A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: thrift

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