It’s often tempting to buy new materials for each new project, especially if it’s a gift. If you’re concerned about not encouraging unethical working practices, dyeing processes or things going into landfill – or simply want to save money, however, then sourcing your materials second hand is an easy alternative. True you can’t necessarily pick exactly what you want, but if you keep an eye out wherever you go, you’ll be amazed what you find.
Charity shops are, of course, a great starting point. They often sell wool – the Red Cross shop in Leamington was a great place for this until the SMB ladies started hitting it hard! Charity shops also often sell buttons, crochet hooks and knitting needles – try asking the assistants if you can’t see any. They are also a treasure trove of dressmaking, embroidery and knitting patterns, either to make, or to hoard until they’re genuinely vintage. You can often find material too – I picked up a 3m piece of black wool for ten pounds recently which is waiting to be turned into a dress, and just last week came home with six sewing patterns for 50p each from a vintage shop in Worcester.
And this is where repurposing comes in too – this pattern (above) is cut from what was originally some sort of gaudy tablecloth.
Car boot fairs are another good source of materials – Zoë is an expert here, finding lots of embroidery threads, wools and canvas by keeping an eagle eye out. And in Leamington, the Really Useful Centre in Sydenham is also a good hunting ground. Above is a beautiful wooden sewing box filled with old cotton reels, buttons and safety pins which I snaffled from there, and Caroline’s sewing machine was a charity shop find, too. Keep your eyes open – you never know what you’ll spy!