Wednesday, 28 September 2011


This evening I finally got round to making something from Eithne Farry's beautiful book- Lovely Things to Make for Girls of Slender Means. I picked a simple project- fabric flowers, which are based on a template drawn around a mug:

With hindsight, I should have used a plain fabric, as this one is only coloured on one side, which doesn't make for such a pretty flowery effect. I haven't yet built up my fabric supplies though, which is why everything is made from this one rather bright pattern from Ikea. I would quite like to attach brooch backs to these for cute Christmas presents... watch this space.

On a separate note, whilst buying flowers may not usually be thrifty, I think that these reduced-to-45p sunflowers from the supermarket have rather brightened up our living room and so far have lasted nearly a week. When combined with the lovely sunshine we had today, it almost feels like summer again!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Cash in the attic?

I have an eBay habit. Not just for buying craft stuff and clothes (although you can get some serious bargains!) but for selling anything and everything, so here is my A-Z of eBay thrips...

Anyone can do it- just sign up at
Buy it now- set this carefully- too high and it puts buyers off, too low and you lose out
Classified ads- can be listed to a much wider audience than in a local paper, great for cars
Descriptions- be as specific as possible, include links to the product website
Ended auctions- give you an idea of what price to sell your items at
Feedback- works both ways, helping you create loyal customers
Grab attention- with a concise but informative title
Honesty- unwanted gift, too small for me etc
Images- browsers are more likely to look if you include clear photos
Jiffy bags- try to pick these up from Freegle/Freecycle to save on postage costs
Keep the boxes, these makes things much more saleable
Listing fees- save by waiting for free listing weekends
Mobile phone app- helps you keep track
Never agree to complete a sale outside of eBay, it's probably a scam
One man's junk is another man's treasure*
Paypal- makes transactions safe and easy
Questions- answer promptly and honestly, encourage people to ask them
Royal Mail- offer a great service where you can pay for postage online
Spares and repairs- broken cameras, phones etc are no longer worthless
Timing- make sure you're able to post the items on the end date
Use eBay's product details to fill in everything for you
Value your item- do your homework first
Weigh items- to set appropriate postage costs
X-rated- certain items are prohibited from sale, check first
You'll need lots of parcel tape, bubble wrap and a marker pen
Zany items- often sell best if nobody can get hold of them elsewhere

* I learnt this when I sold some bargain basement sparkly pants that were 4 sizes too big for me (thanks Grandma!)

I have made lots of spare cash over the years by eBaying that broken camera or those trousers that I needed to lose some weight for (and never did). Take a look around and think how much more space you could have... Just try to avoid the bid button. Happy eBaying!

Barbie bike bell, anyone? Starting at just 99p...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Rocky Road Muffins

Tonight I am going to a friend's for dinner, so I made these rocky road muffins from emmyrabbit on

I managed to resist trying one last night even though they smelled delicious! I made a big batch and have frozen some for next time I need a treat and don't have the time to make them, but inadvertently advertised this fact to the boyfriend, so maybe they won't be there for long...

I am trying to work out if I can get away with wearing my new thrift purchase skirt tonight (£3 in Dorothy Perkins). I am not yet ready to admit defeat and acknowledge the presence of autumn!

It got me thinking about a dress I was given that is an odd fit on top, but a beautiful pattern. I would like to try and either alter it or make it into a skirt, better get back to learning how to sew!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Summer Fruit Muffin (top)

This evening I made summer fruit muffins, adapted from Joy the Baker's delicious website:

I had to adapt the recipe to Ikea's rather large and funny-sized, but beautiful cake cases:

And measurements that weren't in cups... Note to self, must buy some cup measurers!

My favourite 'thrifty tip' ('thip'?) is using frozen berries- much much cheaper than fresh ones and although a bit strangely flavoured on their own, perfect for baking.

I then tried to make some berry-flavoured icing with the juice from the frozen berry juice (another advantage of frozen berries) and icing sugar, but it came out a bit more Barbie than berry!

Attempt two resulted in a much more subtle berry taste and colour, which I then drizzled on the muffins:

This is not going to aid with the rapidly developing muffin top associated with my new desk-bound lifestyle! At least I'm inflicting them on all of my colleagues...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Old Jeans + Captain Sew = New Denim Shorts!

Today I hacked up a pair of jeans that had a couple of big holes in and I now have a pair of way-too-short-for-my-chunky-thighs denim shorts! They still need some work, as Captain Sew couldn't quite handle the seams, or perhaps that was just the person in control... But I now have that warm and fuzzy feeling of making something new out of something old, plus not throwing out my favourite pair of jeans. Behold my first 'reconfiguration':

The hole

Still getting the hang of this...

Done! (Almost)

The seams aren't brilliant, but I think this quote (from  Lovely Things to Make for Girls of Slender Means, by Eithne Farry, a most beautiful book which I am currently reading) is apt:

‘If they are close enough to see your seams, it’s not your seams they’re looking at!’

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Cloth Bags

I cleaned and oiled Captain Sew (as was pointed out to me, this may have been the first time in 80 years he has been cleaned!) in preparation for his first more adventurous* project:

I used the manual that was kindly provided with my machine, which was slightly confusing as it was written in 1963 and therefore has nothing to do with my machine. It was, however, hilarious, reminding me that my sewing machine offered 'wonderful possibilities' for 'the girl interested in household economics'... Luckily, the Singer website also has a manual for my sewing machine, or something similar, the '50k'.

I located a pattern from Daisy Janie's amazing blog ( which is full of beautiful fabric and patterns so clearly explained that even I can follow them. Here is the finished product, which has now been given to a good friend who had the misfortune to have a Birthday that coincided with my learning to sew:

I also have a more colourful one lined up- watch out family and friends come Christmas!

* Adventurous for a novice like me!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Project Singer

I am now all moved in, finally have the Internet and am ready for my first project- Project Singer.

Meet Captain Sew:

I was lucky enough to get my hands on this 1920s Singer sewing machine, which has been converted for electric foot pedal use, from a very kind lady on Freegle*. My grandmother used to make dresses and made my mother's wedding dress skirt and I would love to learn to sew like her. For now though, I'm sticking to simple projects, like table mats:
I am hoping that with some practice I might be able to handmake some Christmas presents, maybe cloth bags or pin cushions for my fellow sewers.

* Freegle and Freecycle are two of the biggest (and best) websites which enable you to find others in your local area who can give a home to the things you no longer use (anything from wardrobes to craft pipe cleaners) or to find gems like Captain Sew for yourself