Lotion: batch #8

I learned how to make lotion last fall. My friend Julie had taken a lotion-making class and offered to teach a group of us. We were all somewhat intimidated but, fortified by a few glasses of wine, we bravely followed Julie’s instructions.

It turns out that making lotion is ridiculously easy.

I have a few friends who are interested in making lotion, but are a bit nervous, so I took photos last weekend to show just how simple this really is. One caveat: I’ve only made eight batches on my own, so I’m still learning about the different oils and such. Which is actually quite fun, I just can’t remember the properties of each. Every batch of lotion is a fun new experiment.

The basic ingredients are oils, waters, and emulsifiers. Oils are things like jojoba oil, avocado oil, etc. Waters include the obvious water (although it must be distilled water) as well as hydrosols, which are created from the water that remains after the distillation process that produces an essential oil. They look like water but have the scent of whatever essential oil was being distilled. An emulsifier helps form and stabilize the emulsion (i.e. lotion).

I’m using emulsifying wax, which looks like this.


I start my lotion by measuring the three ingredients into two Pyrex measuring cups. The oils and emulsifiers go in the same cup.


As you can see by the number on my scale, it’s okay to be a little off as long as your percentages are reasonably accurate. Here are the guidelines I’m following:


  • 20% oil
  • 70% water
  • 10% emulsifier


  • 30% oil
  • 60% water
  • 10% emulsifier

I’ve mostly made creams so far because it’s pretty dry in Colorado, especially in the winter, but I’m starting to experiment with more lotion-like percentages.

Once you have your ingredients measured out and happily in your Pyrex cups, you put them in a water bath. I start heating up the water before I start measuring. I have an elliptical pot that works perfectly.


For this particular batch, my ingredients were:


  • 30g jojoba oil
  • 30g kukui nut oil
  • 6g vitamin E oil


  • 25g emulsifying wax
  • 5g stearic acid


  • 100g distilled water
  • 41g lavender hydrosol
  • 39g rose hydrosol

The water should be just barely bubbling – you don’t want it boiling like mad. Both containers should be brought to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, then kept there for 20 minutes to break down the bonds between the oils, emulsifiers, and water.


After the 20 minutes, pull both jars out of the water bath, make sure they’re within 5 degrees of each other, then pour the water ingredients into the oil/emulsifier ingredients…and voilà! Emulsification!


That’s the after picture because I couldn’t figure out how to pour and take a photo at the same time. The next step is to blend them together. I use a hand blender, and I managed to take one reasonably okay photo of this step.


Once you feel happy with the mixing, you can pour the liquid into your containers. I don’t spend very much time mixing – it seems to just take a little bit.


When the lotion is around 110-120 degrees you can add additional ingredients. I’ve only added essential oils, but you could also add preservatives, mica (to make it sparkly), and probably other things as well.


I usually add the oils and make my labels (so I don’t forget what I used), then stir. Here is a photo before stirring. The brown in the first two jars is vanilla oil – it looks and smells like vanilla extract. Once the lotion is at room temperature, you can put the lids on. You can also use cuter labels – mine are pretty bare bones, as you can see.

And that’s it! It really is easy!!!

McCall’s 7233: Gray dress w/white flowers

It took almost a year, but I’m finally done with McCall’s 7233!


This was one of the first projects I started last year when I got back into sewing after a gazillion years away. I hadn’t yet discovered tracing paper, so I actually cut the pattern pieces. (Oh, the guilt!) This was also one of my first experiences with quilting cotton. I love the print, but it does tend to wrinkle easily.

The pattern was very easy to follow, but there were a few steps that weren’t described, like how to deal with the inside of the neckline. The hardest part, though, was finding buttons to match the fabric. I searched for several months, and even bought my first batch of vintage buttons on Etsy, only to find they didn’t go with the fabric after all. That did lead to me discovering the wonderful world of vintage buttons…let’s just say that wasn’t my last vintage button purchase.

I finally found these at Joann Fabrics:


They’re a perfect match for the fabric!

The pattern called for bound buttonholes, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered with all that work. Besides, I had only made a few buttonholes with my spiffy new Janome, and I wanted to make more. It’s super cool to watch your sewing machine make buttonholes without you doing a single thing. I actually am looking forward to making bound buttonholes another time, but I may wait until I’m a little less fascinated with watching the Janome.

The most helpful thing I learned from this pattern was about what back darts do. When I sewed them I was reading The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, and it was really neat to see how what I was reading about worked in real life. Obviously this was not anything crazy – back darts are pretty basic – but having what I was reading coincide with what I was sewing was very helpful. If I make this dress again I’ll fiddle with the darts to see if I can improve the fit. I’ll also iron it before I take pictures…


The biggest issue I had was the fit of the bodice at the neckline. I tried on the dress before sewing the buttonholes and buttons, and I thought it fit correctly. I was wrong. The neck was much too wide. I ended up moving the top two buttons to take in some of the space. I had already sewn the buttonholes so I was constrained on that side. It’s closer now, but it could be a little better.

The other thing I found is that the dress moves and wrinkles in weird ways. Some of that is the fabric, since it’s a heavier cotton, but some is the cut. For example, look at this photo.


The weirdest wrinkle looks like it’s at my waist, but it’s really 3-4 inches below my waist. I may try moving the bottom buttons around to see if I can improve this. My theory is that the dress should be a little wider at that point – or at least it should with this fabric. I think a less stiff fabric wouldn’t act the same way.

The dogs were, of course, a big help with the whole process.


My novel is out now, so I finally have more time to sew, and I’m filled with the enthusiasm spring brings – so I’ll be posting about my next project soon. It’s my first experience with Liberty of London lawn, and oh! do I love this fabric!!!