5 of my favourite upcycles

I’m a sucker for trying to rescue or re-imagine something that is perhaps less than perfect.

I have bought things from charity shops that I know I’ll be able to repair or upcycle.

You might be asking “What does upcycle mean?”

Upcycling is a relatively new phrase. First used in the early 90’s. Its definition is to “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.”

What’s not to love? Now you don’t need to be a Sewing bee finalist to upcycle. So much can be done with little time, money or resources. By simply changing the buttons on an item of clothing you can bring a new lease of life, spending minimal time and money.

The first of my favourite upcycles is a plain denim dress I bought in Barnardo’s charity shop. It had plain, cheap, white buttons which was making the dress look cheap….(well, It was only £6.99) I already had some rainbow flower buttons, which to be honest, had hung around in my craft kit for years. It was a really easy upcycle and now I know I will get lots of wear out of this dress. One tip is to make sure the buttons are a similar size and they fit the button holes.

The second of my favourite upcycles didn’t require any skill either… I got this beautiful pink animal print maxi dress in a Charity Shop challenge (I’ll explain a little more about those later) But sadly the beading around the neck had started to come away. I had a bag of black beads, all different sizes that my Mum had given to me. So I just started to hand stitch these on to the top of the neckline. I love how it turned out.

Number 3 of my favourite upcycles is a simple pair of denim cut-offs! So nice I made them twice. J A white pair and a denim stone wash pair. Anyone can make a pair of these. All you need is an old pair of jeans and some scissors…that’s it! I ordered a denim ragbag from Refashion UK for another project and these two pairs of jeans were in the pack. I just put them on, marked where I wanted the hem to be and then took them off and cut across the knees. The white pair I made were a bit more tricky as they didn’t fit…way too small! So I cut the length in half at the knees, then cut open the side seams. Then using some strips from the bottom of the jeans I sewed some extra width down each side. I also rolled these up and stitched in place.

Getting a little trickier in number 4 is my patchwork denim bag upcycle, made from old jeans. This project did take a few hours but I think it was worth it. I have a tote bag sewing pattern which I used. First I cut out equal sized squares and sewed these together on my sewing machine for the front and back of the bag. I then cut two long strip for the handles, made the lining from an 80’s curtain my Mum gave me (Thanks Mum!) If anyone’s interested I can share my tote bag sewing pattern measurements.

Lastly is my Charity shop skirt to summer co-ord upcycle. I think this has to be my favourite make. I had a picture in my head for months of what I wanted to make, I found the perfect Gingham skirt in The Childrens Society Charity shop…in my favourite colour. But this took me so long to decide to make because I was really scared of messing it up…so I put it off and put it off….until finally one day during lockdown I thought F-it! It took me a few hours over two days to complete but I am so thrilled with it! I wouldn’t say my dressmaking skills are that good…I’m still learning..But I’m proud of making this. It even has pockets!

So roll on next summer so I can wear it again. 🙂

Anyway hope you enjoyed finding out a bit about some of my favourite upcycles. I have lots of other ideas up my sleeve, it’s just trying to find time to get back to the sewing machine.

Would love to hear if you’ve upcycled anything or are planning to.

Make a Thrift wish list

One thing I’ve learnt about shopping second hand is that you can easily get overwhelmed and be swept away in a sea of bargains. You can end up with ten new-to-you items of clothing, none of which suit you or go with anything else in your wardrobe or closet just because it was cheap.

That’s where the thrift wish list comes in. If I see things I like, on Instagram for example, then I will save it into my thrift wish list on my phone. So that when I do go shopping or begin an Ebay search I am mindful about what I am looking for.  It definitely saves time and money, not to mention space in my wardrobe.

There was  bucket bag and bowling bag on my thrift wish list earlier this year and they’ve both now been ticked off via Ebay and depop. You can check them out on my 10 fave thrifted handbags.

Five things I’m on the lookout for at the moment

A leopard print jumper

A plain white T-shirt (Basics are like gold dust in charity shops but not impossible to find)

Some blue boots (Totally impractical…maybe in velvet to be even more pointless)

Some pleather trousers

More Mom jeans! ( I have one pair from the children’s society and I cannot believe I lived in skinnies for so long…must get another pair)

This list changes all the time…sometimes daily. I’m always deleting things off when I realise I don’t really want it. That’s the beauty of having a list in your phone or on good old fashioned paper. You can see everything and change it whenever you like.

I would recommend a thrift wish list to anyone. Go through your wardrobe, sit down and think about what is missing. What would really add something to, not just one, but a few outfits. Then search on Ebay, save the search to send notifications when a similar item is listed. Work out what your budget is per month, per week or for a particular item.

 Go through your thrift wish list before you head to any charity shops to keep it at the forefront of your mind. Luck might be on your side and you find exactly what you’re looking for. Or something unexpected but perfect for you could catch your eye.

Happy Thrifting!

My top 10 thrifted bags

If you’re new to shopping second hand, buying accessories is a great place to start. Charity shops are full of amazing accessories, from unusual belts, brand new purses and even vintage designer handbags.

I’m a bit of a handbag addict. Anyone who knows me will agree. I have been since I was little. I may not keep every bag I’ve ever owned but I still use a red handbag my Granny gave me many years ago. It is my most favourite, cherished handbag.

A lot of my other bags I have found in charity shops and on Ebay. I use them all, I like changing my bags…it’s an extension of an outfit . I don’t think I can have too many…others might disagree. (My other half…)

I found this pink tote bag quite a few years ago and I have used it hundreds of times. It is a great size, fits my laptop for work, it’s sturdy and Italian made. It was a bargain £18 on Ebay. I just search for tote or birkin style when looking for Hermes dupes on there.

The next of my favourite thrifted bags is this, which I like to think is a Dior dupe. I love the snakeskin design, the shape, the chain and the price! This was 99p in The Children’s Society. My most used bag for a night out… remember those?

This beaded evening bag was a case of rescue and repair. It is a vintage Pandora bag. A few beads were missing on the back but it was a really easy fix. The bag was 99p again from The Children’s Society charity shop. I was lucky to find it under a bunch of other bags.

Next is one of my most fun bags, by Skinny dip London. I love quirky prints, especially anything fruit themed. I saw AlwaysaFashionParade had this in one of her posts…it wasn’t long until my ebay search commenced. I was so lucky to find this BNWT (Brand new with tags) for £20. But honestly it is the most impractical bag. It doesn’t fit much in except your (small) phone, cash and lippy. But who cares when it’s such a fun design.

This David Jones bucket bag was an item on my thrift wish list and it was my most used bag this summer without a doubt. I found this on eBay for about £20, with strict instructions from the previous loving owner to take good care of her. 🙂 I promise I will!

This was another rescue and repair job. The magnet clasp wasn’t attached…nothing a glue gun couldn’t fix. It was 99p from The Children’s Society again. I love the blue quilted velvet and the chain handle. An absolute bargain.

I was on a shopping ban (Lent Reinvent – Where you don’t buy anything & just reinvent your wardrobe during lent) when I made the mistake of “popping” into my local RSPCA charity shop. I’m glad I did as I found this beaded, vintage animal print Hartford bag, which was £3.

Moving on to bling! Since I was little I had loved looking at all the embellished, beaded clutch bags in the shop Accessorize. I am partial to a gem or a sequin or two. I was having a quick look on EBay for a beaded bag around Christmas time and I won this on an auction for 99p plus postage. It’s my go-to bag for a wedding or to jazz up an outfit.

Less jazzy but still as beautiful, this is one of my oldest bags. I bought it at a vintage market when my friend and I got lost in Amsterdam back in 2007. We were walking past a stall when a bloke chucked a bunch of bags in a little pile and said 5 euros each. My friend got a bag too. It’s a handbag I rarely use but never want to get rid of because of the memories. Hoarder alert!

Last but not least this vintage Pollini bag, which I bought from Depop (from Becky at Diary of a thrift addict) I absolutely love this. Similar style and colour to my bucket bag. It goes with everything and it’s a classic, timeless shape.

When it comes to bags and shoes I am definitely not a minimalist. I don’t think I ever will be and you know what? I’m not mad about it.

Let me know which is your fave and if you’d like a shoe tour next…ha!