Objects old, vintage, hand made or upcyled, and old techniques with a modern twist

Posts tagged ‘make do and mend’

Decorated Clothes Pegs DIY


With the (mostly) summery weather in England at this time of year, it is nice to hang the laundry in the garden to dry. The humble clothes peg comes in to its own in the summer, a very simple tool that does the job perfectly! I decided to make some old wooden pegs look a little more interesting with this VERY easy and quick DIY project.


Woven cotton fabric- a non-stretchy fabric is easier to use than a stretchy one

Wooden clothes pegs- they are easier to glue fabric to than plastic pegs

A ruler- if you arent using helpfully geometric-patterned fabric!

Glue- I used Bostik All Purpose Glue, which dries quickly

Sharp scissors


Measure the top and bottom surfaces of the clothes pegs, and cut out two fabric rectangles for each peg.


 Next, glue the strips into place on each clothes peg, and leave the glue to dry. And that’s it. Really, it is that quick and simple!gingham-clothes-pegs

I apologise for no lovely pictures of the clothes pegs at work, securing washing on the line in a summer breeze, with pretty garden flowers and buzzing bees… I made the pegs yesterday evening, and today it is raining for the first time in several weeks. I think I tempted fate…

This is a great ‘make do and mend’ or upcycling project, as you can smarten up tired-looking old wooden pegs using scraps of fabric left over from other projects.

Leather and Diamonte Cuff DIY

I was looking through some scraps of brightly coloured leather and came up with this easy DIY project. As only two small strips of leather are required, this is a good way to upcycle part of a damaged vintage leather article such as a glove or leather jacket.



  • Two leather pieces long enough to reach around your wrist
  • Two rectangular end caps/crimps with integral loops
  • Diamontes/crystals (either individual or a strand)
  • A jewellery clasp (I used a lobster clasp)
  • Snips/wire cutters
  • Flat-nosed pliers
  • A leather punch
  • Scissors
  • Glue


First cut two strips of leather the same width as the end caps. When deciding on the length you need to take into account the extra length added by the clasp, jump rings and end caps.

Two strips of leather are used to hold the diamontes securely, and to make sure that the bracelet is comfortable to wear. At this stage leave the bottom strip of leather a little wider than the top piece, it can be trimmed after the diamontes have been set into the leather.


(yes, I have to label my nice sharp fabric scissors so that I don’t absent mindedly blunt another pair by cutting paper, wire etc!)


On the back of the top piece of leather mark where you want the diamontes to sit (you can see the blue dots that I marked on the back of my piece of leather below). For my design I found it easier to start in the middle of the strip and work outwards.


Next, cut the holes using a leather punch. Piercing round holes for the square diamontes helps them to be held securely, but the outer edge of the holes must be no wider than the outer edges of the diamontes and their settings (slightly too small holes are better than too large).


For my bracelet I used individually set diamontes/crystals that came as a strip, and I cut off each one that I needed using wire cutters. To set the diamontes into the bracelet, push them through the holes from the back of the leather, and then glue the top strip of leather to the bottom strip.

For the design that I used it was easier to only set one or two diamontes at a time, glue that section of leather to the bottom strip, and then set the next diamonte, and so on from one end to the other.


Now trim the bottom piece of leather so that it is in line with the top strip.


Next place a small amount of glue on the short edge on one end of the bracelet, and using flat nosed pliers squeeze an end cap closed around the end of the leather. Repeat with the other end of the bracelet.


The final step is to attach one jump ring to one of the end caps, and use the other jump ring to attach the clasp to the other end cap.

blue-leather-bracelet      blue-leather-cuff

Et voila, one finished leather and diamonte bracelet/cuff!




Simple Jacket Re-Styling


I recently bought this (very reasonably priced AND in the sale!) wool jacket,  but felt that it needed a bit of jazzing-up. The lining is a lovely bright pink, but the pink woven stripes of the tweed are quite pale making the outside of the jacket look a little dull.

With the help of some pink velvet ribbon and a bit of hand sewing I livened the jacket up. As the jacket was already assembled, spending the time on hand sewing meant that the stitches were invisible from the other side, which was particularly important where the ribbon runs down the inside of the jacket fronts.

Apologies for the poor pictures, I got a little very over excited that I had finished the sewing and couldn’t wait for some decent light for proper photography…


This was a really easy project, and I was able to reduce my ribbon stash by using a piece that I already had. Projects like this are great for upcycling old trimmings, and the ‘make do and mend’ ethos can make a lovely garment out of two items that weren’t quite so fantastic on their own!

Vintage Sewing Advertisements

Whilst flicking through some sewing magazines from the 1940s and 50s the advertisements caught my attention:

Vintage-sewing -magazine-adverts

There was obviously no shortage of gadgets being marketed at home sewers and knitters…

Vintage-sewing -magazine-advertisment-page

…and as can be seen in the advert below, kittens were used to sell things back then too!

 Vintage-sewing -magazine-advertisements

Monday Mood Board

Jar of silk threads

In this unassuming glass jar live all of my precious silk threads. I have come by most of them when buying assortments of vintage sewing items at car boot sales and jumble sales, and some of the nicest are on lovely old wooden reels. I use these lustrous silk threads on particularly special projects, like an embroidery for a friend’s wedding present, or decorating a silk blouse or scarf.

I think that on the whole stitchers must be quite clean and tidy people, as I’ve very rarely had to throw any second-hand thread away due to discolouration (and I am fussy about quality and condition!). I don’t buy any haberdashery or sewing supplies that smell like they may have come from the house of a smoker, as I’ve found that the smell is impossible to get rid of (sadly the same applies to second hand books). Pieces of fabric, lace or ribbon can, or course be washed, but this isn’t possible with reels of thread, and isn’t worth the trouble with balls of yarn.

It is amazing how many good quality sewing and other craft supplies you can find very cheaply if you are prepared to have a rummage in a charity shop or at a summer fete!

Happy hunting xxx

Wrapping Presents

Wrapped Presents 1

I started wrapping Christmas presents last week so that they are ready to give to the friends I will be seeing in the run-up to Christmas. I really like the presents I wrap to look nice, so it tends to take a little longer than it should.

I particularly enjoy finding slightly different materials to use, such as the red feathers used on the cube-shaped parcel here. Present wrapping can be a great opportunity for upcycling: the wide, textured, red cotton ribbon actually started life as curtain header tape! And don’t tell anyone, but the lovely, thick, luxurious wrapping paper in these pictures was actually free wallpaper samples…

Wrapped Presents 2

Vintage Sewing Kit

Vintage sewing kit- pink   Vintage sewing kit- pink2

The vintage sewing kit that I put together last month (the post can be seen here) was well received by the friend it was intended for, so I decided to make another. I thought I’d use a different colour scheme for this one, and as you can see, the friend it was made for likes pink!

The box used for this kit is interesting- it was one of two that I bought in a second hand shop. There is a plaque in the lid of each saying that they are made from elm that formed a part of Waterloo Bridge (and was removed from the bridge during restoration work). The plaques make the boxes just a little more interesting, and the smooth, satin finish to the wood means they are lovely to handle.

What unexpected things you can find when shopping for vintage items!


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