re-fashion workshop

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This is a 4 session course, focusing on the conception and realisation of a design idea. There are many techniques used to upcycle clothes, from simple cutting and hand stitching to full deconstruction. The aim of the course is to help you see the potential in an unwanted garment and give you the confidence to have a go, not to produce a perfectly sewn garment.

Week 1 starts with a private rummage of the stock room at a local charity shop to select suitable garments to upcycle or deconstruct. You will then sketch or scribble some ideas, plan the tasks and resources required to realise the design.  Each week you will work on your individual projects, as I support you on a one to one basis in the classroom. Each week we’ll have a big share, I’ll talk about aspects of the fashion industry, such as why I believe second hand and upcycling has such an important role in today’s fashion industry; knowing your brands and how to select which ones to use or planning your wardrobe and avoid the pitfall of buying more new clothes.

At the end of the last course, we were invited by the Cancer Research shop where we had bought the original garments, to make an exhibition in their window. Great timing as it coincided with the TRAID #secondhandfirst week.



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2016 Round up!

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The good news is that I’ve had a brilliantly busy term, the bad news is that I haven’t had time to blog about it! I can’t believe my last post was dated October! So, a quick summary for now and I’ll try and catch up in the New Year. I’ve shown just one image for each event but there are more on my Facebook page.

I’ve shared my love of upcycling with 4 fabulous students on my Re-fashion Workshop at The Wantage Mix. We started with a rummage of our local Cancer Research shop where we selected garments to upcycle and they kindly allowed us to dress their window with the finished projects at the end of the course. The last session coincided with the Traid #secondhandfirst week, so we registered our Window Exhibition as an event on their website. The same week, I posted a short video on my Reasons to Shop Secondhand and will come back to that with more videos in 2017. There are so many reasons, aside from the very important ethical ones, why secondhand is a really good way to play around with fashion.


I’ve also held my first Upcycling Surgery at The Mix, where a few people popped in for some advice on how to alter and update their clothes. Another one is planned for 21st Jan.



As part of the Wantage Betjeman Festival I went along to a Poetry Evening at the vale & Downland museum. Inspired by two brilliant poems, I’m planning a post about the craft of sewing and garment making, love it or hate it?



I’ve been asked to collaborate on a project on the Kings Road in Chelsea so whilst I was there for a research trip, I had to check out the charity shops. There’s the designer Red Cross shop where you can buy Stella McCartney or Gucci for £150. Or the fabulous vintage on offer at the Royal Trinity Hospice shop; where I bought a couple of vintage jackets, a dress and skirt for upcycling, both pure silk for £20. There’s two Oxfam Shops and the Octavia Foundation shop where I bought a few staples and the waistcoat I’m wearing in the photo below, upcycled with denim. More on this in the New Year.


I been upcycling, as always! I’m in the process of transforming a denim skirt into a pair of culottes. I upcycled a velvet waistcoat for my visit to the Kings Road. And I’m hoping to update a 70s dress into a long asymmetric dress for a New Years Eve party in Edinburgh.


Katy & I did a Wardrobe Re-style for the lovely Sharon Whyte. Sharon totally embraced the idea of restyling what you already have in your wardrobe, finding new outfit combinations and clearing some items that just weren’t working and were cluttering her wardrobe and her mind when she came to deciding what to wear every day.


I wrote my first published article for the December newsletter issued by Sustainable Wantage; The contradiction of a commercial Christmas has bothered me for years so I’ve shared some ideas for upcycled, secondhand or locally sourced gifts. I’m posting some pictures on the blog, Instagram and Facebook of my finds using #sustainablechristmas.

So what’s ahead in 2017 …. I’m taking a Level 3 AET course in adult education, thanks to the support of The Mix and Abingdon & Witney College. The Mix have booked another 4 session Re-fashion Workshop course, as well some single day events for 2017, check out their website for dates; I’m also in the process of updating my blog layout and hoping to get some experience of fashion photography. I will be upcycling, of course and sharing some secondhand treasures. I’ll be posting some brand research on Dr Martens and a belt made from reclaimed fire hoses by Elvis & Kresse.

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upcycle: re-tailoring shoulder pads on vintage jacket

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Big shoulder pads are what date a jacket and make it unwearable. A jacket is a high cost item so it’s ideal to buy preloved if you want a variety in your wardrobe.  I bought the Vintage Fortnum & Mason jacket in a charity shop in Summertown in Oxford. It’s classic, beautiful style drew my eye but the shoulder pads were too much. I really wanted to retain the rounded look at the shoulders but reduce the size of them. I re-tailored to reduced the size but retain the shape of the shoulder, now I have a very wearable jacket that retains the gorgeous spirit of the original garment.

Recently H&M collaborated with London College of Fashion students on a sustainable collection for London Fashion Week. One of the comments raised on Facebook was the issue of how scalable upcycling as a design technique is and it’s a big challenge for ethical fashion. In many cases of upcycling, designs are one-off bespoke pieces involving such time consuming alterations that they would not be profitable. Those are the ones I do just for the love of it, such as my brown dress in my last post. However, I believe this is exactly the type of upcycling technique that could be scaled profitably. A professional seamstress could make this type of alteration to a jacket in a couple of hours, keeping these garments in the retail pool. What’s more, these are exactly the garments that end up in landfill because they are not stylish or useful as they are.

Even better, if you fancy a go at upcycling this is a good technique to learn because it can be repeated. Learn some new skills or brush up your old ones and have a go, then you have a made-to-measure version that fits you perfectly. And once you have done one, you can scout the charity shops for more jackets to alter. Jackets are a great buy second hand .. bought new, they tend to be pricey; they are not a heavy wear item of clothing so they retain good condition and they are often made of 100% wool so they represent great value for money.

Here’s how I altered mine ….


shoulder bulk.1

leather trim.1

One sign of a good quality garment is proper pattern matching so I was determined to make sure I matched this one, to stay true to it’s Fortnum & Mason routes … and because it just looks better!

pattern match.1

So, there you have it, a scalable upcycle!  Tailoring is not for the fainthearted but it’s really satisfying and a useful technique to conquer. If you do have a go yourself, please share some pictures, you could post them on my 1134SewingClub Facebook page or email to

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upcycle: back to front dress for London Fashion Weekend

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brown vintage before & after

I was really pleased with the final result of this upcycle and I really enjoyed wearing the dress for my visit to #LFWEND and the V&A. It was my perfect combination of comfort, style and individuality.

Recently I have been reflecting on past posts and how I present information on my blog. I’m also teaching a Re-fashion Workshop which started on Saturday. I took along some finished upcycling projects and explained my design process, what I had liked about the original garment and how I had changed it. I then handed out some design templates, scribbled and talked the students through how I came to the design decisions that I had for a couple of my designs. Everyone enjoyed sharing ideas, bouncing off each other and getting to know the design process. So I thought I would try and introduce the design element to my blog posts.

This dress was a full deconstruction and re-make. It was a 1970s dress in a really good quality cotton, I loved the print and the full length of the dress but it was too small. When I buy a garment for upcycling, sometimes I have a clear idea of what I am going to do with it but more often, I will spot elements of the original that I like and work with those to come up with a final design. So usually, I put the original on the stand and pick out the original design details I like ….. these are the elements I want to keep in some way. I like to update a garment but it’s important to me that it echoes the original, particularly if it’s a vintage garment.

brown vintage - ODD

Working with the original design details, I have a browse of a few magazines and check out any trends I like that are complementary to the garment. If it’s a vintage piece, I’ll do some research online or have a browse through some good old-fashioned books! I will then come up with some upcycle design ideas. I loved that long, front, flat panel and thought it would look cool as the back of the dress. The zip then gives the new design an on-trend deep v-front, the metal zip reminding us of the age of the piece as you don’t see metal zips like these so much now.

brown vintage -UDI.1


Next, I try and work out how to realise my design, sometimes it’s straightforward but often, it’s just a case of diving in with a few ideas and figuring it out as I go along. Of course, that means it doesn’t always work out as planned but sometimes it’s better than I’m expecting. But that’s upcycling and that’s why I love it!

brown vintage - DR.rev1BV-deconstruction

Upcycling tip – when cutting new pattern pieces for reconstructing, its a good idea to use a garment that you already have to decide about the shape, fit, style and alterations required.

BV - insert panels


The front of a garment is cut quite differently to the back, particularly in ladies clothes so turning a bodice around is not straightforward. It’s invaluable to have a dress form that is the right size and shape for you in order to get a correct fit …. or a good friend who will adjust it whilst you model it.

shaping bodice.rev1


neckline shaping

BV- neckline facing

H&M have recently collaborated with London College of Fashion, supporting students to produce an upcycled collection during London Fashion Week. Fashion Revolution founder Orsola de Castro commented that upcycling should be taught as a design technique. It is great news that a big retailer, for all it’s faults, is embracing the idea and collaborating with the designers of tomorrow. Hopefully, this will lead to change.

On a personal level, by Upcycling, beautiful vintage garments can be brought back to life, textiles can be saved from the landfill pile and craft skills can be re-loved. And it is immensely satisfying to wear a garment you have made with your own hands.


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am i fashion?

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The two events I attended on Saturday raised all sorts of contradictions for me, serendipitous because it has started to answer one of the biggest questions I asked myself when I started this blog. The question of where my place in fashion is?

On reflection, the ticket prices were a bit of a give away, but the penny didn’t drop until my pennies, or more like pounds had dropped! London Fashion Weekend; tickets to a catwalk show, talk and entrance £46 and yet this really turned out to be a glorified invitation to shop. By contrast, a Virtual Futures event at the V&A was £Free, wisdom was shared and all I was invited to do was to take. I took inspiration, strength and wisdom to help make my big decision.

I love clothes, I always have but I don’t like shopping! I love magazines but the consumer driven, throw away culture makes me feel uncomfortable! I loved clothes as a teenager but I was never drawn into the fashion industry as a profession? I spent my 20s on and off diets trying to look like someone else. These are my little questions, things I can’t reconcile.

So I’ll try to answer some of them ….. I love clothes because they allow me to express something about myself, they are a communication about what makes me tick and they allow me to live my life. I read magazines because they display creativity, fashion for me is everyday art. I have great respect for the craft of making clothes and I like how fabric shapes, falls and flows. At the LFWEND talk, journalist Melanie Rickey said “Fashion is about selling clothes”. Certainly, in the recent TV programme Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue, the magazine appeared ruthless in its pursuit of the big sell. Somehow this all makes me feel sad. And when a friend suggested I sell some of my upcycling, I found myself feeling defensive and possessive about my random collection of things.

On Saturday, The Saatchi Gallery was converted into a department store, rails of clothes and very big bags to put all your purchases in! We were squeezed into the catwalk show, it was exciting and tantalising …. until it actually started.



The presenter opened with a triumphant statement about the fashion industry being worth billions and how much she liked to throw out one seasons clothes to make room for a new wardrobe. Velvet, lace and florals were paraded as if they were a new thing; on very slim models looking miserable whilst she made jokes about why there were boys in the front row and that somehow fashion was the triumph of the girls (the guys hat says “Living the Dream!). I went on to the talk between fashion gals, Brix Smith-Start and Melanie Rickey where they giggled and chatted about whether they preferred Gucci or Chanel, a pedi or a manicure which was fun but felt a bit silly.


Melanie Rickey then made a quip about having been horrified to have reached a size 14 after she’d had her son. She did go on to share her fashion rule not to be guided by dress sizes, that retailers are unregulated and can put any size on the label, the decision was made on the grounds of marketing rather than measurements. True and an important point, but only an issue because the fashion industry promotes small sizes as the ideal. If fashion celebrated all shapes and sizes then retailers would be honest about sizes and we wouldn’t be bothered.


The event at the V&A felt very different. In the most splendid and beautiful setting, model and performance artist, Viktoria Modesta shared her story of triumph against adversity and the mood was one of celebration of differences. She said the problem is that there are some people who think we are all the same with a few exceptions when what we should be thinking is that we are all different. The fashion industry is so guilty of doing exactly that, assuming that women fall into a small number of size categories. When I asked her if she thought she had a role in encouraging young girls to be confident with their body image, she said that aside from any physical differences, fashion stores are full of clothes that don’t fit people for all sorts of reasons; long legs or big boobs both of which are, by many, considered assets. At the talk, Brix Smith-Start’s was bang on with her fashion rule … cut, colour, comfort. Yes! Knowing what cut suits you, choosing colours that bring you joy and wearing clothes that make you comfortable. That’s MY fashion. I’m hopeful that people like Viktoria Modesta will continue to break down barriers of fashion conformity and celebrate individuality.

So we come back to the question of expressing yourself …. if clothes speak for you, what do yours say?


I want my clothes to say that I am me, an individual who is happy with the way I look. I want my clothes to have respect for people, the environment, the craft of garment making and the quality of fabrics. Viktoria Modesta  also said “Everyone makes a choice about what they wear, even if they don’t choose to wear something different.” You are not invisible because you dress like everyone else, your clothes still express the choice you have made.


I looked up the dictionary definition of fashion and, for me, I find contradiction again.

Fashion; “a prevailing or popular style of dress”

Fashion; “to give a particular shape or form; to make”

So, when I think about the first definition, it’s about following a style and dressing like others. However, if I think about giving something a shape, that surely would be different for every person. If we were each given a lump of clay or a blank piece of paper and asked to make or draw something, every shape or drawing would be different? So why can’t magazines invite us to be ourselves rather than showing us how to look like the latest popular celebrity. I do like fashion trends because they remind me to change something or look at something in a different way and that keeps my wardrobe feeling fresh. But what excites me about clothes is finding a different way of interpreting a trend and looking different from everyone else.

And so, back to my big question ….? Leaving the V&A, I felt inspired, energised and positive. But LFWEND left me drained and empty. It seemed to me that Virtual Futures is all about “original thinking” and “looking at the future” through different eyes, LFWEND felt old and tired. And the body image thing, why do we do it to ourselves? I shared a video on Facebook (check out my page) called “Stay Beautiful: Ugly Truth In Beauty Magazines”. It says nothing we don’t already know but it illustrates very well the shocking truths about fashion magazines being largely advertisements using model images that represent only a small proportion of women, in some cases computer generated! There were some harsh comments on the original post about this being old news …. but if it’s old news then why do we still buy the magazines and long for a figure that is unachievable. It is ironic that since I accepted my shape the way it is, my weight has fluctuated far less than it did when I wanted to look different. Somehow, in that acceptance, I now exercise for other reasons of health and wellbeing and the by-product is that, apart from my shape changing after having children, I look better than I did then. I’m not saying we should give up trying to look our best. Viktoria Modesta is beautiful, she’s a model and in many ways conforms to our perception of beauty BUT she stares us in the face and says look at how I am different. The fashion industry promotes a repeated image and calls for us to confirm to a particular size and shape.


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When recycle actually means downcycle, then upcycle instead

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Phew that was a busy, hot, wonderful summer full of fun and festivals, camping and campfires, stories and sunshine, fruit picking and friends, kids and kayaks, beaches and buddies, swimming and of course, sewing … can I think of any more? Probably, but you get the gist. In July, I ventured into the world of Facebook live with some video reviews and a rummage of my own wardrobe. I held two events at local charity shops, with a bit more Facebook live. August began with my event at the Pewsey Music Festival where I met lots of wonderful people excited about upcycling. Then I had a few weeks break from blogging and sewing. September is here, the kids are all back at school and I’m itching to get back to some projects.

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and I’ve done lots of different things, I feel I have left a few threads unfinished. I also have some ideas for new projects. So, having had a break, I think it’s a good time to take stock and have a look ahead.  I want to reflect on what has worked well, what I’ve enjoyed and invite some feedback so that I can figure out my next steps.

I’m anticipating a random few weeks, I have a couple of events in the diary to prepare for but otherwise I’m planning to tie up those loose threads and catch up on blog posts awaiting.

Next in the diary, some high fashion ….



I’m off to London Fashion Weekend on 24th September, so I want to upcycle something to wear. I have a gorgeous vintage dress I’m going to upcycle, which picks up this seasons winter florals trend. I’ll post some progress photos on Instagram and Facebook in the coming week.

When RECYCLE actually means DOWN-CYCLE


This week H&M are promoting once again, their Recycle initiative where you can get a voucher for handing in unwanted clothes. Don’t be fooled into buying more under the illusion that they can recycle unwanted textiles. There are still very few textiles that can be turned into new ones, the processes just don’t exist. If retailers truly wanted to support sustainability, they would encourage consumers to buy better quality and keep clothes for longer … but where’s the profit in that? H&M are however, one of the best of a bad bunch on the high street when it comes to ethics;  they rate as one of the highest when it comes to work practices and the environment and they are at least doing something to encourage awareness of the issues. But a voucher system where people can trade old for new, when there is no way to recycle the old is only adding to the worlds massive pile of unwanted clothes and encouraging people to buy more. That’s not upcycling or recycling .. it’s DOWNCYCLING! 

UPCYCLE instead

With that in mind, here’s a project that will hopefully inspire you to take a left turn to the charity shop rather than the high street. I bought this skirt earlier in the year from The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage for £4.50. I love the 70s style and detailing but the waist was too small for me. 


A trusty selfie and I decided I’d shorten the skirt and use the cut-off fabric for a waistband. I like the stitching and buttons at the top of the skirt so I didn’t want to take anything off at the waist.

IMG_1274I unpicked and removed the waistband. It was a vintage M&S, cotton/linen blend so it was well made of good quality natural fibres so it was easy to take apart and good fabric to work with.


The skirt had a couple of darts and a pleat at each side, I figured I could take out without losing the style. I also opened up the side seams a little and added an insert to give the extra room I needed at the waist, which I topstitched to match the stitching detail already on the skirt.

I like the deep, flat-fronted top section of the skirt so I went for a deep waistband to balance it out. I only had enough cut-off fabric to make one length of waist band so I used an old cotton top for a contrasting inside facing band. I also liked the four buttons stacked at the front opening so I added two more to continue the design. The deep waistband and shorter length gives the skirt a fuller shape but taking the extra pleat and gather out makes it more flattering at the waist so I was pleased with the finished skirt.



Have a go yourself 

Your favourite skirt that no longer fits need not be given away or discarded onto the landfill pile. Have a go at altering it yourself. If you are new to sewing, there are loads of video tutorials on YouTube. Taking a garment apart is a great way to learn how they are put together, so buy one from a charity shop and have a practice before taking apart your own treasured piece.  If you live near Wantage I’m holding some upcycling classes at The Mix starting in October. The course is not a sewing course and it’s not about producing a perfectly sewn garment, it is about exploring what can be done to re-fashion existing garments. I’m aiming to encourage people to restyle and upcycle secondhand garments rather than buying new. Email me for more information or contact The Mix to book.

Re-fashion Workshop



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the great pewsey upcycling bee

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I had a great day at the Pewsey Music Festival. The sun shone, I did some sewing and met some fantastic people. I spent the day working on my  own spin on the Great British Sewing Bee and called it the Great Pewsey Upcycling Bee. I made a couple of banners from a kaftan I bought at the charity shop. One of them had some extracts from the blog pinned to it and the other advertised my mission for the day using the circle print to look like the Sewing Bee logo.

banners pewsey2

I also took along my rail with some upcycled pieces and some pieces I’ve bought for upcycling, with tags explaining what caught my eye in the charity shop and a sketch of what I plan to do with them.

upcycle rail pewsey

My Great Pewsey Upcycling Bee

The Great British Sewing Bee, each week features a pattern challenge, an upcycling challenge and a showstopper. I adapted this to three different upcycling challenges.

My Pewsey pattern challenge

For my pattern challenge I decided to make a pattern of a cardigan that belonged to my sister. The moths had got to it, she had repaired it a few times but it was really beyond further repair. It was a really unusual style made up of lots of pieces and it was made from stretchy fine wool so it seemed like a suitable challenge. I carefully cut along the seams to separate it into its component pieces, laid them out on pattern paper and pinned down each piece, being careful not to stretch pieces out of shape. Thank goodness I kept one half of the cardigan made-up for reference, it was a confusing pattern with 9 pieces in total.


My Upcycling Challenge

On the Sewing Bee upcycling challenge, they ask the sewers to turn a garment into different one, so I followed this theme with a plan to turn my husbands old shirt into a top for myself.  I had some offcuts from the kaftan I used for the banners so I used them to make the sleeve edge. I still can’t make my mind up whether this works for me, so work stopped at one sleeve and I’ll come back to it another day. I shared some of my inspiration for the design on a tag around the neck.

shirt upcycle

My Showstopper 

For the showstopper, I wanted to create a whole new outfit from my Mum’s old 70s housecoat. I was really pleased with the end result for this one, it rounded off my day really well.

showstopper pewsey

Unlike the Great British Sewing Bee, it was a hot day and a very chilled atmosphere, not a day for rushing around and I didn’t put myself under any time pressure.  So, I will return to the challenges and blog about each of them when I’ve finished, with a few more progress pics. I had a wonderful day, met some great people and made a few lovely connections, I am planning a blog post to respond to some of the questions and the people who came and spoke to me. For now, a massive Thank You to Pewsey for having me and to the festival organiser, Liz Boden for inviting me. To top off my day of sunshine and sewing there was some amazing food and fabulous music by the Doors of Perception and Tankus The Henge. (the Doors being one of my teenage and all time favourite bands .. I felt totally blessed!). I will be going back next year with or without stall.

dorrs pewsey



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Ethical fashion at pewsey music festival

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So, back from camping I’m excited about the Pewsey Music Festival. I’ve prepared my own spin on the Great British Sewing Bee ….


My sisters quirky cardi will become a pattern challenge ..


I’m turning my husband’s old shirt into a women’s top for my Upcycling challenge …


And my Showstopper, my Mums old housecoat will become a skirt and jacket …


PLUS, the music looks good too!! Check it out, £10 a ticket and under 12s free.



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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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My Facebook live week and livestream plans for sat 16th july at save the children, Wantage

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vintage video

So, in preparation for my event tomorrow at Save the children, I have been practicing with Facebook live this week, sharing a couple of my reasons to shop second hand.

Beautiful Vintage 

” I love the history and back story that might be attached to vintage pieces and they are totally unique. I believe clothes reflect a person when they are wearing them and onwards, when they are passed on, they carry an energy with them. Marie Condo asks us whether items spark joy and it’s that energy that can resonate.”

My tip – always keep an eagle eye out for vintage, hold the item, look at the details and go with your gut, does it spark joy?

Contemporary designer and high end bargains

designer video

“There are bargains to be had if you have the patience for 2nd hand shopping. With a designer or high end garment, you can expect better quality fabrics, a better cut, better manufacturing and better finishing … this all means clothes that are more comfortable to wear, more hard wearing and look better for longer.”

My tip – Be patient and get to know your labels; read magazines, even the pages you can’t afford.

It’s been a fun week, my favourite comment on my first livestream was “Expert knowledge with a hint of Acorn Antiques at the end”. Later that day, I was talking to someone about my qualifications and I realised; “I don’t claim to be an expert at all but the knowledge I am sharing is many years of just doing it; shopping second hand and upcycling, collecting projects to be altered and restyled.”

So here’s my timetable of Facebook livestreams for tomorrow;

11am – my #haulternative outfit; I’ll be wearing something vintage, something designer, something upcycled and an investment buy.

11.30 – we’ll have a live rummage of the rails of the charity shop.

12.00 – I’ll share some upcycled pieces and my designs for some things I’ve bought to be upcycled.

12.30 – Upcycling live – I’m going to be doing some sewing and having a go at this slashing technique on a sweatshirt I bought yesterday.


So join me in person, come and say hello. Or log in to Facebook and catch a livestream or two. Hopefully, I’ll get a couple of volunteers to do my quality quiz, a few test to assess the quality of fabrics and how well clothes are made.



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