Monday, 9 May 2011

There have been tons of really inspiring money-saving blog posts appearing recently. Three of my very favourite bloggers, Vix, Christina and Kate, have all written really thought provoking things in the past few days about cutting back and spending their cash wisely. I like to think I'm reasonably sensible with my money - I have no debts and I've got savings - but I don't think I've got anything particularly ground-breaking to add to the discussion as I don't really do anything special. I'm half Scottish and I was brought up in Yorkshire - I was just bred to be tight with money! However I'm pretty sure I've saved myself a few pounds over the past couple of nights, so I thought I'd blog about it.

I fell over my alterations pile whilst getting into bed at the weekend. The pile was so big that I even dreamed that it had come to life and eaten my rack of Irregular Choice shoes. I'm not sure if that was more of a nightmare than the one last night where Wayne Rooney wanted to have an affair with me. I was running shrieking through my subconscious going "But he's an UGLY gobshite! And he played for my most hated two football teams. Nooooooooooooooooooo!"

Ahem. Anyway, after cursing mildly I was actually really pleased that the pile was now strewn all over the floor as there was all sorts of fun stuff in there! You know when you buy something off ebay for about 99p in the hope that it will fit and look good, but it just doesn't? Well there were several of those mistakes in there, along with a few vintage things, some stuff that was too big and various random charity shop purchases.

I could procrastinate no longer.

Armed with my trusty mini sewing machine, some coffee, and a good book to read when I got stressed out, I went to work.

What do you know? I now have 4 new tops, a coat I can actually wear out in public and I've nearly made an unflattering skirt absolutely awesome. I say nearly, because I had a hemming disaster tonight and had to leave it alone before I burst into tears. I'm sure it's fixable but I can't face it tonight. Hemming is so boring, even when it's going well.

(ignore my utter grockishness in these pics please - I'm knackered, have no makeup on and the light is terrible in my room)

Exhibit 1:

This was a shirt dress that I bought in Cow Vintage in Birmingham for about £3 as it had a huge rip in the side seam. Well as it's a USA size 4 I was never going to squeeze my derriere into it anyway, so I've cut the bottom part off and made it into a normal shirt. Also took out some whopping 80's shoulder pads.

Exhibit 2:

This was a size 18 dress originally. There is an outfit photo of it way back at the beginning of the blog but my god, it's not flattering, so I'm not reposting it here. I had to hack it at a frilly bit so it's a wee bit shorter than I'd like (awful, awful stomach) but I reckon it's alright.

Exhibit 3:

A £1 Primark top. There was always a massive amount of fabric in this anyway, but I was starting to get a bit drowned by it. Side seams promptly taken in and it's much more wearable. Not exactly exciting or even necessarily blog-worthy, but a useful addition to the wardrobe nonetheless.

Exhibit 4:

Another size 18 dress. I think I got this for about 10p at a car boot sale, mainly cos the fabric was pretty. I finally got round to turning it into a top and taking in the side seams so it fits.

Exhibit 5:

This one was quite easy really as I just sewed some buttons on it. Naughty H&M - this was in the sale and had 4 out of the 5 buttons missing. I mentioned it to the guy at the till and had to really push for a further discount. I'm sorry, I don't care if it's in the sale or not. If it's got bits missing I'm not paying the marked price for it.

It's cute though isn't it?

I might have been bemoaning my lack of tops last week but the solution was so obvious. I'd only have shoved all these things in the charity shop pile but I'm chuffed I've managed to make them wearable and improve my sewing skills. They're not exactly immaculately sewn or anything but they're wearable, and it's stopped me from going out and buying a load of new things. Now if only I could get my brain around making things from patterns, I'd never need to shop again.


  1. I bet you feel really chuffed now don't you? Love the coat.

  2. I bought the same sailor coat on my first day in London for 15 GBP! Then I went to Bath and saw the same on sale for 10 and I wanted to shoot someone. :)) Sewing skills, I wish I had 'em.

    Arianne from A + B in the Sea

  3. Exhibit No 2 gets a double thumbs up from me-you look very pretty in it. Tummy? uh-hum, what tummy?
    Brilliant achievements, Alex. Good on you!
    Z xx

    PS Wayne Rooney? That must've been one awful nightmare. Does Coleen wear beer goggles ALL the time?????

  4. Dearest Alex, I think you could turn your hand to anything! I wish I could sew.

    The blue and green blouse is a triumph and I love the fabric on the white and pale green vest. Well done! Love, C xx

  5. Yay! It's fun what you can whip up in an afternoon :)

  6. Well done you. Some nice items to wear. It's amazing what a difference a bit of creativity can do!

    Your dreams so made me laugh.

    X x

  7. well done for putting in the effort! I've never been able to bring myself to altering clothing, I wouldn't know where to start! All your tops look lovely but my favourite item is that cute sailor coat, I love it!

  8. You've done a fantastic job, Alex! You are clever. I'm sure none of my revamps would stand up to close scrutiny but whose going to inspect the hem with a magnifying glass anyway?
    Next time you're car booting and see a cheapo dress in your size buy it, unpick it and cut around it, easier than a scary pattern. xxx

  9. well done you. i'd do this with my wardrobe but everything in there is too small, i;d have to sew things togeather to make them fit!

  10. Fab post Alex, I also have a growing pile of items that need mending or altering, definately time to get the sewing machine out! I really love the print on that green leafy top :)

  11. The leaf top is fabby! I think you have done really well with the alterations, and am determined to get you making things with patterms! :)



  13. The thing is, if you ever stop to examine shop-bought seams etc, they're not always perfect either - it's only because you've done it yourself that you notice tiny mistakes.

    You've done a brilliant job and totally inspired me to look at the bigger sizes in charity shops - I love the print on the £1 top :)

  14. Really impressed with your revamps! I was going to suggest the same as Vix, find something that fits well and take it to bits. I have done this with cushions and all kinds it makes more sense to me to deconstruct something to be able to put it back together again. It makes you open your eyes when shopping too, not just looking for things that you like but things that will fit you well that you can tear apart; at the right price of course!
    Kandi x

  15. I'm very impressed with your tailoring skills- mine are absolutely non- existant. I'd love to be able to take things in and repair them as need be. And I've been looking with longing at your cutesy sewing machine- definitely need one of those! Did you learn how to use the machine from your Mum/Nan or anything?

    xxx maddie

  16. Good on you! I have to admit, I absolutely hate alterations-I'd much rather make something from scratch (including making my own pattern), I hate them that much! Ok, I don't mind a bit of strap fixing or sewing on buttons, I'm just never keen to alter shapes and seams etc

  17. Well done, I definitely need to do some of this.

    How do you find that little sewing machine? I've been looking for a machine for a while but just can't choose and maybe a mini one would be better as we are so short on space...

  18. Ooh lots of loveliness! I actually kinda love the Primark top, its not something I'd ever pick up but looks great now! My alterations are getting tackled on Friday, you and Char have inspired me! :)

  19. Love it Alex,
    I need to get over my sewing machine phobia x

  20. Fabulous work!

    And that Wayne Rooney dream what a NIGHTMARE! xx

  21. Wow, well done Alex. I notice you have the mini John Lewis machine, how do you find it? I've been tossing up getitng one. I don't really sew, but I do a lot of mending and at the moment it all has to be done by hand. I am the same as you, an Aussie with Scottish ancestry - born to be tight xx

  22. The second dress (top) is fab, good work! I wish I was as crafty as you :)

  23. The pattern on that 1st blouse is fab! The colours really suit you too. I'm well impressed with how much you've got done in so little time. xx

  24. Ooh I am impressed!

    Impressed, and also rather jealous, as it happens. I really wish I could do things like this - but.. well.. it's just not going to happen :/

    That H&M jacket is amazing. I want one. Really really want one!

  25. I love all of these, but the last one is my favourite. And Vix's post about saving money was brilliant I loved it. I've been going to Hobbycraft and getting printed papers to make my own writing paper, it's a lot less expensive than going to Paperchase. xxx

  26. I am totally jealous of your sewing skills! I need to learn how to use a sewing machine! :)

    Maria xxx

  27. Those mini JL machines are the cutest thing. Well done on your revamps. I've been busy making things for the new house recently but am desperate to get on with making myself some togs.

    I think tightness can be a bit of a virtue really, but then I'm descended from Yorkshire folk too.

  28. oooh, i wish i can sew my own clothes then i would have saved a whole lotta' money! <3

    you did an amazing job!

    ♥ vanilla ice cream ♥
    labor day sale at

  29. Brillo work! I LOVE the first shirt - so 70s. And boo to shops trying not to take money off damaged stuff. And, no 10% won't cut it if it's only £9 - that won't even cover the bus home!

  30. Great jobs there! So glad lm not the only one who has to climb into bed by scrambling over a pile of clothes :) l must do more of buying things to revamp.


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