Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds….and closure

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Welcome to my third week of Thrifty Finds. I would love to hear about any of your Thrifty Finds over the past week – or things you didn’t buy (I hope you were more restrained than me in buying that £15 candle!)

This past week’s Thrifty Finds started with a rather large purchase. It came second-hand and was bought for a relative good price. It also ends a six week episode in our lives which has been rather scary…..

  1. Last weekend we purchased a new (to us) car. At the beginning of September my husband was involved in a car accident. Thankfully, he wasn’t badly injured but the car was a write off. As the other party admitted full liability the insurance process has actually been quite quick (or so I’m told as neither of us have ever been involved in something like this before). Of course, the payment didn’t match what the car was worth to us. Thankfully, we had some rainy day savings which we have had to dip into to fund the new car. Since the accident my husband has been driving a hire car and we only had one day without a car at all. This is something we’re used to (see my post here about not having regular use of a car). But it was still slightly unnerving to not know when we were going to get another car. In the end, a mechanic friend picked up a good quality car in an auction and delivered it to us last week. It’s the same make as our old car, but just slightly younger. The accident taught me three things: 1) you never know what’s going to happen to you; 2) how amazing my husband was throughout the incident, and how wonderful friends and neighbours were to us; 3) thank goodness for (some) rainy day savings. The purchase of the car has now (hopefully) bought closure to this awful period in our lives.

 

All my other Thrifty Finds seem quite small in comparison but..

2. I made my own blackberry cordial which I am rather proud of:

blackberry cordial

3.  We resisted to urge to get fish & chips on one evening, and instead cooked at home. I continued to bake bread and even had a go at making a fruit cake in the breadmaker, which turned out well.

Fruit cake made in breadmaker: Thrifty Finds from secondhandtales.wordpress.com

4. I went to a fundraising coffee morning and picked up a wonderful raspberry and coconut cake for £2.

5. I mended an item of child’s underwear, rather than throwing it away – which would have been far easier.

mending

 

What were your Thrifty Finds for the past week?

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

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Who needs Poundland? Charity shop bargains for £1 and under.

who needs Poundland?

Who needs Poundland when you can pick up bargains for under £1 at your local charity shop?

While these purchases will be second-hand, and may not be in mint condition, they will be:

  • recycled/re-used By buying second-hand you are extending the life of an item, and preventing it from being sent to landfill.
  • giving to a good cause By purchasing from a High Street charity shop you are donating to a good cause.
  •  unique The slightly chipped teacup that you bought for 50p could become a talking point!
  • not wrapped in plastic So many brand new, cheap items seem to come shrink wrapped in plastic wrapping that can’t be recycled.
  • more durable   I really believe that many second-hand goods have a far longer shelf life than cheaply manufactured plastic goods. There’s a reason why they cost so little. How many things have we bought from bargain shops that have broken almost immediately after use? I’ve written here about my struggle with cheaply made children’s clothing.

There are many other reasons to shop second-hand (I’ve listed them here) . Whenever I’m looking for a household item, book, game or clothing my first port of call is to scour the local charity shops.

In the past few days I have bought these two albums for 25p each from the Dorothy House shop (I could have bought three for 50p but couldn’t find another one). Despite being in the bargain bucket the records are in good condition:

I also stumbled across some cotton reels for 50p each from a local second-hand shop, just when I needed new cotton for sewing projects:

second-hand cotton reels

Of course it’s not always possible to buy items for under £1 at charity shops. In fact some of them can be downright pricey, charging more than certain High Street stores for their clothing (although as I mentioned above their second-hand garments probably last longer). But there are ways to source cheap goodies from charity shops:

  • get to know the charity shops in your town, and get to know which town has the cheapest shops. My nearest town for charity shopping is the Georgian city of Bath. It’s a great place to go for second-hand shopping as there are some very well-dressed people who donate their cast-offs to the likes of us (read my guide here). However an expensive town can mean pricey charity shops. In some of them it’s not unusual to see dresses selling for a tenner, and that’s without the ‘vintage’ label which usually doubles the price tag. Having said that, as I regularly trawl the charity shops in the city I know which ones are cheaper. For example I recently bought this wonderful denim dress for a fiver from the British Heart Foundation shop:
  • £5 denim dress
  • look for end of season sales Just as High Street chains have their own end of season reductions, many charity shops will reduce their prices at certain times of the year too.
  • rummage through the bargain bucket Nearly all charity shops have bargain bins or sales rails. Sometime this is because they have a surfeit of donations of a particular type. In my local market town the Dorothy House hospice shop and British Red Cross store often have reductions on their books.
  • volunteer Most charity shops need volunteers and, by working in the shop, you’ll get to see the stock that comes in. Some charity shops also offer staff/volunteer discounts (see here for more information on how charity shops are run)
  • remember that the price also includes a donation Even if you think the price of an item is steep please don’t haggle. Remember that the money you spend in a charity shop goes back to that cause.

And finally…. if you purchase from a charity shop please consider donating your unwanted (good quality) items back to them to complete the cycle.

 

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Upcycling Denim Part Two: Jeans to Skirt

upcycled denim skirt

Since buying my denim sewing needles I have gone a bit mad with the denim upcycling! I mended – and then remade – some children’s jeans into shorts here.

I also embarked on a rather long, but fulfilling, project to turn an old pair of jeans into a skirt.

I started with this old pair of jeans which had been mended quite a few times, before being replaced by my second-hand Toast pair.

mended jeans

I started by chopping them off at the knees. Then I unpicked the inner leg seams on both the front and back:

upcycling jeans

However because I wasn’t paying attention when unpicking I accidentally unpicked an outer seam too on one side:

jeans to skirt

Still I decided to turn this ‘accident’ into a feature. I took an old (second-hand) skirt which I loved but which was far too tight:

skirt upcycle

So far, so good (ish). Because I wasn’t following a pattern and rather making the instructions up as I went along I then sewed the two back seams together (that had been previously unpicked from the trouser legs). This involved having to sew over some thick layers of denim. It also left a little triangle at the bottom which I patched with some of the green skirt:

denim skirt refashion

I also sewed some of the green skirt fabric down the side, which I had accidentally unpicked, but I didn’t add a patch to the front.

You can kind off see they were jeans and there is a fair amount of bad sewing in the project, but I like that it’s not perfect.

 

denim skirt made from jeans

 

Tomorrow is our quarterly Repair Cafe and I intend to wear this skirt!

Corsham Repair Cafe poster June 2016(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)

Mend It May

Mend It May

I recently wrote here about my sewing pile and trying to find the motivation to tackle it. Well lo and behold a few days later I read that Jen from My Make Do And Mend Life here has set up Mend It May. The idea behind this 31 day project is to get us all mending again. Jen explains it far better in her blog, but there are many reasons why we should all get mending: environmental, cost, learning new skills, sense of achievement etc.

This is just the incentive I need to both a) complete my sewing projects (or at least some) and b) tackle the mending pile. Even though I help to run a Repair Cafe I am still rubbish at getting my own things fixed and, to my shame, have a few items hanging around at home that either need to be mended or taken to the tip (oh the green guilt/shame!).

So far this is my mending/sewing list for May:

  1. button that fell off my trousers last week
  2. finish off bloomin’ denim skirt
  3. look at toaster (our electrician at Repair Cafe said it needed a good clean!)
  4. look at old breadmaker: does it need a new element?
  5.  new glass jar for cafetiere
  6. ipod speakers
  7. various holes in various items of clothing (legacy from our moth infestation here)
  8. name tags on girls’ uniform
  9. stupid cold water button that keeps falling off tap
  10. even my sewing box needs mending (oh the irony!)

sewing box

plus plenty of more! If you are interested in joining in – or just following for tips and inspiration I highly recommend reading Jen’s blog or, if you use Twitter or Instagram the hashtag is #menditmay

Good luck!

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Unfinished sewing….

I have a pile of half finished sewing projects.

piles of unfinished sewing

Some have been hanging around for a couple of years and others are new(ish). At present I am trying to turn these old pair of jeans into a denim skirt.

turning jeans into a skirt

It’s a very slow work in progress. I am rubbish at following instructions and prefer to learn by doing it myself. This means I invariably make mistakes, have to unpick fabric and start again. I don’t have a dedicated sewing area but, instead, work at the kitchen table. This means that at every mealtime I have to pack my equipment away. And when it’s packed away it is sometimes hard to motivate myself to get everything out and try again.

In the words of Virginia Woolf, I would like a room of my own in which to create, sew and write. (But I would still need some self-motivation to finish those sewing projects off…)

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own

Does anyone else have unfinished piles of sewing?

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Mending children’s jeans: £4.66 v £5 Primark jeans

Mending children's jeans

I wrote this post here about my belief that if we buy cheap clothes we have to learn to mend them. Well now it looks like I have to eat my words as the £5 jeans I bought for my 9 year old from Primark have massive tears (hangs head: buying cheap clothing means low quality and low wages).

So, determined not to throw them away, or turn them into embellished cut offs (as shown here) I set to work fixing them.

I am no stranger to mending jeans as I patched my own pair a few times (see here), but I knew my daughter would need a) slightly less visible mending and b) harder wearing.

I found this tutorial on wonderful Youtube.

As a result I paid a visit to the local haberdashers and bought lightweight fusible interfacing. I know it sounds silly but I’ve never used this material before – but now I am completely hooked on it as it’s so easy to use! Cut to size, iron on and hey presto it sticks!

While the tutorial only uses the interfacing to mend the tears I also cut off some denim from an old pair of jeans to act as a harder wearing patch underneath. (The denim came from my old much patched jeans that had been mended using fabric from an older pair of my daughter’s jeans – which were turned into the cutoffs mentioned above – so now the fabric was being used to mend another pair of jeans. I also have plans for the remnants of these old pair of jeans: post to follow).

Phwew, so now that the never-ending cycle of old jeans had produced denim material patches all I needed to buy was fusible interfacing and special denim needles for the sewing machine: a grand total of £4.66.

mending children's jeans

So the process of mending the tears on the jeans went something like this:

  1. Iron jeans (I also cut off some of the hanging threads from the tear). Turn inside out and cut a large piece of interfacing and denim to generously cover the tear.

mendig jeans

2) Iron on interfacing so that it sticks. (I also stuffed the denim patch up the leg so that the interfacing wouldn’t stick to the other side of the leg)

mending jeans

3) Pin the denim patch over it (making sure not to pin all the way through the leg as you need to turn the leg back to the right side in a minute).

mending jeans

4) Select a wider zig zag stitch on your machine.

mending jeans

5) With the jeans now the right side, slide the leg onto the sewing machine. Sew over the tear a couple of times using the zig zag stitch. This will secure the patch underneath in place and (hopefully) prevent any more fraying. You can then turn the jeans inside out once again and cut the denim patch to a smaller size. I used pinking shears for a zig zag edge, which should prevent it from fraying.

 

mending jeans

With hindsight I should have chosen a thread that better matched the colour of the lighter jeans. The stitching is more visible than I would have liked. However, for playing outside these jeans will be far more hard wearing for my daughter.

But the lesson learnt is Don’t Buy Cheap Clothes! Something I tell myself time and again but when you’re on a budget and the charity shops don’t have the right size it’s a very easy thing to do.

At least I now have my Denim Mending Kit in my sewing box for the next repair. It may have cost only 34p less than the £5 jeans but I now have plenty of needles and interfacing to patch time and time again – plus the satisfaction of knowing I will NOT be going to Primark again to buy cheap jeans.

Repair Cafe update

On Saturday we held our latest Repair Cafe. This time we moved it to a nearby village and ran it alongside the regular Community Swap event organised by Corsham’s green group (Transcoco).

Repair Cafe Box March 12 2016 (2)

While the Community Swap event was busy we were less so. It may be because the Repair Cafe was a new addition to the event or we should have had better signing. Stil we had 15 customers in two hours and our electrician, engineer and seamstress were still busy mending and offering advice.

Repair Cafe Box March 12 2016 (4)

Alison, our seamstress, was busy altering some beautiful vintage dresses

Repair Cafe Box March 12 2016 (1)

Our next Repair Cafe will be back in Corsham but we agreed we’d like to take the Repair Cafe on the road again…..

Gerhardt65-works-Indy65-A-400x269