Singing the praises of sewing

The sewing machine came out in the Grant house hold

The sewing machine came out in the Grant house hold

Today has passed in a bit of a haze, thanks to a bout of extreme tiredness brought on by a 2am bedtime.

Whoever thought trying to live a little more thriftily would involve such sacrifices?

And it was thrift (and, if I’m honest, leaving everything to the last minute) that kept me from my bed. Nothing else, I assure you.

I had thought my first week of turning away from the dark side that is the throwaway society would revolve around food or, to be more precise, leftovers. And, to be fair, it probably would have done had it not been for a realisation that my son’s school play was looming and he needed a costume - fast.

Now, normally in such circumstances I would probably turn to the internet to source a suitable outfit. And I did look, just to equip myself with the full facts. But when I saw the price of an Arabian prince costume from your average fancy dress outlet there was really only one course of action left open to me.


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Even I was up to the maths on this one - £16.99 for a costume that would be worn once versus dusting down the Singer sewing machine I bought from Gordon Ince’s second hand shop in Bury Street, Stowmarket, circa 1982, finding some suitable material and making my own.

And that is what led to the 2am bedtime.

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Sourcing the material was easy - I had to buy it but it only set me back £5. I was already quids in.

As I cut, pinned, tacked and sewed, watching the minutes then the hours tick by, I did occasionally, in my mind’s eye, see my finger hovering over the ‘place in basket’ button on all those fancy dress costume sites I had considered and rejected.

But where’s the fun in that?

Instead, I was being creative, using old newspaper to make the patterns for my designs and bringing my son’s very own bespoke costume complete with waistcoat, baggy trousers and hat into existence. It might even turn into a family heirloom to treasure (or maybe that’s just the tiredness talking).

And as I sewed I thought that this was exactly what generations past would have done when they needed an item of clothing. I remembered my mum sewing tartan fabric onto the seams of my sister’s and my flares in the 1970s, during our Bay City Roller years. My husband recalls his parents making rag rugs, giving bits of worn out fabric a new lease of life. I can even remember my mum tearing up worn out clothing to make dusters.

Where has all this ingenuity and money-saving inventiveness gone?

My late night sewing session taught me several things: making your own things is hugely rewarding; the end result may not be perfect but it’s certainly unique (even my son appreciated it); my vintage sewing machine works pretty well. And, finally, I function better on eight hours’ sleep!

? Share your money-savings tips on twitter, using #ThriftyLiving, email me your tips for thrifty living or frugal family traditions at sheena.grant@eadt.co.uk or write to me at 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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