My jumper coat

As many of you are aware, last year I spent a year buying no new clothes. I did pretty well and have only bought footwear since (a pair of boots for me and shoes for the kids). 

The weather here has been changeable recently and so I needed something that was lighter than a coat but thicker than a cardigan. 

I have been following The Woolly Pedlar on twitter for a while now and I love her creations. Not just because they are a great way to use textile waste but they are really unusual and I just love them. 

At the time that I messaged her she didn’t have anything in my size in the colours that I wanted but I was happy to wait. 

Then I got a sneak peak


(Picture courtesy of The Woolly Pedlar)

Then another one a short time later


(Picture courtesy of The Woolly Pedlar)

I really loved getting updates throughout the making process and couldn’t contain my excitement when the final photo came through. 


(Picture courtesy of The Woolly Pedlar)

It was finished! I fell in love with it instantly. 

I’ve been wearing my jumper coat for a few weeks now and get compliments everywhere. It really is the most amazing piece of clothing I have ever bought. Even if Hubby finds it funny to comment “how can you say you’re cold? You’ve got 20 jumpers on!” 

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Sofa-so good

There’s actually been a bit of DIY going on here at alifetimeofdiy. I know! Shocker right? The front room which we use as our main room was one of the first ones decorated when we moved in 7 years ago and to be fair it was starting to look shabby.

The floor was replaced a little while ago and is still in good condition so we kept that as it was but the rest of the room needed painting and decorating. 

We also decided it was time to change our beloved settees. We’d had the one since we bought our first house together 14years ago and the other we bought second hand 6 years ago so they have both had good lives. We donated the one back to charity but the other one wasn’t in good enough condition for them so that was disposed of by the council after a few unsuccessful listings on freecycle. 

We bought our new settee in the sale (is there ever not a settee sale going on?) and we love it. It looked massive when it arrived though. It came in two parts and the first half was supposed to be the shorter end. That looked big enough! 


Then they brought in the second half! 


Wow! It seemed to take up most of the space. 

Although it may be because the rest of the room looked like this:

Thankfully it didn’t look like this for long. The room needed to be emptied so that we could finish redecorating. 

We’ve lived with the new settee for about 6 weeks now and we love it. The kids enjoy lounging on it and it’s really comfortable. We are really pleased with it even if it means our savings took a big hit. 

Stay tuned for the big “reveal” post. Please try not to get too excited lol! 

Zero Waste Week 2016

Oh dear. Zero Waste Week could not have come at a worse time for me this year. Not only did it clash with first week back to school, including D’s first trek into full time but I failed catastrophically before it even started. 

This year’s theme is food waste and I was planning to use the week to show hubby how much easier it is when we meal plan. We used to meal plan often but it’s fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years so this was going to catapult us back into a routine. 

Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. Our fridge freezer is 13 years old. It’s the original one we bought when we first moved in together and has survived 3 house moves and 2 years in storage. However it has started showing its age so we decided after we came back from holiday we would buy a new one. Maybe the fridge freezer heard us talking about getting a new one and we hurt its feelings (lol) but it didn’t make it that far. We came home from holidays and were greeted by a big puddle on the kitchen floor and a freezer half full of defrosted food. 

We had no idea how long it had been like that so we had no choice but to throw everything out. I was devastated. Not only at the monetary waste but also the irony of all the food waste days before I was meant to encourage others not to waste food!!

So this week has been a write off as we had to decide on and buy a new fridge freezer plus restock it. On the upside our new freezer has see through drawers so we can see what we have just by opening the door. 

Hopefully that’ll help reduce waste as nothing will get “lost” in there. 

Have you been taking part in Zero Waste Week? Has your week been better than mine?

A Homemade Fashion Collaboration

In my last post I mentioned that Little Lady and I had worked together to make her a top. It started when Little Lady brought home a letter from school asking us to send in a plain white t-shirt. Little Lady has very colourful tastes and so only owns one plain white t shirt and that’s the one that is part of her PE kit! I couldn’t go out and buy one but I did have a lot of white jersey upstairs. 

I found a lovely t shirt pattern online and set about making it. I do most of my making when the kids are in bed so Little Lady couldn’t try it on til the morning. 


The fit was perfect so we labelled it with her name and sent it into school. Apparently they had been learning about design and had been asked to draw a t shirt design. They had experimented with various ways of applying the design to the fabric and it seems most of them chose fabric paint. Nice easy option for the children although maybe a bit messy for the teachers lol! 

Little Lady’s design centred on the things she enjoyed doing ie reading and watching the football (this was right in the middle of the Welsh Euro16 fever!) 

Little Lady said she enjoyed making the t shirt but did say it was boring waiting for the paint to dry and as a result she could only decorate the one side. 

I’m pretty impressed by her thinking and design and she loves wearing it. A great result for the mammy-daughter t shirt collaboration πŸ˜€

No New Clothes – a year on

This time last year I sat and wrote about the challenge I was about to embark on. It was pretty scary I have to admit. I wasn’t sure how well I would do, or if I could actually manage it. But then, isn’t that the point of a challenge? To push you out of your comfort zone? 

I set some rules that I hoped would make it a bit easier for me:

  • underwear does not count. I will not buy secondhand underwear for any of my family. I am, however, planning to make some of my own underwear again.
  • Running clothes and shoes. My current running shoes should last me until early next year but when they do need replacing I will be buying new. I won’t risk injury by buying secong hand. Running clothes, I will try to make do with what I have or buy second hand if I can.
  • Uniform/work wear. I wear my own clothes to work and therefore can get away with this but hubby can’t. He is provided with a polo shirt but some of the other kit he needs may need to be new due to safety reasons. We will shop around and try to buy second hand if we can but I will not compromise his safety. School uniforms will be second hand as much as possible, however, due to the school logo, if it poses difficulty in buying second hand then at the last resort we will buy new.
  • Shoes. I won’t buy second hand shoes especially for the kids. They have both recently had new shoes so should be fine for quite a while.
  • I am allowed to make new clothes and buy second hand. I cannot however, buy a lot of new fabric in order to make new clothes. (Copied from original blog post) 

So a year on. How did I do?? Let’s see shall we?

New items bought for me:

  1. Two pairs of running trousers
  2. A pair of denim shorts 
  3. A new sports bra
  4. Two pairs of compression socks
  5. My running club hoodie
  6. A pair of running shoes (not shown)

I’m pretty pleased with that! Both the running leggings and running shoes were allowed under my rules, as was the sports bra. The compression socks were needed but on the other hand did I really need two pairs?? And the shorts? Well I could have made some if I’m honest but I really didn’t want to. They were an impulse purchase bought about a month ago. πŸ˜” So in all honesty I could have avoided buying them. 

In the interest of transparency I also received some clothes as gifts:

  1. Two pairs of jeans for Christmas
  2. A pair of furry boots (not shown)
  3. A pair of pyjamas (a Christmas Eve tradition – not shown)
  4. A running top which I had for my birthday

I have also received a few new training tops as prizes for completing races. I use these to avoid buying training tops. I do sometimes wish that races would give out trousers instead of tops occasionally so that I wouldn’t have to buy those πŸ˜‚

The kids had new pyjamas from Santa on Christmas Eve. Little Lady had a new leotard and two pairs of hot pants for her dance show and D had a new pair of bathers for his swimming lessons. Little Lady’s dance items were very specific so I would have struggled to find them second hand in time, if at all and D’s swimming lessons can be such a source of stress for him as he hates showing his body, or “performing” in public. The SpiderMan bathers helps to ease his stress as he knows SpiderMan is brave and if that helps him overcome his social anxiety then it’s worth every penny. 

In regards to making things I failed miserably. I have made a lot of outfits but unfortunately none for me. I do have a post to show you at another date of how Little Lady and I collaborated on a top for her 😊 

We’ve talked about buying, gifts, and making but what about mending? I have done a LOT of mending this past year! 

I made shorts out of a pair of school trousers with holes in the knee:I also:

  1. Repaired a seam in my running tights
  2. Patched every pair of jeans I own over the year
  3. Repaired a seam in normal leggings
  4. Repaired a pair of shorts I had already made from a pair of jeans
  5. Fixed a jumper
  6. Replaced missing buttons on a cardigan 
  7. Shortened a dress to make it wearable
  8. Re hemmed two pairs of trousers
  9. Repaired a hole in the underarm of a cardigan

And I’m sure there were more but that’s all I seem to have kept a record of. 

All in all I think I did okay. There was room for improvement but I don’t think it was a complete failure. The big question now is: where do I go from here? Well pretty much all my clothes are looking tired. My jeans have been mended to within an inch of their lives. A very kind friend has just gifted me two new-to-me pairs of jeans so they will last a while but I could really do with some new clothes. I don’t intend to go out and buy all new and I will use charity shops as much as I can. But I do think this next year may be spent replacing the majority of my clothes. 

Growing Up

At the end of last summer we were lucky enough to be gifted a much bigger greenhouse. I was thrilled as it doubled my growing space. Unfortunately Hubby was not so thrilled when he realised that it meant cutting the shed in half to accommodate it πŸ˜•

Last year we didn’t use it much as we were pretty much coming into winter by the time it was all up and running. I had high hopes for this year though. 

You know what they say about best laid plans and all that. Well I’m a bit behind. I haven’t planted half as much as I wanted to and was a bit late getting what I have got, into pots. Our garden is completely concrete so everything has to be grown in pots. I dream of the day we can afford to buy somewhere with a bit of land so I can finally plant my fruit trees in the ground. 

So what have we planted?


Cherry and plum tomatoes. We have 6 plants so three of each. That won’t really be enough to keep Little Lady in tomatoes as she loves them but it’s a start. 


A lone cucumber plant. I am always wary of cucumber plants as I haven’t yet managed to yield fruit from a cucumber plant. I’d love any tips you may have on how to keep it alive long enough to harvest the fruit. 


One tiny Sweet Pepper plant. 


Three Honeydew melon plants grown from the seeds of a melon we bought from the shop. Little Lady collected the seeds, gave them to my stepdad who has grown these little beauties and gifted them back to us. I’d love to think we’d get a melon growing πŸ˜€ 


Strawberry plants are coming back strong. As are the herbs we planted. Chives and mint shown below. 


Tiny cherries starting to come on our cherry tree. Hubby will be pleased. And last but not least we have two pots of various weeds growing to feed our tortoise. 


I’d love to eventually grow enough to cut our shopping bill but that won’t happen this year. This year I’m just trying to keep everything alive. 

Do you grow your own? What to you grow? Any tips for me?

Wiping up waste

We are slowly settling in to a bit of a school routine now, and thankfully I have had time to get some sewing done while the kids are in school. I have been trying to take a look at our lives and our routines to see where we can improve waste and environmentally wise. 

With 2 young (ish) children we have a lot of spills in this house and the easiest way to wipe them up is with kitchen towels. I also use kitchen paper to clean the worktops. I know it’s paper so it can technically be recycled/composted but I’m still using it once then throwing it out. What a waste. 

While decluttering the bathroom I found a lot of baby towels that are really no good anymore as they barely fit around my “babies” anymore but are too big for hand towels. So, one afternoon while D was in school I cut the towel into squares and overlocked the raw edges. I could have neatened the edges with a sewing machine or by binding them but I went for the quick and easy option of my overlocker. 

I folded them and put them in a pretty basket which sits on top of the worktop in the kitchen. They are then to hand when I need to wipe up a spill etc. Once used they go in the washing machine with my normal washing. No more paper towels in this house. Nice one!