How Not To…

…Buy Clothes!

I have mentioned before that this year I have decided to buy no new clothes, for the entirety of its course, but someone recently enquired how on earth I refrain from purchasing said items, so I’ve put together the traditional five bullet point list on How Not To Buy Clothes:

Continue reading “How Not To…”

#FashionFridays!

This week I’ve gone and gotten a little bit wartime on myself (that sounds like a dodgy euphemism).

As I have previously mentioned I am not buying any new clothes this year, I am allowed to buy second hand and vintage and I’m allowed to make my clothes, the problem with this being that I’m too poor to buy vintage clothes and whilst I’m a pretty good sewer I’m certainly not good enough to furnish an entire wardrobe. So I decided to set myself a challenge – I would make a shirt! A shirt without sleeves (there is such a thing as too much of a challenge)! However, this being the first shirt I’d ever made and my patience levels being naturally quite low, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on nice fabric when it could all potentially end up in an oddly attached mess and/or covered in my tears.

This is where the wartime bit comes in, I bought an old bed sheet from a charity shop for £2 in lew of expensive fabric and lo, I did make a shirt!

Recycle a bedsheet into a shirt

How to make a shirt from a bedsheet #FashionFriday

That’s me with Vera by the way, she’s my new bestie.

Recycled bedsheet into a shirt #FashionFridays

Also I have enough bed sheet left to make a dress! And I found a really lovely pattern that was only 75p in a bargain box because it didn’t have an envelope – not altogether sure what the finished product will look like but I’m sure as going to have fun finding out!

It also means that with all included, interfacing and buttons and things, I think I’ve probably managed to get myself a new shirt and matching dress for about £10. I’m really enjoying this whole No New thing!

Make your own shirt

Moral of the story: less money on clothes, more money on fizz. Ooooh yeeeeeh.

How To…

…Get Seriously Self-Righteous

My new year’s resolution this year was to buy no new clothes for the entirety of 2015, so I thought I would let you know how it’s going; pretty well! The other day I did have to go shopping with my soon-to-be Mother-in-Law (for her wedding outfit!) and it was a little bit like taking a sugar-addicted Diabetic to a Ye Olde Sweet Shop UNTIL I found a top and dress in the French Connection section of John Lewis which was made from exactly the same material that I bought for £3 a metre in Vietnam and have also made a top and a dress from. There are only three differences; that my material is purple not white (although the pattern is EXACTLY the same); some lining choices and that in its complete entirety my dress AND top cost me around £20 to make (including material, pattern, zips and lining, etc) and the French Connection Dress is £125 and the top costs £85. This is EXACTLY why I decided to do No New (well one of main the reasons anyway). I have been walking round with an entirely self-righteous air ever since.

The dress:

Make your own dress!

The top:

make your own clothes

An image of the material the French Connection top and dress is made from:

If you wish to see the remarkable similarities between the four garments I would suggest you type ‘French Connection Nebraska’ into the search section of the John Lewis website.

I know that I was lucky enough to stumble across (quite literally, the market was very small and the stall owners insisted on napping on the floor) this fabric in a far off land but doesn’t it just go to show what we’re actually paying for when we buy expensive dresses from highstreet designers?

I will be posting up more pictures of my No New year shortly but for the meantime I’d just like to say SUCK ON THAT MODERN CONSUMERISM.

#justsaying (/shouting).

My Daily Creations!

A week or so ago I decided that I would create one thing every day, in the hopes of pulling myself out of depression, living a more creative as well as active existence and getting the creative juices flowing on the whole business building, making money thing. So far it’s going quite well, I’ve been busy knitting and sewing, emailing and networking and I have to say that I am indeed feeling hopeful on all counts and it all started with a pom pom…

Create something every day

knitted hat, create something every day

And since then things have been progressing nicely…

knitted table placements, create something new every day

handmade bridesmaid dress, create something every day

shabby chic candelabra, create something new every day

Create something new every day

knitted coasters, create something new every day

wedding bunting! create something new every day

handmade wedding invites, create something new every day!
Evening wedding invites!

The days can still be dark but spending some hours writing, knitting, sewing, making and creating provide vital and much treasured moments of light. I think the important thing is not to push it, to do one or two really good things a day, rather than three of four not so good ones. I would encourage anyone struggling to see the light to do the same.

handmade table runner, create something new every day!

 

By the by, if you click on the above image it’ll take you to my Etsy shop – just so you know…

 

How To…

…Plan a wedding when you couldn’t give a shit about weddings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for two people celebrating their love in the traditional way of getting  married and most weddings I’ve been to I’ve balled my eyes out and had a great time with everyone else but in today’s “Which Disney Princess Are You?” society, I feel that weddings have kind of lost all sincerity about them. People seem to get married because they want a wedding not because they want a marriage, which is why the wedding industry has become worth a huge £10 billion in the UK alone and why the average wedding costs around £21k, because who cares about a deposit for a house, I want to wear a Cinderella dress!?

I’m digressing…and also getting married. It’s nearly two months away now and I really haven’t had that much to do with the planning, so far I’ve felt like my wedding is happening to me instead of me feeling like I’m actively participating in it, but that is nobodies fault but my own. I’ve wanted to marry Chris since our fourth date and I always just thought we’d decide the time was right, call up our immediate loved ones and say something like “are you free next Wednesday? We’re getting married” but then when we actually did get engaged (and that’s a whole story in itself) it turned out that actually what everyone else wanted (I must say including Chris) was a big, family wedding. So here we are with two months to go, a day-time guest list of 80 and having to come up with a table plan so that the ones who don’t like each other don’t have to look at each other, and the ones who are really fussy are sat exactly next to the people they want to be.

A couple of weeks ago I realised that I was so un-excited by this prospect that it was genuinely depressing, I was excited to be married, just not to get married, so I’ve decided to take control, I’m getting my wedding-on.

In case anyone else is feeling disillusioned about their forthcoming nuptials, I’ve put together 5 top tips for planning a wedding when you actually couldn’t give a shit. Enjoy:

  1. Realise that your wedding is not for you. People will constantly tell you that what you want for your “big day” is the most important thing, they’re lying to you. You’re getting married for you, you’re having a wedding for those who want to celebrate with you, and actually the more people you have in your life who want to celebrate your love with you, the luckier you are, so embrace it, do it for them, it’s a hella better reason than doing it because you’d like to be an animated “princess” for a day.
  2. Delegate. I’m really lucky because I have a sister and a mother who are AMAZING at this sort of thing. The amount of times when they’ve asked me a question like “what about favours?”, seen my blank and blinking expression and said “don’t worry, I’ll sort that out.” Literally would be having a reception in a completely blank room with no decorations or seating plan without them to help me.
  3. Choose good music. Now this is where I would say to anyone to really go for what YOU want. So many couples’ relationship and memories of each other and of special points in their lives together, are based around a love of certain songs. Use those songs, tell the relative who’s telling you to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon to shove it and walk down to whatever means the most to you as a couple. Those moments really are just for you two, so make sure you stick to your bridal guns.
  4. Make things! Emotionally invest in the things you would never normally care about by making them yourself, that way when you see them hanging somewhere in your venue or on your tables you’ll feel really good about them, instead of thinking of them as the useless little touches that no-one cares about anyway. Plus it’s WAY CHEAPER. All the invitations for our wedding have been handmade (although, alas it would be an untruth to tell you that I did them – I provided comedy and alcoholic support).How to plan a wedding when you don't care about weddings Now I’m on to bunting and attaching vintage chandelier crystals to things (too many things probably). Getting into it.
  5. Try. Even if table plans make you roll your eyes and you’re quickly loosing all respect for the guests who instead of having thanked you for the invite, have gotten their knickers in a twist because you haven’t invited their other half (who you’ve NEVER MET before), just try to be excited. Focus on the stuff you are excited about; seeing the person you’re marrying standing at the end of the aisle waiting for you, having a glass of fizz and getting ready with your nearest and dearest, having a good old dance with your mates. Forget about the people who have pissed you off, you don’t have to spend any time with them on the day if you don’t want to anyway. Bridal prerogative.Handmade wedding invitations

I hope these have helped! Let’s go get hitched (not you and me…that would be weird)!

#FashionFridays…

…got Floral!

IT’S SPRING TIME! Well, nearly. Sort of. IT’S GOING TO BE SPRING TIME VERY SOON…WHEN IT’S STOPPED BEING SO BLOODY COLD! There.

So I have been welcoming in the spring with a floral celebration. I know Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada wouldn’t be impressed but I’m not that impressed by her either (the character Miranda Priesly I mean, not Meryl Streep, I am of course, like everybody else under the opinion that she is a good witchy goddess of a woman) and spring time means flowers pushing their determined little way through the cold, mostly dead, earth of winter, which I believe is cause for great celebration!

spring time florals, fashion fridays

Not only is the spring time for florals but also time for BROGUES! In the winter one wears boots, apart from those stupid girls you see on the train wearing dolly-shoe-pump things which result in their feet looking the white colour of corpse feet (they’re also the ones that have those tiny umbrellas), anyhoo the winter is for boots, I do look at my brogues and think “I really do want to” but then I realise that my socks are three times thicker than my duvet and pick up my boots, but not anymore!

spring time is brogue time!
Spring time is brogue time!

So of course, this #FashionFridays is flower and brogue based, I’ve toned it down on my outfit, but apparently not in my house…

Spring floral furniture

Spring florals!

knitting, sewing, crafting, florals, Miss Marple
Too much?

Chris always complains that our house looks too much like a Miss Marple set but up until now I’ve always thought he was over-reacting…until now.

Happy Spring!
Happy Spring!

How to…

…create good things from bad.

Sometimes I see mental health issues as some kind of weird blessing. Couple of reasons: because my bad can be really, really bad I am able to truly appreciate how good the good really is. I used to envy the people who seemed to drift, freely and lazily through life but now I almost feel sorry for them, I have the experience of extremes to draw from, and it benefits me greatly, they do not.  Also, because my fight with anxiety and depression helpfully highlighted some changes that I really needed to make to my mindset and my living and this essentially freed me from a situation in which I was completely stuck and deeply unhappy.

Somedays I feel like that, but not today. Today feels shit. Yesterday did too. Suppose you can’t suffer from depression without getting depressed sometimes – bugger.

So today I made a decision! I’m absolutely happiest when I’m creating things. I like reading, and drinking wine in front of the telly really can feel blissful, getting dressed up to go out for cocktails can be fun, but really I am my most excited, content, joyful when I’m in the zone and making something from not much (mostly just thoughts – and sometimes a bit of old curtain). The only problem is my slightly malfunctioning brain; instead of waking me up in the morning and saying “go forth Milldred! Create things of such wonderment that people will laugh at you until they’re blue in the face and you’ll bloody love it!” It says, “oh look, it’s the day-time, we don’t like that do we? No, let’s stay in bed, shall we? Yes. You know it’s really not safe out there, you’re better off in here, with the cats…and Facebook.”

old curtain for making new things!
Wasn’t lying about the bits of old curtain…

But I’m taking charge! I’m going to create something, anything, at least one thing a day. And by saying to my brain every morning, ‘back off you old grouch, we’re making knitted pom poms today and we’re going to like it, aren’t we? YES.” I’ll be able to take back my mood and turn the day into a positive one, instead of a negative one. It can be anything; a blog; a short story; the chapter of a book; a tea cosy; a table runner; a great opportunity; a treacle tart (sounds like a good one for tomorrow). And I’m going to challenge myself. I mean for starters I’m already trying to create a whole self-employed business thing out of thin air (also a great deal of passion…but mostly thin air – if it keeps everyone else alive I can work with it). Yesterday I sewed part one of my bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding (it’s currently see-through, part two is the slip – would be bad if I forgot that bit). I’ve signed up to do a craft fair, to try to sell some the nonsense I make, because I love the idea of the things I have so much fun creating going into someone elses’ home and becoming part of their everyday lives (plus I have my half of the mortgage to pay). I’ve never sewn a shirt before so I bought a cheap pattern and some £2.99 a meter cotton and I’m going to try to make a shirt, probably going to turn out really badly but at least I will have tried and you can’t get take-two without doing a take-one. Today I’ve created this blog post, tomorrow I’m going try to pitch some freelance articles and create an opportunity to get my work published.

creating one thing everyday
And I did make a pom pom today!

Once I’ve gotten out of bed to create one thing, who knows what other things might present themselves during the day? I’m taking charge! And I urge anyone else who’s pesky brain is keeping them down to do the same. And I’m going to need picture evidence of all that is created…

create one things every day, knitted pom pom
Now there’s one for the craft fair
create something new every day, knitted pom pom
Not bad…POM POM

By the by I shall be posting a daily picture of whatever I’ve created every day on my social media so follow me on Instagram or Twitter for the #createaday low down!

#FashionFridays…

…got hardcore!

As my most recent blog post stated, I have recently returned from a skiing trip to Switzerland, it was a good trip but probably the best thing about it was that I discovered an amazing new dress-up character, though the medium of underwear! Now (before you jump to conclusions) I don’t mean knickers and bras, I mean the stuff that goes underneath your outerwear, vis-a-vis: thermals!

Katness Everdeen Dress-up

Those of you who have noticed the side plait will indeed have guessed that I’m being Katniss Everdeen of the oh so famous Hunger Games Trilogy (or if you’re a Hollywood producer the Hunger Games Quad…Quad…Quadrillity? Quadril? Well you you know what I mean). This dress-up costume actually came about completely by accident; side plaits are actually, in my tried and tested experience, the best way to tame hair into being obediently encased in a helmet. The thermals are of course Lidle’s finest and once I put the whole thing on I looked in the mirror and saw that my holiday had taken on a whole new meaning. I spent all my time on the slopes imagining being chased by fellow desperate killers and singing Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat in my head. Then it occurred to me that I couldn’t be a real Katniss without a weapon. I have always wanted to try archery, but that’s more of a kick ass medieval warrior queen fantasy thing and seeing as I do not yet have that skill I decided to use the only weapon at my disposal…

Katniss Everdeen Costume...with knitting

…my knitting! And actually I think if knitting were adopted as a more popular weapon in modern warfare the whole world would be a much better and much woolier place. In fact that wool was used to knit a sparkly tea cosy covered in hearts (which by the way can be found on Etsy very shortly!), the perfect weapon in teaching a broken world that drinking tea together is the true path to loving and accepting each other. I digress. Anyway, look at my proud chins, I could definitely defeat any dictator leader of some American utopian capital.

There’s only one problem: saving Panem can only happen before a days skiing, because I get a bit sleepy afterwards…

It's tiring being kickass

Being kick ass is hard work. Tired chins.

#FashionFridays…

…got resourceful!

So, bit of an announcement: off the back of my 2014 “stuff” epiphany I have made a very important decision about this the year 2015; I have decided not to buy any new clothes for a whole year…I know.

I can buy second-hand clothing, I can make any clothes I need, but I cannot buy any new items of clothing. Now there are two ‘genres’  of clothing that are exempt from the rule, but only because I have neither the machinery, expertise or equipment to produce them, these are shoes and underwear – but I’m only allowed to buy these if I need them, which is unlikely because I believe that bras are the work of the devil and I have really awkwardly shaped feet.

I made this decision for two reasons:

  1. I have way too many clothes already. I go shopping to buy black jeans (which I actually do need) and come back with 3 occasion dresses (I do not go out often enough to warrant these – can’t stand club crowds). So now I have a wardrobe full of beautiful dresses and nowhere to bloody wear them. In the meantime they clog up my wardrobe and I spend most mornings and evenings trying to force the clothes I actually do wear into tiny spaces in-between slowly rotting chiffon and a strange neoprene dress with fluorescent orange and turquoise flowers on (this always gets a laugh from my nearest and dearest but I bought it when Chris was in Thailand during the military coup so I claimed temporary insanity when I bought it and now whenever I put it on my mental illness provides the perfect excuse – get in!).
  2. I’ve decided that I should be as environmentally conscious as I can possibly manage, which means (among many other things) staying away from the disposable fashion items that fill every high street shop – arriving at the store wrapped in copious amounts of packaging (which is rarely made from recyclable materials), as well as the clothes themselves which can be produced in either environmentally harmful ways, or in morally questionable working conditions. And it seems that what were once cheap disposable fashion items are now cheap expensive disposable fashion items. Have you been into Primark recently? I actually I haven’t because I’m trying to avoid locations that induce panic attacks but the last time I went there I was pretty shocked that the quality of the clothing (stitching, materials, finishings) seemed to have dropped but the prices seem to have sky rocketed. And don’t even get me started on H&M which stocks what appears to be exactly the same clothing made from exactly the same materials and exactly the same standards for twice the price. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought some clothes from both these shops in the past that I love and wear often, but I’ve gotten to the stage in my life where I don’t want eight nylon mix, highly flammable, made in Bangladesh and mass-produced jumpers; I want one or two organic fabric, handmade, less flammable, unique jumpers – which is surely the better option? Luckily for me I’m not a follower of trends and fashions so I won’t be in the position where I see something I like and then by the time I’ve managed to find a pattern and some reasonably priced fabric and made the item myself, the damn thing will be out of fashion again, although I don’t believe that anything that could go out of fashion in that amount of time could possibly have been worth buying and wearing in the first place. So there.

Fluro dress, cats, recycling clothes, fashions, dress-upI have quite a few important events and weddings coming up in 2015 (including my own ‘big day’) but I have a wardrobe full of lovely dresses and can make anything new if I feel I don’t already have the right outfit somewhere in my house (unlikely). I’m actually a bridesmaid in September and have obtained permission from the beautiful bride to make my own bridesmaid dress (we could both end up regretting that one). I haven’t bought a new wedding dress, a lovely and very talented lady who I know is making it instead. I do need a new pair of wedding shoes although I am considering dying a pair of shoes that I already own purple and sticking gold stars on them instead of going out and buying a new pair (I’m coming up against some opposition on this particular style point but they’re my feet and it’s my wedding – I reserve the right to dress them in the way I see fit, and purple starry shoes are fit).

Anyhoo I shall be documenting this year of No New for your reading pleasure, as I’m sure I’m going to come up against challenges and temptations as well as exciting discoveries and style ideas.

If anyone has any helpful tips on the above, whether it be sourcing organic sewing materials or just living a life of less rubbish please let me know!

Dress up…

…on a whole new level.

So I did a little bit of sewing at a teenager and enjoyed it so my mama kindly bought me a sewing machine, but then being a teenager got in the way (it’s a full-time commitment) and the sewing machine was left desolate. However, in reading some of my #FridayFashions blog post you may have noticed that I’ve had a life long habit of dressing up and I recently realised that instead of trawling through shops to find clothes I could adapt into costumes it would be so much easier if I was actually making the clothes!

So I dusted off my trusty sewing machine, bought myself a simple pattern and set to work. It’s been going pretty well and I’m having the best time working on my home-made clothes and costumes. So here’s a taster of what I’ve been making so far…and what’s still to come!

Starting the sewing process

The sewing process

The finished product!
Day time flapper
Deck chair top!
The deck chair top

Sew your own top

Make your own top
Bit of red zip back detail

Still to come

As you can see whilst my first few projects have been moderately successful I have plenty more to be getting stuck into, including my Elizabeth Montgomery Bewitched 1950s nightie, my 1940s Land Girl outfit, my Kick-Arse Lady Pirate Captain costume and some tweedy fabric winter dresses!

Crack on!