Making on a budget – Making do

I’m trying to get in the habit of posting regularly again and be a bit more connected with other bloggers. So I’m planning on doing a series of tips about ‘making on a budget’ and linking it up with the tuesday tips and tutorials link up that quiltingjetgirl and late night quilter are running.

This series is definitely a series of tips. I’m a postgraduate student living in a rented flat in one of the world’s most expensive cities and while I’m happy to spend some money on my hobby, I don’t have much to spare. When I’ve looked for tips on saving money on craft or sewing blogs, the tips are fairly repetitive. There are tips on budgeting, shopping sales and to collect stuff, and this is fine and useful but not necessarily appropriate especially if you a renter or live in a small space. So I’m going to curate some of my tips on making without space and money.


Making do with what you have

My first tip is to use what you have, especially for tools and notions. This is especially true if you are beginner. While having the best tools will make the job easier, there’s often a work around. This gives you time to decide if this is the technique or skill for you before spending money.

When I took up sewing properly, I was in the lucky position that I had been beading for a long time so had a collection of things of needles and thread that could be used. However I often find reading peoples advice that fairly specific thread or needles are required – but realistically what they mean is it will make it easier. So use what ever you have at least until it isn’t working – then its time to buy the better product.

And this becomes even more true when you stop talking about basics but more specialist tools. I have two main examples, one from beading and one from quilting. When I started bead weaving, I needed something to store the beads I was about to pick up. And there are many different types of trays and mats and pots that are sold for precisely this but I was very young, had a small amount of pocket money and it was pre-internet shopping so didn’t have access to specialist shops in the small town where I grew up. So I ‘borrowed’ the mini tray from my mothers tea strainer (I still have it well over 10 years later so stole may be more accurate). Its nicely shallow but has a lip to stop the beads escaping and even though I now own some specialist trays and mats, I still use the little tray.

The other is when I started quilting, I took a course and among some of the other recommended tools were clover clips. I spent money on things like rulers, rotary cutters and cutting mats but clover clips were too expensive for me to justify at the beginning. I’ve done some quilting since then but less than I planned originally. However on both projects I have finished, I’ve had to put binding on. At first I tried pinning the binding but it was really tricky, so I looked around for something like a clip and found paper clips. They do the job fine, at least for the small projects I am currently making. Actually I use paperclips for all sorts of things, holding fabric together, to hold paper and fabric together when basting for english paper piecing, binding and as stitch markers when knitting and beading

The motto of my stories is that there are other options for most tools, especially modern ones. If makers have made do for centuries without that tool, then you can probably finish your project with an alternative. So don’t wait but give it a go.

Here’s a list of my current make do’s:

  1. Paper clips for holding down binding on quilting projects
  2. Paper clips as stitch markers when knitting
  3. Prittstick (Asda own brand) as a water soluble glue for EPP basting
  4. Cotton wool or make up pads as a stuffing for small toys or ornaments – These can be very cheap when bought at discount shops or on offer and I’ve used them for all sorts of things
  5. Using my beadloom for weaving – yeah this is a pretty specialist make do but I was really interested in trying weaving and by rigging my bead loom up a little differently I have a close enough approximation of a weaving loom to let me do small pieces.


Hopefully this gives you some ideas of places you can save some money at least until you are sure you really need the proper thing. Do you have any make do’s to share?


October 2016


I’m so nearly done with my PhD. The thesis has been submitted and I’m waiting to organise my viva. It is such a relief to not be working on my thesis anymore. I’m still pretty busy with other things but my head is feeling much clearer and I’ve managed to start a few new projects and put some hours into others. I’ve even started a couple of draft blog posts. I’m hoping to get back to a more regular posting schedule.

One other thing I’m planning on doing is to participate in the ‘tips and tutorials’ link party that Yvonne from quiltingjetgirl and Stephanie from Late Night Quilter are hosting. My posts are definitely going to fall into the tips category but knowledge is a good thing so I’ll put them out there anyway.

September was pretty sparse with crafting time, I pretty much only knitted so heres my works in progress:

  1. Socks – The new pattern was considerably better and i’m 3/4 of the way through the second sock
  2. EPP Cushion – One diamond was added
  3. Fringed Handbag – No Progress
  4. Bead Embroidery Purse – I did a couple of hours work on this at social beading group
  5. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – No Progress
  6. A lacy scarf – I ended up restarting this scarf as it is knit in the round and had two twists in it. I’m now on my second ball of wool (again)
  7. Weaving – I started a new piece in order to make a tablet case
  8. Beaded chainmaille necklace – I just started this but its beautiful

And finished objects:

  1. Oven gloves – I finally got round to sorting the binding and they’ve been in use for a couple of weeks.
  2. A beaded necklace – I made the most of some time off to finally make up a necklace that I’d bought supplies for back at Easter.
  3. I did some bead stringing and used some gorgeous lampwork beads I’ve owned for 10+ years. Hopefully now I will actually wear them.

I’m feeling a bit more inspired at the moment and I’m trying to make the most of my free time, so hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me.



This is going to be a brief post, my head isn’t really in the right place to chatter – I’m a matter of days away from submitting my PhD thesis. Once I’m done, I’ll be back to both crafting and posting. I’ve not done too much recently so my in progress list is very similar to last time.

Current Projects:

  1. Oven gloves – Still need to do the binding
  2. Socks – I finished the first sock, and it was completly the wrong shape. I’m using a different pattern for the next sock
  3. EPP Cushion – No Progress
  4. Fringed Handbag – No Progress
  5. Bead Embroidery Purse – Still in hibernation
  6. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – No Progress
  7. A lacy scarf – I bought some alpaca wool when I was last home and quickly cast on a lacy scarf pattern

I’ve not finished anything this month, but that’s ok. As it’s now September I’m starting to think about Christmas projects. I like to make my annual ornament before I get started on anything for anyone else. I’m also likely to have a little more free time once I’ve submitted, so would like to make a few people presents this year.



July was a scarce month for posts, and I’m not sure August will fair much better – life is pretty busy at the moment. Again I’m writing this post from Chester and I have a holiday at the end of the month which should be a good time out.

Current Projects:

  1. Oven gloves – Quilting has been done, I just have to hand sew the bindings
  2. Socks – I’m past the heel of the 1st sock. This pattern has not been very beginner friendly
  3. EPP Cushion – I finished all the diamonds, chose a layout and have half attached the 1st two diamonds
  4. Fringed Handbag – I did maybe another inch
  5. Bead Embroidery Purse – This is still in hibernation for the moment
  6. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – again I’ve not managed to make any new block

Finished Projects:

  1. Beaded bead necklace – I finished this and gifted it to my sister
  2. Knitted dishcloth – It’s been through the wash already
  3. A weaving and free motioned case for my hard drive

I’m actually feeling better about the last month having seen what I finished. Especially because I started the weaving and turned it into a thing within a month.

One other thing to mention, is that this week is national beading week and I’m giving a brief introduction into my beading beginnings on Instagram, seeing as I am surrounded by them while back home. Feel free to check it out and tell me your introduction to beading.

Wefts and Weaves


I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but while I’ve still been making things, I’ve definitely got less mental energy at the moment so even basic things like cooking and cleaning are only barely being done. And I’ve opened this page to type this post several times, because I am really excited about this project.

I can’t quite remember why but I suddenly became really interested in trying weaving (it was probably instagram inspired). So I did a fair amount of reading and looked up whether or not I could use my beading loom. It was fairly easy to set up, I put the weft threads on slightly differently to how I thread it for my beading – so that there was a cross over point. This makes it much easier when actually weaving, as I only had to go up and down over the threads in one direction. I used a pretty weft thread so that I didn’t mind when it was visible.

My tiny loom, with my legs in the background


Once I had the weft threads set up, the weaving was very quick. My loom is little so I can do it on my lap while watching TV. It was considerably slower to tie off all the ends and make it finished. I looked up cheat techniques but there didn’t seem to be anything that still looked good.

I used a satin stitch to attache the weaving to the fabric

I always intended to turn this piece of weaving into a case for my hard drive. I’m currently backing up my thesis on it and carrying it around in my bag everyday, so its getting a little bashed. For the other side, I did some free motion quilting. There was quite a lot of unpicking but I think I finally got the hang of it.

Simple wavy lines for my first attempt at free motion quilting 

Halfway gone – July 2016


This year is going fast. I’m really starting to feel the pressure of my thesis, both in terms o the workload and the amount of my brain it requires, there doesn’t seem to be enough brainpower left to function fully. This has resulted in me doing a lot of looking at crafts and planning but not much actual doing.Which for the time being is fine, this is a temporary situation.

That being said, my drive to finish stuff has meant I achieved quite a bit in June

  1. EPP Cushion – I finished a couple more diamonds and I have a fair bit of travelling this month so I reckon more will get done
  2. Bead embroidery purse – this hasn’t been bought out of its container last month, I’m finding it difficult to make decisions so the freeform nature of this isn’t really suitable at the moment.
  3. Learning curve sampler quilt – I’ve not been able to get my machine out and its not looking to promising this month either
  4. Oven gloves – See above
  5. Sea glass necklace – I need silver chain but i’m also trying not to buy too much at the moment so I’ve put it to one side for a little bit
  6. Fringed handbag – I’m on the third and final row of fringing
  7. Another knitted dishcloth – these are just so soothing to knit
  8. A beaded bead necklace – I finally figured out a pattern and picked some colours for a necklace, I’ve done one of three beads

This is still a pretty long list but I’m feeling more positive about it than this time last month.

Things I managed to finish:

  1. Hawaiian Quilting panel – this will need quilting at some point but for now it is done
  2. Sunglasses Case
  3. Intarsia Purse
  4. The Blanket – again it will be picked up in the winter but for now it is done
  5. My ATC has been posted and I received a brilliant one in return.

Say Something -9th Very Berry ATC swap


I have now posted and received my ATC’s from the Say Something swap. I had a really strong and actually quite negative response to the phrase say something, when I first heard it. In my head say something is said in two contexts arguments and therapy, neither of which are very positive experiences. I thought about quotes but I’m not a person who collects quotes and couldn’t come up with anything I liked more than my original reaction. (I’m currently writing my PhD thesis, and its common to put a quote at the beginning of each chapter but I could only come up with quite negative ones, so I vetoed that idea.)

Actually as my ideas developed, the idea softened a little and my ATC has ended up being about lost opportunities to say something. I’m neither a chatty person or a particularly open person so it can be quite hard for me to say something, even when it needs saying. So when someone asks how are you? I will always say oh I’m fine, rather than any admission of what’s really going on, even to people who really do want to know whats going on and care about how I’m doing. I’ve become more aware of this over the last couple of years and do now try and be a little more honest with people when they give me the opportunity to say something.

The front of my ATC

Technique wise, I made heavy use of my frixion  pen to write out the words and then embroidered them on. I used chain stitch, which I remember from my brownie days even if I’ve not used it since. I really like the way it looked and I’m definitely a big fan of hand embroidery. I’m on the look out for an interesting skill building project if anyone has any suggestions?

The back

I used the elephant fabric for the back as it elephants were one of the things my partner had specified she liked and I’m aware the front was very much about me.

The ATC I received from Debbie

The ATC I received was made by Debbie. It has the quote ‘dance like no one is watching on it’ and was inspired by the fabric she found. The quote is one of my favourites and I have it on the wall above my bed. I love dancing and have danced all my life. As a child, my Saturdays revolved around my ballet classes and trying to fit everything in. I continued ballet until I went to university and passing my grade 6 ballet exam is still my biggest achievement. During my undergrad, I discovered latin and ballroom dancing and used to fit ~10h of lessons a week around a full time schedule. I don’t understand how I ever had time to do anything. These days I only really do salsa, but I love a good opportunity to dance.

My bedroom wall

I really love participating in these swaps. Receiving post is just the most exciting thing and I love pushing my own skills and creativity as well as seeing everyone’s different interpretations of the theme.