Sunday, 29 April 2012

Crafty Bargain

As any craft-lover knows, crafting is back in vogue. This is fantastic for ideas- a quick search for blogs, Pinterest, or my favourite site Cut Out And Keep, brings up a wealth of content. However, as any fule kno, when something is popular, it gets expensive.

My bargain book: £1.49!

In terms of materials, shops such as Hobbycraft are wonderful but pricy. As you can imagine, I use all my usual tricks for materials (try poundland-style shops for sequins and cardmaking, Dunelm Mill, The Range, DIY stores, Ikea for fabrics - and of course only visit Hobbycraft after a major festival, to stock up on the reduced Christmas or Easter stock for next year). Another idea is to look around you. Have you already got something in need of re-use or re-vamp? An old shirt for fabric or a scuffed old chair to paint up?

A project like this could use an old
top you love but is too scruffy to wear.
But in terms of inspiration and guides, it can get super expensive. One popular magazine, Mollie Makes, is £5 new - and, as I read over on Faith Hope & Charity Shopping, back issues can go for up to £20 on EBay! Wowzers! It's a nice magazine but I get the feeling we have a bit of a tulip-bulb-mania situation going on here.

So here is my thrifty tip for you. Next time you go to a charity shop, look in the oversized book section. Crafting was big in the 1970s and early 1980s. Very big. So were the books. You can pick up handicraft manuals covering everything from crochet to metalwork (interestingly, there is less twee-ness in these 70s books than in modern texts) with step by step guides. One of these manuals will set you back the same as a single craft magazine, with as much content as a year's subscription.

Really useful basics: making and adapting patterns
for example.
I got this one for under £2 and it's got a plethora of ideas and techniques. It really is an utterly useful book- for example I am extremely rusty with the sweing machine, and here they have a step-by-step course taking me from hemming some table linen through to dressmaking and embroidery.

This classic design could
be styled retro or modern.

And if the designs are too retro for you*? Why not adapt them- the great thing about manuals is that they usually include instructions on how to adapt and adjust (rather than a step-by-step to one project). Yes, that raggy-dog looks incredibly of its era in green crimp, but if that's not your taste adjust the fabric and the cut of the ears into something more in keeping with your tastes. And with a simple shift dress, the fabric and accessories are everything. All the more satisfying than slavishy copying.

The legacy of this photoshoot is that somewhere,
a therapist has just bought a yacht.

*As you might have guessed, they aren't to retro for me, I'm making everything in its original form except perhaps the creepy matching family outfits.


  1. Excellent! I used to find loads of these 60's and 70's books and mags at jumble sales but not so anymore. Same with cookery and gardening books. I snaffle them if I see them in charity shops now.
    I love them and the idea that you can make just about everything!

  2. I was in a charity shop once and found the exact cook book my mum had had when I was a little girl. I bought it, but the recipes were so gross that I ended up giving it back to a charity shop lol. It's a good tip though, I'll look out for them. I know I've got some older cross stitch books. x

  3. Crafting has got SO expensive! My top tip has to be buying fabric in the form of charity shop bargain clothes! Granny skirts with an interesting pattern are particularly useful! That book looks awesome. I keep collecting knitting pattern books from the 80s because i love big silly 80s jumpers! I just need to learn to knit...

    Foxy x

  4. I've been trying to teach myself to crochet, with not much sucess I have to say. Great book find! X

  5. Libraries are great for pattern books, I use Freegle a lot too.

    Great find!

  6. I might even have that book!
    I do in fact have a reasonable collection of 70's craft books,and agree with everything you say!You just need imagination to modernise the look!I love the pix,generally,and haven't got around to actually using any of the books,but my time will come!!!It's be macrame/crochet/patchwork etc central at mine in the future!
    And o,gawd,WHY is there so much twee now?! Is that what it takes to sell the idea??!Weird!
    XXXXXXXX Fab post!

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  8. So true, crafting can be really expensive. I have a serious knitting yarn addiction - I like quality AND quantity! A tip for finding fabric, particularly if you like retro designs, is to look out for curtains and bedding as you get quite a lot of fabric for your money.
    I've seen the infamous Mollie Makes - some of the information is quite useful, but the patterns are very twee and not really my thing, certainly not at a penny shy of £5!

  9. Creepy matching family outfits? What do you mean? This is how we all dress in my's nice to match...

    Fabulous book, I love old craft stuff. I like cut out and keep too - there is a higher proportion of funky to twee, which I like. Thanks for the recommendation of Simply Homemade - I actually gave away what I think was the first issue in a blog comp a while ago, I maybe should have hung on to that too! I haven't looked at it since, I remember that being a little sugary for my taste too, but obviously this is what's popular. I like making cards too, but lord, the magazines - so so cutesy or frilly or OTT. But then that's what you usually see for sale by card makers, so many borders and fripperies and coloured in teddy bears the thing can hardly stand up.

    'Making' magazine is nice to read, but lots of their projects are a little specialised.

  10. I agree that the older stuff can be much less twee. I've got a stack of Womancraft mags from the 1970s that include all sorts of DIY as well as crafts.

    I do wonder if it's because people had less stuff to waste, and so they things had to be practical as well as pretty, reducing the amount of twee. I do find knitters tend to be far less twee than other crafters, and I'm sure that's because they're generally more practical (and you need a certain level of skill to make anything).

  11. Way to reference the 1630s! (i was literally just reading about "tulipomania") There are so many craft books in charity shops - I've got some great laura ashley ones. I'm keen on crafting but not so much on the pricey side of it

  12. I'm a huge fan of second hand books - interesting, and usually total you've shown here!

  13. Great book!
    Although I not big on crafting. I would wear the matching family outfits one day.

  14. I love old books and enjoy rummaging through my mother's crafting chest when I visit her. I recently found some vintage zippers, as well as amazing men's tailoring books from the 18th Cent., and 70s that I will continue to put to use in future projects. Good post!

  15. I am definitely going to be keeping any eye for crafting books. My problem is that I have lots of ideas but not the time or motivation to get them done. I have some lovely fabric from a vintage fair just waiting to be made into something.

  16. I love a 1970s craft book or mag, there's always loads at our chazzas although I do tend to buy them more for the groovy illustrations as the thought of transfering a dress pattern on graph paper is a step too far for my limited skills! x

  17. Good tip!

    I'm sure I have loads of these books, not that I've eer made anything from them!

  18. I love crafting and I own so many books like that myself. Yet i don`t have the time to do the crafting!


  19. My husband's mammaleh has tons of books like this from the 60s. She has everything from macrame, making styrofoam holiday decorations, knitting, yarn dolls, and animal forms using felt, ricrac, quilting cotton, etc. I especially enjoyed the holiday decorations book! So many cool ways to use glitter, stick pins, sequins, and flat-back rhinestones!

  20. Great post I would love to be more crafty xx

  21. Brilliant tips for hunting down craft books. And wow - what an identikit, cable-knit family!!

  22. Ooh never thought about looking for old crafty books - will def have a look next time! :)

  23. Hello dear ^^ your blog is so pretty! let's follow each other, would be fun :)what do u say?:X

  24. I've got the exact same book! It's brilliant!x

  25. I think that's a good move to avoid the creepy matching family outfits, great post. :)

  26. Great tips, you're right all the crafty stuff is extortionately over price now its so trendy. You cant beat a 70s book and with photos like the aran knit family there they are doubly entertaining! x


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