Saturday, 23 May 2009

Your advice to a novice make and mender?

"I've never done this kind of thing before - I have no confidence - I don't know where to start"
We often hear this from people who want to live more creatively and sustainably but aren't sure where and how to start. So I decided to share some suggestions and invite all our readers to chip in with your ideas too.

The projects I have chosen here cover different areas of making and mending and share the following points in common:
  • Fast to do - so there's a quick win - always good when you are starting something new (there's nothing worse than starting but not finishing something and then feeling guilty about it)
  • Produce big, visible results - so you'll feel it's been worthwhile and a good return on the time and energy you've invested. They'll make a difference to your life or your surroundings.
  • Easy - so this should give you confidence and enthusiasm to continue and to move on to bigger and more ambitious projects
  • Cheap - ideally you can do them with materials you already have.
So that's the brief. Here's my suggestions. Please tell us yours. We'll put 'em on the makeitandmendit website - with instructons how to do.

Get into Gardening - try growing courgettes (zucchini)

This choice was based on seeds (cheap) and vegetables (thrifty) - growing from seed can seem a bit risky, a bit slow and a bit chancy if you haven't tried before. So go for courgettes. They have big seeds (a bit like melom seeds) so they're very easy to handle and plant and don't require all that thinning and pricking out. They grow quite fast and are easy to grow. They also produce yellow flowers so you'll have some floral interest and colour as well as eventual vegetable bounty! - and you can bung 'em in the freezer after - and live off them for ages.

Get into Sewing - by making a cushion cover

Cushion covers are super easy and require no special techniques - you don't need to put zips in - you can either sew up all four sides or add a flap and a couple of buttons. You can make a few cushion covers in an hour or so and will have an instant impact on your room. Here's our instructions on cushion cover making

Get into knitting - by sewing blanket squares
If you are a complete novice knitter then starting off by knitting some simple garter stitch squares for charity is a brilliant way to learn. You can use odd balls of yarn and in no time at all you'll have a square - and the satisfaction of knowing it's helping someone needy to stay warm. Loads of charities have schemes - we like this one - and on their website there are step-by-step instructions.

Get into cooking - use some leftovers

One of the easiest recipes for leftovers is bubble and squeak. Very old fashioned - but real comfort food and so easy to do. Here's some other ideas for cooking with leftovers
But then you have to have cooked in the first place to have leftovers - so if you are a super novice then try a spaghetti bolognese - very easy, very forgiving and very tasty.

Get into DIY - hang some pictures
I'm almost embarrassed to include this but I do know people who are afraid to bang a nail in a wall. Just pick your spot. Get a hammer. Get a nail. Bang it in. Hang the picture - et voila'! Instant room transformation.
So those are my top of the head suggestions. What are yours? Please post your ideas in the Comments below


  1. Apparently the easiest vegetables to grow are carrots and they seed several times so give lots of crop

  2. Cushions made from old wool jumpers felted in the washing machine and with chunky wool embroidery, beads or tassels on the corners are quick, cheap, easy and effective.

  3. Hi, I've just stumbled upon your great blog, the leftover recipes look great, will definitely try them.

    On vegetables, I have to say Radishes are the best to grow, cheap seed, grow in 4 weeks, don't need a lot of room and can grow them in pots. I love them. Even better sow them whilst waiting for the courgettes to grow.

  4. makeitandmendit24 May 2009 at 13:30

    Sounds great JoJo - do you have any pictures?

  5. makeitandmendit24 May 2009 at 13:33

    Thanks for the tip Tracey - have not tried radishes myself (as I don't eat them) but they sound ideal for the novice grower.
    Just looked at your blog iGrowVeg - it's brilliant - great resource for veg growers.