Wednesday 4 May 2011

Make Do and Mend money saving tips !

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! (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 !

As well as being a great way of saving money, this can also be a great way of saving memories. If you're anything like me, you'll have a big bag full of baby clothes - the first bodysuits, pyjamas, Tshirts, bibs even - that are too stained and frayed to hand on to anyone else or sell at a boot sale but that you can't bear to part with. I cut out pieces of fabric from all of these clothes that had sentimental value and used them to create a hand-sewn baby rag book. You do need a certain degree of sewing skill to do this but if you don't know one end of a needle from the other, you could try doing the same thing using fabric glue or iron-on adhesive webbing.

Another idea is to make a great kids shoe tidy by sewing simple square pockets on to a rectangle of fabric and adding a hanger. I tried sewing on motifs cut off of various once-loved but too-far-gone Tshirts and was really pleased with the result. We have one of these in each room and the girls love them. Plus they make tidying up a breeze ! The girls also loved being able to choose the designs from their old clothes that would go on to the shoe tidy - talk about a bespoke design !

Don't throw away all the offcuts either - they can be used as dusters if they're big enough and the smaller pieces are ideal as stuffing, in the jumper cushions for example.

I may not be ready to eat powdered egg or rabbit stew for tea, but I think some of the war-time ideas still make great sense in modern times, especially with the credit crunch. It's eco-friendly and eco-nomical !


to see the other entries in the competition :


  1. Amazing tips!

    I love the rag book, what a beautiful and clever idea.

    Good luck with your entry too x

  2. Fab use of baby clothes and great as a keepsake, hope you win so clever

  3. Fantastic idea - cutting the motifs off. DD loves Peppa Pig and I hate throwing those t-shirts out. I was feeling good about my post until I read yours!

  4. Fab tips-loving yr style :)

  5. Fantastic - you're clearly very talented - sadly I cannot even manage to sew a button on, nor can my lovely wife - but we do economise in other areas.

  6. the shoe holders are fab, you are so clever !!

  7. great ideas. i love the rag book, soo cute!

  8. You've inspired me to 'make do & mend'! Hope you win!

  9. these are fantastic ideas and a great way to save in hard times

    just like getting 'new' clothes really

  10. Thanks for all your comments, I hope I've inspired some of you to give it a go :)

  11. OMG Just found out - I WON !!! :) :) :)

  12. Your patches remind me of the time my dog chew on my hoodie. My neighbour mended it with a patch using some Beattle fabric. I think it was the coolest thing ever! Good idea!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...