with it – so much packaging – but that’d be delicious too.
  6. Tacos!  Everyone’s favorite Tuesday dinner.  We love homecooked pintos, tortillas (in plastic usually, but we’ve done homemade too), homemade pico de gallo salsa, guacamole, shredded cabbage with vegan mayo, and brown rice.  This is a staple.  We soak the beans the night before and cook them in the pressure cooker.  

 

So that’s what we’re eating the next several days or so!  I hope this gives you some ideas for how to cook low waste vegan dinners for your family too.  

And I’d love to hear what you’re eating too!  Leave a comment below!

 

Thanks for reading & for all that you do for the planet.

xo,

Liz

 

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Homemade gift ideas for Father’s Day – 12 super easy projects!

Homemade gifts are perfect for someone who’s got everything or is impossible to shop for. A useful, thoughtful, handmade present shows that you’re thinking of them.  And these projects are perfect for practicing your sewing skills too – very beginner friendly!

 

If you’re looking for homemade gift ideas for Father’s day, I’ve got 12 easy projects.  Let’s get making!

  1. A handkerchief.  This is super easy and fast to sew.  You can make a hankie in any size.  I made one that’s about 17” x 17” from a scrap of fabric, but you could make it way smaller – down to 10” x 10”.  You can sew one of these up using a serger for the edges or a zig zag stitch on a regular machine.  Or do a rolled hem stitch on your machine if you know how to do that, or a rolled hem stitch by hand – both are really nice ways to finish the edges.  

 

2. A bandana comes together just like a handkerchief but it’s larger, about 22” x 22”.  Find a fabric that your dad would like at your local fabric store. Sew the edges with a serger, or zig zag stitch, or do a rolled hem on your machine or by hand.

 

3. A bookmark is another simple project that you can sew up with scraps of fabric.  I made one that’s about 2” x 6” with a little ribbon at the top. Here’s how:

    1. Start with 2 pieces of fabric & some batting or interfacing (optional) that all measure about 3” x 7”. You can add a little ribbon or fabric tie to the end if you like. Place the fabric with right sides together & put the batting on the back. Pin the ribbon so that it’s pointed down in between the two layers of fabric at the top of the bookmark.
    2. Using a ⅜” seam allowance, stitch around the bookmark, making sure to leave an opening of about 3 inches on one long side so you can turn it right side out.  Trim the corners and any major bulk on the sides of the seam after stitching.
    3. Turn it right side out, poke out the corners, press the opening closed, & top stitch all around all 4 sides.  Ta-da!

 

4. A snack or sandwich bag for him to tote his lunch is handy.  I’ve got tutorials for these on YouTube & on my blog if you want to watch and or read how to do that.

 

5. If the dad in your life is a big bread baker, a homemade bread bag is a great idea. I’ve got a video for that right here.

 

6. A coaster is a nice easy project.  These are about 5” x 5” with some light cotton batting inside.  They were sewn up just like sewing up a bookmark, but without the tassel.

    1. Start with two pieces & fabric and batting that measure 6” x 6”. Place the fabric with right sides together & put the batting on the back.
    2. Using a ⅜” seam allowance, stitch around the coaster, making sure to leave an opening of about 3 inches on one side so you can turn it right sides out.  Trim the corners and any major bulk on the sides of the seam after stitching.
    3. Turn it right side out, poke out the corners, press the opening closed, & top stitch all around all 4 sides.

 

7. A cozy is another nice gift.  This one fits around a coffee cup or a 12oz can to keep his hands warm or cool.  I’ve got a free pattern below so snag it if you want it!

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8. Cord keeper is another nice gift.  The pdf pattern below includes the cord keeper & cozy so get that below.

 

These last few more projects are a little more complicated but still very beginner friendly:

  1. A lunch bag. There are tons of tutorials online for making a lunch bag. And you probably know exactly the size the dad in your life would find useful – large, smaller, square bottom, rectangular bottom. Use your insider intel to find a design just for him.  You could make one with a zipper, or a super minimalist lunch sack design that just folds down like a brown paper sack.

 

  1. A face mask.  These are here to stay for a while! I’ve got a video tutorial & a blog post on how to sew one. Pick out some fabric that your dad likes and get going.  I’ve also got a kit for sale in the shop to make your own.

 

  1. A zipper pouch. There are tons of uses for a simple zipper pouch – bike tools, toiletries, art supplies, and more.  I’ve got a tutorial on how to make a zipper pouch right here. And I’ve got a kit in the shop to make one.

 

  1. Boxer shorts! I did this one year and it was way easier than I thought it’d be. There are free patterns online but I actually used an old pair of his boxer shorts to create a new pattern for him. I just traced the boxers onto paper and then cut out the new shapes to create the pattern.  They turned out great and are still holding up. It doesn’t take a ton of fabric.  Just a little patience. And some wide elastic.

 

So there you have it!  12 easy homemade gift ideas for Father’s Day. I hope this gets your creative juices flowing!  Do you have any ideas to add?  I’d love to hear in the comments below!

 

Thanks for reading!

Liz @ No Trace

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Care about the Earth? Then you should learn to sew. 

 

I got an email from Old Navy with “$6 leggings” in the subject line and it made me grateful that I know how to sew.  Cheap clothes come with hidden costs. So if you care about the planet, you should grab your needle & thread (& sewing machine, if you have one) and learn to sew.  All you need is a few basic sewing skills to be a better steward for the planet.  How’s that, you ask? Let me explain.

5 reasons you should learn to sew if you care about the planet:  

  1. Lets you repair things & keep them in use longer.  We’ve got to move away from our disposable lifestyle and start caring for items for longer. If not, we’ll be drowning in trash soon.  Keep your jacket, your backpack, your grocery bags and more in use longer. Learn to sew tears & add patches to extend the life of your stuff.

2. Helps you appreciate the time it takes to make things.  Try sewing your own pants and you’ll probably take good care of those pants. When you appreciate the labor involved in making textiles, you’re more likely to take good care & keep it out of the landfill.

3. Helps you avoid the emissions from shipping all those online purchases to your house. When you can make it yourself or fix what you have, you don’t need to order things online (shameless plug: No Trace shipping is carbon offset by Etsy! So feel less guilty about ordering from me 😉). 

  1. Lets you express your creativity. This isn’t a direct benefit to the planet, but it’s a pretty great benefit that I can’t ignore.  Learning to sew lets you express your individuality.  You’ll get into a flow state as you work on your projects.  And you’ll create one of a kind pieces for yourself and as gifts for your loved ones!  That’s invaluable.

 

Perhaps the number one reason you should learn to sew if you care about the Earth, though, is this:

 

  1. Makes you question the price of cheap clothes. It’ll make you wonder how a company makes a profit on $6 leggings. Someone, somewhere pays the true price for those $6 leggings, and it’s probably the person who made them for you.  That employee may work in unsafe working conditions, and/or work 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, and may live with environmental pollution from the factories in their local water and air.  

 

CleanClothes.org breaks down the costs of garments (on average) and how much goes to the employee.  It’s about 0.6%.  The person who made those $6 leggings was probably paid less than 4 cents for their work. The rest of that $6 goes to material costs, factory owner profit, brand profit, transportation & factory overhead, and the majority (about 60%) goes to the retailer (when it’s sold in person) or back to the brand (for online sales).  Many factory workers don’t receive a living wage, as you can imagine at 4 cents per shirt.  As more of us understand this, we’ll start to make better choices with our purchases.  We can seek out the ethical companies who are treating their employees well. And we can pay a fair price for the textiles in our life.    

 

There you have it – 5 reasons you should learn to sew if you care about the planet.  So get out there and start sewing!  It’ll change your life, and may even change the planet for the better.  

 

If you’re not sure where to start, head to my YouTube channel for video tutorials – I’ve got a whole series including this one – Learn to sew – to get you started.  

 

Need a little help with a repair job?  Watch this one on stuffed animal repair & this one on mask repair. They both go over basic skills that’ll apply to other repair jobs.

 

And check out this playlist for all of my zero waste sewing tutorials.

 

Thanks for reading and for all that you do for the planet.

 

Liz

What to do with old socks – 8 ways to keep them out of the landfill

I read somewhere that women’s socks are made too small, which is why we’re always getting holes in our socks (sexist sock industry???). 

 

Just the other day I had a hole in my sock that I thought was small.  As soon as I put them on, the hole stretched and the entire bottom of my foot was naked. I finally stopped wearing those and had to figure out what to do with old socks. There’s a bunch of things, as it turns out!

 

So thought I’d share with you what to do with old socks – specifically, 8 ways to keep them out of the landfill.  

1. Mend it.  

Some socks are worth repairing, and have a manageable hole that you can fix (as opposed to leaving the whole bottom of your foot naked). You can’t just stitch it closed on a machine, though.  You need to sew it in a way called darning. Darning involves a needle, thread/yarn, and something round like a tennis ball, racquetball, or a darning egg or mushroom.  You essentially weave the thread over the hole in a way to create a new piece of fabric where the hole was. It’s not that hard, just takes a little time, and there are tons of tutorials online for the process.

 

2. Make a tawashi scrubber.

These are super easy to make.  Cut the old sock along the length so you end up with a bunch of small circles of fabric. Then you weave them together on a small loom.  If you don’t have a little loom, you can improvise one with laundry clips or binder clips clipped around a square container.  The end result is a handy scrubber for dishes or house cleaning.  If you search “tawashi scrubber”, you’ll find easy tutorials online.

 

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3. Use it as a dusting cloth or rag.

Easy. Put your hand inside there and get cleaning!  You might want to mark it with a permanent marker in a way so you know it’s a rag sock now.  My in-laws put a black X on their socks/etc.-turned rags.  If it’s too holey for your hand, you can cut it so it lays flat.

 

4. Make a heating pad. 

We have an old stretchy sock full of brown rice that my daughter likes to microwave at bedtime and cozy up with in her bed.  I’ve used it on my lower back when I’m having back issues – it feels amazing after a couple of minutes in the microwave. Just make sure to sew up any holes before filling it with rice.  You can sew these holes with a simple straight stitch on you sewing machine since it doesn’t need to fit around a foot.

 

5. Get crafty with it.

If the sock is in decent condition, there are loads of DIY tutorials online for making a sock puppet or doll or a little Olaf.  Or you could turn it into a cup cozy or a wrist bands or leg and ankle warmers. Get creative!

 

6. Recycle it!

There are several companies that’ll recycle your socks.  Terracycle.com has fabric recycling boxes you can purchase, in case you’ve got loads of textiles to recycle. Terracycle recycles lots of hard to recycle materials and turns them into new products. Luxuryandlayla.com has a recycling program for socks, as well as undies, bras, tights & leggings!  They ship them to Green Tree, an east coast company that recycles clothing. Bonus – if you send 10 or more undies, bras, tights, and leggings (not socks), they’ll send you a free pair of underwear!  I guess socks are too plentiful to qualify for the special offer, but they will recycle them for you.  Drop it off at anH&M near you. They’ve partnered with a textile recycler who sorts everything into categories of rewear (donated to be worn again), reuse (repurposed into another product) or recycle (turned into insulation). It’s not clear if all H&Ms actually participate, but their website claims this as a service. Mail it to Zkano.com.  They recycle socks (just socks) into new fibers.

 

7. Donate it to a wildlife rescue.

You can send your gently used socks to Wild Souls Wildlife Rescue.  It’ll become a tiny bed for a tiny rescued animal like a baby squirrel.  How cute would that be?  Hearts melted!  Check with the wildlife rescue near you to see if they need socks as well.

 

8. Compost it.  

This only works if your sock is made of an all natural fiber like cotton or wool.  If it’s got synthetic fibers, you can’t compost it. The easiest way to test what type of fabric your socks are made of is with a burn test.  All natural materials will smell more organic when they burn and burn more like paper or dry leaves. Synthetic materials will smell more like plastic when they burn and have a more melty look than natural fibers.

 

There you have it! What to do with old socks instead of throwing them away. Do you have any to add to the list?  I’d love to hear in the comments below!

 

Thanks for reading and for all that you do for our planet!

Liz

 

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How to sew a zippered pouch!

Want to make a zippered pouch? Even if you’re new to sewing, you can make one in no time at all!

 

A zipper pouch is perfect for your pencils and markers, art supplies, toiletries, make-up, special things and more!  And these make the best little gifts for your loved ones!

 

So let’s go!

If you’d like to see a video of this process, head to https://youtu.be/rDwNvhW5AQo to watch me sew this up!

Here’s what you’ll need to make a zippered pouch

Supplies

  1. Your kit includes: 7” zipper – try to find a cotton one with metal teeth – it’ll breakdown at the very end of its life, but polyester ones with plastic teeth will be on the planet FOREVER!
  2. Your kit includes: Fabric- I love organic cotton fabric for my products – easier on the planet and the farmers and on us!  You’ll need to cut 4 pieces that measure  8.5”w x 5.5”l.  2 pieces are your outside or outer panels, and 2 pieces are your inside or inner panels.
  3. Matching thread – again, i’m all about the organic cotton!
  4. Plus your iron, some pins/clips, and  your sewing machine!

Now that you have your supplies, here are the steps to make your zippered pouch: 

**Iron your kit fabric before starting!**

Step 1: Attach the fabric to one side of your zipper 

  1. Line up your outer layer right side up with the top of the zipper facing down on top of your fabric.  So the right sides of the fabric is facing the right side/top side of the zipper.  Clip in place.  Or pin if you don’t have clips :).

2. Next, place the inner layer on top of the bottom of the zipper.  You’re making a zipper sandwich with the zipper in between your inner layer and outer layer of fabric.  Make sure that the right side of the inner layer of fabric is facing the right side of the outer layer of fabric.  Add this to your clips.

3. Put a zipper foot on your machine and stitch about ¼” from the edge of the fabric/zipper sandwich, removing the clips as you get close to them.  When you’re done, make sure you caught all the fabric and zipper tape in your seam.

4. Take your finished side to your iron and press the right sides down.  You’re trying to iron the fabric away from the zipper teeth as much as possible.  This way they won’t get caught when you’re trying to zip your pouch.  

Iron along this seam and make sure the fabric is pressed away from the zipper teeth.
Top stitched after ironing.

5. Take it back to your machine and top stitch all along this seam.

 

Step 2: Attach the fabric to the other side of your zipper

  1. Next, line up the remaining piece of outer layer of fabric on other side of the zipper – the side of the zipper that is still open/unattached.  Again make sure that the right side of your outer layer of fabric faces the top of the zipper.  Pin/clip in place.

2. Next, place the remaining piece of inner layer of fabric onto the bottom side of the zipper.  You’re again making a zipper sandwich.  The right sides of the inner and outer layers will be facing one another with the zipper in the middle.  Add the inner layer into your pins/clips.

3. Stitch together with the zipper foot close to edge.  Make sure you caught all the fabric and zipper in your seam.

 

4. Like you did for the other side of the zipper, press the right sides down and away from the zipper teeth as much as possible.  This helps them not get caught in the zipper teeth.

 

5. Top stitch all along this seam.

Top stitched after being ironed.

Step 3: Sew the sides of the bag

  1. Lay the bag flat on your surface so that the zipper is in the center, the outer layers are facing each other (right sides facing) and the inner layers are facing eachother (right sides facing).  Make sure that the zipper is at least partially open.
Make sure zipper is partially open.
Clip along sides, leaving 5″ opening.

2. You’re going to stitch all around the bag, leaving a 5” opening at the bottom, so first pin all around the bag and mark the area that you won’t sew closed.  This opening will let you turn the bag right side out later.  Make sure that the seams on the zippers are lined up with one another.  And have the zipper tape pointing down into the inner layer area of the pouch, rather than pointing up towards the outer layer fabric. 

Make sure the seam at the zipper is lined up when you clip it in place.

3. Start at one side of the 5” opening and start sewing all around.  Backstitch at the start and stop of the opening.  

 

Step 4: Finish the bag

  1. Turn the bag right side out through the bottom opening.

 

2. Sew shut the bottom opening.  You can iron this opening if it doesn’t fold in neatly before you sew it.

Stitch closed the opening at the bottom. Make sure all the fabric is pressed in and caught in the seam.

.

 

3. Trim any loose threads on the inside and the outside of the bag and you’re done!  

 

Wasn’t that easy?  Making a zipper pouch is a great beginner project.  Once you make one, you’ll want to make 10 more for everyone you know :).

 

If you make one, tag @no_trace_shop in Instagram and share your finished bag!  I’d love to see it.

 

Thanks for reading and for all that you do for our planet :).

 

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DIY plastic-free face mask with pocket

 

Face masks are going to be around for a while, so why not make yourself a comfortable, sustainable one?  This tutorial will show you how to make a face mask that’s

 

  • PLASTIC-FREE! 
  • ADJUSTABLE!
  •  TRIPLE-LAYERED!
  •  & HAS A FILTER POCKET!

Can you tell how excited I am about this plastic-free face mask?

 

This project is easy enough to finish in about 30 minutes or less.  You don’t need special sewing skills either!  Here’s what you need:

Supplies to  make your very own plastic-free face mask:

  1. Fabric for your outer layer that measures 12” wide x 8.5 height” – I use organic cotton for fabric because it’s more sustainable than conventional cotton or cotton/poly blend fabric. I’ve got a whole post on why you should buy organic cotton over HERE. (https://notraceshop.com/orgcotton/).
  2. Fabric for your inner layer that measures 9”w x 16”h.  Different outer & inner layer fabrics helps you keep track of the inside and outside of your mask, so try to use two prints/colors if you can.
  3. Cotton elastic that measures about 30” if you want it to go around the head. Or 14” (x2) if you want to put it around the ears.  If you can’t find cotton elastic, organic cotton cording works great too.  You’ll need about 45” to go around the head and less than that for the ears – try 16” to start and see if that fits.  I’ve also seen folks use strips of cotton knit fabric to make the loops instead of elastic.  If you search for “DIY t-shirt yarn”, you can find plenty of tutorials to upcycle an old t-shirt into yarn.  Any of these is ultimately going to breakdown in your home compost.  Regular synthetic elastic will NOT and is made with fossil fuels.
  4. Pins or clips
  5. Thread – organic cotton thread is great if you’re buying thread and trying to make a plastic-free mask.  You can also use regular cotton thread if you can’t find organic.  If you only have access to polyester thread, just remember that it’s a form of plastic & can’t be composted at the very end of its life.  You can recycle it in certain cities or with Terracycle.com (with one of their fabric recycling boxes).  Just cut the stitched area out of your mask at the very end of its life to separate synthetic material from compostable material.
  6. Scissors – small ones are handy if you have them.
  7. Safety pin – the bigger the better!
  8. Pencil or chopstick
  9. Iron
  10. Optional: paperboard with pleats, alligator/salon hair clips
  11. Sewing machine

 

Got  your supplies?  Let’s go!

Steps to make a plastic-free face mask:

 

Also – if you want to see my YouTube video of this project, CLICK HERE!

 

First prep the two pieces of fabric & then sew them together:

  1. Fold over ½” of the top edge of the outer layer of fabric (wrong side to wrong side).  Press it down at the iron.  Then stitch a straight line across the fold to hold it in place.

2. Fold the inner layer fabric in half lengthwise so that now it measures 9” wide by 8” tall.  Find the center of the inner layers – you can just fold it in half lengthwise and press a small crease with your fingers at the top.  Do the same with the outer layer.  Place the inner layers on top of the outer layer of fabric, making sure that the centers are lined up with one another.  Make sure that the right sides of the fabric are touching.  And make sure that the folded edge of the inner layer is touching the hemmed edge of the outer fabric.  This’ll be the filter pocket when you’re done.

3. Pin the bottom edges together in a few spots.

 

4. Pin the top edges together at 2” away from the edge of the inner layer.  Place 2 pins right next to each other.  These side-by-side pins will remind you to stop when you get to the pins (I learned this little trick from Jennifer Maker of Youtube!).  Do this for both sides of the inner layer.  You’re going to sew about 2” on each side only so that there’s an opening where you can put the filter.  

Only sew from the edge of the liner fabric to the double pins, leaving an opening in the middle for the filter pocket.

 

5. Stitch straight across the bottom edge with about ½” seam allowance. Make sure to do a backstitch at the start and stop.

6. Stitch the two areas of the top edge – just 2” on each side of the inner layer – with a ½” seam allowance. Make sure to do a backstitch at the start and stop at each side.

Next, create the pleats:

7. Turn the mask right side out.  Use your pencil or chopstick to push out the seams and make a nice crisp edge at the top & bottom.  Iron the seams.

 

8. Next, you’ll make 3 pleats in your mask that are each about 1” tall.  You’re folding the mask from about 8” tall to about 3” tall by creating the pleats. 

 

**Note:  If you want to make lots of masks, you can create a little pleating board out of paperboard (like a cereal box or old posterboard).  Just cut a rectangle out of paperboard that measures 12” by 8” tall.  Then fold 3 pleats into the paperboard that each measure about 1”.  You want the final size of your pleating board to be 12” wide by 3” tall after finishing the pleats.  Press the pleats very hard – you can even iron them. To use your pleating board, just place the fabric on top of the pleating board and push the fabric into each of the pleats.  Take the board to the iron and press the fabric at the iron right on top of the pleating board.  Then just gently pull the pleating board out.  

 

If you don’t use a pleating board, just create your pleats by hand & then iron them really well.  Next, put pins into the pleats in a few different places to hold the pleats in place for the next steps.  If you want to get some metal alligator clips for this process, they work really well too.

 

Next, create the channels for the elastic/cording.

9. Fold over the short edge of the mask about ¼” and press in place at the iron.

10. Fold over the short edge again about 1” and press in place at the iron.  You want to have a channel that’s about ½” to ¾” wide after sewing so it can fit your elastic or cording.

 

11. Pin this channel in place.  I like to put the mask under the presser foot & lower the presser foot and then CAREFULLY pull the pins out before I start sewing.  Then stitch close to where the edge of the folded over fabric meets the inner layer fabric so the channel is as wide as possible.  I like to do two rows of stitches to really hold the pleats down.  Make sure to do a backstitch at the end when you go back over your original stitches.

 

12. Repeat these steps for the other short side of the mask to make the other channel.

13. Take a safety pin onto the elastic or cording and then push it through the channels.  Tie a loose knot & try you mask on to adjust the length to fit comfortably.  Once you have the right lenght, you can hide the knot inside the channels if you like!  Trim the loose threads.

You’re done! 

These masks sew up so fast and have 3 layers of fabric for even better filtering.  Plus with the filter pocket, you can catch even more particles from the air.

 

I hope you have fun making masks of your own!  If you need a plastic-free kit to make your own mask, I’ve got some here.

 

I’d love to see a photo of your masks or hear about it!  Leave a comment below & tag your project on Instagram with #notracemaker!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Liz at No Trace

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How to fix a face mask

When the elastic on your face mask gets worn out, or your mask doesn’t fit well & isn’t easy to adjust, it’s easy to fix a face mask and make it fit just right!

 

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to fix a face mask.  It’s pretty easy to get that mask back in rotation!

 

And the cool thing about this tutorial on how to fix a face mask is that you’ll be able to easily swap out your elastic or ties in the future if they get worn out again.  If you’re using synthetic elastic, you can also take the elastic out of the channels before you wash your mask so that you don’t release microplastics into the water.

You can go through these same steps with any type of face mask – not just a pleated mask.

Here’s what you need:

Supplies to fix your face mask

 

1. Elastic or cording.

All natural materials are best.  About 1 yard should be enough to go around your head.  About 30” will go around the ears, depending on how stretchy your elastic is & your personal fit.  

2. Fabric scraps. 

The exact measurements depend on the mask you’re fixing.  I’ll walk you that out below :).  You might want to pick a fabric that matches your mask.  A lighter weight fabric is best – quilters weight/poplin cotton.  Organic is always easier on the earth than conventional cotton & if you need some organic cotton fabric, I’ve got some in the shop HERE.  

3. Measuring tape/quilting ruler/quilting mat

Anything to measure with :).

4. Scissors

5. Clips or pins

Clips are easier to use than pins, but use what you have!

6. Safety pin

7. Thread

8. Iron

9. Sewing machine

Image of supplies
Supplies needed to fix your face mask

Step 1: Cut off old elastic

-If it’s a synthetic elastic, you’ll need to toss it in your landfill trash or find a fabric recycler near you.  

-If its a cotton elastic, you can either recycle it with a fabric recycler or compost it.

Step 2: Measure your mask to figure out the cut of your scrap fabric

-The height of your scraps should be the height of the side edges of your mask plus 2”.  So if the side edges are 3” in height, your scraps will be 5” in height.

-Regardless of the height of your mask, the width of your scraps should be 3”.

Step 3: Turn the scraps into channels 

-Fold the top & bottom edges down ½”, iron, then fold again ½”, iron.  The final height of the scraps should be the same as the height of the mask edges.

image of fabric folded over to make hem
Top and bottom edges folded & ironed. Final height will be the same as the height of the mask.

-Stitch straight across the top & bottom edge to hold this hem in place.

image of hem
Stitch the hem down on both sides.

-Fold the side edges (the raw edges) in ½”, press at iron

image of fabric folded over
Fold sides over 1/2″ and press at the iron.

-Fold the entire scraps in half lengthwise (from top hemmed edge to bottom hemmed edge) and press at the iron. 

Image of scrap folded in half
Fold in half lengthwise so the hemmed edges are at the top & bottom.

Step 4: Clip to mask & sew on

-Using clips, connect the channels to the sides of the mask so that they overlap about ½”. 

image of fabric folded onto the edge of the mask
Overlap the channel of fabric about 1/2″ with the edge of the fabric.

-If you clip on the side, you can get the channel & mask under the presser foot without having to move the clip out of the way.

image of fabric channel clipped onto the mask edge
Clip the fabric onto the edge of the mask.

-Once you start sewing, move the side clip out of the way.

-Sew all the way down, then rotate the mask around so you can stitch a second row of stitches right next to the first row.  This makes the channels really secure.

-Backstitch when you get back to the start of your stitches so that the stitches are locked in. 

image of stitches
Stitch down the side with two rows of stitching to attach the channel to the mask.

-Repeat these steps on the other side of the mask

Step 5: Insert elastic & trim threads

-Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the channels.   

Insert elastic into the channels using a safety pin.

-Tie a loose two strand overhand knot.

image of overhand knot

-Try your mask on & adjust your knot as needed.

-You can tuck the knot into the channel if you like.

-Trim any loose threads.

You’re done!

I hope this helps get your masks back in action.  If it does, I’d love to see it!  Tag #notracemaker on Instagram to share your fixed mask.

Thanks for reading!

Liz

 

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How to fix a stuffed animal

 

I grew up with this brown teddy bear and now my youngest daughter sleeps with it every night.  She even takes it on trips & sleepovers.  So it’s been handled a bunch over many, many years.  With all that luvin’, even the most durable stuffed animals need TLC once & awhile.  If you want that stuffie back in your little one’s arms, you need to fix those little tears & rips that happen.  Luckily, it’s super easy to fix your stuffed toy.  

 

Here’s what you need to fix your favorite stuffed animal:

supplies needed to fixed your stuffed animal
Supplies include needle, thread, scissors & seam ripper

Supplies to fix your stuffed animal

    1. Needle
    2. Thread (try to use a color that matches your toy)
    3. Scissors
    4. Optional: Seam ripper

Step 1: Thread the needle

    1. You want to work with a double strand of thread on your needle.  To get that, thread the needle, pull thread through, and fold it over so that you have 2 strands of thread.  Cut it so that the length of the folded over thread is about 12” or so.  If you cut the thread much longer than that, it’ll be tricky to work with.

      image of needle threaded
      Pull the thread through & fold it in half so you have a double strand of thread that’s about 12″ in length.
    2. To tie a knot, take the two ends of thread and wrap them around your fingers to create a little loop.  Then push the end through the loop and tighten down your knot.  You might know this as an overhand knot.  You may want to repeat this a few times to make a large enough knot so that the knot stays put on the inside of your stuffed animal. 

      image of knot in thread
      You may need an extra large knot to keep it from pulling through the fabric.

 

Step 2: Sew the opening closed with a ladder stitch (aka invisible stitch).

    1. Start with the needle on the inside of the opening of the stuffed animal and push the needle through to the outside.  Do this right along the folded edge of fabric where the old seam used to be.
      photo of needle pushing through the stuffed animal
      Needle starts on the inside of the tear & moves out to the outside.

        

    2. Next, insert the needle into the other side of the opening/tear directly opposite of where it came out – right into the folded area of fabric.  This is how you end up with an invisible stitch – you’re pulling the thread in & out straight across the tear/rip.  Pull the thread tight to close up the seam.  See the little drawing I did below to help understand the ladder stitch.
    3. Push the needle through the inside of the fold on the same side about 1/8” and then back out of the fold again.  Once the needle is out of the fold, again insert it directly into the opposite side of the opening.  Push the needle about ⅛” through the folded area (same side that you’re currently on) and back out again.

      Photo of the needle threading through the seam of the rip.
      Push the needle through the seam on the same side of the tear for about 1/8″.
    4. Repeat until you get to the end of your tear/rip.

 

Step 3: Tie a knot & cut the thread

    1. To make a knot at the end of your stitches, find one of the last stitches that you made and push your needle under that stitch.  This will create a loop of thread.

      photo of small loop with needle inserted inside
      Create a small loop with the last stitch and thread the needle back through it to create a knot.
    2. Put the needle back inside the loop of thread.  Gently tug on the end of the loop to make it small while also pulling the needle through to make a knot. 
    3. Go over this stitch a second time to create a second knot in the same place, using the same approach.
    4. Finally, push the needle into your stuffed animal and out a different side of the animal – maybe all the way through a limb, or maybe out a side of the animal a couple of inches away from the tear.  Tug tightly on the thread and trim it very close to the body/limb of the stuffie.  This way, the thread gets hidden inside the animal.

      photo of needle coming out the back of the stuffed animal.
      Push the needle through the back of the stuffed animal and pull the thread tightly.
phot of scissors cutting the thread
Pull the thread as tight as you can and cut it as close to the stuffed animal as you can.

You’re done!

 

I hope this helps get your stuffie back in action.  If you do fix your stuffed animal with this tutorial, i’d love to see a photo! Tag me on instagram with #notracemaker.  

 

Thanks for reading & for all that you do for the planet!

Liz