Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Thrifty Times

On Saturday I realised it was the 23rd of April. That meant it's been a whole year since I signed up to take part in Tif's Challenge of the Utmost Kind to buy only handcrafted and secondhand. Before I joined in, if I had the pennies, I bought what I wanted. Desire was greater than need really. Being skint forced me to think more about buying just what I needed. I reasoned that taking part in the challenge would make those times when we were skint a bit more fun. Mind you we've always lived a fairly thrifty life. The only new furniture we own are the sofa's and fridge and they were presents from my folks. The rest has been collected or inherited along the years as we prefer this style to new stuff.

I've made clothes and worn charity and vintage since I was a teenager. I've always loved to make things for our home, for the Buns and gifts for others, but they've always taken second place to making things to sell. As the months of the Challenge rolled by I found myself really thinking about what I needed and we needed as a family. It became a really refreshing way of shopping. The time I might have wasted in shops or online quickly buying new stuff is now spent making stuff which is even better. I've found it impossible to avoid book and yarn shops though. I've been tempted and given in there a few times, but even so that's been to make things for us.

Wearing the same clothes has been dull at times. Favourite jeans sprouting holes everywhere has been plain unfair. I've patched tatty jeans and made it a feature, rather than chuck them out. My most loved pair have five patches on them. I've also re-discovered my love of searching out vintage clothes, when they actually fit me, before I preferred buying new vintage style. I haven't gone off this idea though, I still love Noa Noa.

I've also started making clothes again. I did treat myself to a great book with tons of patterns in it. I reasoned that made sense as then I could make lots more clothes. I've always loved buying clothes and to be honest I'm getting pretty bored with the clothes I have got, but I just can't see myself rushing out to buy things for the sake of it anymore.

The most important change that has happened as a result of the challenge has been for me to be less wasteful. I'm not saving string and bits of soap yet, but I'm getting more like that. We only ever buy the food we need now so we eat really good home cooked food, no tv dinners. The bin isn't filled up with food that we never got round to eating and the hens, rabbits and Alfie will always help out by scoffing the leftovers.

Thankfully I've always been a hoarder so when I've felt the need for a change at home there's always been something in the stash to make a new cushion cover or two.

I couldn't believe my luck when I found some 1930's curtains I'd never finished lining. The ones we had in our bedroom got so grotty they had to come down and in my stash a beautiful pair were hiding waiting to be made and hung.

Although technically my year is up, there's no sense of it being an end of a year as I like this way of living much more. I certainly won't be denying myself something new if I need it and like it now as plain old desire is good too, but I won't be rushing out to get things I really don't need. I've always got more of a buzz from finding that much coveted thing at the car boot or in the charity shop anyway and making something myself gives me real pleasure. On the whole it's been more about rethinking what I already did so I'm really glad I took part in Tif's great idea. Now I can get back to lusting after a pair of red shoes I've seen and hunt them down.


  1. Well done Lisa, you've proved that making and finding is much more fun and really inspiring to others, I love your patched jeans...have fun hunting for your new shoes :)
    love from Jane x x x x x

  2. Well done, Lisa. I think you deserve the new red shoes.

  3. a really interesting post - you sound good about what you have achieved

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Very inspring. Although, I haven't made a conscious effort to buy second hand, I tend to much more nowadays than I ever did. I really would like to try and make clothes too.

    Hope you find the perfect pair of red shoes. xx

  5. What a lovely post. I don't like shopping for clothes - it's true! A woman who doesn't like the High Street! I wear the same old clothes until they virtually fal apart but what I save on clothes I spend on days out - something for the whole family to enjoy - far better!
    Well done you for sticking to the challenge. TV dinners are sometimes too easy but home made always tastes better!

  6. Well done you. I have been doing similar to a certain degree this year. Thinking very carefully before buying anything - do I/we really need it. We have always had 'must goes' nights, where I make up another meal with leftovers and everyone loves those nights. As with clothes, I have always loved vintage. Being too lazy to get into the loft to go through bags of clothes I have been making do with what was easily accessible - that has been fun, as I have always found that accessories make one outfit stretch to lots! And - my biggest excitement is that I have just started making clothes again. I haven't used a sewing machine since I was a teenager. I have just finished my first dress, courtesy of a fab simple Merchant and Mills pattern, and I am thrilled. This thrift lark is rather fun, isn't it. x

  7. Really interesting post. Well done you.

  8. What a great post and a great idea. Although to be fair my life is pretty much like the year you just have had. Being a single mother money has always been tight i get great pleasure about making money stretch further. Making your own meals from scratch if you have the time is great and having the challenge of making things from fabrics that have already been used is so satisfying. They did so in the war and times gone past i think we can all learn a lot from times past. I love your dress you made what a gorgeous fabric did you make the belt to? Now go and hunt out those red shoes you have earned it girl ;-)) dee x

  9. Great post I too have change my shopping habits enormously. I have just recently bought clothing from the car boot and it has cost next to nothing and they are like brand new. Somehow I didn't fancy the idea before now my wardrobe is expanding but my purse is still healthy-ish.

  10. ooOhhh how super. What an inspiration you are chickadee. Great work and enjoy the hunt of your new red shoes. Loves Ionwen X

  11. Fantastic post - I really enjoyed it. Love your jeans - they look so cool, am definately stealing that idea from you. I love the fact that when you only buy very little it seems better to buy well. Look forward to seeing those red shoes!

  12. That's just brilliant Lisa, really good that it's made a permanent impression on you and your purchasing choices. I prefer the secondhand, thrifty way, it's much more fun and gets you being creative to xox

  13. I am big on patches on patches - I think flowery ones on your jeans are particularly pretty. And sewing and knitting from stash is definitely a good discipline - but to find some curtains in your stash - that is wonderful! Maybe I should go and rummage through mine ...

    Thrift definitely encourages creativity - saving money and living more sustainably are my main aims in life, too!

    Pomona x

  14. great post.When our children were small we had little money and I used to make all their clothes.The phrase "make do and mend" really rings true.
    Hope you get your red shoes.There's nothing better than red shoes.I love them1

  15. so much like a lady after my own heart. i get so much enjoyment rumaging through the charity shops and when i get a day of work, going to the local carboots. Most of the things in my house are all second hand or hand me downs from family members, i dont have money to burn but who cares, you then realise what things mean to you, and you just dont go out just to spend x x treat yourself girl, go on x x helen x

  16. Good for you Lisa!
    I have to say that I'm not very thrifty at all but funnily enough I do always save string!
    Good luck finding those red shoes. :)
    Vivienne x

  17. Well done Lisa on forfilling the challenge,I love your dress and patched up jeans,i decided to change my name as I wasnt really talking about thrifting and every post nearly has been about crochet,what do you think,good or bad move? love juliexx

  18. Hi Lisa
    congratulations - it sounds like you've had a really successful year! I did the challenge, ending last Autumn, but like you I've tended to keep up the principle of it and rarely buy new now. It's a great way of making us think about how we shop and why we buy, isn't it?
    Thanks for your lovely comment over at mine - I really appreciate it :-)
    Happy times to you,
    D x

  19. How great to read about your year, it is a good way to live don't you think! I love your happy photos too!

  20. Hello Lisa,
    My bf Jane (she of the teawaggon)often mentions how much she loves your blog - and i can now see why! (right up our streets!)
    I'm fairly new to blogging so hadn't heard of Tiffs idea, but made my own pledge this new year to not buy a single peice of clothing for a whole year (it's now known as 'that stupid pledge'!)
    It was meant to be an inspiration to learn to sew (which I have - hooray!)
    Fortunatly I didn't extend the pledge to shoes or accessories...anyway, very pleased to meet you! (any friend of janes...)
    fee x

  21. Great post. I have been doing just the same for a while now but just because we are skint and found like you how rewarding it can be finding bargains at charity shops and boot sales. Now if I go into a 'proper shop' and look at the price of clothes I cannot believe how I would ever consider paying £26 for a T shirt! All I wish is that there were more fat people in the 50s as I dont find clothes that fit from then very often! Jane xx

  22. It feels good to have got through doesn't it? Your patches are lovely and your photos show that precious and cherished items don't have to be new. I've continued with the car booting and charity shopping but have had a few 'buy new' moments. Living even a little more sustainably helps I think.


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