Make Do & Mend

Hacking Design

The RSA will be hosting an event exploring the notion of “design-hacking” a term used to offer alternatives to traditional design, production and partcipation. This event will be chaired byScott Burnham (author of the RSA Design & Society pamphlet on design-hacking) and invites Dr Otto von Busch “haute-couture heretic and DIY- demangogue”.

Dr Otto Von Busch
 recently completed a PhD which combined a series of projects and experiments to explore fashion activism. His approach invites participants to actively engage in the fashion system and he has created a digital platform called >self_passage< which offers open source projects and proposed solutions. This is an excellent resource for designerspractitioners, researchers and fashion DIY enthusiast’s.

Event Description
As brave designers embrace this new frontier spirit. Design jam sessions of professional and amateur in cities and festivals all over the developed world unlock a creative energy that has, in fact, been ever-present in favelas and rural villages where necessity has always been the mother of invention.

Is design-hacking merely another post-modern phase in the history of design, or does it reveal a civic ingenuity and resourcefulness that a century and a half of industrially-fed consumerism has masked?

I have just booked tickets and really look forward to attending this event. I will update a new posting to summarise the proceedings.

Book Tickets or Further Information

Junky Styling “Wardrobe Surgery”

Junky Styling “Wardrobe Surgery” by Kerry Seager and Annika Sanders is available to purchase via their website. Junky Styling are a fashion brand who upcycle clothing to create new wearables and they offer a wardrobe surgery consultancy service that allows consumers to update their wardrobe using existing garments.

Working with used and already constructed clothing can be restricting but they have engineered this element into their design aesthetic and the overall look of the transformed garment is both stylish and wearable. A must have book for any fashion DIY enthusiast or any fashion consumer. Wouldn’t a few tips and tricks to update our wardrobe be valuable?

Fashioning Now

Fashioning Now, changing the way we make and use clothes is an exhibition and symposium at University of Technology, Sydney 28 July – 28 August 2009. The exhibit features innovative research projects from Australian and International practitioners including three members of staff and research from LCF Prof Helen Storey MBE, Dr Kate Fletcher and Jennifer Shellard.

Fashioning Now addresses all stages of the clothing lifecycle exploring the production and use of garments and addressing how and why they become discarded. The work has been submitted in an array of different mediums from garments,textile objects, time based art, photography and fashion illustration. The designers have used upcycling techniques, zero waste production, slow fashion, bespoke services, traditional craft and many more methods to present a series of sustainable solutions and poise scenarios for further research and development.

Visit the Fashioning Now website which hosts information about the event, the exhibitors and their work. Case studies are available to download and the website will be updated regularly making is a valuable resource for those with in an interest in sustainable fashion and textiles.

Mary Queen of Charity Shops











Mary with the volunteers from Save The Children

I watched the finale of Mary Queen of Charity Shops last night and am really impressed with Mary’s efforts. She collaborated with the charity Save the Children and took on the challenge of making charity shops profitable and desirable. When I watched the first episode I thought what a challenge!

I love vintage and thrift shop fashion so shopping in charity shops really appeals to me. But as they explained the effort they have to invest in sorting through soiled clothing to find the rare gem… I was shocked. I carefully select what I donate to a charity shop and though everything was donated lovingly! I liked the given with love campaign but it did make me feel slightly embarrassed as I should be donating more than I do…

I love the people who volunteered and really felt for them at times. Last nights episode showed the volunteers pitched D-Day (Donate, don’t dump) to big corporations like Google… The finale showed what a journey Mary and the volunteers have taken and I think it’s going to make people think about charity shops differently. The also visited Ravensbourne College and invited the students to sell their designs. One student was upcyling bags through reclaimed materials…

I visited Mary’s “Living and Giving” Charity shop in Westfield’s last Saturday… and I thought it was fab! There was a really friendly, welcoming atmosphere and lots of fashion treasures! Apparently the store has raised £60,ooo so far!

 Its open until the 27th June head down to Westfields Shopping Centre and check it out…

Slow Textile Workshop

I recently attended a “Slow Textiles” workshop by Dr Emma Neuberg.

I arrived with an embroidery hoop in hand at a lovely studio space in West London. Emma introduced Chinese Floral Embroidery and showed us some images to introduce the theme and provide inspiration.

An intro to the historical context gave me a greater sense of purpose and I began to associate a deeper symbolic association with the craft and process. After being introduced to satin stitch I attempted to apply the technique to upcycle some fabric. It was great being in a nurturedenvironment to sew collectively. There was lots of discussion around slow textiles, symbolism and sustainable thinking.

All participants were encouraged to bring a garment or piece of cloth with them for discussion and I really enjoyed this part. Some vintage clothing was used and each piece had a story or detail which reflected something special. 

I left feeling inspired and continued to sew all weekend. I loved working within a shared space and it sparks all kinds of conversations. I think this is a great way to share knowledge, skills and expertise in an interactive way.

Dr Neuger will be hosted a series of new workshops and forming “The Slow Textiles Group” visit her blog for more info.



 will be continuing a series of workshops and forming the slow textile group, visit her blog for more information.

Upcycled Umbrella

I love Burda Style for their open source sewing patterns, tips and “how to’s“…

I came across this 7 step guide to repair an umbrella…
I have thrown away so many brollies (Scottish word) due to gail force wind and rain so this will hopefully allow me to add a little TLC to make them last that little bit longer.
Their website has lots of free, useful information and open source patterns

The Clothes Show – Guide to Swapping

Swapsies – what’s mine is yours

“Sisters, sisters, never were there two more devoted sisters, caring, sharing every little thing that we are wearing…” song by Irving Berlin
Clothing has caused so many rows between my sister and I when we were growing up… never did we think we would speak the words “what’s mine is yours” out loud!

My sister and I are only a year apart in age and through our childhood we were always dressed in the same (sometimes different colours, but always the same clothing). The downside to being the youngest is that she had to wear the outfit longer by wearing my ‘hand me downs’ as I grew out of them. My Mum is not one to be wasteful would get the last possible wear out of each piece of clothing before handing over to friends or charity shops.

We can recollect times when family dropped in clothing that no longer fitted our older cousins. We used to ransack the bag with delight – it was always something new to us and we found it exciting.
As fashion has become more accessible, prices have dropped and people don’t always associate a great deal of value to their clothing. If a top costs £3 and the trousers £5 why go to the effort of passing it on – when someone can buy an outfit for less than £10?
With the gloomy reality of being in the midst of a recession consumers are being encouraged to buy into clothing that is more durable, classic and will last the test of time. Will this bring back trading, swapping and exchanging?
My sister and I’s relationship to clothing has changed and we now work as a team. We recently started doing “swapsies” where I take a bag of clothing over to her house or mine and we trade. Similar to when we were children in the playground and traded sweets  we called the process “one for one”.
I recently came across a website founded by Judy Berger in 2004, called “” –  this online community allows users to upload clothing, while other users bid their interest to purchase or exchange something in return. I think this is an exciting way to update or refresh your wardrobe without spending a fortune. It also brings people with a genuine love for fashion together to exchange style tips and value clothing.

Pretty In Pink


I just watched “Pretty in Pink” at 1980’s movie starring Molly Ringwald, who playing Andie Walsh a poor fashion conscious ‘New Wave” girl, with a crush on one of the rich boys at school. Ringwald’s character can’t afford to buy into designer clothing like her school peers and has to be creative and resourceful by customising her clothing.

I have attached some screen shots of my favourite scene from the movie, where she deconstructs two ‘pink’ dresses to make her prom dress. The movie captures the characters design process in action – the sketching, cutting, pinning, tucking and sewing …

Watching the movie has motivated me to be more inventive with my old clothing and the 1980’s fashion provided lots of source for inspiration. This is a retro example of upcycling in action. DIY