Julius Caesar reputedly uttered the immortal words "I came, I saw, I conquered". Well, hopefully, my version will be "I logged on, I blogged, I won" because I’m trying to win an iPad 2 in the iSave, iWrite, iPad competition from PlayPennies.com! (You can see why I got inspired by Julius Caesar when you look at the name of the competition !)
The competition brief sounds deceptively simple : write a blog post featuring your best money saving tips. The problem is, there are so many different angles you could come at it from that it's hard to know where to start. Well, taking my inspiration this time from the Ministry of Information, whose wartime slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On" has turned into a modern-day mantra that is emblazoned across everything from tea towels and mugs to cufflinks and chocolate bars, I'll go with that other war-time classic "Make do and Mend".
Kids clothes cost a fortune, partly because they grow out of them so quickly, partly because they always want the expensive celeb-endorsed brands and partly because they're so skilled at covering them in stains and rips the first time they wear them. Here at The Madhouse, we have a sewing box especially for all the interesting bits that can be used to patch up, er I mean customise, clothes that have seen better days. But forget those hideous leather elbow protectors you sometimes see on old man cardigans or the patches you probably had on the knees of your jeans if you were a child of the seventies ! With a bit of imagination, it can look really cool ! Honest !
Motifs cut off old Tshirts, beads and pendants from broken necklaces, squares of brightly coloured fabrics - anything that looks pretty, interesting, sparkly or that holds special memories can be re-used to jazz up tired-looking cast-offs. Strategically-placed heart or flower shaped patches can be sewn over indelible stains or holes and look really cool. When your kids' favourite (and often expensive) Tshirts or pyjamas are too small, just cut out the motif and sew it on to a new supermarket bargain-basement, plain white Tshirt which will cost pennies, or an old stained item of clothing to give it a new lease of life. This also opens a whole new load of opportunities for finding bargains at boot sales. If you see a top that your kids would love but it's the wrong size, just cut off the design and sew it on to another cheapie but correctly-sized Tshirt.
Another simple project that takes just minutess is to take a well-loved but worn out or too small top (fluffy jumpers and sweatshirts work well), chop off the arms to make a rough square, sew up the neck and arm holes and stuff it to make a cool cushion ! I actually made a fluffy Barbapapa cushion out of an old pink dressing gown that had seen better days !