Thrifty Living: Sewing helps you save money – and work things out

My sewing craze is continuing with zeal, even though after creating two dresses and two blouses (I know, respect) for various "lucky" children, I still seem unable to break through the mighty five-hour barrier. Frankly, I found running the London Marathon a swifter task. This week, after a stint which saw me still sewing at 2am, I was so exhausted the next day I actually managed to forget to bring our dog home from the morning school run. At 10.30am, there he was, poor thing, still tied up outside the school gates. Whoops. He only forgave me after a big toy-throwing session.

Still, I'm determined to improve as a seamstress, and am off this week to construct a "tote bag" at my new club, which promises chat and nibbles alongside the bobbin-threading, so maybe when I'm chatting and nibbling at the Make Lounge, I'll pick up some advice on how to speed up my output.

In the meantime, Ms Phil Kelvin emailed me about "Stitch and Kvetch", a regular night held by the Jewish Community Centre for London which, starting with its peerless title, sounds rather brilliant – you can bring along your own projects, or learn a new one (knitting, crochet, etc), "whilst indulging in some good old-fashioned kvetching". And Sarah Bayley writes in to tell about Handmade and Found, a boutique in Islington run by a sewing "inspiration", Ruth Llewellyn, who makes her own designer dresses. I suspect such gems exist throughout the country.

The great thing about settling down with your sewing machine for a few hours (or a lot of hours, in my case) is that not only do you come out with a vaguely workable garment, but you also have time to work things out. And as Thrifty Living comes to an end (next week, dear thrift-seekers, don't start panicking yet), here is a sample of what I have worked out while hunting for dropped pins and cutting bias binding.

Firstly, that living within your means is all about being in control, and having the power to walk away from the till. I did it yesterday. Went into a shop, saw a divine dress on the mannequin. Tried it on. Was flattered to fit into a small size, but still the dress looked wrong. Mutton and lambs came to mind. Never mind, it looked great on the dummy. I took it to the till, but as the assistant was duly ringing it up, I realised how stupid it was to spend £60 on a dress just because it was small. Pathetic. And so I graciously exited from the purchase. Six months ago I would have bought it, regretted it, worn it once – you know the rest, and it involves the local charity shop.

The second most important thing I have now grasped is to wield choice. Choice to have your hair cut in a classy salon, or not. To eat out, or not. I used to wander around shops like a sort of automaton, as if someone else was directing the plastic to fly out of my wallet every five minutes. I know, pathetic again. Writing a list is part of it, as is actively deciding whether you are going to buy each and every purchase. Obviously huge decision-making sessions about yoghurt in front of the chill counter at the Co-op are probably a bit unnecessary, but you get my point.

Thirdly, if you are going to spend money on something, it's best not to do it wearing a hair shirt. Living economically does not mean diving into a cave and deciding to become a hermit for the rest of your life. By all means, continue that gym membership (as long as you use the gym), invest in a subscription to Vogue (if you like reading glossy adverts interspersed with tiny amounts of writing). But relish it, otherwise it's a waste of money. I refer here to my half-price Issey Miyake £400 winter coat which I have worn for precisely six months of each year since 2004. I think this makes it probably the most cost-effective thing I have ever bought, although it hardly seemed thrifty at the time.

Fourthly, remember that people are trying to make money out of you. All the time, 24/7; the key is that the decision about whether you should give them any of your hard-earned cash must reside with you. They all have their own specially devised pester power, via advertising, freebies, spam and the like, to get into your wallet, and you must do your best to resist them.

And fifthly, can anyone give me any tips on how to sew facing on to a garment?

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

    SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

    £22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map