Is it okay to make money by selling things that were free (or cheap)?

 

images

I have been pondering this topic for a little while.

I began to think about it after I volunteered at our school jumble sale this year. For the first time I experienced the semi-professional haggling skills of customers who were going on to sell their bargains at car boot sales etc for a far higher price.

Then the lovely blogger, Ruby, from Quiet Radicals posed the question on twitter: is it ok for people to buy cheap items in charity shops – and then sell them on for higher prices to make a personal profit?

This really got me thinking. If the item at a school jumble sale, or charity shop, is on sale to make money for a good cause is it wrong for the purchaser to later sell it for more? Especially if this ‘profit’ is then kept for personal gain?

I guess you could say ‘good luck’ to anyone who has the ambition and drive to make money from selling other people’s cast-offs. Whether these cast-offs were donated to help a charity, accidentally left behind, or given for free should be irrelevant. When we donate we should no longer have any say in what happens to that item. It is now down to the charity shopper, freecycler, skip-diver etc to use their initiative to turn a profit.

And yet, I feel slightly uncomfortable about this. I recently wrote a magazine article on upcycling and the skill and materials that are involved in improving old, discarded items is something I approve of. These people have taken time, and spent their money and labour on making something better.

I guess it’s when something is bought for a cheap price/for free and then sold on at a higher price without anything being done to it, is where I struggle. I also think that items bought from charity shops should only be sold to make money for that charity.

A few months ago I bought a t-shirt online that was too small. Instead of having to return the t-shirt, Redbubble said I could keep it (as well as being sent a larger size). They said: “there’s no need to send it back. Feel free to give it to a friend, donate it to your favorite charity, whatever you want..”

Redbubble label

For a brief moment I thought I could sell it on and make some money. However it didn’t feel right. I’ve essentially got that t-shirt for free and it would be so much nicer to pass it onto a friend, as friends have done to me. Maybe I’m just wired a little differently, or the pursuit of profit just isn’t my thing.

But what do you think? Am I being too puritan about this? Should people be able to sell these items for more than they bought them for in the first place?

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Upcycled garden sheds

 

garden shed, made from two old sheds and fence panel

My very clever husband has spent the last few days building four sheds for our garden. Like our house, our garden is very small (we only have one garden as the back of our house is joined onto another). With three growing children we really need to maximise the space we have and so this summer we have lots of plans.

First of all we/he removed the three old sheds that were taking up too much space in the garden. We had a good sort out and recycled, freecycled and threw away stuff that we no longer needed (a liberating experience). He then made use of the old sheds, as well as an old fence panel from a friend, and made these four storage areas:

upcycled garden sheds

(l-r: garden shed for tools etc, wood store, closed bin shed, lift up storage chest for outdoor games and chairs)

The doors on the left hand and two far right sheds were taken from our old sheds. Some of the panelling was reconstructed from the old fence panel. We did buy some new material from B&Q, but found that we didn’t need as much of it after all.

I’m really pleased with the shed for the bin.

bin shed

Having only one garden we struggle with where to store our bins. In fact, this venture has forced me to contact the council and get rid of our large plastic & cardboard recycling bin. We only put it out for collection once a month/every six weeks so we have asked for a replacement canvas bag that will be a lot easier to store.

I have also discovered that I quite like organising sheds (?!) and have enjoyed decluttering and then re-ordering the tool shed.

shed

The location of the sheds against the house wall has freed up some much needed space. We now have a pleasant area in which to sit and the sheds have been relocated to a far more practical location.

 

upcycled sheds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

Another tale of denim: 20 minute upcycled shorts

upcycled denim shorts

 

There must be some sort of denim theme going on at the moment. I bought a £5 bargain denim dress the other week and at the weekend I upcycled a pair of children’s denim shorts.

You may remember a couple of months ago I attempted to mend the cheap Primark jeans I’d bought my daughter here.

Mending children's jeans

Unfortunately the mend didn’t last very long. So we decided to turn them into shorts and add a fabric cuff. I’d done something similar here a couple of years ago:

upcycling children's jeans

This time we used some spare cartoon style material that I had used to make a cushion cover with.

cushion cover

Following the excellent tutorial below it only took 20 minutes to cut jeans, cut then hem fabric, and then sew it onto the jeans.

 

My daughter was really pleased with the results – and now she has another pair of shorts to wear this summer. I’m also still using my denim needles for the sewing machine so my £4.66 denim sewing kit is still going well…

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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second-hand books: January roundup.

I am still trying to be more thoughtful when I buy books, even when they are second-hand. We now have ten bookshelves in the lounge (upcycled from old floorboards) but the rule is that all our books must fit on them. So, apart from a few scattered in bedrooms, there are no other bookshelves in the house. And if a book doesn’t fit on the shelf then it has to go…

bookshelves, with our cosy reading corner

bookshelves, with our cosy reading corner on the left

I wrote in this post of my love for everything ever published by Persephone Books. These books do come with a hefty price tag (£12) but they are worth every penny. Imagine my delight, then, at coming across one in mint condition at the Oxfam Book Shop in Bath for £3.49

Dorothy Whipple: Someone at a Distance

Someone at a Distance was originally published in 1953, and was the last novel written by Dorothy Whipple I love reading books set in the 1930s-1950s, an era which Persephone Books covers very well. While I haven’t finished this novel I am hooked on this tale of a well to do English family whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a French ‘femme fatale’. It’s such a pleasure to become immersed in a book!

 

This week I also picked up a second-hand copy of a David Walliams novel as my middle daughter has been enjoying his writing. Having scoured half a dozen charity shops this was the only David Walliams book I could find. She was delighted.

David Walliams: gangsta granny

As for the ‘one in one out’ rule on books we have a school jumble sale in a few weeks’s time and we shall set to work this weekend stripping down the shelves to make room for our new (to us) purchases.

Easy no sew Christmas card bunting

easy no sew upcycled bunting

I recently posted about the challenges of trying to recycle over 160 Christmas cards. I know that I can put them in the cardboard recycling box (or at special collection boxes in supermarkets) but I wanted to create something with them.

Having taken part in last Thursday’s #makedoandmendhour on Twitter and from a trawl of pinterest I picked up a few useful tips.

I had already turned some of the cards into gift labels for next Christmas, and adapted some of the rectangular ones into thank you cards from my daughters:

However I’d also heard about upcycling cards into festive bunting, so here is my guide to ‘no sew Christmas Card Bunting’:

no sew bunting

  1. Select about 20-30 Christmas Cards of complimentary colours. I made two piles: red & green and blue & white (if you like to ring the changes with different colour schemes every Christmas this is a cheap and green way of doing it).

 

red themed cards for bunting

2) Using scissors – or a small paper guillotine – cut off the back and then slice the front into a triangle:

making Christmas card bunting

3) Remember that the bunting flags will hang from the widest part so bear this in mind if you have writing or particular images on them. I don’t have great spacial awareness so got a couple of them wrong so they will now hang ‘upside down’:

upside down bunting flags

oops! Wrong way round 😦

4) When you have a collection take a hole punch and punch one or two holes into the top:

5) Then take the ribbon, wool or string (perhaps saved from Christmas wrapping?) and thread through the holes:

christmas card bunting

And, here we go – easy peasey no sew upcycled bunting!

no sew Christmas card bunting

Don’t forget you could also use this for birthdays or other occasions (perhaps if you get loads of Valentine cards?!). Now I will just have to remember where I’ve stored this bunting for next Christmas!

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