Rose Arnold's blog

One of my ambitions when starting the year was to learn to sew and to make my own clothes. Rather than struggle through alone I went to Junk Shopin Manchester for a four session dress making class.

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The class took us through the whole process from taking measurements, making up a form (like a personal body blueprint), making a pattern, cutting the fabric and sewing into a final finished dress.

I designed a high-waisted dress with slightly wide shoulders in two colours. Black at the top and a green cat fabric for the skirt. (All fabric is from ends of rolls that would be thrown away.)

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The sewing part was surprisingly easy, none of the snagging, tearing and breaking of thread I remember from classes.

When I tried my dress on at the end I fully expected it not to fit. After all it was my very first attempt. But it fitted perfectly. I don't think I have ever felt so proud, it's a lovely feeling having made something from scratch.

The finished dress, accessorized with vintage 80s belt and gold cat broach.
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Scribbling future ideas......(possibly over ambitiously!)
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Sue Ryder Care has teamed up with online craft and design community Folksy to set you the UPCYCLE CHRISTMAS challenge. A competition to reclaim craft and upcycle charity shop stuff into hand crafted one-offs, which will be auctioned to the public in the run up to Christmas, in aid of Sue Ryder Care.

To enter:
Register with Folksy to download your printable voucher to claim your free bag of clothes and brica-brac from a Sue Ryder Care shop near you and start getting creative. When picking up your free bag of clothes and bric-a-brac if you have any unwanted quality items you could donate it would help the shop greatly.
You can create anything you like and use anything you like; the only rules are that the items you use must be second hand and there is only one bag of Sue Ryder Care donated stock per entrant. Accessories, home ware, fashion, furniture... you choose what you create from Sue Ryder stock.

Our celebrity panel of judges, which include Red or Dead’s Wayne Hemmingway and Vogue TV’s Louise Roe, will choose four winners based on
the following criteria:
• Best use of materials
• Craft skills used
• Most innovative piece
• Fun / playfulness
An additional prize will be awarded to the object voted for by the Folksy community.

The winners' works will feature in the Sue Ryder Care’s flagship store
in Camden in the New Year.

30th of November – You can claim your free bag of clothes at your local Sue Ryder store just by taking your ticket available from

6pm on the 5th of December - The deadline for submissions.

7th December – Winners announced.

7th – 13th December - online auction for all the items entered.

All proceeds will be given to Sue Ryder Care.

Go to Folksy blog and Sue Ryder for more information and to see the things people have made as they are submitted.
Follow Upcycle Christmas on twitter @upcyclexmas and on the competition Facebook page

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It is well and truly over! I can't believe how fast the summer has gone. And quite how rubbish we've been at doing this blog. But we stuck to the not buying new turns out it's incredibly easy. The 'official' year of buying no new clothes ended months ago and I have bought a few new things (underwear, tights, leggings and a pair of 'jeggings') but apart from these basics everything else I've bought has been second hand.


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The last week or so I seem to have got into a rut, wearing black jeans and grey tops, fine but not the most exciting or spring like choice.
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The world has gone beige!

Inspired by the sunshine and designers such as the lovely Luella I decided to go shopping for some bright, colourful clothes. clothes! 007

Trying to be good I thought I’d have a look through the clothes I already have before I started buying more. I’ve got floral covered.
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And bright block colours too.
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And this is by no means exhaustive. I didn't realise quite how many clothes I had...second hand clothes being on the whole really cheap there aren't the usual constraints to endless shopping. I also started counting jackets I have. Over 23 (I got bored by this point!) A walk in wardrobe is unfortunately not an option. I think I might have to stop shopping!!

I’m going to buy a Diana camera…then everything will be odd colours anyhow. I love how the photos come out (the following are a selection from the Lomography website).

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I’ve been a bit busy with other things and rubbish at posting my blogs so a quick catch up is in order.

Another fancy dress party…I’ve been told the number I go to isn’t normal? Anyhow, while I’m usually up for costume and dressing up in something different even I am beginning to feel that enough is enough. So I cheated somewhat for a ‘rock’ party and wore clothes I liked with a kind of rock theme.
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Again the local charity shops had everything I needed in a half hour dash round. This tux jacket was £5.99 from Oxfam, the jeans were £3.49 from Barnardoes. The bag I bought a couple of months ago and is one of my best finds…it’s massively on trend and for a paltry £1.25. Sequinned top was again an earlier buy (from Oxfam).
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My current favourite bag.

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Alice's Twiggy top was a charity shop buy.

Wore the purple dress (from the East End Thrift Store- loaned to me by my sister) when out in Chorlton watching the fabulous. Alexis McClean & The Poorboys Have a listen, they’re great, she has an amazing voice.
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And wearing the purple dress again…after watching the Whitest Boy Alive.
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It was a brilliant gig, my photos are rubbish though. Being 5ft 5 this isn’t an unusual view at a gig.
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I love going to see bands but I can’t help thinking it would be even more fun if I got more the occasional glimpse of the people I’ve gone to see! The support band were good too, a Norweigen band called the New Wine 80s electronica funk, really fun live. (Yes I know I’d make a rubbish music critic..great, brilliant etc etc!)
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Whitest Boy Alive

Went to ‘vintage afternoon tea’ on Sunday at Jam Street Café as it was a sunny day. Vintage clothes and the nicest teas complete with scones, cream and wafer thin sandwiches.
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Lisa in a suitably summery dress.

I went a bit 80s-tastic though and am beginning to have second thoughts (£30 for two dresses later).
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Maybe my wonderwoman goes to a ball dress will grow on me or I’ll alter it a bit?! Or if anyone wants to invite me to an 80s fancy dress party I’m ready!

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I went down to London to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday which was fantastic fun. Looking back over the photos I’ve realised how many things came from the East End Thrift Store, and indeed, how many things have that I’ve worn over the last ten months. I managed to do post break up shopping there at the very beginning of doing this blog, it provided me with a dress for an awards dinner and different outfits for parties so it has featured quite a lot.Plus, they do monthly evening parties when they get new stock in complete with free drinks. Sign up to their mailing list now!

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Not the best picture but the only one taken, my purple shear dress (from EETS of course) was worn over jeans with boots, my sister's green flowery dress is also from there. (Not to forget my mum and other sister but neither was wearing anything second-hand!)

Pre-party preparation we went shopping in Angel for a party dress for Maria. Amongst the shops we went to was 'Dress for Less' details here which sells second-hand designer women's clothes and accessories. I have spent a fortune this month and promised myself that I'd buy nothing else so it wasn't much of a fun visit for me. I spent it trying not to notice how perfect the £250 Burberry leather jacket they had in stock was and ignoring some beautiful tan heels.

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In the end she went for an EETS flowery dress.

With friends Rebecca (left) and Justine (wearing a vintage hat of Maria's).

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I wore a jumpsuit, from Ebay, originally Zara.

Pictures of the band, and booze! Plus, you can never have too many limes for cocktails.
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Corsages are an easy way to add interest, this top (originally Topshop, I bought it from Chorlton Oxfam)had them included already but I was inspired to have a go myself.

There's different ways to make them.

1)cut out some circles of fabric in a few sizes of circles. I did alternate layers of grey jersey and black net. Sew together, screw up a bit and twist and pop a few more stitches through to keep it all in place.
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2)Make a running stitch through a ribbon or strip of fabric starting a couple of inches from the end of the ribbon (will form a bow at the end), pull tight. It should start to look like a flower. When you've pulled thread through enough to make a circle shape sew it closed. Do another one or two then sew them together. Shape the unsewn ribbon into a bow. I added some extra ribbon and a button in the middle.
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Add the finished corsages onto tops, bags, belts, bags or hairbands...
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The last few weeks have been quiet, I’m bored of winter and have gone into mini-hibernation. Rather than late nights out I’ve been having dinner at friend’s houses, going to art galleries, doing job applications, sleeping and FINALLY getting all my stuff from my ex-boyfriend’s flat (I miss my flat!). None of which has required much in the way of glam outfits, especially as it is still so cold.
Still, it’s starting to get lighter and fun things are coming up...

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I really like bright colours, especially when it’s dark outside…who wants to be part of the general sea of dark colours? A lot of summer dresses look fine for cold days when worn with thick tights and a cardigan. The dress was £3.50 from Age Concern, it’s strapless but worn under a long sleeved top for decency and not dying of pneumonia. I bought the jacket back in summer, again from a local charity shop, the bag was bought on my recent trip to Macclesfield for £5.

Friend Helen is going to an indoor festival this weekend, one night has a Miami Vice theme, so she popped round to steal some stuff to wear. I’m a little short on white suits and Miami Vice is all about the men anyhow, so she had to settle for a general 80s theme. This fabulous (bought for a fancy dress party) sequinned jacket was bought from Ryan Vintage for a couple of pounds, the boots I’ve had for years. Googling for inspiration, I got all excited about harem pants – a look I think is way too good to keep for fancy dress.
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I’m a loser…trying out outfits I’ll only be able to wear when it warms up, oh, three months from now. Suitably attired in cute apple print top bought for me by Helen from a charity shop and shoes, bought for me second hand from eBay by my friend Zoe. And yes, my room is in a shocking mess! I feel a bit embarrassed now…

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asos jumpsuit
The jumpsuit is not exactly a hot fashion tip having been featured in every magazine and (apparently, it’s a long time since I’ve been in) every high street shop. And normally I’m not keen on trends that are so ubiquitous but the jumpsuit is a fashion band wagon I want to jump on! They look cool, and either glam, or devil may care and just different from the everything else I’ve been wearing for the last year. This is the first time in a long time I have felt annoyed that I can’t rush out to the shops to get myself a fashion fix or found our year of only buying second hand a proper pain. To be fair, there are some on Ebay and, I am reliably informed, in Oxfam Originals in Manchester. Part of the problem is my expectation of how much clothes should cost has changed, I’m so used to being able to get a fabulous outfit for almost nothing that I have become a cheapskate.

I managed to find a really simple, glam jumpsuit from ebay for £22. I was all excited and happy to get it until, seeing the airmail packaging, it finally crossed my mind that my jumpsuit is one of the least environmentally friendly items of second hand clothing ever. Being from one of ebay’s international sellers it was flown over especially for me. I don’t have a photo of me wearing it either because jumpsuits very definitely need heels and a bit of dressing up; in the past month both my social life and my bank balance have been too poor to take me anywhere worthy of dressing up.
My ebay buy.
Jumpsuit love has also just made me bid on a very brave (or will that be downright disgusting) blue and silver vintage number. With bat wing sleeves. It could be incredible or just incredibly wrong. Watch this space.

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People have emailed us saying that where they live the charity shops aren't so good. A simple solution is to take a day trip and check out the charity shops somewhere else. On Saturday I went to Macclesfield, a small town about 20 miles outside of Manchester which has got loads of different shops which are a bit posher than Chorlton. I found loads of things, plus struck gold with an amazing Givenchy dress find! It was only £35 which is ridiculous really.
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I'm looking a little scruffy for my dress. It is so bling I'm not sue how often I'll get a reason to wear it outside of my bedroom!
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Total haul from a day's shopping was - four handbags (yes, I know, but they were all cute), two beautiful scarves, the Givenchy dress, a simple, drop waisted Ted Baker dress, an angora top, jewelry, some patent red, very high heels that I LOVE and lots of pretty bits for my house.
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Friend Zoe in a Macclesfield charity shop.
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On the road...
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