This month the nation remembers 70 years since the start of World War II, with all the subsequent privations that impressed on the British public.

The Make Do and Mend ethos that prevailed during the war still has a lot to teach us now. Credit crunch or no credit crunch being wasteful and careless with your possessions seems incongruous in a world with a growing population and diminishing resources.

All that sounds pretty miserable, and I’m normally such a chirpy soul (stop laughing at the back). So really all I’m saying is that this is an excuse to don a pinny and headscarf and entertain yourself making things you’d normally buy and repairing things you’d normally bin.

For starters I have a confession. I can’t sew.

I LEARNT to sew years ago, but to be honest I don’t seem to have the patience for it. Ditto with knitting. So whilst learning to sew and knit is admirable and a great idea, I won’t tell you to do it, as I can’t do it myself…

Some tips for modern make do and mend that even I can do are:

  • Build a button and scraps box.

Your Nan, or even your Mum probably had one of these. When you get new stuff with spare buttons, keep them in here. When things are worn out and you’re turning them into dusters (another top tip, more eco friendly than those blue check things) take the buttons off and put them in your button box, you can also often buy cool buttons from charity shops.

Now you have your button box you can replace the buttons on things when they fall off. You can also revamp the look of things by changing the buttons. A plain coat can be given a military feel by adding some gilt buttons for instance.

Scraps of material can be used to put arty patches on things or repair non obvious areas in things you still like. They’re also great for DIY projects.

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  • Rethink your wardrobe

Turn things upside down, sideways or inside out for a new look. Jennine at The Coveted is great at this. Turning trousers into dresses, and jumpers upside down.  I’ve worn skirts as dresses and over the summer I turned a halter neck into a one shoulder top by turning it sideways, but I have failed to get any photos of this particular experiment.

Think about your wardrobe in a different way, just because someone says it’s a skirt doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

This is also a great way to get more wear out of clothes that you might otherwise decide were too shabby.


  • Make something out of nothing

I know my house is full of all kinds of bits and bobs I never use or wear. Earrings, brooches, bits of ribbon, old scarves, faded T Shirts and bobbly jumpers

Clip on Earrings can decorate plain shoes, odd earrings can be used as brooches, ribbons can be used as belts, necklaces, bracelets

If you want to get a bit more involved then scarves become halter necks, old T Shirts become scarves, jumpers can become leg warmers and snoods and scraps of fabric ruffled neck pieces.