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!” 

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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 wonโ€™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 canโ€™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 wonโ€™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. ๐Ÿ˜” 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 ๐Ÿ˜‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜Š 

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. 

Gift Wrapping

Making handmade gifts is such a lovely feeling. The thought and time that has gone into each one. Knowing that you haven’t just gone out and bought “something nice”. But once you have made it, it needs to be wrapped and gifted.

After all the time you have taken to handmake a present, rushing out to buy supermarket wrapping paper isn’t really going to do your handiwork justice. So how do you wrap your handmade items using items you already have and not create excess waste?

You could wrap your gift in leftover fabric

alternative gift wrapping with fabric

Image from here

Or you could use newspaperalternative wrapping newspaper

Or old books

Alternative wrapping paper

Brown paper works well as you only have to buy one roll and then personalise it for each occassion.

alternative wrapping

And let’s not forget those yummy hobnobs from yesterday. Why not use a paper plate to wrap those?

paper plate wrapping

If you’ve been inspired by these, why not check out my Pinterest Gift Wrapping board for more ideas?

 

Homemade Hobnobs

Yesterday I shared some of my favourite upcycled gift ideas. However, I think there’s nothing quite like receiving some nice biscuits at Christmas. Maybe that’s because I’m too tight frugal to buy nice biscuits very often during the year? If there’s nothing quite like receiving nice biscuits then homemade biscuits goes one step further.

This is not my recipe and I could never claim it to be. This recipe came from a poster on the MSE forums. It’s quick, it’s easy, you’ll have most of the ingredients already and most of all it’s yummy! I’m sure you can already think of a few people who would appreciate homemade hobnobs for Christmas. So let’s get to it

Recipe

8oz Self Raising Flour
8oz Sugar
8oz porridge oats
8oz Margarine
1tbsp golden syrup
1tbsp hot water
1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Method

Mix the flour, oats and sugar.
Melt the margarine, syrup and water in a pan.
Stir in bicarbonate of soda and add to the dry mix
Mix well

Take some of the mixture and make into a smallish ball
Put the balls of mixture onto a greased baking tray and flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake in the oven at 180*C for 15mins or until golden brown in colour.
Allow to cool on the tray
homemade biscuits
Whenever I make a batch of these I have to hide some so that they don’t all get eaten in one go. Everyone in my family loves these. I keep them in the biscuit tin (a promoted chocolate selection tin) but to be honest they don’t last more than 3 days in my house.
Homemade hobnobs
When giving as a present (if you manage not to eat them!), wrap them in greaseproof paper and tie with raffia or ribbon, whichever you have handy. You’ll be the most popular visitor all Christmas.

Hobnobs wrapped as gifts

Tomorrow

Tomorrow sees the kiddies go back to school. Little Lady goes into juniors and D starts afternoons in the school’s nursery class. I will miss them. A lot. Yes they are pains in the bum sometimes but they are MY pains in the bum and I love spending time with them. Little Lady can’t wait to go back tomorrow and see all her friends. D on the other hand, doesn’t like change. The new classroom, new teacher and new routine is a bit overwhelming for him so I’m sure we will have a few tears tomorrow (and not just from me!).

I hope the extra time for me means I can get a few things done, tick a few things off a never ending list. There are doors to be painted, rooms to be re-painted, fabric to be made into gorgeous items. ๐Ÿ˜€

But that’s not what I came here to write about. Tomorrow also sees the start of a year long “buy no new clothes” challenge for me. I have been half heartedly decluttering the house for over a year now. I am getting there, albeit slowly. Then I read this post. Since working at a local hospice, this subject has been weighing on my mind. When I die (and with God’s grace that won’t be for many, many years yet) someone will have to sort through my things. This thought has helped me while decluttering but it’s still not enough. We as people, buy so much stuff. So much unneccessary stuff! Because we can. Because we are taught to believe that we need all the stuff.

I then saw this article on facebook and it got me thinking again about clothes. All four of us here have wardrobes that are fit to bursting and yet we all tend to wear the same handful of items more than others.

We have spent this week sorting out school uniforms. Our school has the same polo shirts and jumpers for girls and boys so D has Little Lady’s polo shirts as she grows out of them. The trousers we bought him last year still fit him though and Little Lady still has one winter dress and two summer dresses that still fit her. We were also gifted some skirts that we have put away as they were a bit big for her. The dresses that were too small have been passed on to a friend who has a little girl a few years younger. So for this coming school year all we have needed to buy was school shoes.

Jen Gale who was looking for a new challenge, 3 years after having spending a year buying nothing new, suggested a buy no new clothes challenge and I was very keen to get on board with this. Starting tomorrow I will buy no new clothes for me, hubby or the kids. There are exceptions and rules however, and these are as follows:

  • 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.

So that’s my new challenge. It would be great if anyone else wants to join me and Jen in this year long challenge. You can set your own rules to suit you and your family. Could you do it?

With a little help from my friends

It has been a busy week her at alifetimeofdiy. Hubby and I have been running a week long holiday club at our church. Though it’s only 2 hours a day for 5 days and a 45min service on Sunday, it takes weeks of planning.

Months before the holiday club I need to come up with a theme. This year I chose Superheroes as what kid doesn’t like superheroes? Personally I’m not “up” on superheroes so I spent hours researching superheroes and their powers in order to chose which ones to use each day. Once the superhero had been chosen and the corresponding bible hero, we needed games, crafts and talks each day.

On Monday I told the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt. I had seen an epic cardboard box maze onย Pinterestย and was desperate to use it for the game. The boxes had to be big enough to fit our biggest child (and the adults!!) through so I put a request on my personal FB page and also on my local village FB page. The response I had was amazing. So many people keep large cardboard boxes “just in case”. They know they may come in handy but don’t know what for. I was helping a whole community declutter their garages lol!!

Storing the boxes was a bit of a pain and the church congregation spent a few weeks avoiding large boxes taking up space in the vestry. But when made the maze was fantastic. So good we redid it on Friday as the kids, well and adults to be fair, wanted to do it again!

cardboard box maze
The maze was epic but what on earth were we going to do with the boxes once we had finished with them? They were too big and too many to put in the recycling. We had cut entrances into them so they couldn’t be reused as boxes and we couldn’t possibly store them any longer.

I wanted to get rid of them responsibly. We reused some to make 3 Goliath’s for another game and used some to protect the carpet while we did messy games. But we still had so much left to dispose of.

A friend of mine has her own craft business and I asked her if she wanted to take some for packaging. It was an offer that benefitted both of us. She gladly used recycled cardboard for packaging and took everything. I think her husband was a bit bemused when he came to pick his kids up and was presented with 2 car loads of boxes to take home ๐Ÿ˜€

It just goes to show that a simple question can lead to better environmental choices. I disposed of the boxes without sending them to landfill and she now has a shed full of recycled packaging for her business. Win/win for us and a win for zero waste.

Have you ever had a simple question lead to better environmental choices? I’d love to know

ZWW – my pledge

On Wednesday I told you about Zero Waste Week and it’s theme for this year. The theme is Re-use and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can use that theme in our family life. We re-use a lot of things already.

We re-use glass jars to store food in the fridge. Very handy to write the “use by” date on using a wipe off marker too. We re-use shopping bags and I always have one in handbag, plus a few in the boot of the car for bigger shops too. We re-use the backs of Christmas/birthday cards to use for notepaper and re-use printing mistakes as drawing paper for the kids.

I wanted ZWW to stretch me, like last year, but I also wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a gimmick, that it was something that would be useful in our everyday lives. After a lot of thinking we (hubby and I) came up with our pledge:

We will re-use and re-purpose items that we already have, or can get second hand, to have a handmade Christmas (as far as we can)

As many gifts as possible from us at Christmas will be handmade. This includes upcycling and repurposing as well as making from scratch. We will try not to buy anything new and either use what we can or buy second hand.

During ZWW (7-13th September) I will be offering tutorials on handmade gifts so please do come back to have a look. I won’t be able to list all planned presents as I know my sister reads this blog periodically and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. ๐Ÿ˜€ I also plan to end the week with a giveaway so be sure you don’t miss out on that.

Are you planning to take part in ZWW? What’s your pledge?

Zero Waste Week 2015

Zero Waste Week is fast approaching and I need to start making preparations. I took part for the first time last year and loved it. I have since incorporated a lot of tips and tricks I learned through social media last time around, into our everyday lives. This year it runs from the 7th-13th September and I have the priviledge of being a Zero Waste Ambassador this year. Yay! Go and check out the names I am in with though. Talk about giving me an imposter complex lol! Big names in the Zero Waste/Sustainability category.

Last year I didn’t do very well during the week. You can read my pledge for last year here and how I got on here. On the upside, it wasn’t much after ZWW that we finally cracked the potty training and D has been an absolute star since. So proud of him and his efforts ๐Ÿ˜€

This year the theme is Re-use. There have been a lot of pledges made already and as always there are tips and resources on the website if you were looking to join in. You can find the website here. Rae, the lovely lady behind all this has even given a list of ideas to start you off. They include:

 

  • Reuse shopping bags
  • Reuse foil for zero waste lunches
  • Reuse jars for storage
  • Reuse leftovers as ingredients
  • Reuse blank paper for notes
  • Use a refillable bottle

These ideas are so simple yet so effective. Here in Wales (and Scotland now too) we already have the 5p carrier bag tax charge so reusing shopping bags is second nature to most people here now. I believe the charge is coming to England in October so what a perfect way to prepare yourself than to practice during ZWW?

 

Make Do and Mend-able Back to Basics

i have been a big fan of Jen Gale since the end of 2012 when I caught wind of her Buy Nothing New year. Since then she has been promoting the idea of Make Do And Mend everywhere she can.

Now with her own Make Do and Mend-able website and host of #makedoandmendhour on Twitter (Thursday 8-9pm if you are interested) she has also put together her own book!

  

The book is made up of 19 chapters, each one written by different contributors. The book isn’t one that is meant to be read like a novel, but more as an instruction manual, an Essential Guide to Make do and Mend, as the tag line says. Topics range from how to sew on a button 

 

To how to replace a plug

 

 

The book is a back-to-basics guide and as such the sewing chapters were a bit basic for me. However they are ideal for people who are beginners or those who are coming back to sewing after a break. It’s not just sewing though. There is something to learn for everyone. I loved reading how to unpick old woollens and re-use the yarn as I hate the wibbly-wobbly effect you are left with. 

 

 

There are a number of projects in this book and I รข looking forward to having a go at some of them.

This is a fab book to have at home on your e-reader or tablet and I would definitely recommend it as a present for someone moving into their own home for the first time – think students going to uni or young adults leaving home for the first time, as well as for people like me who just want to live their lives with a smaller impact on the world.

The book is being released on the 21st of this month and is priced at ยฃ8. However you can pre-order it now for a reduced price of ยฃ5 from here

**I was lucky enough to be sent this e-book free of charge for the purposes of the review. However all opinions are my own and I would only recommend something if I would actually pay for it myself, which in this case, I would have bought the book anyway.