I had a lovely surprise this week when I flicked through the winter issue of Oxfam newspaper: my festive wreath project has been featured in the publication! Of course, Oxfam had been in touch earlier this year to ask permission to use my content and, seeing as I’d created it for the Oxfam Fashion blog in the first place, I was happy to oblige.In fact, I was over the moon! It’s amazing to think that my little thrifty project is being printed in a real newspaper and distributed to Oxfam customers, volunteers and donors all around the country. Wow, I’m so chuffed!The feature contains step-by-step photos to show readers how to use scrap fabrics and ends of ribbon to make a funky Christmas wreath. I loved creating this project, enjoyed sharing it on my blog and on the Oxfam website, and now I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s been immortalised in print! Woo!You can find this project and all my other blog posts on my Oxfam blogger profile, and while you’re there, have a look around the Oxfam fashion blog and read all the interesting finds and projects that the other volunteer writers have been working on.
I’m not even going to say the ‘C’ word yet but I know that many of you are already planning – and buying – your seasonal gifts. In fact, I’m heading out to the high street tomorrow to gather some stocking fillers myself so I know that (if you’re at all like me) you’re already making a shopping list. And possibly checking it twice. Which is why I wanted to jump in feet first today with an idea for what to get ‘the person who has everything’.
Photo credit: Oxfam GB
My answer is; nothing. I’m not being rude, but what I tend to find these days is that everyone gets whatever they want for themselves all year round, so they don’t really need anything in particular. On top of this, we’ve all got limited space in our homes. I know how sad it makes me to receive a big generous gift when I don’t have anywhere to put it. I’m not ungrateful, I love the present, but I have like, literally nowhere to keep it. I have to store so many things ‘for later’ because I just don’t have the room at the moment.
So my solution is a simple one; buy something for someone else instead. I’m talking about charity gifts and, as an Oxfam blogger, I wanted to share details of their festive packages in case you’re already looking for a secret santa present for someone who already has plenty of everything. There are lots of Oxfam charity gift ideas on the website (starting at just £5) but I’m just going to mention my top two today – a pile of poo and a goat.
Photo credit: Oxfam GB
Imagine giving someone a pile of poo for Christmas – it would be the talk of the office as a secret santa gift, wouldn’t it?! I love the tongue-in-cheek nature of the gift, but it’s a whole lot more helpful than the name makes out. The gift is a 100% natural mix of manure and organic fertilizer so that someone can grow their own vegetables and feed their family. It also includes training on how to plant crops so that they are more successful in growing food. This means that the family will have a more varied diet, their health will improve with regular meals and they can sell any excess produce to raise money for other things, such as sending their children to school. Amazing what a pile of poo can do, isn’t it?
Today’s blog post is a super-fast DIY project to add a little personality to an off-the-peg high street top. Yes, I’m doing a Primark hack, and I don’t care who knows it! It’s such a quick project that I did it just half an hour before heading out to a party wearing the top. AND I had time to photograph it for you..! Now, that’s quick, eh? Read on to find out how I added a little pizzazz (or should I say pom-poms?) to my new cotton top.I picked up this heart print top from Primark for £6 only a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those oversize tops in breezy cotton so it’s great on hot days, plus it’ll look fab under a cardi for winter too, so I couldn’t resist it. This same top is also available in floral prints, geometric patterns and plenty of different colours, so have a look next time you’re in Primark and grab a couple to play around with at home. I bought the top in a too-small size 8. This is because I didn’t want the top to be ‘too’ blousey and wanted it to sit better on my shoulders. I know that the design is supposed to be oversize, but I preferred how the size 8 fit me and I wanted to add some on-trend side-splits so it didn’t matter if it was a little tight over the hips.While I was out shopping, I also picked up some mini pom-pom trim from the haberdashery. I got 1.5m just in case, but actually 1 metre was more than enough. This cost me £1.65 in total for the trim, and some other colours were even lower in price so I might pop back for a bright yellow soon! I was very excited to turn a standard high street top into something a little more unique so I hurried home to start sewing. Adding splits and pom-poms works well on any cotton or lightweight top, because you don’t have to worry about the stretch of the fabric. Here’s how to do this make-it-your-own project…Step 1. Put on the top and decide where you would like the side splits to come up to. Mark it with a pin, then fold in half down the centre to check that the splits go up to the same point on both sides.
Step 2. Carefully unpick the seam up to this point. I was rather impatient and cut straight through the fabric but if you unpick it, you’ll have a seam allowance on each side which makes turning back a hem easier!
A new campaign by Oxfam has just launched today and I’ve already been rummaging around in my wardrobe this morning in order to help raise money for Oxfam. The ask is so simple and I hope you can join me in supporting such a great cause. From 6th June Oxfam is asking the nation to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marie Kondo by decluttering their wardrobes and donating any clothes not worn in a year to the charity’s Shwopping campaign.
Oxfam will then resell your unwanted clothes and the money raised will make a real difference to those who need it the most and help to end extreme poverty for good. I’m actually really pleased with efforts this morning – I was clearing out my wardrobe at 7am (enthusiastic, eh?!) and had taken some snaps of the process by 8am (see below!). And by 9am I was tapping away at my computer, writing this blog post! I really wanted to share the campaign with you today – the day it launched – because I’m hoping my photos will inspire you to do the same when you get home from work or college later today. At the very least I’ve got a tidy wardrobe now, thanks to Oxfam!
We all have clothes laying in the back of our wardrobes that we never wear and whilst we aren’t wearing them, someone else could be loving them again and, in turn, help Oxfam’s Water, Women and Work campaign for the most vulnerable people across the globe. Donated clothes will be resold in Oxfam shops on the high street, or on the Oxfam fashion website or in Oxfam festival shops. Clothes that can’t be resold will be reused in Frip Ethique, Oxfam’s social enterprise scheme in Senegal or in other countries around the world. And any clothes they can’t resell or reuse are sold in bulk to reprocessing companies to be reborn as mattress filling or carpet underlay. Whatever you donate will be used in the best possible way to raise much-needed funds for the charity.
You can donate clothes to Oxfam shops or take them into M&S stores and pop your unwanted clothes into their Shwopping boxes before you buy something new! You can actually collect ‘Sparks’ points when you Shwop at M&S if you show your donations at the till before you put them in the box, and if you donate a M&S item at an Oxfam shop, they will give you a discount vouncher for your next purchase at M&S – bonus! There are still approximately 114,000 garments thrown away in the UK every hour (can you believe it?!) so taking them to M&S or Oxfam is a much better use of these unwanted clothes than putting them into landfill. Both options are extremely convenient ways to donate to a great cause and will help Oxfam’s “ultimate goal” of recycling as many clothes as M&S sells – that’s hundreds of millions of clothes each year! Just imagine how much money could be raised for the charity even if you only dropped off one thing before buying something new. I really like the idea of a ‘one in, one out’ policy for my wardrobe in order to keep it tidy from now on.
Please do let me know if you do get involved in this campaign and ‘Shwop’ something of your own by leaving me a comment below. And if you’d like to join in the campaign on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WardrobeShwop in your tweets – why not share a photo of your newly decluttered wardrobe too?! Thanks for supporting this great campaign and if you get a chance please check out my author profile on the Oxfam fashion website where I share lots of thrifty DIY projects as a voluntary blog writer!
With blustery weather and April showers just around the corner, I thought that today would be the ideal time to share a super-simple, really fast DIY project to jazz up your winter hats for spring. I have a plain grey beanie hat (I think I got it from the pound shop) that I’ve never worn, so I thought about what I could do to it to make it more appealing. I’ve got it! Turn it into a cat hat, of course.Honestly, this is probably the easiest DIY you’ll ever do and you’ll be finished in minutes. It’s always satisfying to complete a craft project so sit yourself down with a cup of tea and great ready for some serious satisfaction as you transform your old unloved bobble hat into a cool cat cap.
I am forever spotting gorgeous vintages dresses when I go for my weekly rummage in the charity shops but I am often put off from investing in an outfit because it is far too big for me. Last week, I tried on this vintage shirt dress from Oxfam, which was around 3 sizes too big for me, but I loved the (so on-trend!) tropical pattern of the fabric that I decided to give it a new home and see what I could do to make it fit me.
The dress didn’t have any labels in it, so it may well have been handmade in the first place so I didn’t feel too bad making adjustments to it, although that first cut is always difficult, because I don’t want to ruin something that has survived so many years! At least it will be worn if I can make it fit me, whereas it would be relegated to the back of my wardrobe if wasn’t brave enough to make any changes, so I got my scissors out and set to work.
- First of all I put the dress on to see where the adjustments needed to be made. The shoulders were too wide, the side seams could be taken in about 6 inches and I wanted to make it into a knee length dress, otherwise it would be too long for me. So I pinned down the sides to make it fit, pinned up the shoulders and measured how much fabric would need to be removed in order to make it knee length.
I began by stitching up the side seams by following the line of the pins to create a more figure-hugging shape, trimmed off the excess fabric and zig-zag stitched over the seam to prevent it from fraying.
- Instead of taking up the hem of the dress, which already had a perfect blind hem stitched in place, I decided to shorten the dress at the waist. So I cut the dress straight across at my waist point (a very scary moment – I needed to be brave!) which left me with a ‘top’ and a ‘skirt’.
I used the measurement for the right length that I noted down whilst trying on the dress, which was 4 inches shorter, so I cut a strip 4 inches deep from the top of the skirt – cutting straight across again.
I then reattached it by pinning the skirt around the bottom of the top, with the right sides of the fabric together. I zig-zag stitched around the middle to join the dress back together.
Now my vintage shirt dress is 4 inches shorter and about 6 inches smaller and fits me perfectly. After I tried on my new dress, I realised that the sleeves would look better if they were a little slimmer too, so I took in the sleeve seams by about an inch too. So next time you find a dress that you love which is too big for you, don’t dismiss it straight away. Think about what you can do to make it fit, and give the dress a new lease of life!
Today I’ve found out some great news that I simply must share with you all – the Oxfam Online Shop Spring Sale starts today! More specifically it starts at 12 noon and you really have to ‘be there’ at midday to get the bargains because each item is unique – they have been donated after all – so it’s unlikely that you’ll find a duplicate item and once it’s gone, IT’S GONE!
I got an amazing bargain in the Oxfam Fashion sale last year – my favourite pair of lace-up Doc Marten boots. They were practically new and were a fraction of the price of new DM boots. I’d been searching for a pair for weeks and had found that they were out of my price range – even second-hand boots on Ebay were too spendy for me. So I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this lovely pair in the Oxfam Online sale. Luckily they were in my size (so jammy!) so I snapped them up and was pretty chuffed that I was giving my hard-earned cash to charity rather than a store. They were delivered quickly and I was so pleased with them when they arrived; what a bargain!
I don’t want to disappoint you by saying that you too will find a perfect pair of Doc Martens in your size during this sale, but what I want to share is the fact that this is charity shopping at it best: in front of a computer, during your lunchbreak, getting a unique bargain and donating to a great cause. So make sure you’ve clicked onto the Oxfam Online Shop at midday and prepare yourself for a thorough rummage through the fashion archives to get yourself a deal. There will be 50% off Oxfam’s already very reasonable prices and they have divided their stock into size, type and even vintage fashion, so if you’re into genuine retro gear you’ll be able to track it down easily and snap up your bargain quickly!
I know I’ll be sat here at my computer waiting for the sale to open at midday today and I’ll be trying to find a pretty dress to wear for a friend’s wedding! Let me know how you get on and please share your sale bargains with me – leave me a comment below or send me a tweet @Cassiefairy.
Do you want to do something special for your mother this weekend? If you’re fed up with the usual shop displays of mugs, chocolates, picture frames and flowers, maybe you could try something doing different? And best of all, it helps out a charity! So what have I done for my mum this Mother’s Day? I’ve dedicated a square on the world’s biggest Mother’s Day card, thanks to Oxfam.
The card was made up of lots of little squares to be filled with dedications to mums. Once a message was added, the amazing Oxfam artist Lizzie Cullen brought that square to life with beautiful art. Oxfam say “The Happiest Mother’s Day Card was created at a live art event held in London Westfield Shopping Centre, where every time someone celebrated an amazing mum, the painting on our giant card grew and blossomed.”
Dedicating a square to your mother is free, but its nice to include a small donation to Oxfam’s Mother Appeal, helping improve the lives of mums in some of the world’s poorest communities. Plus every message helps Oxfam get one step closer to breaking the Guinness World Record for the most ever messages in a card! There are already over 4000 messages written on the card so it is certainly heading in the right direction! There are 4 days left of this live event so get your message to your mum onto the website quickly! Here’s the link to the Oxfam card website where you can see the card and read all the dedications, then add your own: http://happiestmothersdaycard.org/
Plus if you’d like to give to Oxfam’s Mother Appeal anyway, you can make a £3 SMS donation by texting MOTHER to 70013. Or if you’d rather, you can donate an amount of your choice via their online donation form.
I’ve been thinking about last-minute Christmas shopping and what you can do when you receive an unexpected gift right before Christmas. There might not be time to pop to the shops to find a little something, and there certainly won’t be time for online stores to deliver before the big day. And what if your gift recipient lives far away and the Royal Mail have stopped delivering? I’ve had a good long think about the best way to get a last-minute gift to someone in time for Christmas and here’s where charities come in…
As you all know I’m a volunteer Oxfam blogger and as such I spend a lot of time on their website, so when I was browsing their vintage section the other day my eyes settled on something that I wasn’t looking for at all, but that is a great idea – have you guessed what it is yet? It’s their Oxfam Unwrapped range of charity gifts! You can choose to buy a chicken, goat, health check, mosquito net and many more, all of which can be delivered via e-card straight away. So not only will your gift definitely arrive before Christmas, it can cost you as little as £5 to send a charity gift – that’s less than most parcels would cost to post!
The Children’s Society also provide alternative Christmas gifts with three options – buy a gift for a child in need, contribute to a Christmas party or treat a child to a day out. These gifts are the perfect way to donate to the charity and really make a difference to vulnerable children in the UK over Christmas. Although their last order date for delivery of a gift card was last week, you can still buy these gifts in their high street shops nationwide and could still buy online and tell the recipient that you’ve made a donation in their name. Or simply choose to buy a gift for one of the children the society helps anyway (without it being a gift for anyone) & make a vulnerable child’s Christmas special!
There are plenty of other charities out there who are providing a festive gifts service and if you’re looking for a last-minute gift, I think it’s the ideal solution – or even if you’re all sorted with your Christmas presents, why not just send a donation from you and your family instead? It doesn’t have to be a lot, it all adds up!
On a completely different subject, I am pleased to tell you all that I have been entered into the National Blog awards! It would be best ever Christmas gift if you would stop by the voting site and choose Cassiefairy.com – and as Christmas gift back to you, you’ll receive a FREE Blogging Ebook just for casting your vote Please use this link to vote for me in the lifestyle and fashion categories http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/vote/ (the blog awards site is working on-and-off at the moment because there are so many people trying to vote, so if it doesn’t work straight away, please pop back later!) Thanks so much, and happy christmas!
Over the past couple of years Christmas jumpers have really taken off. This is not new information to those of us who love rummaging through charity shops, hunting out genuine vintage festive knits that your granddad would have worn. They were great for making your friends wince and declare you seriously uncool only 3 years ago, but not anymore. Now the high street is full of them, and cheap replicas of your great-aunt’s fairisle cardigan are everywhere. And with all these copies, you can’t be sure that you won’t wearing the same Christmas jumper as your pal when you turn up at the pub on Christmas eve for festive drinks. So how about taking a little time out of your busy present-buying schedule to sit down and hand-sew your own festive knitwear. It doesn’t have to be a cardigan like mine, it can be any colour or pattern winter wooly and the addition of the festive pom-poms is what gives it a festive edge. It’s so easy to do, takes very little time and provides you with a truly unique Christmas jumper!
You will need: item of knitwear, pack of pom-poms (from any haberdashery or craft shop – I got mine from The Range for £1), thread, needle, pins, scissors
- Lay your knitwear flat and position the pom-poms to create a pleasing pattern wherever you want them to be on your jumper or cardigan.
- Pin them into position so that they stay in place.
3. Knot the thread inside the jumper and bring the needle through to the front. Stitch up through the pom-pom and back down into the pom-pom before taking the needle back inside the jumper and knotting.
4. Repeat with all of the pom-poms and remove pins before wearing your festive jumper with pride!
You can always add any other decorations that catch your eye – perhaps red bows, or a felt Christmas tree ornament for a really garish festive jumper that will delight your friends and family this Christmas!
I’m a volunteer Oxfam DIY blogger and this tutorial has been featured on the Oxfam Fashion Blog so please check it out, along with all of the other thrifty festive articles that the blogging team have been producing this month!
Also, I have been entered into the National Blog awards and it would make my Christmas if you would stop by the voting site and choose Cassiefairy.com – and as an extra treat, you’ll receive a FREE Blogging Ebook just for casting your vote Please use this link to vote for me in the lifestyle and fashion categories http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/vote/ the blog awards site is working on-and-off at the moment because there are so many people trying to vote, so if it doesn’t work straight away, please pop back later! Thanks so much, you’re great
Check out this festive jumper tutorial video from Boohoo