Between new clothes and backpacks, supplies and shoes, back to school time can really put a dent in your budget. Fortunately, with a little forethought and creativity, you can save money on your back to school supplies and still start the school year off right.
School supplies are often at their cheapest in mid summer. Call your child's school and find out if you can get the supply list a little early and take advantage of those sales. Find out when your state has its tax-free days and plan your shopping around it for extra savings.
When you do hit the stores, keep an eye out for the simpler alternatives. Instead of glossy, photo covered folders and binders buy plain white and then let kids decorate them with magazine photos, fabric and paper scraps. Cover blank notebooks and journals with fun fabric and make your own book covers out of wallpaper or contact paper. Decorating their own school supplies isn't just a cost cutting measure; it will also boost confidence when they can show off their own creations to their friends.
Take advantage of all the online tutorials out there and make your own pencil cases, gym bags and even back packs. Look around the house, at thrift stores or even in the recycling bin for items you can reuse for interesting projects like this fun pencil bag - http://www.skiptomylou.org/2008/08/13/a-recycled-pencil-bag-for-the-first-day-of-school/
Clothing Face Lift
Before you spend any money on back to school clothing, go though your children's closets and drawers with them and find items that could use a little face life to give them new life. Patch the knees of boys' jeans with rough and rugged camouflage fabric, add length to a skirt or T-shirt by stitching ribbon or fringe to the hem, make your own freezer paper stencils and paint over stains with fabric paint. Even younger kids can get in on the action with this no-sew blue jeans spruce up.
An old pair of jeans
Roll of rickrack or fun ribbon
Permanent Fabric Glue
1. Wash and dry the jeans and lay them out on a flat work surface. Using the ribbon, measure around the ankle of the jeans and cut four pieces just slightly longer than this length.
2. Using the fabric glue, fold over one end of the ribbon and attach it along the bottom hem of the jeans. Glue another length of ribbon onto the jean about two inches above the first. Repeat with the other leg. Be sure to fold over the other end before gluing it down.
3. Cut four more pieces just longer than the width of the back pocket. Following the same procedure, glue the ribbon down along the top of the pocket.
4. Allow the glue to dry completely before wearing. Wash according to the instructions on the glue.
Plan No-Waste Lunches
One of the biggest cost cutting measures you can take is to move to homemade reusable lunch bags and sandwich wraps. Over the course of the year, the cost of sandwich baggies and brown paper sacks can really add up, but creating your own reusable lunch packing items is easier, and cheaper, than you think. For sandwich wraps cut 12-inch squares of canvas using pinking shears. Lay the square on your work surface point side up and, with a piece of bread in the center for sizing, fold first the side corners and then the bottom and top corners down. Find the point where the top and bottom corners meet and attach stick on Velcro to each side. Kids can use fabric markers to decorate their sandwich wraps and they can easily be tossed in the laundry when they need a wash.
A reusable lunch bag is a great first sewing project that children can feel proud of every day when they sit down in the cafeteria to eat. But before you rush out to the fabric store, look through your sewing bin and check outgrown clothing. An old cotton shirt and a fleece sweater can give you all the fabric you need for this fun project.
(2) 12x24 inch pieces of cotton fabric
(1) 12 x 24 inch piece of polar fleece
10 inches of ribbon
1. On your work surface, layer first the fleece, then a cotton rectangle, right side up, and finally the last rectangle, right side down. Pin across one of the long sides and sew using a straight stitch.
2. Fold the top layer of cotton up and press the seam open with your fingers.
3. Now fold this new, larger rectangle in half the other way. Pin and sew along the edge.
4. Fold the cotton only side down over the fleece to create a shorter tube. Trim the raw edges of the fabric to be even and sew across the bottom of the bag.
5. Turn the whole thing right side out. Fold the corners of the bottom in and stitch into place. Add a handle to the top using the ribbon and attach the Velcro dots along the top edge of the bag to hold it closed.
For more creative ideas, visit www.C4K555.org to download free projects at Crafters 4 Kids.
To learn more, visit: www.C4K555.org
-Courtesy of Crafters 4 Kids