A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: thrift

Some of my precious sewing time during my time off work was devoted to patching my two pairs of jeans. I already posted a tutorial on how I do this and I followed the same technique.

I very nearly threw the lighter jeans away when I moved house in June, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even though I haven’t worn them since summer 2017, I love these jeans. I possibly kept them in case I wanted to replicate the fit in case I ever make my own jeans (at this point looking unlikely but who knows what the future has in store).

Annoyingly I didn’t think to take a picture, but the fabric around the seams on the inside leg of these jeans was completely worn away. You can see in the photo above the way the denim is pulling apart.

I was sorting though my clothes and I examined the jeans again. I think I previously dismissed the idea of patching over the seam, but suddenly this seemed like a great idea. The seam allowance is perfectly placed to cover where the denim is damaged. Shouldn’t a patch over the top hold it all together nicely?

You can see how heavily the jeans are already patched. I marked out with pins where I wanted to add new patches.

As with all of my jeans repairs, I made the patches with denim left over from my first day dress.

You may be able to see that I made the patches on the incorrect side of the fabric but you shouldn’t see this from the right side so I didn’t bother to remake them.

Weirdly intimate to show a picture of my crotch

You can see that I’ve basically reinforced the whole crotch area of these jeans with an extra layer of denim. I was a bit concerned that they would feel uncomfortable but they’re absolutely fine.

I just noticed that my ‘new’ jeans (purchased in September 2017 and worn quite heavily since) have just developed their first hole. My jeans always wear in exactly the same way.

This was a very straightforward patch job. I slightly thought about preemptively patching the areas that I know will wear away next but in the end I didn’t bother.

I almost feel like it is a personal challenge to see how many years I can keep these two pairs of jeans going. I’m fairly confident that I have had the brighter blue pair for around five years. It’s interesting how my conception of something being ‘worn out’ has changed in a fairly short period of time. This project has also reminded me how hardwearing jeans are- even though jeans are now a staple, this harks back to their history as a garment for hard physical labour.


Last week I went to Wilderness festival. I have been mostly blissfully ignorant of the rubbish problem when I have attended festivals before. I’m sure I felt a little bothered by the bins full of disposable cups and plates, and the massive piles of perfectly good items that attendees leave behind. But now my eyes are much more open to the problem.

I armed myself with my vacuum flask, water bottle, keep cup, metal straw and cutlery.  This was quite a lot of equipment to have with me at all times, but I brought my beloved yellow backpack along largely for the purpose of carrying these items. Aaaaand…. like the best laid plans of mice and men, it went completely out of the window.

Delicious food that I felt a little bad eating

I learnt that I actually find it very difficult to make a special request for myself when the infrastructure is not set up to deal with it. All of the plating was set up and I just felt bad asking the vendors to change it so that it would fit in my containers. Wilderness has a lot of ego-massaging placatory messages, such as the dishes being compostable, but of course there is a lot of upstream waste associated with making the disposable items.

Because I am extra af and dangerously addicted to espresso, I took my stovetop coffee maker and milk frother for my morning flat white. So I at least didn’t use any coffee cups during the weekend.

One thing that the zero waste mindset helped me with was with making purchases. Wilderness is a festival where people feel very free to dress outlandishly, which I am very much on board with. This year was one of my first festival experiences where I had some disposable income available. It would have been very easy to spend a lot of money on items that are just not wearable in any other context. I was very much enamoured of this pompom headdress.

In the end, I bought a vintage beaded jacket that was actually very restrained for the festival, but just about straddles the line between jazzy and useful in my real life.

I also bought some little sparkly jewels to wear on my forehead because I couldn’t resist getting a little something.

The festival did allow me to get out some much-loved but seldom-worn items. I wore my rocket Southport dress for just the second time and it was perfect for this event.

I brought the circuit sentiments kit I have had at home for years and used it to fashion my own light-up headdress using a flower crown I bought a few years ago on eBay. The LED kits are the kind of impulse craft purchase that I would like to stop making as much. I used a few of the items to make my Port Charlotte jumper light up when I was pretending it was a Christmas jumper.

When I first started looking for courgette recipes at the beginning of the summer, this one for jam stood out immediately. I cut up and froze any parts of courgettes that I didn’t use in my other recipes, and eventually I had nearly 2kg ready to use. I managed to get eight jars of varying sizes from 2kg of courgette.

I haven’t made jam since I attended a workshop with Anna many years ago- before I’d even started this blog. I must say that making the jam was more labour intensive than I’d imagined/remembered.

The courgette released an enormous amount of water. I’m not sure if this was a side-effect of freezing, but also there was a lot of the watery middle bit of courgettes included in what I used. All the water took a very long time to boil off, and I struggled to be patient with it. I tested whether it was set a few times and found the results a little inconclusive. Because I had seen wrinkles on my saucer once, I decided to go ahead and pot.

According to the recipe, this jam will take a few months to mature in flavour, which should mean that it will be well timed to give away for Xmas.

When I was in Indonesia last year, I was drawn to an embroidered dress in a vintage shop, despite the fact that I knew the shape of the dress wasn’t for me. A year later, I have finally finished converting the dress into a skirt.

This is the dress as I bought it. The bust and top back are made from a jersey material, which complicated the alteration.

This is what the skirt looked like partway through. I’m not going to share a vast amount of information about the alteration because I just did it how I felt, and I’m fairly sure there would have been a much better way to go about it.

Basically I cut off the jersey part of the dress, and used the under-bust part as the waistband. The dress was already partially elasticated- you may be able to tell where the elastic is in the picture below. I added a thicker strip of elastic, partly to disguise where I cut the jersey. I recycled the strips of embroidered woven fabric to cover the elastic at the back. It buttons to the elastic, and to itself, to keep the two halves together and flat. I may remove this part in future and just leave the elastic visible- I’ll see how the skirt wears before making a decision.

Here’s a side view.

Overall, I am fairly happy with the finished product. I just love the embroidery, which is why I purchased the dress in the first place. The fabric isn’t drapey at all (maybe it’s a light cotton?), so for me it’s not ideal for a skirt of this style, but I think it’s fine overall.

I went to visit my dad in France a couple of months ago, wearing my trusty blue jeans. These are a pair I picked up as a happy accident in TK Maxx. They’re made with a special process that uses less water, so they’re the kind of denim you’re meant to avoid washing. I’ve had these jeans for well over two years and I think I’ve only washed them twice. To some, that’s gross, but I quite like it. For me, these jeans are pretty perfect. I like the fit, they’re long enough for my legs and they’re comfy.

Anyway, to my horror, I discovered that my beloved dirty jeans had developed a hole in the inside leg. I wore them with extreme caution for the next few days as I hadn’t brought any other trousers with me. And since then, they’ve been languishing untouched on my ‘to mend’ pile.

I looked up a few tutorials online for how to repair jeans. I now can’t find the link to the tutorial that I semi followed to patch them. A lot of methods recommend trimming the hole in the jeans to ease the transition to the patch fabric. However, I couldn’t see the sense in voluntarily weakening the fabric further. I don’t mind there being a worn patch that can’t be seen 99% of the time. What I care about is giving my jeans a few more months of useful service.

1. Using pinking shears, cut a patch of denim in a similar colour to your jeans

It should cover the hole plus about an inch all around it.

2. Fuse bondaweb all around the right side of the patch 


3. Fuse the patch over the hole 


4. Stitch over the patch and jeans

This can be done by hand, by machine or a combination. I hand-stitched mine first.


Here’s how the hole looked on the right side at this point.


If you have access to a sewing machine, you can reinforce the patch by stitching back and forth over it a few times.

I used the pins to mark where I should sew up to in order to make sure the stitching overshot the patch- this should reduce fraying and make the patch feel less noticeable on my skin. 

 Here’s how it looks on the right side. Since the holes are on the inside leg (this is nearly always where my jeans wear out) it is almost invisible. 

Here is a simple alteration, converting a dress into a skirt. I really liked the print and colour of this shift dress, but I always had an issue with the square neckline. I also had a skirt-shaped gap in my summer wardrobe and I was inspired by this upcycling challenge. I’m pleased to say that the gap has now been filled.


This is what I started with.  

With an alteration like this, it’s important to look at how the garment is constructed. I was lucky that this is actually an extremely well constructed dress, which made my job easy.

I unpicked the fabric and lining from the waistband and waistband facing.

I then had to shorten the zip. To do this, make sure the zipper pull is down below where you cut, or you will never be able to get it back up. I cut about an inch above the waistband, tucked the ends between the waistband and facing, and stitched down to hide. I also hand-stitched heavily near the top of the zip to stop the pull slipping off.  

It was then a simple matter to hand-stitch the top hem.  

I concealed my stitches in the ditch between the waistband and piping at the top.

Quite a few cake recipes these days call for buttermilk, a foodstuff that I have never used in anything else. I like including in cakes as I do think it lends a nicer texture, but I inherited my grandmother’s WWII hatred of waste. I did a quick internet search and decided to give these buttermilk pancakes a go. They’re very nice, I would recommend them for an easy and not-too-unhealthy weekend breakfast. I quartered the recipe as I only had 1/4cup of buttermilk left over.


  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (I used 1tbsp egg white that I also had left over)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped fruit (optional)


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the fruit.                                                                    Batter
  4. Fry large dessertspoonfuls, ideally on a skillet but a large frying pan will do. Don’t use a small frying pan! I fried them in a little butter for additional deliciousness, but low-fat spray would do.Cooking
  5. Flip once the edges start to look brown and quite a few bubbles have formed, about 1.5mins. Cook on the other side for about a minute.
  6. Serve with a little maple syrup.                                    You got served