In September 2012, my family and I embarked on a year of Buying Nothing New, and I started a blog called My Make Do and Mend Year to document our journey. It all started out as a personal challenge, and I had not real idea of the impact it would have on our lives.
The more I learned about consumerism, and fast fashion, and planned obsolescence (when stuff is made deliberately not to last), the more passionate I became about Making, Making Do and Mending as an alternative.
Who has been your inspiration?
Oh gosh, I'm not sure that one single person has inspired me, but a whole host of people!
The people reading the blog were so supportive, and made me realise that I wasn't alone trying to live a more sustainable life, and were so kind and generous sharing their experiences, and top tips with me.
I also host a weekly Twitter chat, #makedoandmendhour on a Thursday evening, and it is the most inspiring hour of my week! People share their makes, and their mends, ask questions, and generally have a good old natter about all things Make Do and Mend. I learn something new every week, and never fail to be inspired by seeing so many other people Making Do and Mending!
How does it fit in with your family life?
I think because we have tried to make lots of little changes that all add up to make a bigger difference, I can honestly say that it fits in really well. Sometimes it can be hard to find time to tackle the mending pile, or to resist the temptation of a quick easy purchase, but more often that not, it all gets fitted in and everyone is happy!
What inspired you to carry on and start the website?
I really enjoyed our My Make Do and Mend Year, not just the challenge of buying nothing new, but the people I had met (online and in real life) and I felt like I had found my 'thing'.
I really want to create a whole community of Make Do and Menders, and a place to share resources, information and inspiration.
I'm also acutely aware that our generation have lost so many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted, and that enabled them to make best use of the resources they had. I want to encourage people to re-learn those skills and to make it easy for people to find places where they can learn them.
I am really passionate about spreading the word about Making Do and Mending, and wanted to find a way to carry on doing it, whilst being able to generate an income at the same time.
What are you hoping to achieve with your book, Back to Basics-Your Essential Guide to Make Do & Mend?
Up until about 6 years ago, I had never used a sewing machine, and if a button needed sewing back on, I took it round to my mother in laws. All that changed after we had our first child, and I decided I wanted to learn to sew, but there are quite probably millions of other people just here in the UK, who can't sew on a button (did you know it is the most common reason that clothing is thrown out?)
I want the book to help to 're-skill' our generation, to teach them how to sew on a button, hem a pair of trousers, or repair a puncture. All really basic, easy things, but all things that lots of people can't do, and might be afraid to admit that they don't know how to!
What has been the highlight for you putting it all together?
It was much harder work, and far more involved than I ever anticipated, but it has all been worth it. The book is a collaboration of 18 other experts, and for me the highlight has been the amazing list of people that contributed. I was more than a teeny bit terrified of approaching some of them, and was amazed and delighted when they said Yes!
I'm so proud of the list of authors which features some of the most talented Makers and Menders in the country, and some international contributors too!
I do hope you've enjoyed meeting Jen, she'll be back again in a few weeks to talk about way she is helping to promote the Make Do and Mend lifestyle. Thank you, Jen, it's been a real pleasure.