Friday, May 31, 2013

Ms. Patmore stole my toilet paper

My soul-sister Kari and I joke sometimes about how pets sort of require that you keep a roll of paper towels in the house.

Because there is just something about cleaning up a handful of regurgitated garbage that makes you super grateful that you can just throw it all back in the trash and never see it again.


So the truth is, I use paper. I try to be conservative. I recycle like Ed Begley Jr's slightly obsessive Midwestern niece.

But there is an area of my life where I have recently tried cutting back even more.

And that would be in the potty.

(I know. Let's just do our best to get through this together.)
The first time I heard about the idea of using cloth toilet ... um, cloths? was when I interviewed Tara Wagner of The Organic Sister for a web site I used to edit. At the time, she had just started her project Sustainable Baby Steps, and was traveling around the country with her family in an RV fueled by recycled vegetable oil.

She mentioned her family of three also used reusable toilet paper, and I thought, what I often think when I hear a new idea -- that will be the one that makes my husband finally divorce me.

I mean, I come up with plenty of weird stuff on my own, and he is a patient man, but there are times when I think he would have really liked to have found a nice, average girl -- someone who buys him Tombstone pizzas for dinner, and who doesn't fill his basement bathroom with baby chicks and kitties on the mend, and possibly a foster dog, even though he was totally all for that, don't let him fool you.

So I put the idea on a shelf for a bit. Until I started watching Downton Abbey and needed something easy to sew. So I blame Downton Abbey, really. It's so hard not to.

In the course of watching three seasons, I sewed about 4 dozen wipes and a wet bag. The wipes were easy -- the wet bag was a little harder, but I needed a distraction in Season 3, and that's all I am saying.

(Except a car crash? Really? Seemed so tacked-on, didn't it?)
The actual process I learned from my friend Danielle, who has a very down-to-earth approach about the whole thing which I have adopted: you can just use them when you're onesie-ing, and maybe working your way up to twosie-ing at some point, but no pressure. Husbands can use them or not, and you want to keep a roll in there of the paper stuff anyway for guests. Basically, it's worth a shot. It's not Spanish Influenza. Just relax. Everything will be OK.

The whole thing really starts to make sense if you sew anyway, and you have scrap fabric laying around. I gathered up a bunch of flannel and made a bunch of mixy-matchy wipes. I will say that coincidentally, a lot of them feature umbrellas? Weird, right? I choose to not over-think it.

I spent some time on Etsy looking at really cute, color-coordinated wipe sets, and I based my sizing on that. I would cut two pieces of flannel into 8-inch by 6-inch rectangles, and put right sides together (no pinning, I've got a show to watch.)
I'd then sew around, curving the corners (you don't have to -- I thought it looked cute), and leaving a little hole between corners for turning.

I'd then turn them right-side-out, fold in the little edges of the hole, and sew them up. Then I would top stitch around the outside.

I don't have a serger, which in this case probably saved me a finger.

To make things quicker, I used a rainbow variegated thread, which goes with everything and nothing.

They were super simple and easy to make, and frankly, they are really easy to use. I throw them in the laundry when the bag gets full, right along with the bag.

Some of us use them, and some don't. That's OK. We're saving a few trees, a bit of money, and we'll never technically run out of toilet paper again.

Frankly, I can't wait until Season 4. Maybe I'll start building a compost toilet ...

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