Something from nothing, part 1

Sometimes a new haul doesn’t give immediate gratification, but needs time and thought to enable it to reach its full potential. This is particularly the case with the various craft stashes I’ve accumulated over the years. Often I find inspiration will strike at inopportune moments, but wherever possible I try to run with it.

Not exactly a charity shop in the usual sense, but last year I was lucky enough to visit the National Needlework Archive based in the Old Chapel on the former Greenham Common Airbase site near Newbury. The building itself is rather fascinating, as are its contents. The Old Chapel Textile Centre houses a collection and database of textiles from all over the UK, particularly those in community settings, for research and also to promote the historical and artistic value of these items. The building provides space for exhibitions and conferences, as well as sales of donated textiles and haberdashery, which was the reason for my visit!

The sale proved pretty fruitful, adding to my growing stash of vintage fabrics and trimmings, so I knew which bag to rummage in when Small requested a new bag for her gym kit.

First, choose your fabrics…..

A couple of modern ones and a very pretty retro (I’m guessing 1980s!) floral in the foreground.

I tend to be a little “free form” with my sewing, so I trimmed the pieces to roughly equal sizes with pinking shears then sewed them together in pairs on my machine to make two sides of the bag. I placed the sides right sides together then stitched round on 3 sides to make the bag shape, stopping just short of the top on both sides to leave a gap for the drawstring. I clipped the corners then turned the bag through and pressed thoroughly. To make the drawstring casing I folded the top edge down about 1 inch all round (leaving that little gap I’d left in the seams to make a hole on each side) then top stitched  all the way round to make a channel. I made a couple of drawstrings from scrap strips of fabric by folding two sides over to the middle and zigzag stitching in place. Finally I threaded the drawstrings through the casing and knotted them to keep them in place.

I was pretty pleased with the finished product!

As was Small, and her gym teacher!

Charity Supported


  • Fabric and haberdashery, cost approx £5
  • Value after work….I only used a tiny amount of the fabric for this project and I’ve seen similar bespoke items for sale on Etsy for £10- £15 or more!

Pretty dresses for a pretty girl, and a bag of tricks

One of the things I really enjoy about visiting a new town is the opportunity to visit a new charity shop or two! A summer day out to Bekonscot gave us the opportunity to explore not only the model village but the real village of Beaconsfield as well. As usual my attention turned to charity shops and, after something of a false start involving some overpriced Lego, I managed to find my haul! 

Here’s Small showing off her pretty Sugar Pink dress!

And here she is with her jersey Next dress. She adores this one – it’s so pretty and comfortable. Oh yes and that is Phill Jupitus right there in the pic #namedropper!

Just as I was about to land my items on the counter to pay, my eye was drawn to a familiar little dog in amongst the bags. A quick rummage revealed a little Radley bag in need of a new loving home. It was in a bit of a sorry grubby state but for £4 I thought it was worth a gamble. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a “before” shot, but this is how it looked after a run through the washing machine! It was something of a tense half hour (something akin to being an expectant father, I imagine!) but it all went OK and my baby was safely delivered in a reasonable condition!

Charity Supported


  • Sugar Pink dress – cost £1, cost new about £12
  • Next dress – cost £1, cost new about £10
  • Radley bag – cost £4, cost new about £100 (although probably not worth quite that much in its current condition!)
  • Total cost £6, total new price up to £122