Sewing & secondhand: my day at Save the Children

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My second event for the Wantage Summer Festival was at Save the Children on Saturday, once again sharing the love of secondhand shopping and upcycling. This time we decided to share some videos on Facebook.

Video 1: my #haulternative outfit

STC haulternative

#haulternative was originated by an organisation I follow called Fashion Revolution, founded by Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro following the factory collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Check out some earlier blog posts for more information about them. Their #haulternative guide for fashion lovers encompasses various aspects of an alternative way to dress and follow fashion trends. I put together my own #haulternative outfit for the day.  Everything I was wearing, except my shoes was #secondhand and in fact, all items were bought in the Save the Children in Wantage. My waistcoat was #vintage Jaeger. My blouse was a #secondhand contemporary #designer bargain; Jaeger again retailing for around £90-100 .. I bought this a few weeks ago for £4. My skirt was #upcycled from the £1 rail, see earlier post for before and after pics. My shoes are an #investmentbuy, high quality, more expensive but I treat them as an investment and I make them last longer. I always buy good shoes but I don’t buy many so I am willing to pay more per pair and they get more comfortable with every wear.

Video 2: Live rummage of the rails of the charity shop

No pics of my live rummage so check out the video on my Facebook page (em.summerscales). I managed to find a Jaeger jacket for £4.50, some Whistles wool shorts for £2.00 and a Ralph Lauren shirt for £4.00.

A couple of friends popped in and we had a rummage together. I shared a few tips for judging the quality of fabric and how well clothes are made and they both left with some bargains.

Vicky entered the changing room laden down with stuff to try on. Just the right attitude for finding some treasures, you have to be willing to try try try and then you develop an eye for what will work for you. It’s not a quick process but it’s a rewarding one. She snapped up this lot, 5 items for …. £7.50 Yes £7.50, that’s not a miss-print!

vicky at STC

This lovely lady is Becky, my fabulous yoga teacher, who has incredible control and poise with that body of hers and then became all self conscience when posing in her new clothes. She came along because she said that she’d always wanted to shop second hand but felt overwhelmed by it and didn’t quite know where to start. So we had a rummage together and I shared some thoughts on how I approach the rails when I’m shopping. We also talked through a few ways to spot a good buy. Then she picked out a gorgeous dress and a skirt, each around £4.00. She left the shop wearing the dress and went off for lunch and an afternoon in Oxford.

becky at STC

I had my rail with me, with a few pieces I’d already upcycled, featured in earlier blog posts. I also shared some design ideas for pieces not yet upcycled. On the tags, I explained why I bought them and what caught my eye and a sketch of what I plan to do with them.

Video 3&4: upcycling live

I had a few projects on the go so I posted a video-demo of each. First, these baggy black trousers, I am taking in at the side seams and at the back as they are too big and balloon-like (not very flattering). I bought these at Save the Children as part of a kaftan set for £3.00.


Next was a Laura Ashley blue gingham skirt. I love the fact that this is blue and pale blue gingham rather than blue and white, it makes it look much more grown up. It was too small and very gathered so I have taken off part of the waistband and let out some of the gathers. My plan is to pleat the front so that it is flat-fronted and more flattering. However, there is so much fabric, I may have to take in the side seams ….look out for another post on the finished upcycle.

sewing at STC

And finally, this slashing technique that a friend sent me on Facebook. This is a very simple upcycle requiring just a pair of scissors and a bit of hand sewing ….. but it is very effective.


So that was my day at Save the Children. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out the videos on my Facebook page and keep in touch if you have a go at any upcycling yourself. If you fancy shopping second hand, just have a go, trust your instinct and be patient. Sometimes there is nothing to be found, but sometimes there are treasures for bargain prices. If things don’t fit, try looking for a local seamstress, it may well still be cheaper but it will also be made to measure your body shape if you have it altered to suit you.

Becky sent me these pics later on in the day, the triumphant pose and smiles totally summed up what I had set out to achieve. #secondhand rules!.


Thank you to all the staff at Save the Children, Wantage. 


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