We have moved!

3 Aug

Hello! Just a quick note to say my blog has now moved over to makethriftlondon.co.uk/blog so everything is in one place and I’m stepping up my blogging game, so you can expect a lot more creative stuff including the return of Mending Monday (once a month), some furniture upcycling posts, sewing tips, crafty DIYs and more. See you over there and thanks for following, Daisy x


A Sewing Time Capsule: Part One

7 Jun

Sewing Time CapsuleIf you follow me on instagram or Facebook you may have seen me post a photo this week of my Jones’ sewing machine. I’ve got a weakness for vintage sewing machines and at last count own 7 vintage or antique metal sewing machines which I have acquired from various places over the last 4 or 5 years. Oops. This Jones Family CS model E was one I spotted a couple of years ago at the Friday Flea market on Portobello Road. A lot of the traders on Friday have stock straight from house clearances and don’t always know exactly what they have, so it really is a goldmine for finding wonderful treasures. This sewing machine was no exception.

When I got it home, I opened the carry case it came in which, I forgot to mention, on the way home popped open and the machine almost fell out! It must weigh about 10kg and so I’m not sure the case is original because its very light and flimsy. Any how, it made it back without damage and when I unpacked it I was thrilled to find at the bottom of the box, a selection of fabrics, a half finished dress and pattern instructions and a few other paper bits. I was very excited and popped everything into a carrier bag and put it in my studio to look at properly later…and then I forgotten about it. If you’ve seen my studio you will understand how easily this can happen. After trying it once, the sewing machine has been sitting on display on the bookshelf in my studio ever since.

I’m pleased to say, my studio has recently undergone a huge clear out (well 3 huge clear outs in the last 6 months) and most recently, we moved everything round so the space make more sense and I’ve started rediscovering all the awesome things I’ve rescued over the years.

So, this brings me back to the box. There was a lot of interest in this sewing machine’s contents on instagram and I knew it would be perfect to document on here. It seems like the previous owner either forgot about it or something happened so they didn’t manage to finish the dress and having found that bag of contents and had a more thorough look, there were many interesting pieces to the puzzle..

Here are the contents in order of photos: A selection of fabrics including some stripy deck chair canvas and some mint green lining, an almost completed Clothkits Style 596 Dress (from a kit) and instructions, a Clothkits reorder form and the original envelope date stamped 28 March 1980 and labels, 2 Simplicity 8623 Girl’s sleeve pattern pieces, 2 newspaper traced bodice pattern pieces, a label from a step pump with instructions (random,) a Smiths Bros Tooting paper bag and perhaps the most interesting and revealing piece of the time capsule: a typed letter which appears to be more of rambling nonsense than actually meant for someone to read but it tells us a lot. Read on below, to find out what it says..

Sewing Time Capsule Contents

Sewing Time Capsule Fabrics

Sewing Time Capsule DressClothkits Pack




Letter reads (as typed):

sweet nice darling daughter that is what i amhe knew every thing address glad i haven’t got a roast dinner to do. slave come and have a cup of tea I’ve made its in the kitchen its two oclock and news time on radio two -pause in speech- its got marks all ready yes idont particularly whant the picture in there no. are you going to stick it on with blue tack-this is reported speech on the 7.i0.79 `at1 oclock in the paskes house hold in grove on the old side as has been for the last 12 years and is likely to be for many more years to come except that the number in the house is fluctuating as nicholas has gone to manchester university to study history and economics carol hopefully is leaving next year to teacher training college todo a Bed together with these hands that are typing this nonsense but for now she m st go and study little dorrit by dickens or else she wont be considered even for college-bye for now.

The rest is definitely non-sense. As is the other page.

I’m not quite sure whether this was more of a diary entry or an actual letter to someone documenting the day. Either way, I love that the date and time have been recorded..and it gives us a little insight into life at the time like snapshot on this day.

I’ll share more on the actual sewing machine and dress in part two. I plan to complete the dress..hopefully on the Jones machine..I need to buy some needles for it first. It takes rounded shank needles so I’ll need to find some. I did have a go on it the other day. So I’ll tell you about it in my next post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this small insight into this sewing machine’s story. I love old things because of the history behind them and I’m always fascinated by any details I can find out about the items past or the previous owner(s).

Would you be interested in me documenting more of my finds? Have you found anything with an interesting story to tell?

Thanks for reading,

Daisy x

Mending Monday: Repairing a seam – denim

2 Jun

Mending Monday: Mending an open seamThis week I’ve done another really simple repair. I’ve got this vintage denim jacket which used to be my Mum’s from circa 1980s. It’s probably a size too small for me across the shoulders but although snug, it fits (just about) and I love it. The downside to this is the seams which take the most beating are the back shoulder/sleeve seams and over the past few years the strain has caused the stitching to open up. It’s really quick and easy to repair these seams by going over the same stitch line that has come away. One side has an actual hole (which I only just noticed) and the other has just started to come apart. Here’s the before and after of the seam with the hole:Before and AfterThere is a special stitch you can use to reinforce these seams (see image below). I use the Janome 7025 machines in all my classes and it has a straight stretch stitch which is really strong and basically like 4 stitches in place of one usual stitch. This is stitch is perfect (even on non-stretch fabrics) for seams that take a lot of strain like this one. If you don’t have this stitch on your machine a straight stitch will still do the job. I would make it slightly small than usual to make it a bit stronger so turn the stitch length down to 2 instead of the normal 2.5mm.

For the side where the seam had completely opened up:

  • Turn the jacket inside out and identify the seam which needs fixing
  • Pin together edge to edge


  • Stitch along original stitch line making sure you go over the first and last couple of stitches which are still intact to make sure you reinforce the old stitches
  • Use a zig zag stitch or overlocker to neaten off the edges

MM5Denim2When I did this and looked onto the right side I noticed the crossing seam was also coming open so I turned it back inside out marking the beginning and end point of the weakened seam with a pin to make sure I knew where to start and finish and went over this seam as well.

*Tip* When repairing 2 crossing seams it’s important to identify which seam should be stitched first. If the crossing is open you’ll be able to get in and stitch the seam right across without stopping before you stitch down the crossing seam. If you’re not sure, try looking at another crossing seam which is intact. Which has been stitched first? Whichever one was stiched last, you will stitch last. If the ‘cross roads’ is still intact then stitch in as close as you can get to the seam and back stitch.

MM5Denim3When stittching down two crossing seams ensure the seam allowances are facing the same way (usually towards the back of the garment.) This will stop the seam twisting around and help it lay flat.

I basically did the same with the other arm. Although the seam wasn’t completely open on this side, one of the seams had come apart and so I went over this row of stitching, again with the straight stretch stitch.

Here’s the before and after for that side:

MM5DenimBeforeAfter2I wear this jacket throughout the Spring and Summer months so will get a lot of wear out of this for years to come. As always, let me know if you try any of these repairs or alterations using the hashtag #mendingmonday. If you want to learn hemming, how to sew different types of buttons, taking in garments to improve fit and how to mend rips and tears, why not join our mending Club? You can book a single session or all 4 weeks. All the details are here.

Thanks for reading!

Daisy x

Mending Monday: Adding darts to improve fit

25 May

Yay for Bank Holidays. I’ve been working through again, sorting out my studio this weekend with the help of my very patient boyfriend. Big changes, I’ll share on here at a later date.

So, let’s talk about adding darts. This week I decided to alter a sixties style summer shift dress by adding some fish darts in the back. The front of the dress is Broidery Anglaise and it has a plain cotton back with an exposed metal zip. This style of dress isn’t meant to be close fitting to the body but I bought it in the sale and it was probably a size larger than I needed. I felt a bit like a sack of potatoes in it, but my boyfriend pointed out that I would rather a loose fitting dress for the summer and convinced me. I did however want it slightly less sack like.


Let’s mend! This dress is fully lined in cotton. Normally, I would try and add darts to the lining and main dress fabric separately, to help keep both layers sitting flat against the body and avoid any puckering or uneveness but since the lining is stitched in at the side seams as well as the zip this wasn’t possible, so I knew I would have to stitch the darts with the lining and outer fabric together.  I  didn’t want to touch the Broiderie Anglaise (stitching both layers would be tricky enough without adding this textured and holey fabric to the mix) so I decided to take in some of the excess at the back. Here’s  how:

  • Turn the dress inside out, put it on and zip it up
  • Either side of the central zip (or centre back if no CB zip) as evenly as you can, pull the fabric into a fold to create a dart on either side, until you are happy with how it fits from the front (note if the dress is more than a size too big it may not be possible to add darts to the back only – more on this at a later date.)
  • Letting go of one side only (as best you can) place a pin vertically in roughly the back waist position and once this is in, grab the other side again as before, as evenly spaced as you can from the centre back and place a pin at roughly the same position but on that side
  • *If this sounds a bit confusing see the pic below for what you’re aiming for. I’m afriad it was impossible to photograph myself*
  • Now add pins above and below this central pin so moving up towards the middle of the back and down towards the lower back.
  • Note: The darts should have a larger seam allowance in the middle and it should gradually tail off into nothing to give a smooth dart
  • Remember unless you want it to be really fitted not to make it too tight
  • Try and pin both sides evenly but don’t worry about being too accurate as we can adjust these once the dress is off
  • Carefully shimmy the dress upwards to get out of it without pricking yourself like I did (OUCH!)
  • Once it’s off, lay it flat on a table and measure the distance of each pin from the centre back outwards on each side making any adjustments if necessary. The aim is to have darts equal in size and evenly spaced from the CB


  • While you’re doing this, make sure the two layers (lining and outer fabric) are as smooth as possible to avoid any tucks or ripples when stitching together
  • I used chalk to mark a smooth line to follow
  • Once you’re happy, grab a hand sewing needle and a contrasting coloured thread and stitch large tacking (or basting) stitches along the pinned lines. Make sure you start and finish parallel at the top and bottom


  • You should now have two temporary darts wider at the centre and which gradually get skinnier at the top and bottom into nothing. These are called fish darts as they look slightly fish shaped.
  • Try on the dress again and make sure you are happy with the fit with some pins to hand incase you need to take it in more anywhere
  • Now remove the dress and taking into account any adjustments, using the same colour thread as your garment, machine stitch the darts using your tacking (basting) line as a guide, remember not to back stitch and to keep your threads long at both ends and tie a double knot to secure


  • Remove your tacking and press your darts towards the side seams on both sides

This is a great way of improving fit without much work. Obviously it would be much easier for you if you had a friend to hand to help with the pinning and adjusting! Sorry I couldn’t take a back view photo. I will update this later in the week once I can get someone to take one.


Don’t forget my new Mending Club starts next Wednesday evening at the Petit Miracle Hub in Shepherds Bush. Learn easy techniques to alter and mend your clothes at home and save £££s! You can sign up for the full 4 sessions for £99 or if you can’t make them all or only want to learn one or two you can now sign up to individual sessions for £30 each. Check out the full details here.

This week’s Mending Monday completes my #MMMay15 challenge (if the sun doesn’t properly come out I’ll wear this dress over jeggings this week) but I’ve really enjoyed it and I will be keeping up these Mending Monday posts and try my best to fix and wear one garment per week to work through my to-fix pile..so stay tuned! If you have any requests of how to mend something, just send me a message via the contact page or find me on twitter, instagram or Facebook.

Daisy x

Mending Monday: Repairing ripped pocket seams

18 May


Yay, it’s Monday! Today’s Mending Monday is a really quick and easy one but essential nonetheless. I’ve had this tan brown wool mix coat for about 5 years now and I’ve worn it so much, it was a great buy. It’s a go to jacket that takes me through the seasons. Since I started wearing back packs more, I had a tendency to overfill the pockets and over the years the thin polyester lining started to wear at the seams. These went from small openings (where just small change would fall through to the hem) to basically the entire seam ripping open and for longer than I would like to admit, I haven’t been able to put anything in the pockets. On the odd occasion I forget, I have to fish out my oyster card or change from the inside of the lining at the bottom of the hem. It’s a relatively easy repair to do (the quick fix option) which should last me another few years at least.)

Here’s how to repair them:


  • Turn out the pocket so it’s on the outside of the jacket
  • Turn in the ripped seam so that the frayed edge is concealed and you have at least a 0.5cm seam allowance
  • Pin along the edge


  • Use an edge foot or carefully stitch using a general purpose foot close to the edge making sure you back stitch either end to secure
  • Turn back in and start filling those pockets again

The pockets will be slightly less deep than originally but this is much easier than having to unpick the coat lining and stitching from the inside (if your lining is not attached to the main fabric at the hem, you should be able to get inside the lining and stitch the pockets from the wrong side using the same method.

Get repairing those pockets! No excuses. I’m wearing this jacket tonight so will post a pic on my instagram later. Follow me @MakeThriftLDN.

Do you have any easy repairs you haven’t gotten round to doing?

See you next week! I might try something a bit different…

Daisy x

Mending Monday – Replacing worn elastic in a waistband

12 May

Ok, I put my hands up; I am bad at this. It’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday (but in the grand scheme of things, I am doing better than last week) and I’m not changing the day because I like the alliteration of Mending Monday..Mending Tuesday just doesn’t have the same ring. My plan was to spend an entire day mending different pieces and schedule these posts in every Monday for the next few weeks. I just haven’t yet found a day when I have the time to spend the whole of it stitching. I will. But for now I’m doing a weekly mend. Although I spent time mending yesterday, I didn’t quite make it to writing up this blog post. If you’re not a confident enough sewer to try these alterations or repairs at home and you live in London,  I’m starting a 4 week Mending Club next month in Shepherd’s Bush. Every Wednesday from 3rd June, for 4 weeks we will be tackling a different alteration or repair you can do at home to help revive your wardrobe or ensure those thrifted vintage and charity shop finds fit like a dream. Find out more here. So, let’s get mending:

You might be expecting a post on shortening a mac but since the weather was forecast to be so lovely this week, I decided to repair a summery skirt instead. I’ve had this vintage skirt for a few years now. I bought it at a Carboot sale for £4. It’s a pretty cheap skirt, made of polyester circa 1980s/1990s but I loved the colour, floral print and how floaty it is so I snapped it up. I wear it lots in the warmer months with tees or buttoned-up sleeveless blouses and usually a chunky leather belt. It’s a size 12 and I am a 16 (sometimes an 18) so it is a bit of a squeeze to get over my hips and when I took it out recently, as the weather is getting warmer, I realised the elastic had gone. Over time elastic deteriorates, but luckily, if it’s fed through a channel in the waistband, it can be quite simple to replace, so think twice before throwing it or sending it to a charity shop. It’s a bit trickier to replace an elastic which has been stitched on top at the waist and acts as the waistband and as that technique is much cheaper to mass produce, I’ve noticed many of the high streets creating skirts in this way, which is a shame as it makes it much trickier to repair.


So, to get started: The first thing you need to do is find where the elastic was inserted. The waistband will have a seam, usually in line with one of the skirt ‘s side seams. I made an opening here by unpicking the stitching that runs along the bottom of the elastic just an inch or so either side of the side seam so you have enough room to pull out the old elastic and feed through the new one.

MM2UnpickedseamAs my skirt was overlocked along the waistband facing (the inside flap of the waistband which lies against the body, it meant the side seam was also overlocked together so I had to snip through the overlocking as well to open this up. The quickest way to unpick overlocking is by snipping along the top set of stitches along the edge (I used some sharp snips.) To stop the rest of the stitching unravelling either side of the opening you have made, make sure you reinforce the stitches by machining on top of the first few stitches either side of the opening, being careful not to catch the elastic.

MM2reinforceSeamsMy waistband was also stitched down the middle with a running stitch (this stops the elastic twisting inside the channel) so I also had to carefully unpick this stitch all the way along. Once you’ve done this, pull out the elastic a little at the opening and snip it (as it’s joined in a circle.) Pull it from one side until it’s completely removed from the waistband.


You’re now left with a channel ready to feed your new elastic into. To make sure you use the correct size elastic, measure the width of the existing elastic and/or the waistband. I was lucky to find a pack of old elastic which was almost the exact width in my vintage sewing supplies stash and it was still good and stretchy. If you choose an elastic too wide it won’t fit through the channel and too narrow it won’t lie flat against the body and roll up like a scrunchie, so try and get as close a match as possible. To find out what length you need, take the elastic and stretch it comfortably around your waist and overlapping it by about 1cm. I made sure I could pull it over my hips comfortably and snipped off the remainder.

Once you’ve done this you’ll need to feed it through the channel of your waistband. Attach a large safety pin to one end and insert it into the opening.Photo 11-05-2015 11 12 04 Feed it along the channel, using the safety pin to give you something to grab. The channel will gather up so keep flattening it out as you move the safety pin along, until it comes out the other side. Be careful you don’t pull the other end through so make sure you hold onto it as you get near to the end. Photo 11-05-2015 11 21 43You should end up with both ends of elastic sticking out of your waistband opening. Do a final check that it’s flat and hasn’t twisted all the way along and you’re ready to attach the two ends together to create a loop.

Photo 11-05-2015 11 33 40Pin the two ends flat, matching edge to edge and set your sewing machine to a medium zigzag. The zigzag allows the elastic to give a little when it stretches, whereas a straight stitch would break.Photo 11-05-2015 11 35 20

Join the two ends of elastic close to the edge and be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end to strengthen the seam. Once you’re attached, open out the elastic so the seam lays flat (as shown) and stitch down along the seam as before, back stitching at the beginning and end.

Photo 11-05-2015 11 35 47Photo 11-05-2015 11 37 32

You can now pull the elastic taught in your waistband and it should hide up into the skirt (give it a hand if it doesn’t.) It should lay flat inside the waistband and the waistband should have a slight gather. To enclose it you just need to straight stitch along the opening you made in the waistband. Make sure not to stitch into the elastic. I also used a zigzag in place of the overlocking I unpicked, to neat the edge.

Photo 11-05-2015 11 57 36

To finish, I used a zigzag stitch along the centre of the waistband (starting and finishing at the seam) and lightly stretched out my elastic as evenly as I could as I stitched so it would ping back when the elastic is relaxed and have space to stretch out.

Photo 11-05-2015 12 44 38

I’m pleased to say, the skirt now fits beautifully and I was able to wear it yesterday in the sunshine. This is the finished freshly inserted elastic. I think it’s actually a better fit than before.


If you tried this technique, please let me know in the comments. It would be great if you shared a photo on instagram, twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #MendingMonday and if you’re on instagram tag me @MakeThriftLDN in the photo comments. I haven’t decided which garment I’ll be sharing next week but I’m challenging myself to have it ready to post it on Monday. Any requests? I have a huge pile to work through..

See you soon,

Daisy x

Mending Monday – Shortening a Pleated Vintage Skirt

6 May

Now, I know it isn’t Monday today, or even Tuesday but I’m a bit behind on this week, so please forgive me while I catch up. To kick start my Me-Made-May Challenge I’ve decided to start a new weekly feature on my blog called “Mending Monday,” which, with the exception of today, as the title suggests, will be published once a week on a Monday. This feature has been on the agenda for a while and my “to-fix” pile has been slowly growing, so Me-Made-May has given me the perfect excuse to kick-start it. These are the pieces I’ll be mending in the next few weeks:

Featured imageI’ll be sharing a different mend or alteration with you and a step-by-step tutorial of how I did it. So, to get started, I have been a fan of mint green for a long time and I’ve recently been wearing it quite a bit. So my first piece just had to be this vintage c. 1980s mint green and white pleated skirt I got in the TRAID sale a couple of months ago (for £2!!). I thought it would be perfect for spring/summer. It fits me

Featured image

comfortably on the waist and I love the assymetric line created by the contrasting fabric but it was much to long and looked a bit dowdy. I’m not one for wearing super short skirts though, so I wanted it about knee length. It’s always much harder to get an accurate idea of how much you need to shorten something without assistance but with no minions to hand, I had to make do.

I put the skirt on and made sure it was sitting at a comfortable position at my waist and pinned up a small section at the front, roughly where I wanted the skirt to finish (above my knee). I then took the skirt off to continue pinning a larger section at the front (about 8 inches) to give myself a better idea of how it would look and put it on again with the hem pinned up to make sure I was happy. To work with the existing button positioning (I always try to make life as easy as possible for Featured imagemyself) I decided to stop just above the closest button which would allow enough hem allowance for the hem to sit in a natural place below the final button.

After I had decided on the length, I took the skirt off and measured how much it had been turned up. Again, it’s best to round off to the nearest whole or half cm to make your life easier! Mine was 13cm. Remember, this includes your hem allowance, so if you take this off you’re left with the amount you need to cut off from the bottom. I usually look at the size of the exisitng hem and keep it the same. This one was 1.5cm.

So the amount I needed to remove was 11.5cm. To make sure to measure and cut a straight edge, I temporarily flattened out the pleats. The best way to do this is to use some kind of a weight. With two little tea pots to hand, these worked pretty well. You could use some unopened food tins if you don’t have anPhoto 05-05-2015 19 35 59y weights. I opened the pleats and put a weight top and bottom, working in about arms length sections, moving my weights as I went along. With my tape measure and a piece of contrast coloured chalk I made straight marks every few inches at this measurement using the brass end of the tap measure as a ruler.

Once this was marked, I cut off the short piece making sure my sheers were cutting to the right edge of my chalk marking. As my skirt has a button-down front, the button stand was stitched down along the edge so I unpicked a few stitches to make this flat so I could neaten the edge. I set up my sewing machine with a smallish zig zag and tested it on the piece of fabric I had cut off, to check the tension. As a rule, the best tension for a zig zag stitch is slightly loosened (so the needle thread shows slightly on the wrong side) but it should look even on top with none of the bobbin thread showing. Adjust your tension according to your fabric. As you are stitching onto a single layer (as opposed to a double layer) you may find the zig zag drawing your fabric in at the centre and creating a slight channel. To avoid this, I make sure the needle has enough room to spread across the fabric and to do this, stitch the zig zag in about 0.5cm from the edge. After doing this, I trimmed the edge back to the zig zag to get a neater finish.

MM5After my edge was neatened and trimmed, I knew I had 1cm left to play with. Now it was time to press up my hem. As I was going to do a blind hem, I only wanted to turn it up a single layer.  With the right side of the fabric facing down, starting from one of the ends I measured up 1.5cm and pinned this up all the way along the hem and pressed with the pleats creased (not flattened out). Note, I used glass head pins so was able to press over these but if you’re using pins with plastic heads, make sure you remove them as you go and be very careful not to place the iron plate over any or they will melt and ruin your iron!

Once the hem was pressed I buttoned up the fron to make sure it matched. I made a slight adjustment because the mint green side was slightly longer. As I had a button hole on the back of the white (top) side I had to shortenFeatured image the mint side to level it out as I wasn’t able to make the white side any longer or the buttonhole would show. Once I had evened out the hem, I had to make the adjustment gradual to blend into the rest of the hem allowance so it wasn’t a steep change, making it less noticeable.

Once this was done, I also pinned the pleats and pressed these in and tried the skirt on to check it looked balanced (and not longer or shorter at any point. )

Finally, I used a needle and thread, about an arms length at a time to avoid knots and did a blind hem stitch. Instead of knots I secure at the beginning and end of the thread with a couple of small stitches on top of each other. With all the pleats it took me nearly an hour (while catching up on some TOWIE) but it was worth it. I gave it a final press making sure the pleasts are pressed back nicely into shape.

Featured imageI’m really happy with the results and just need a sunny day this week to wear it. I may also add a lining to this skirt as trying it on with a white tee made me realise how sheer it is. Would you be interested in a tutorial on this? With all the rain today, I’ve decided to work on shortening a Four Seasons mac (another charity shop find.) Look out for that next week! Hopefully I’ll have better pics!

Daisy x