Thursday, 8 October 2009


Well it’s nearly the end of week one, and I’m preparing to head off up to the Midlands in my damp-averse Micra. I’ve been at home for the first few days, as I received alot of requests from the London area where I’m based. Firstly I had my market stall in Greenwich, then an invitation to the Knitting and Stitching show in Alexander Palace, a call to see the inspiring Make Do And Mend exhibition at the Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, and a lesson in darning from the fabulous Sybil Goodfellow who grew up during the Second World War.

But now, home comforts will be left behind as I head up to the Midlands via Harpenden, where I’m talking to Year 13 textile students at Sir John Lawes school about my trip. They asked me to come – so I’m heeding the call! They’re paying my petrol costs and a small fee of £20 for the talk. That will help me move on to my Saturday gig – a millinery workshop at The Harley Gallery in Wellbeck, Nottinghamshire, where I’ll receive board and lodging in exchange for my labours.

I’m currently surveying with sinking heart the amount of stuff I need to bring with me. Not only my tent and a sewing machine, but a suitcase full of hats, another of possible materials to make do and mend, a small video camera which I have yet to learn how to use, clothes, a duvet, a blanket, a newly acquired head torch, and the all-important wellies purchased after a downpour the other day. How I’ll fit it all in I just don’t know, but I feel I need to be ready for any eventuality and any request.

Speaking of requests, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generous response of Newsnight viewers and web browsers from all over the country. Over two hundred e-mails so far and increasing by the day. The Make Do And Mend idea has clearly struck a chord. I’ve been moved by peoples’ open spirit – offers of accommodation for help with curtains, halloween costumes, and of course hats! I’ve been asked to help make trousers for a stilt-walker in Sheffield, and to repair costumes for a drag queen in Manchester.

Sadly I can’t visit everyone, so please forgive me if I don’t come to you, and as I’m on the road, I’m afraid I can’t reply to all the e-mails either. They will however all be read, if not by me, then by someone in the Newsnight team.

Thankyou too for your tips – don’t worry, I will pack my sewing machine properly! And yes, I agree with Emily in Glasgow, haberdashery IS a wonderful word!


sarah moran said...

Hi Mary Jane,
Do you have a list of where you will be in the Midlands and on what days.

fascinator said...


Nicola Ellen said...

Oh how I wish I was going to The Harley Gallery tomorrow, but my bank balance won't allow it! Hope it all goes well though x

Country Cottage Chic said...

I heard you on the radio yesterday - what a fun idea! It's a pity that your trip is now or else you could have taken in our "Vintage & Handmade Fair" in Chipping Sodbury in November where all things vintage & lots of handmade goodies using vintage fabrics etc will be up for sale.

Good luck with your adventures!

Floss said...

Hello there - I 'make' my way around France (that's what my blog name means in French, basically), and unfortunately we don't subscribe to UK TV, so I will be getting all my 'fixes' from your blog - thanks so much for setting it up!

Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

Hi Mary Jane,
I completely agree with Jayne's comment above (Country Cottage Chic) - there are a whole band of blogging ladies who share your passion for recycling and making-over, along with shopping at flea markets for vintage much so that Jayne and Michele organised a fair, (Novembers being the 3rd one) to celebrate the mutual love that we all share for old over new.
I think what you are doing to promote making-do is fabulous and wish you every success with the challenge,