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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Sewing? I hate it! But there's this lovely man at my local dry cleaner'

In The Red

So, another week's gone by and I've yet to return that Topshop skirt. For those of you who missed last week's column, it's not a terribly complicated story: I missed the bus, my skirt ripped, general annoyance ensued. To be honest, it's not that surprising. I have long nurtured a pathological fear of shop assistants. Also, I never get around to doing what I mean to.

What I have done, however, is to have the skirt mended. Not by myself, you understand, but by my local dry cleaner – and for the very reasonable sum of just £3. I've had a host of other adjustments made to clothes, too. A dress bought for 80p in Oxfam got its first outing this week, as did a similarly dirt-cheap blouse. Sure, at a couple of quid each, the alterations cost more than the items did. But still, it's hardly going to break the bank, is it – even if your bank balance is as low as mine.

Yes, of course it would have been even more thrifty to have done the work myself. But I have few cast-iron principles in my life as it is; if I am to retain one, it will be my resolution not to sew. Ever. This is not just because I don't know how (though that, I admit, is something of a problem), but also because I hate sewing. Hate it with a passion.

This is not as irrational as it sounds. When I was at junior school, they forced you to sew (over-eager PTA or something). They forced you to sew, and they forced you to crochet. For an hour a week. A whole hour. Every week.

But the thing that really put me off sewing? It was that only the girls at this school had this cruel and unusual punishment thrust upon them. The boys, unsurprisingly, played sport. Ever since then, sewing and female oppression have been inextricably bound together in my mind. I am emotionally scarred – so sue me.

Pleasingly, my local dry cleaner is a man. He also does all the sewing and mending himself, perfectly, and for hardly any money at all, really – certainly for much less money than just giving in and buying an entire new outfit would cost. I think of it as a compromise, rather like taking the lift to go upstairs and then walking down.

To be honest, I didn't even know that this sort of service still existed. It all sounds so very quaint and old-fashioned. And I suspect that this impression may be shared by quite a few of you. Since I had my make-do-and-mend epiphany, I have run into two colleagues and a neighbour all doing the same thing.

Honestly, give it a go. It's the best thing ever. Unless, of course, you actually like sewing, that is. In which case... well, good for you.