Upcycle Your T-Shirts


A t-shirt quilt history and directions to make your own quilt. You may have a dresser drawer or wardrobe packed with old t-shirts.

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Jack and Jill Market


jack and jill marketNot a new concept, selling and upcycling second-hand goods but, with daughter and I having used the Jack and Jill Market to purchase most of the items baby Lilly has needed I decided to write about the experience. this is a great way to make some money as a seller or save money as a buyer.

What is the Jack and Jill Market?


The Jack and Jill Markets are based in Scotland and are regular indoor markets where you can buy and sell second-hand baby and children’s goods (up to 9 yrs). A community-based initiative, it started in 2010 when a group of Mums got together and came up with the idea. From large items like prams, cots and car seats to clothes, toys and maternity wear, you can find just about EVERYTHING you need and at a fraction of the cost! There are markets across Scotland and most weekends have a market going on somewhere.



How much of your baby stuff did you put up the attic, or in the shed? Booking a stall at the baby market is a great way of making some money and decluttering. To book a stall, it costs £25. This includes advertising, both online and off, all indoor venues, a 6ft table, a couple of chairs, a table cover, and 4 x spaces in the gallery for large items. No commission is taken, any money earned is all yours!

I’ve spoken to many of the stall holders about their experiences and they were all positive. Most said they made over £200 and 1 lady was delighted with her £600 profit. She had sold some larger items, a pram system, cot and high chair.

You need a very early start to get organised and should check all the details, terms and conditions. Rusting, badly worn items aren’t allowed but you get a free guide when you book with tips on how to set up and sell. Staff can be contacted by email or phone so there’s plenty of support.



Firstly, if you’re looking for a larger item like a pram you need to get there early, these items are hot and go first!

jack and jill market queueDoors open at 10.30, I usually go with daughter and baby Lilly and get there around 10. The queue is always massive, round the corner and down the street. You can either get there early and be first in or, go at 10.30 and be at the back of the queue, either way, you’ll have a 30/45mn wait. If you’re taking children with you be prepared, have snacks, and suitable clothing for the weather.

It costs £1.50 for entry and depending on the venue there’ll be a cafe or vending machine. If you can leave children with a babysitter then do. The Jack and Jill market is a noisy busy place. Navigating around the stalls and trying to look at goods pushing a buggy and/or watching young children is challenging, I’ve seen a few frayed tempers on my visits!

jack and jill market large gallery systemIf you’re looking for a large item head off to the Large Item gallery first, as I said, these items go quickly. A good system is in place for this. Each item has a ticket with the price, description and stall number:

  • go to the relevant stall holder
  • pay for the item
  • get the receipt
  • take it back to the staff manning the Large Gallery area
  • the sold ticket will go on the item


You can safely leave the large items in place till you’re ready to leave.

Now it’s time to move on and browse the stalls and I was stunned on my first visit, You can buy EVERYTHING baby related, even breast pumps and pads! We (daughter and I) decided to walk round the stalls first for a quick glance then get the shopping list out and look for specific items.

The prices varied and some items were clearly overpriced, £4 for a teeny pair of second-hand booties? I don’t think so! The sensible stall holders were willing to negotiate and usually had realistic prices from the start. They didn’t want to be taking a pile of stuff back home with them again!

The stall holders who had taken the time to organise their goods into age groups and had sensible prices were the busiest. Some had offers like buy 3 items for £2, or had put together complete matching outfits.

Tbaby in highchairhis Graco highchair was £10 and in pristine condition, not so pristine now though! The coverall apron was also a baby market item, £!



All the clothes Lilly wears have mostly been purchased at the Jack and Jill market. We’ve also bought disposable nappies, chicco baby carrietoys, steriliser, weaning cups, cutlery and the latest purchase was a back carrier.
Not the first size but for hiking over rough terrain with an older baby/toddler. Only £15, she’s a little bit small for it but loves it anyway!

As it gets nearer to closing time at 1pm some stall holders will drop their prices and you can pick up even better bargains. As I said earlier, they don’t want to be carting a load of stuff back home.



A word of warning, it’s easy to get carried away. Make a list of what you need and try to stick to it. On our first visit, we bought so many clothes and much of it has never been worn. Of course, we can always go as sellers and resell these things!

The Jack and Jill market really is one of the best ways I’ve seen of buying all those essential baby items for a fraction of the cost. Yes, it’s busy and you have to queue but it will save you £100s on retail prices. For more details and to find out about the Jack and Jill markets in your area pop over to their website. They even have an online market now too!

Have you been to a Jack and Jill market? Share your experiences in the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you!



















Dress For Sewing


Not quite what you think! Not a dress to sew but a question, do you dress for sewing? Do you prepare yourself mentally?
dress for sewingIn the 40s and 50s, a woman’s place was very much in the home and there were lots of articles and advice on how a housewife should comport herself.

Some of the advice from this Singer sewing manual made me laugh, but there are a couple of useful tips in there!






Mentally prepare yourself for sewing


Tprepare mentally for sewinghe Singer manual advises “never approach sewing with a sigh or in a lackadaisical manner. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.” Well, I guess if you’re sighing and viewing it as a chore you’re not really going to produce your best work! If I feel like this about a sewing project then I’ll change the project to something I enjoy doing. If I do have to do a particular project then I’ll put myself in the mood by playing some upbeat music and thinking about how I’ll feel when it’s finished (prepare myself mentally). Does some lively music put you in the mood for sewing?

Do the Housework

do the choresCan you concentrate if you have a sinkful of dirty dishes or unmade beds?
I can live with unmade beds, dirty dishes annoy me so I would do these! According to the Singer advice, your mind can be “free to enjoy sewing if all the household chores are done.” It depends what they mean by household chores. A bit of dust here and there, carpets unvacuumed, bath not cleaned? I could sew quite happily without giving these “chores” a second thought!

Dress for Sewing


The advice from Singer is to “make yourself as attractive as possible.”  What does this statement mean to you, full makeup, best dress, killer heels? I don’t think I’d get much work done dressed like that! The reasoning behind this is that you’ll be distracted from your sewing if you are not “neatly put together.” You’d be fretting in case your husband came home or you got unexpected visitors. You are also advised to have some french chalk close by to dust your fingers occasionally, (it doesn’t say why!).

Things have changed a lot since those days! So how do you dress for sewing? Do you care if you’re not “neatly put together?” Does the housework have to be done, including unmade beds? I’d love to hear your stories, please leave comments below!




Upcycled Clothing Blogs


I’m always looking for inspiration for sewing and new ideas for upcycling so I thought I’d share my favourite upcycled clothing blogs. I’ve also got a few sewing and upcycling blogs I’ve subscribed to too, love the newsletters and free patterns that drop into my inbox!

Criss cross baby dressOne of the first projects I made for this blog was a criss-cross dress with ruffled pants to match. (you can see it here). The pattern was free, delivered to my inbox from Melly Sews. You have to subscribe for the free patterns but don’t get bombarded with emails. Around one a month, usually with a free pattern included. The patterns are well written and with easy to follow instructions, worth the sign-up for me!




free baby dress sewing patternAnother favourite of mine is Sew Kate Sew where I got the free baby dress sewing pattern. I didn’t need to subscribe for this one, it’s freely available on her site. I decided to subscribe anyway and again, not too many emails, only every couple of months.




Diaper BagI made this diaper bag from a tutorial at Karen’s blog. It’s probably one of the most useful items I’ve made for baby Lilly and has been in constant use since she was born. I plan to do another one for my latest expected Grandchild, a boy this time! Karen has some neat ideas for kids clothes, not many tutorials or free patterns, but I like her ideas.






the thrifty coupleOne of my favourite sites for upcycling and thrifty living is The Thrifty Couple. It’s easy to spend hours on there looking at all the great ideas! From tips to saving money on diapers to DIY around the home and printable guides it’s a great resource for upcycled living.




diaper cakeThe Tip Junkie is full of ideas and tutorials for upcycling and where I got the idea for making a taggie blanket. I have a long list of projects I’d like to make starting with a diaper cake!







kids activity blogIf you’ve landed on Upcycled Baby Clothes you’ve more than likely got kids or grandkids. Keeping them amused can be a challenge, especially during the winter months. Kids Activity Blog is loaded with ideas for keeping the kids happy. There’s also ideas for outdoor activities. The kids menu is sectioned into age groups making the site easy to navigate. I particularly like the printable colouring pages, a great resource.




Make baby sewDelilah at Make Sew Baby has built a great collection of printable patterns and tutorials. She covers everything from clothes to accessories for the nursery. She also covers baby food crocheting and knitting. I love the baby peasant top pattern and have made that one myself.





These are just a few of my favourite upcycled clothing blogs and other resources I use for helping me craft. Please leave a comment below if you’d like to add to this resource.


Sewing for Charity Projects


Sewing for Charity Projects


sewing for charity projectsIf you’re anything like me and many others who enjoy sewing, you’re going to end up with a large stash of extra fabric and embellishments. Do you go to the craft store and buy reels of ribbon from the bargain bin, off cuts of fabric at 75% off? Charity shop bargains you plan to cut down and upcycle?

You walk into your craft/spare room and start to wonder what you’re going to do with it! Of course, this is all done with the best of intentions and your stash grows to mammoth proportions. Making things for charity is a great way to upcycle and use your stash, so I’ve come up with some sewing for charity projects.

There are numerous charity organizations all over the world that would be grateful to receive donations you’ve sewn yourself. Using your sewing skills this way is a win win situation, you get to do something you love and at the same time you’re helping those less fortunate than yourself.

There is a sewing for charity project out there that will fit your skills and which you’ll enjoy making. You could be a quilter, stuffed toy maker, make baby clothes and toys or just enjoy sewing generally! You can make items, like blankets or pillowcases, for use around the home, anything you might make for your friends and family you can make for a charity organization.

Quilts and Bedding


There are many charitable organizations who accept quilts and other bedding items which are handmade. These organizations range from your local homeless shelters to orphanages around the world. With a Google search you can find charities local to you; or larger organisations who organise shipments of useful items to places torn apart by war, catastrophic weather etc.

If you can sew 2 pieces of fabric together then you can make a scrap quilt or “crazy” quilt. These are made from a variety of fabric scraps like old clothing or fat quarters left from a project and are very easy to make. You don’t need any special sewing skills to make these and by following my simple tutorial you’ll have a useful patchwork quilt made in no time.

Another simple project is making pillowcases and I’ve found this great tutorial video (from the Missouri Quilt Company), making pillow cases for charity. I love the technique used to create the pretty trim!


Stuffed Toys and Fabric Books


fabric bookThere are charities all over the world that help neglected and abused children, donating toys and books is a great way to help. Sewing for a children’s organization is a wonderful opportunity to help others.

Some local police officers and fire fghters carry a supply these toys and books in their vehicles, ready to give comfort to children when a tragedy happens. Children’s toys can be simple to make; like this plush baby toy and handmade fabric books can be easy to sew too; as demonstrated in the video below.

Clothing Projects for Charity


pillowcase dressThere are various types of clothing needed for charity which are easy to sew (and knit if you’re also a knitter). This article gives you 25 ways you can make a baby/toddler dress, including one from an old pillow case!

Search in your local directory for charities you can contact for donating your projects; and also for advice on what is needed more urgently.



Chemotherapy patients appreciate head coverings, and this article describes the importance for self-esteem during these debilitating treatments. Contact your local health authority to find the place to donate these items to. This is another “how to” video on how to make a simple head covering.


No matter what your sewing ability, or your financial status, you can sew (or knit) for charity. Whether you make crazy quilts out of old cast-off clothing, or you make chemotherapy caps for cancer patients, your items will be used and appreciated. So why not start today, dig into your stash and start sewing for charity.

I’d love to hear about you your sewing for charity projects so feel free to leave a comment below or contact me and I’ll update this post with your creations.


How to Go Green at Home


I’ve slipped a disc in my back and can’t do any sewing projects to share with you at the moment. I thought I’d take some time to post about how to go green at home with these great upcycling ideas.

Milk formula cans

What do you do with your upcycled baby formula cansbaby formula cans? If you imagine the amount of baby cans just being dumped and the years it takes for them to break down, that’s a pretty big pile of cans! There’s a pile of good ideas on the Internet, can bowling was one I found here. There are 15 ways to upcycle your baby cans, no excuse for adding them to landfill!

Upcycled sweaters

If you have young children upcycled sweater slipperand babies then in winter you probably spend a lot of time in the house. How about making yourself some toastie slippers from an old jumper. In Scotland we get very cold winters, once my back is better I’ll be making a pair! I’m loving this idea and you’ll find the tutorial for upcycled sweater slippers here.


Christmas stockings Christmas Stocking from old jumpercan also be made from old sweaters and it’s just the right time of year for making them. It’s a time when people have clear-outs and also prepare for Christmas, perfect! You can find the tutorial here, a great blog about imperfect home making!



Another good upcycled Upcycled sweater cup holdersweater idea are these cup holders. You could incorporate a sweater pocket and use it for popping a biscuit in! I found these here, a blog with some pretty cool ideas.



Tin cans

We all use tin cans at some upcycled food canstime or another and there are some great ways to upcycle them. The most common on is as a pencil holder, I’m sure you’ve seen these at some point! This blog has some great ideas, from a simple plain can with the edges smoothed down to the more elaborate organizer in the picture.


Baby food jars

I don’t use them so much these days with my kids being all grown up but there are lots of ways to upcycle them. I make jam and chutneys and found this size ideal when making little gift hampers. I’ve also used them in the garage to keep those screws and nails organized.


There’s some really upcycled tin caddycool ideas like these tree lanterns at inhabitots.





Let me know your upcycling ideas for how to go green at home. You can comment below or contact me I’d love to hear from you!


Alternatives to Recycling


Sometimes for various reasons making your own things isn’t practical, it might be because you

  • don’t have the time
  • lack the skills
  • lack the time to learn the skills

There are alternatives to recycling and upcycling and we can always find ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Eco Friendly Baby Clothes.

Eco friendly baby clothes are made without harsh chemicals and with non toxic dyes. There are many different organic natural fibres used such as:

  • Cotton
  • Hemp
  • Bamboo
  • Soy
  • Wool

Most eco friendly baby clothes are eco friendly baby clothesalso Fairtrade, meaning the producer receives a fair wage for their work. There are many stores now selling these products both on the high street and online. Hudson Baby Clothes are an ethical company and sell a cute range of organic baby clothes in bamboo and cotton, at affordable prices. A Google Search will find tons of results, lots to choose from!

Modern Cloth Nappies.

Decisions decisions, disposable or cloth nappies? For cost effectiveness modern cloth nappies are the way to go. Having said that, many parents opt for both, disposables for outings and cloth for at home. These days cloth nappies are sold as “systems.” No more learning how to fold them and chaffed legs from rubber pant elastic! Check out the Charlie Banana 2-in-1 Reusable Diapering System link to see what a modern cloth nappy looks like.

For disposables Naty Babycare Diapers are the most well known. Bleach free and in a wide range of sizes these will help keep your baby free of the dreaded nappy rash! Their products are 100% renewable so a very eco friendly disposable nappy to buy.

Eco Friendly Baby Toys.

I’ve written a couple of tutorials for making your own baby toys from scrap fabric like this taggie blanket and plush baby toy. Again not everyone has time to do this but there are many companies now producing eco friendly baby toys. Ethical Superstore based in the UK stock a wide range of toys amongst a wide range of ethical goods. In the US Amazon is a good source of eco friendly baby toys.

And Lastly

Another often forgotten about alternative to recyling is to buy your baby items from charity shops. Many of these items are like new, as you know babys don’t stay the same size for long. Second hand baby markets are also a good source of items for your baby. I’ve used these myself and seen everything being sold, from pram systems right down to booties, toiletries and toys.

Happy Shopping!




The History of Patchwork Quilting


In my tutorial “How to Patchwork Quilt” I gave a brief description of patchwork and quilting. This article delves into the history of patchwork quilting.

Ancient Eygpt

The word quilt is derived from the Latin word Culcita, meaning a cushion or mattress that has been stuffed.

Patchwork and Quilting is thought to have been around as far back as 980 BC. A quilted funeral canopy was found in the tomb of the Egyptian queen Queen Esi-mem-kev, who was thought to have lived around 980 BC. Another example is a carved ivory figure discovered in 1903. It was a Pharaoh from the first dynasty of Egypt, (around 3400 BC) who is wearing what appears to be a quilted mantle.

A quilted rug was found in a Scythian chieftain’s tomb. (Koslow Scientific Expedition, 1924 to 1926). Carbon dating indicates the age to be around the 4th or 5th century B.C. and it is believed to be the oldest example of a quilted rug. Once cleaned it was seen to have a beautiful range of colours, soft blue and greens, rich reds and gold. It has an elaborate pattern which is still used in carpets today.

There are only a very few examples from these earlier dates but a good indicator that patchwork and quilting has been around for a very long time!

Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Only the odd item has been found from the medieval period but gives evidence of armour being made of quilted leather, linen padded with rags/straw/sheep’s wool and sometimes reinforced with metal. These were thought to have been worn by William the Conqueror and his Crusaders, not just for protection but also for warmth.

(Bayeux Tapestry scene51 Battle of Hastings Norman knights and archers” by Myrabella – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Bayeux Tapestry

In Europe, as the climate became colder the use of quilts for bedding became more popular. This gave rise to the development of embellishing simple cloth with design and decorative stitches. Pilgrims to America took this tradition of making quilts this way with them.

As time moved on to the Renaissance period, decorative quilted clothing became more popular and quilted bed covers were a luxury items used among the wealthy.

17th Century Onwards

From the 17th century onwards we know more about the history of patchwork quilting as more items have survived. The earliest surviving dated patchwork bedcover is known as the 1780 silk coverlet. It was discovered in 2000 and now belongs to the Quilters Guild of the British Isles. It has the initials E H and the date 1718 in the centre block but no details about the maker can be found. The blocks have motifs with flowers, hearts, pheasants, deer, cats, swans, lions and a unicorn and geometric designs. It is a beautiful piece of work, unfortunately due to copyright I can’t show it here but follow the link above and you can see it in all its glory!

Averil Colby

Averil Colby (1900–1983) was an influential quilter well known for her “foraging” of fabrics; an early upcycler! She believed that patchwork was a great way to teach hand sewing and didn’t believe in using a machine. When she died a collection of her items, which included a selection of floral fabrics was given to The Quilters Guild. It was her foraging for these fabric samples that helped historians date old quilts, most of which were never signed or dated. (

The purpose of patchwork quilting started off for practical reasons. It’s gradually become one of the most popular sewing hobbies today with thousands of patchwork and quilting groups all over the world.

Quilting Bee

Doing the research into the history of patchwork quilting, plus seeing the many beautiful examples has inspired me to learn more about this wonderful hobby! If you want to try a simple patchwork baby quilt check out my How to Patchwork Quilt tutorial.

Nakshi_white quiltWoman sewing a patchwork quilt Geometric Patchwork Piece


How to Patchwork Quilt


I don’t know how to patchwork quilt so take this journey with me and we’ll work together to create a patchwork pram quilt. I have another Grandbaby on the way and thought this would make a great gift. There are plenty of tutorials and advice, I’ve already done my research, and am ready to get started!

I’m going to do this ‘How to patchwork quilt’ tutorial in 3 parts. This will give us time to complete each part before moving onto the next.

I have the materials that I need having taken advantage of the special offer from Hobbycraft (see here) and buying the half price fat quarters (Fat quarters are usually 56cm wide x 50cm, (22 inches x 18 inches)). I’m using an unwanted quilt cover for the backing and some of the patchwork squares.

What is a Patchwork Quilt?

A quilt is described Elaborate Quiltas being a type of blanket composed of three layers. A top layer, a layer of batting or wadding in the middle and a fabric back. Quilting is where the layers are stitched together with either simple or very elaborate patterns. (Image “Russellquiltera” by Russell Lee Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Patchwork is described as simple patchworkneedlework that involves sewing geometric pieces of fabric together to form a large piece. Generally the larger piece is based on repeating patterns built up with the fabric shapes. The simplest form is squares, which you can see in this image.


So, a patchwork quilt is using the pieced patchwork to form the top layer of your quilt.

Of course, there is much Elaborate quiltmore to this kind of sewing. There are some beautiful examples like the picture on the right. (“Korea-Joseon-Bojagi-01” by by angela n.)

I’m keeping it simple for my first attempt by using a basic square patchwork.


Lets get started.

Based on an existing pram cover I’ve decided to make my pram quilt 61cm x 81.4cm (24″ x 32″) with each square being 10cm (4″)

If I’ve done my calculations correctly that means I’ll need 48 squares. There’ll need to be a seam allowance added so I’ll add 1.27cm (1/2″) to each square.


  • A piece 61cm x 81.4cm (24″ x 32″) How to quilt materialsfor the backing.
  • A piece of wadding/batting 61cm x 81.4cm((24″ x 32″).
  • Colourful fabric for cutting the squares. I’m using two of the fat quarters mentioned earlier plus a one fat quarter cut from the backing. So that’s three fat quarters.
  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat (optional, you can use scissors).


The next step is vey important; IRON YOUR FABRIC! For accuracy when sewing the squares together this needs to be done. You’ve cut out your backing and wadding piece so now it’s time to cut out the squares. There are special patchwork and quilting rulers for this, like this one here Sew-Easy Patchwork Quilting Ruler 24×6-1/2in. I don’t have one of these so I’m going to mark out the squares with tailors chalk and a mitred ruler.

Lay the three fat quarters on top of each Fabric choiceother and mark out 48 x 11.27cm (4.4″)squares.





Measuring the squares










Once you have all the squares Fabric Squares Cut outmarked out it’s time to start cutting. Cut along the long length first. You’ll then have 4 separate lots of fabric. Cut along the markings you made earlier to form the squares.

You should now have 48 neatly cut squares ready to start forming the patchwork.


The next step is to lay out the squares in the pattern you want to sew them. That will be covered in Part 2 of How to Patchwork Quilt.

I’m really enjoying learning and will definitely want to do more patchwork quilting. I found this great resource where you can download all the quilting patterns you want – it’s FREE!

If you have any questions or comments about this tutorial please comment below or contact me.











Sewing Supplies Online


Because I live in a very rural area I always look for the best places for hobby craft supplies and where to buy sewing supplies online. Although I make upcycled clothes I sometimes combine old fabric with new to get the desired effect. I always look in the clearance sections to get the most out of my money. This taggie blanket is a perfect example of combining old with new! There are many online stores and I’ve used a few. There are pros and cons to them all but putting it simply…

I like Hobbycraft!

  • They have a HUGE range of goods
  • Lots of special offers
  • Free home delivery on orders over £30
  • Free returns
  • 10% discount for students
  • Click and collect service
  • Gift cards
  • Efficient and easy ordering
  • Buying Guides


The Goods

If you’ve Half price Fat Quartersbeen following my blog you’ll know that I don’t like spending when I don’t have to. Hobbycraft have always got special offers on, like these fat quarter bundles for half price.

There are usually special offers on sewing machines, worth a look whether you’re looking for yourself or thinking of a gift.


Sewing kits are a great way of encouraging bear sewing kitchildren to start sewing. You can make up your own kit or go for something like this cute bear, cut out and ready to sew.

You really are spoilt for choice and I have to keep a firm reign on the credit card when shopping for sewing supplies online at Hobbycraft!


The Website

It’s easy to navigate with an intuitive search facility. Pages are fast to load even with my rural broadband connection. You can join the Hobbycraft Club and get 15% off your first order with special deals delivered to your inbox.

There are guides to help make informed choices, for example, there’s comprehensive sewing machine guide.

Customer Service

All orders have a freepost return slip in case there’s something wrong with your order. On the odd occasion I’ve needed to use this it’s been a straight forward process with refunds or replacement goods delivered in a timely manner.

I’ve never contacted them by phone but it costs the same rate as a local call It’s free if your landline or mobile tariff includes free calls to local rate numbers. Emails have always been answered promptly.

  • Popular items sell out quickly and stock can take a while to come back in.
  • Some haberdashery items can be on the expensive side.



If you’re looking for sewing supplies online then Hobbycraft is the place to go. They cover most hobbies, not just sewing and they are at the top of my list for cheap craft supplies.

Head over there and get crafting!