Saturday alterations tunic to fit 

Hello Dear Reader,

My top is a £10 dress from Primark. I buy dresses and wear them as tunic, if I’d have anted this to be a dress, I would have needed to have extended it with the same fabric I used to make the side panels. 

The side panels are two isosceles triangles (learn your maths kids, you will need it!) and I pinned and sewed right side to right side, rolled the hem and then top sewed the seam.

I purposefully used a contrasting fabric to get the lagenlook. The fabric? Off cuts of a men’s shirt I bought in the £1 charity shop. Cornwall st. In Plymouth, if you’re interested. 

I do this as my hips don’t fit but the top half does. I didn’t want a frumpy baggy top so altered the bottom. It took me minutes and fits me modestly without being tight around my hips.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx


Thrifty wardrobe additions

Hello Dear Reader,
A quick stop today. An easy make this weekend of a kimono jacket. I shall wear this in the warmer weather with linen trousers and a sleeveless top. I really must thank you because you sent me this fabric. You’ve also sent me patterns, inserts from Prima magazine and I’ve really enjoyed making something to wear out of fabric you just didn’t get round to using.

My cotton tunic top was a learning experience. It fitted well but the fabric was too thick and just didn’t feel right. I’m going to experiment with lighter fabrics with an element of stretch for comfort. 
I’m working on the basis that I will get better at this. One of many skills I will work harder on is cutting, I struggle and I’m shaky but will get better. Something that I am good at is trying, having another go and practising.
I’m now off to batch cook for a few days, get our clothes ready for work and put all the laundry away. 
Until tomorrow
Love Froogs 

Making clothes for the summer

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m getting on with some summer clothes! I know it’s a bit premature but I’m a slow sewer and I’m very much a beginner and I want to get things right. 

Here, for what it’s worth, is my advice.

Cut out your patterns, it’s easier to get on and make something if you’re ready to go.

Buy fabric you like – remember, you’ll need around 3 yards/metres to make a dress and around half that to make a top and just over a yard to make a blouse. I aim for linen viscose blends that don’t shink.

All cottons and cotton linen mixes will shrink so I make the items a size larger working on the basis that I’ll lose a size on the first wash. Fabrics only shrink once. I will use man made fibres for blouses, but I’ve only made one so far.

I lengthen my patterns straight away. They are designed for women 5′ 6″ and I’m 5′ 10″ so I add 3 inches to the body and 3 inches to the sleeves. I don’t want skirt lengths to be just below my knee so that’s long enough. It’s essential that I lengthen the body.

Even if I pay £8 a metre for linen, a brand new top, made to my body measurements will be under £15. Not bad for made to measure.

I take my time. I measure, measure, measure. I always work on hip measurements on tunic tops and dresses as I’m pear shaped and I want things to hang comfortably over my hips and bum. 

Make the instructions bed time reading. I read, with the ipad on my lap and look up tutorials and you tube guides to help me understand. If you’ve never worked with interfacing, or anything fusible then look at a video of someone doing it. I always read through the instructions twice before I start and keep referring to them whilst I’m working. 

Always go by the pattern sizing and not the clothe sizing that you buy. Once you’ve made it, it won’t have a label reminding me of my 44″ hips! So what the heck it’s only a number!

Currently, it takes me half a day to make a garment. Make it in three hours is for the Great British Sewing Bee and they have been sewing for years.

I’m busy working on freelance writing at the moment (hence I can afford to make some new clothes) and have a big piece to do tomorrow but I will try to get the fabric cut out and make a start tomorrow on an oatmeal coloured linen tunic top that I’m sure will get lots of wear this spring and summer.

Over to you Dear Reader, is there anything I’ve missed? What extra advice can you give to me to help me with my fledgling sewing of my summer wardrobe?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

How to shorten a pair of jeans

Hello Dear Reader,

I went for a look around the charity shops today and luckily snaffled myself a pair of jeans in my size with extra long legs. I’m tall, but obviously not as tall as the previous owner. I shortened the legs.

Here’s how to do this. 

You will need: sewing machine, a zipper foot, a tape measure and some pins.

1. Try the jeans or trousers on and turn up the hem to suit. Wear shoes whilst you do this to get the fitting right.

2. Take them off and now measure the turn up.

3. Divide that measurement in half and using that measurement, pin it. So, if your hem needed to be 6 cms then your second turn up will only be 3 cms. Pin it securely all the way round.

4. Using the zipper foot, sew all the way round, making sure to sew adjacent to the hem and not on it.

5. Turn the folded edge to the inside of the jeans and try them on, to make sure you are happy with the new length.

6. You can sew some hand stitches to the turn up on the inside so you don’t catch it with your feet when putting them on. 

7. Press the seam well. You can change these at any time and lengthen and shorten as you please. 

The jeans were a bargain for £6 in a comfy stretch denim and now they are the right length for me.

Over to you Dear Reader, I often repair or alter clothes, what would you like to see repaired or altered?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Dressmaking with stretch fabric

Hello Dear Reader,

I have lots of dress making pattern that I’ve got from charity shops or that you have sent me. I really must get on and use them. Dress making, like quilt making is a learning experience and there will be mistakes. This is the first item of clothing I’ve ever made from stretch jersey fabric. You don’t need a overlocker/serger to do this. There are easier methods that going out and spending money on a new sewing machine.

To start, you need to use a walking foot to stop the fabric from stretching. You also need a machine needle especially designed for stretch fabrics. My machine has a walking foot attached that I just drop in place. 

You will also need even seams. The pattern needed 1/2″ seams so I stuck some red card to the machine so I could easily see where the half inch was. By lining up the edge of the fabric with the card, then I kept my seams at 1/2″.

You will also need to set your machine to zig-zag. If you sew stretch fabric with a normal stitch then it won’t flex and move with the fabric.

A local fabric supplier sells knit fabrics for £3.50 a metre so that means I can make a new dress, with the pattern adapted to fit me for around £10. This simple dress took me two hours to make but my time is free.

I’m now off to pick all the bits of thread up off the floor.

Over to you Dear Reader, is anyone tempted to have a go at dressmaking? If you’ve got the pattern and you’ve got the fabric, then you’ve spent the money anyway!! If you’ve bought it and really don’t want to try then give it away so someone else can do some sewing experimentation on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Make your own clothes?

Hello Dear Reader,

I do not profess to be a good dressmaker, but I am improving. I have kept the first quilt I ever made as a reminder of where I’ve come from. It’s not perfect but it’s colourful. I have done the same with the first dress I made. It didn’t fit well. I did learn a lot.

  1. Read the instructions carefully.
  2. Check the patterns sizing.
  3. Check and use the correct seam allowance.
  4. Add extra to the hem/length or shorten accordingly.
  5. Work carefully methodically; it’s not a race and you are not on the Great British Sewing Bee.
  6. Start with thrifted fabric, such as a second hand duvet cover and use that as a practise. Then, when the fit is right and you can follow the pattern, then make the skirt/blouse or onesie for real.
  7. Sewing patterns are expensive, use them over and over and they will be worth every penny.

I also spent too much time looking for the right parts of a pattern when I use it the next time. This time, I’ve divided them into the skirt bits and the blouse bits! I’m going to practise the skirt on some fabric I picked up at a jumble sale for 50p and I shall practise the blouse on some sheet fabric. They might turn out good enough to wear but I may have to adjust the fit. I’ve measured myself and know neither patterns are long enough for my lankyness and I will adjust them by and extra 1.5 inches.

It’s easy to think that we can all just pop into the bargain retailers and buy clothes but they don’t last, certainly don’t fit me very well and I don’t like the idea of throw away fashion. I actually want something of quality that lasts. I hope to have a couple of winter skirts made and some blouses that I could wear at work or with jeans at the weekend. I would love to be able to afford to go out and shop ethically and even better to buy British made clothes. I have a few very well made British items and I wear them over and over as they cost a lot. However, the people who made them are safe, paid properly, can be in a union, entitled to sick pay, maternity pay and a pension. Until, I can add to my wardrobe without doing something unethical, I’m going to keep trying to improve my dressmaking. Some of my loveliest pieces of clothing have that magical label inside “St. Michael” and say made in Britain on them! Of  course, I found most of them in charity shops but they are certainly better made than clothes I could buy cheaply today.

Over to you Dear Reader, who else would like to have a go at making their own clothes? Who else tries their best on an ever shrinking budget to shop ethically for clothes? What about readers from other countries? Are you wearing clothes made in India or China or does your country still have a manufacturing base?

To help you look that little bit more lovely, not that you possibly could, enter the giveaway to win some lovely smellies and the most stunning dusky pink scarf. Please check that you read the T&Cs and check on Friday morning to see if you have won as you’ll need to email me your address straight away.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

1. Enter the rafflecopter.
2. Be or become a follower.
3. Check if you have won this Friday morning and email me, see contact above, by 10 am GMT this Friday 1st August. If you don’t then it will be redrawn. 
4. Leave a comment telling us all about the bargain stores in your area that some of us may not know about. No need to tell us about the national stores.
5. UK giveaway only. 
6. Overseas entries if you would like this to be sent to a friend in the UK.

Saving money on clothing.

Froog’s entire wardrobe, minus underwear. 

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ll admit, I don’t own many clothes and I certainly don’t shop for many either. I tend to buy new clothes every two years or later depending on the lasting structure of the clothes. I tend to wear the same clothes to work, around the house and out and about. I don’t like to be scruffy but I never have to be formal. My suit wearing days are long gone.

I struggle to find clothes to fit. In heels, I’m over six foot. I have a thirty inch waist and forty two inch hips. I would require size 16 trousers to fit my hips which would then mean I have a gaping waist. Dresses and skirts are never long enough. The waists on dresses are too high and the arm pits too shallow. I dread clothes shopping and I can often walk away feeling like a total freak as nothing fits me. Shops make clothes for big girls, petite women and tall women are relegated to Long Tall Sally and one rail of long trousers in Next! LTS is very very expensive and I just don’t like the styling. It’s very formal and business like and that’s just not me. 

My ‘wardrobe’ consists of knitted jersey tops, jumpers and size 14 trousers with a high lycra content for comfort. Any thing low waisted is arse crack skimming on me, so I often end up in Nanna’s trousers from Marksies which are not flattering on a Nanna, let alone anyone under 90! 

I’m sure by now that you get my frustration and don’t even get me started on bras!!!! Tall women have longer bodies and bras even on the longest strap setting hoik my tits up under my chin and I spend all day dragging the cups back over my knockers! And, yes……….I always get fitted! 34F and I have a very narrow back. They do the best they can. I’ve been everywhere except Rigby and Peller and the straps are never long enough!

So, if all clothes are a compromise on fit, then I’m not paying top dollar for anything! I spend a lot of time trying to find affordable clothing that’s suitable for a giraffe and not going to bankrupt me. I buy some clothes in charity shops but again, there are few women as tall as me, with a 34 inside leg, big arse, smaller waist and chest all out at the front and nothing at the back (I’m bloody lucky DB can’t see a thing when he takes his specs off!) I get a few stretchy t-shirt tops from Primark and I can buy Nanna trousers for work in Marksies and I can buy jeans from Next. I usually wait until the sales or I find an online discount code and I buy online and collect instore to save a few pounds. 

Here are some of the online retailers I found whilst trawling for some clothes

Affordable knitwear – look at the sale items Woolovers – longer and great for lanky birds.

Weekend wear – Joe Browns – If I wasn’t saving up for absolutely everything, then I would buy some of this. I love their tunic tops – again long enough for lofty women. 

All sorts of everything – Crazy Clearance  – seems to be a discount store, that sells all the makes in all the sizes. I’m eyeing up this dress…………’s actually long enough for me and affordable. I recently bought a pair of jeans and three tops from them for £50…………which will be my major clothes purchase for the year.

My three new jersey tops all from crazy clearance – those with a pair of jeans came to £50

Finally, I’ve been recommended MandMdirect – a mixture of casual clothing and sportswear. My sportswear gets a lot of wear so it will need replacing very soon. From what I can see, it’s very good for shoes and coats. Mine will need replacing eventually. 

Now, Dear Reader…..over to you. Of course, I use ebay, charity shops and car boot sales but I usually have no luck at all. I also think that charity shops have priced themselves out of the market as the discount retailers can sell me clothes cheaper than they can! So, Dear Reader…..where do you find a clothes bargain online? 

I will update this post over the next 24 hours and add your recommendations. Paste the website address, name or URL into comments and I will put them here for everyone to see and have a look at. Before I do that, you can always highlight the comments and right click and copy and paste that into your search bar and have a look yourselves. Also, Dear Reader, feel free to join in my moaning about clothes that just don’t fit! Who else has their head in the clouds and nothing’s long enough, who ends up cutting off most of the dress as it drags on the ground. Do your clothes pinch or gape as none of us, yes hear that manufacturers, none of us are a standard size.

I feel better for that off my chest!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

Please note – no retailers have sent me any clothes – if they’d like to, feel free to contact me! My opinions are entirely my own.

Froog’s modelling debut!

Hello Dear Reader,

I recently wrote about finding clothes on a tight budget and went to look around a Bonmarche store in Plymouth. They offered me something to wear for the review and this is what I picked. It’s great for work in these warmer days and cool enough to wear in the evenings too. Thanks for the new top, I think it’s great and as I like you all so much….it’s gone into the wash and now I’m giving it away (size 14 UK only). Leave your name and I’ll pick someone tomorrow and send it. Along with an ark that’s been here for ages whilst I waited for pay day to be able to afford to post it. (Thrift Wizard….apologies – get in touch again lovvie xx)

Finally, where oh where is Hard up Hester? If you are reading, everyone is asking after you and we’re all missing you – get in touch love so we know you’re ok xxxx.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs

(Bonmarche sent me the top but my opinions on the great quality are entirely my own)

Wartime Housewife!!!!

Hello Dear Reader,

I am off to the Blog awards on the 28th of September and it’s a posh do in a hotel where I can’t wear wellies and I do have to wear a bra! I went to a few posh shops (including Fraser’s home) and found scratchy, nylony, cheap and nasty bits of scrap which anyone of you could have for about £150! I’m sure I can do better myself!

I must say, the staff in Fraser’s home were lovely and genuinely saw how frustrated I was. I tried on quite a few dresses and most didn’t cover my backside or boobs! Who wears these items? None of the dresses had sleeves, none were long enough and all were too expensive. If I found anything to fit me in the bust, then the waist was baggy. The waistlines were too high, and the arm holes were too shallow. None had hems you could alter to make any longer…………….oh for heaven’s sake I have turned into my mother!

It can’t be that hard! The last time I made a dress, I was fourteen and it was passable by the time I had finished it! I think it took me an entire school term! As I am not fourteen, not gazing out of the window at some young farmer playing rugby, this might not take so long. Dress making is kind of sewing by numbers as the patterns and instructions are well illustrated and so far, easy to follow.

I’m making a very simple dress from black polka dot cotton. If it’s totally rubbish, then I’ll have a lovely dress to wear  in the garden and I’ll go to the awards in my work black trousers and a long sleeved black tee-shirt with a snazzy Yoosta-Bee scarf! I will be making a snazzy Yoosta-Bee scarf to go with this dress! I bought the three and a half yards of cotton fabric for £3.29 a yard in Trago. The pattern was expensive but I’ll use it again! Just like the wartime housewife, if I can’t buy what I need, then I have to be resourceful and make it! 

I’ll also have a modest dress (harvest festival…………..all is safely gathered in!) which will be long enough, will fit me, will have sleeves (although short, I will not have bare shoulders) and it will be long enough. Even the dresses for tall ladies are not the 50″ long that I require to get a dress below my knees. Long legs get me places quickly but they are a job to find a skirt for!

I will keep you all updated of the progress of the blog awards dress. Let the dress making adventure begin!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Scrubbing up for a few quid!

Hello Dear Reader,

Just a quick hello before we head off out to lunch with family. Dress from Foster Mummy, shoes….first heels I’ve bought in years, tights from charity shop but still in pack (I got that hint from Foster Mummy too and now always look out for new tights that have been unopened). Hair coloured by myself, BOGOF from Boots, make up from Aldi! Who says you can’t be glamorous and frugal?
See you later xxxx