Frugal refresher – make do and mend

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment and those of you who became followers. This is the way, this is the future and whilst we may be trailblazers for a while; the rest of the consumers will see the light eventually and see that over consumption and waste is destroying our world and it’s neither sustainable or affordable. I’m writing the current blogs for people who may be new to this, who may have Googled ‘frugal’ and sought help or you may have found you way here via another blog. I’ve blogged about these issues before but these are refreshers for any of you who may be interested. Today’s blog is about making do, about mending, about using it up and just using what you have, or what you’ve found.

I was inspired to write this as I almost bought a new pair of sandals today. My sandals are servicable, with plenty of sole and they have years of life left in them. I bought them in 2008 and by my standards they are almost new! They are looking very scruffy and needed a tidy up. I bought some brown shoe dye and polish in one from Lidl and have given them a clean up. I need to keep staining them and polishing them until they build us a patina and look better. I think they are good for years to come.

A few more coats of polish and they’ll look much better.

Sometimes we just have to make do with what we find or can afford. I’m feeling a bit ticked off to be honest, it was my school’s leavers’ ball last night and I really really have nothing to wear to it. I’ve been looking out for a dress and some shoes or sandals for years and nothing like that really appears in our charity shops and I certainly don’t have the money to buy a posh dress for one night only. I looked into hiring one and even that was out of my price range. It’s sad when we can’t afford to go to something we really really want to go to. Then I thought of all the year 11 students all over the country who didn’t go to their leavers’ ball (the UK version of the High School Prom) because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them the ticket or any thing nice and posh to wear and it put me not going into perspective. (Neither my son or daughter went to theirs as I couldn’t afford the ticket or the suit/dress/limo hire). I can find clothes to wear so long as they are not for work of anywhere posh. Today, I found some knee length shorts for 50p on the sale rail and they are good enough for me and they will have to do.

The picture isn’t good but I really like them, they are like new. All this coming week is going to be all about what I can and have to make do with, what I mend and use again. Oh, and the new shoes? I did look in the window and I even went in and tried them on……………and you guessed right! I didn’t buy any. I’ll make do with what I have!

Over to you now. What do you mend and mend and mend and keep going? Do you have any items of clothing or shoes that you’ve worn for years and year? Are there things that you’d really like to do or go to but you’ll just have to do without?

Until tomorrow,

Lots of love, Froogs xxxxx


24 thoughts on “Frugal refresher – make do and mend

  1. I'm with you on the sandals – I bought a pair back in 1996 when I was pregnant with DD1, and my feet had swelled in the summer heat (gave birth in August) and I wore those for years – I threw them out earlier this year: she turns 15 soon, so I am pleased at how long I managed to keep them going, and they were so comfy.

    I also have a pure woollen cardigan which I bought from the Edinburgh Wooolen Mill in the shopping centre close to Waverley station in Edinburgh when I went to Scotland on an A level Geography field trip when I was 17. 22 years later (!!) I am still wearing it every winter and still loving it. Quality really does last. It cost me £20 back then, but goodness knows what it would cost these days.


  2. My mom has a cardigan 'St Michael' aka M&S that she is still earing today that was bought in 1988. The label says made in england. It was expensive at the time but the quality has stood the test of time.


  3. I still have a pair of evening shoes I bought when I was in 6th form 12 years back, I'll probably be wearing those out tonight. I'm quite the charity shop addict but have so much to learn about being frugal.

    BTW, do you have any tips on how to get your shoes reheeled cheaply?


  4. I have a problem with buying clothes. I am transgendered and am currently early in my transition path. I'm female-to-male bytheby. So I have some clothes which have lasted me for years whilst living as female but are now no longer suitable for living as a man. I have a few items of clothing which I will keep wearing – but not many. And to top everything off, anything I buy now may not be wearable long term as my body shape will be affected by my hormone treatment. So I have to buy new clothes at the moment. But thankfully I'm small enough to be able to buy things like plain polo shirts designed as school shirts. I like buying these because they're cheap but also designed to stand up to all the kinds of stuff kids put their clothes though. They wash and wear as my mother says.


  5. Everything that I wear is at least ten years old with the exception of my Crocs which I wear indoors as house-shoes, they are five years old. I do have a new shirt bought last week for £5.00 at TK Maxx and I'm expecting that to last a year or two. My bed linen is the same kind of age too.

    I found LOTS of knitting yarn in my garage the other week, so this year I shall be knitting sweaters and cardigans and wrist warmers. I dread to think how much it would cost in today's money, it would have been about 75p each ball when I got it.


  6. Well, I'm a “mender.” I mend clothes when they need it. Since switching to wool socks (pricey but worth it; and they last forever) I have even learned to darn, although not well…yet. I'm also short with even shorter legs, so I shorten my own pants, too. Somehow I ended up with a pair of pants from a friend of a friend who needs them done…..

    I also have a “thing” for wool blankets and have acquired quite a few from friends and thrift shops. Most of them need binding repairs. I've used the herringbone stitch (sometimes called feather stitch) to repair some of the bindings. A couple are really shot, so I'm going to just take it off and go around with the blanket stitch.

    I'm not a great seamstress, but I can mend and alter.

    My sandals are 5 years old and will probably last another 15…at least!


  7. I've got a pair of shorts that are 15 years old and still going strong. They were bought on sale from Ann Harvey (were probably quite expensive when full price)in 1996 when I lived in Nottingham. They have been worn every summer since then and show absolutely no sign of wearing out – and best thing is, they don't need ironing!!

    I've also got two pairs of velvety slouchy trousers that I wear around the house – one pair are at least nine years old, and came from a charity shop, the other pair are 'only' seven years old and came from ebay. I have had to do some running repairs on them but they are certainly good for quite a few years yet.


  8. I'm a mender also, seems there are socks on a weekly basis to darn. I keep clothing as long as possible before trashing/making rags. If I toss something out, it's spent. Much of my current wardrobe is 5 or more years old. At the end of every “season” I do try to pick up a few replacements (esp tops)for super cheap. I have a thick, woolen poncho with a zipper in front, that I made in 1978, still going strong and recently came back “in” style. I received alot of compliments last Fall, and inquires as to where I got it. My reply, “it's an oldie but a goodie.”

    My mainstay sandals are a pair of Birkenstocks that I paid $$$$ for, about 6 years ago. I worked in a school where the linoleum tiles were tore up and we stood directly on concrete. Many, myself included, developed foot issues. These Birks were well worth the $ as they alleviated my foot pain.

    Last Dec, DH and our whole immediate family were invited to a corporate Xmas party held at the Ritz-Carleton. We didnt' go. Can't see the hassle and expense of outfiting 6 people for a few houts.


  9. I have a number of clothes which are easily 10 yrs + in age, I'm just about to start repairing the seams on a skirt that have come undone. I did think about throwing it, but havent found another one like it – its one of my favourites! I also darn, replace buttons etc and yes we have turned down invites – particularly the Xmas 'do' at work x


  10. Most of my wardrobe is at least 5 years or older. Any “new to me clothes” are cast offs from family & friends apart from the skirt I'm wearing today. That cost me £4.75 and blew nearly a months clothing budget, but it has really livened up my wardrobe. (It's an M&S Per Una one that was £65 when new 2 Autumns ago)


  11. My best sandals are over 5 years old.

    Suggestion for a posh dress: I bought a heavily embroidered and beaded black and gold salwar kameez outfit off Ebay for around $20 and it is my “posh” dress for all occasions. I have one pair of black slightly dressy sandals and this will be it for around 10 years or maybe more. I also kept my eye out for black high quality velvet or better velour separates at garage sales and charity shops and they are the other set of go to pieces. I fit in but will never be best (most expensively) dressed.


  12. I have a winter cardi from 1990 which comes out every year
    Local asian shops do fabulous outfits for low prices- I bought one when I moved to Leicester in 1995, still going strong.
    Shoes- get a Timpsons loyalty card for discount on resoling and heeling – but also you can use stick on soles yourself. i resoled some Scholls exercise sandals [having repainted them yellow] with old car tyres
    Mend, darn, patch, recycle, change the buttons – give last years clothes a new look.
    Swap stuffwith friends and for Posh Events, swallow your pride and ask to borrow. I love hats and people often give me once-worn wedding hats – so I'm the “go-to girl” in our church if anyone needs to borrow a Posh hat [my hats have been to buck house garden parties even if I havent]

    stand up straight and wear a decent bra, and you are halfway there! [if you see what I mean!!]

    blessings x


  13. I'm not really a shoe shopping kinda person but I bought a pair of totally irresistible Kurt Geiger black patent peep toe wedges about 4 years ago in the John Lewis sale for £40, and I've worn them every summer since then.

    They've had the elastic repaired on the buckle straps about 3 times, one of the wedges glued back to the shoe itself and they've been resoled too with a 'heel piece'. The wedge looks like wood (but isn't) and they've been scuffed a few times so I've got hubby to use some of his closest matching hobby paint to paint over the scuffs (worked a treat).

    I absolutely love them and I can't bear to think about parting with them. I must have worn them easily 300 times which works out a maximum of 0.13 a time! I think I've had my money's worth out of them but I don't plan on stopping yet.


  14. I took Angela's advice (see above comment)and am in the process of shortening an evening dress, worn twice,to a tunic to wear over trousers in order to update my wardrobe. It's a bit hit and miss because my sewing skills are limited but its makes me feel realy good!!
    Jane x
    PS I love CROCS …they never seem to wear out.


  15. I'm trying to be frugal. Pop gave me a camouflage T-shirt of his to mend the pocket so he won't loose his lighter again. The shirt is so thin, you could read the paper through it,but I'll patch it(like his grandmother use to do) so he can brag about how I mended his shirt,to all of the waitresses and his coffee drinking buddies at the local restaurant.


  16. I'm 30, but some of my winter jumpers are 15yrs old, I'm currently pondering on wether to 'turn right sides to middle', or just to patch for now, a 10yr old brushed cotton bed sheet that is wearing thin that my OH put his foot through. Thanks for the inspiration!


  17. I'm really enjoying your blog which I only came across last week. I'm with you – a make do and mender – I love old and vintage; things with a story and built to last. I sew, knit, thrift, craft, preserve, grow and bake – I'm a bit of a joke amongst my friends but I'm just trying to live a simpler life. Loved your advice about haircuts/dyeing – that's my downfall at the moment £70 for a cut/colour- impossible to sustain that amount of spending. Dare I do a home colour though?! Many thanks, will keep reading your wise words.


  18. My DH has some chino trousers which are 5 years old and in good condition, except for where the hems are a little long and got trdden down and worn through. I just unpicked the hems, cut off the excess and made a new, narrow hem to tidy them up. Very satisfying.


  19. I make do any mend with everything I can, mostly my shoes which I've had for over 10years although I have bought new ones on sale over the last month. Thank you for your blog, when all the people around me are taking the mickey for being frugal – I take inspiration that there are thousands like me out there either from necessitate or just because they love to be frugal. Keep on going – I've learnt so much – thank you. Jan


  20. I'm too fat to buy clothes. My trousers are men's leisure pants, my t-shirt are mens or XXL women's, pants from BHS largest they do etc. etc. I've got loads of clothes I can't wear, which are currently too small for me. On Friday I'm having a gastric by pass and will eventually be able to abandon my “fattest” clothes and go down into the next size. My daughter sorted all the t-shirts out when she staying last time – I have loads. I haven't been able to wear anything decent for nearly 30 years and that's all going to change now. I never throw anything away, so won't have to buy more clothes for quite a while.


  21. things i missed this year
    a family christening, because i would have had to kit all 4 of us out in new gear
    4 nights out because i don't have clothes for these kinds of nights, no party dresses, as i can not justify the cost as they will not get worn often, plus my year 11 leavers prom too

    but by not going, i keep a roof over my head and I get to enjoy days out with my munchkins
    , I am busily saving for my daughters year 11 leavers prom for next year, will be doing it as frugal as possible though 🙂


  22. A big thing we're making do with is our sofa. Its' a sofa bed and my son bounced down on it on one corner and part of the metal framework snapped. It wasn't possible to mend it and all the wooden slats supporting the seat/mattress kept slipping out of place. So currently the storage space underneath is packed full of my magazine collection and various blankets and old duvets. The wooden slats rest on this pile of stuff and support the mattress so the whole thing is till useable. And still very confortable.


  23. Hello! I've just found your blog today from reading Shirley Goode's blog and I'm really enjoying it!

    On the dress front – have you tried ebay? If you search for bridesmaid dresses some gorgeous prom dresses can come up and you can often get them for as little as £10 (not really cheap for something you wont wear much but still a lot cheaper than hundreds of pounds). Good brands to search for are Alfred Angelo and Watters and Watters and Forever Yours – you'd be surprised at what is out there and if you get a bridesmaid dress they are easy to alter as have good seam allowance etc.



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