In September fellow blogger Jen embarked on a year-long mission to avoid buying anything brand new by making do and mending in the Blitz spirit. Already she estimates she has saved £1,000.
JennyVintage finds out how she’s bearing up, how her craft skills are coming and how it’s changed her style.
What inspired you to embark on a year of make do and mend?
I got fed up with all the ‘stuff’ and a little bit scared that by the age of three, my eldest (BigSmall) was already so focused on getting more ‘stuff’. I also wondered if it could be done, and then read about Suzy Prince and her Secondhand Safari, and it gave me the shove I needed to give it a go!
Did you already have a lot of craft and sewing skills to prepare you for what you may have let yourself in for?
Having never been at all arty or crafty I learned to sew when I was on maternity leave after having BigSmall, and then got into all things ‘upcycling’ and discovered vintage along the way!
What are the best craft skills you have learnt since starting your year?
I would probably say crocheting. I learnt just before Christmas, and I am now well and truly hooked (excuse the pun!)
Any craft disasters or tears?
My first attempt at a crocheted hat was a bit of a disaster – not at all glamorous or flattering, and it is now being used as a crocheted ‘bucket’!
Has make do and mend had a big impact on your style? How would you sum up your current style?
I have never been big follower of fashion and the latest styles, but I hope I am not so bad that I embarrass the kids! Buying second-hand has definitely influenced my style though. I have gone from no dresses, to four (yes, four!), all from charity shops. And I have picked up several lovely snuggly wooly jumpers at vintage fairs. I think I am now braver in what I will try, as things are invariably a bit cheaper than buying new. And I have more confidence to just go with what I like, rather than what I think I should like because the shop is telling me to.
What have been your best second-hand and vintage finds during your project?
I bought a faux fur coat from the car boot for £15 that I love! And I have a weakness for vintage haberdashery and got a job lot of wooden vintage cotton spools at a flea market, that again I love. No idea if I will even use them for their original purpose, but I enjoy just looking at them, and planning projects for them!
What are the best markets, shops and websites you’ve found to shop for second-hand and vintage since starting the project?
Car boots are good for general everyday stuff, and you can sometimes find a genuine vintage bargain. I love the flea market at the Bath and West Showground, although it is becoming less of a flea market and more of a vintage fair now, and the prices are rising accordingly…
How much money do you estimate you have saved by not buying brand new? Did you start with a target for savings?
We didn’t set out to save money, it was more of a ‘sustainable living’ project, but we have undoubtedly saved some cash along the way. Over Christmas, our maximum spend for all the presents was less than £50, compared with the more like £300 we would usually have spent. We have possibly saved up to £1,000 in the first six months, but I couldn’t be sure.
What are your make do and mend plans like for the second half of your year? Is there anything you’re determined to achieve before it’s over?
I want to spread the word! I feel quite passionately that a little bit of Make Do and Mend is what we should all be aiming for, and would encourage everyone to just stop and think for a minute or two before rushing out and buying yet more stuff, about whether or not they really need it, and if they do, can they find it second-hand?
I want mending to be as cool as baking is at the moment – it could be the next big thing.
I want to run some Make Do and Mend craft days, and some mending evenings, and maybe some school workshops – big plans, and really start to get the message out there.
Would you do another year?
Definitely (although hubby may say otherwise). It has without a doubt changed the way we will shop in the future. Just by giving a bit more thought to what we are buying is not only saving us money, but has meant that we have often ended up with one-off unique to us items (clothes and furniture, for instance) that are far more interesting than yet another identikit outfit or piece of furniture.