Style & Then Some

How I learned to embrace the make do and mend philosophy

Maybe I’ve been a bit slow up the uptake, but it’s not until this year that I’ve really discovered the value of making do and mending. Here I’ve compiled my top three tips for not just how to save money, but how to save beloved items of clothing from getting the toss.

Originating in the title of a wartime Government pamphlet, the ‘make do and mend‘ philosophy has been around for more than 70 years, but it saw a resurrgence in recent years, blamed, as with every retail trend or ubiquitous slogan, on the recession (see also: Keep Calm and Carry On). In 2009, John Lewis produced a modern day MDAM booklet compiling household tips, while website www.make-do-and-mend.org gives lots of advice on how to make your clothes last longer.

1. Dye faded jeans

I practically live in my three pairs of black skinny jeans, but with a combined age well over 10 years, they were starting to look pretty faded, especially on the seams, with white streaks on them from washing powder residue. Rather than shell out on several new pairs, which is what I was about to do, I bought a packet of Dylon Velvet Black Machine Wash Fabric Dye and was amazed with the result. All you do is pour the powder dye into the drum of your washing machine, add 500g salt (so cheap if you get one of those big white tubs of table salt from the supermarket), then wash twice at 40°c, once for the dye, once to rinse it out of the machine. They turned out pleasingly pitch black, and I’ve just bought 2 more packs of dye to get to work on my other pairs.

Saving: 3 packs of dye at £5.94 each versus 3 pairs of jeans at minimum £30 each = £72.18

Dylon Velvet Black Fabric Dye dylon black machine wash dye Dylon Fabric Dye velvet black Dylon black machine wash dye dylon washing machine dye black does washing machine dye work dyeing black jeans how to dye black jeans photos

Dylon Fabric Dye velvet black Dylon black machine wash dye dylon washing machine dye black does washing machine dye work dyeing black jeans how to dye black jeans photos

Left: a pair of faded black jeans. Right: the same pair after dyeing.

2. Take worn out shoes to the cobblers

OK so this wasn’t actually me doing the mending, but by taking my favourite pair of brown boots to the cobblers I saved a packet. Because they’re such useful boots, especially in winter, the heels had worn down all the way to the wood and I thought they might be beyond repair. I had seen a sign in my dry cleaners promising resoling for £25 a pair, but when I took my boots in it turned out they could be reheeled for just £8. I was worried the repair might be really obvious but it was so well done that they looked like new again. If only I had remembered to take a ‘before’ shot of these – trust me, they were seriously worn out.

Saving: An £8 repair versus a new pair of leather brown lace up boots = £50 at least

Brown leather vintage lace up boots brown laceup boots photos 2012 vintage brown leather boots

3. Make unwanted clothes wanted again with alterations

I had a gorgeous sequin-covered vintage dress that I bought a year ago that I had only worn once, mainly because I didn’t like the high neckline. I took it to my local dry cleaners in Vauxhall, where they also do alterations, and for less than a fiver it looked like there’d never been a collar (I took it at the same time as a jacket for dry-cleaning and it cost £7.50 in total). I wore it to my friend’s party last week and got lots of compliments, so I’ll definitely be wearing it more often from now on. A word of warning though: when I took the same dress to a tailor in Pimlico last year to get it taken in, they charged my £40. That is not a typo, the alteration cost more than the dress. So just make sure you know how much they intend to charge before you hand over your garments.

Saving: this one’s a bit harder to quantify, but a £5 alteration versus getting a new dress from, say, H&M, let’s call it £20

Before:

vintage sequinned dress vintage black sequin minidress vintage 80s 1980s black dress with collar photo 2012

After:

vintage sequinned dress vintage black sequin minidress vintage 80s 1980s black dress with collar photo 2012

Advertisements

4 comments on “How I learned to embrace the make do and mend philosophy

  1. sophiecha
    November 4, 2012

    I just defuzzed a very bobbly cardigan with a little gadget my mum has. Amazing. Looks like an entirely new cardy.

    • blondekatie
      November 5, 2012

      Do they still exist? I was just thinking about them the other day when I got out my wool winter coat and noticed lots of bobbles on it, but I’ve never seen them to buy, they’re a genius invention.

  2. christopher goking
    May 26, 2013

    I’m dying my jeans now.. 😐

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on November 2, 2012 by in Style and tagged , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: