Book Review and giveaway: Make Do and Mend by Melody Miller

Anyone else obsessively save old clothes because ‘that fabric might come in handy’? I have an entire cupboard full of jeans, cords, cotton shirts and skirts that aren’t really fit for the charity shop, but I can’t bear to throw away because it just seems a terrible waste of good fabric, zips, buttons, scraps…

Make Do and Mend by Rebecca Peacock and Sam Tickner

If you’re guilty of this kind of stashing (I am refusing to call it hoarding in case Channel 4 come round and make a documentary about me), then Make Do and Mend by Rebecca Peacock and Sam Tickner is just the thing for you. The book is aimed at people who are newish to the Make Do and Mend philosophy and who might have to blow the dust off their sewing machine before they get started, so there’s lots of really useful sewing basics in here, as well as lots of ideas and techniques for actually mending clothes in the first place. These are such fantastic skills to have, and such a shame that people don’t learn this kind of thing any more. It’s great to learn the basics of darning, for example.

Where the book really comes into its own is with ideas of what do do with stuff that’s just too far gone to repair. There are bags made out of T-shirts, scarves made out of blouses and T-shirts, skirts made out of old jeans, jewellery out of T-shirts and buttons. There’s also lots of ideas for making household bits and bobs like coasters, cushions, blinds, curtains, laundry bags out of remnants and thrifted fabrics.

The instructions are good and very clear, although I really miss the presence of colour photographs to illustrate the projects, but that’s a little quibble, and it feels harsh to moan about it, especially when it’s a book so full of good ideas. It’s just that I’m just the sort of girl who needs a bit of colourful styling to get inspired! A big plus point, on the other hand, is the lovely list of resources, fabric websites and good blogs at the back of the book. Just the sort of info I like!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have one to give away. Just leave a comment on this post before midnight on Friday 18 May telling me the last thing you mended… The last thing I mended was Danny’s homemade Kikwi toy – the nagging of small children is very persistent!


Funnily enough, I have been delving into my stockpile of thrifted fabrics this week, because I’ve been asked to make some props for a musical that a friend of mine is stage managing, and they want to keep the costs down. It struck me that a good way to make the recycled stuff look good was to pair it with some smaller scraps of new stuff.  Here’s the first pouch I’ve made:

Recycled pouchI’ve used some recycled denim and some polkadot cotton from a Top Shop dress (which sadly you can’t see!), snazzed up with this fab floral from Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Shining collection. It was great to make a dent (no matter how tiny) on the huge pile of ‘just in case’ fabrics… Hopefully there’ll be more to come, otherwise we’ll have to give up even more of our cupboard space….


Speaking of fabric hoarding… there’s some more Liberty charm packs available in my shop right this minute, if there’s a little space in your stash for them. They’re only small..!

51 thoughts on “Book Review and giveaway: Make Do and Mend by Melody Miller

  1. I’m guilty! I used to have a work space behins the stairs but it is now a storage area for old clothes I can’t bear to part with! I delve into it and reclaim fabrics for brooches and wrist cuffs sometimes but it’s grpwing at a terrible rate! Great review of the book. Sounds ideal for folk like us!

  2. I reattached tulle lining to my daughter’s favourite dress. I also hoard fabric and people give me things they’ve been hoarding too….

  3. I’ve mended all sorts of things in the past but the most recent has been just simple sewing buttons back on. Next job though will be a hooded jacket of my son’s to put a patch on after his girlfriend’s dog got his teeth into it!
    I already have this book (won it in a competition) so there’s no need to enter me in the draw thank you.
    Teresa x

  4. I’m just re-discovering sewing after many years; and am about to delve into re-modelling old clothes… any guidance and inspiration would be useful now. The worst part is getting started!

  5. I’m terrible for saving any and all textiles… It drives my husband potty so I agreed to send some for recycling recently 😦
    I feel bad now though cus I can’t think of anything I’ve mended recently. Does turning up some trousers count?
    Cheers, Leigh x

  6. I too have buckets of old clothes waiting to be ‘upcycled’ (my new favourite word :D), and the last thing I mended was a pair of my daughter’s leggings – she loved them so much but had worn the knees down, so I made a couple of heart-shaped patches out of an old t-shirt of mine (as they had to be stretchy like the leggings). She loves them and wants heart-shaped patches on all her leggings – holes or no holes!! 😀

  7. Lovely pouch! The last thing I mended was my friend’s top. It was brand new, she’d been wearing it for about 2 hours and the sleeve elastic snapped! Just another reason why I really should start making my own clothes as most are badly made these days. I have boxes full of old clothes and at the weekend I’m announcing a little competition about using them if you fancy joining in?

  8. I’ve got a similar pile of old clothes for recycling. I am using them up, albeit VERY slowly!

    I actually did some darning on the last things I mended, which were holes in my sons’ socks and babygro.

  9. The last things I mended were the dog’s cuddly toys. Monty is often eating off arms and legs so I sew up the holes and return him an alien shape to chew.

  10. I’m in the middle of rejuvenating our BumGenius nappies – after 2.5 years the velcro and laundry tabs needed replacement desperately. 10 down, 5 to go!

  11. The last thing I mended was the hem on a pair of my trousers, I also re-used an old shirt to make a cushion, it came out hideous, but it reduced the stash by one shirt.

  12. My stash of old clothes is growing too! The last thing I mended was yesterday. I finally got around to sewing patches on my favourite zip up hoody. I used fabric from a old pair of PJ’s & sewed the fabric under the holes making a fun embroidery type design with the stitching.

  13. The last thing I mended was some work trousers of my sons.
    I also have tons of clothes to upcycle as well as my ever growing fabric stash. It is all over the house and fills a large bedding box I have just inherited.

  14. I laughed when I read this post… I’m glad I’m not the only hoarder of worn out clothing!!! The last thing I mended was my wee boys soft bunny (thats her actual name by the way)! Her ear was hanging off and she looked so sorry for herself that I had to fix her! The book sounds fantastic. I have lots of ideas for the new fabrics I buy but often forget about my bulging scraps drawer. Will keep my fingers crossed xxx

  15. I most recently darned a hole in my husband’s jumper and successfully took up his jeans for the first time – no more expensive professional alterations for me! I am accumulating a big stash of old clothes to repurpose so the book would be great!

  16. Hello, this book sounds fabulous, I so wish they had taught sewing when I was at school, maybe I would have developed my love of it earlier and not waited till my 30’s. Last night I mended my boys Octopus, the lips and leg had fallen off he was devasted, and so lovely to see his little face this morning when it was all back together.

  17. Seems like im always mending my boys trousers and jumpers….!! Tha last thing though was my husbands winter jacket 😉

    thank you id love to win!!

  18. I have just mended a hole in my son’s school trousers. I refuse to replace school uniform at this time of year. I like the idea of matching old and new fabric as you have done with your pouch

  19. Hi Ali

    Love the pouch and the book. The last item I repaired was my husband’s trousers he wears for work which I did by hand – can’t seem to get to grips with blind hemming on the machine, its like a chinese puzzle for me. Also, the other day, I altered a few pairs of my jeans as being only 5ft 2in, everything is always too long. Its a great way I found from a book from the library whereby you cut off the original hem and then reattach it, so when its shortened you have the original stitching showing – good eh!!


  20. I treated myself to a new sewing machine in the Jan sales earlier this year. I always seem to have something inline to make, but not many of them use it. I guess I’m not yet confident in it’s use, partially because I haven’t got lots of ideas on how to use it. This book sounds perfect for helping with that.
    The last thing I fixed was pre machine. My husband had worn a hole in his jeans pockets with his keys. I just sewed across it, slightly higher up, reducing the pocket size slightly, but stopping his money falling out! The fix would have been better with a machine. Nowadays I think I’d attempt to patch it.

  21. just mened my boy jeans with the union jack flag on the knee using scrap denim. I feel the same as the post and book as to wish I could do something with the old clothes or using the clothes to do something with thx

  22. Tights! I am always mending small girls’ tights. Soon the weather will cheer up and they won’t need to wear them for a while, right? Looks like a great book!

  23. The last thing I mended was my 7 month old grandsons pyjama monkey which was made from upcycled jammies. It’s good to know I’m not the only fabric hoarder out there- maybe we should start a support group!!!x

  24. I treated myself to a new sewing machine in the Jan sales earlier this year. I always seem to have something inline to make, but not many of them use it. I guess I’m not yet confident in it’s use, partially because I haven’t got lots of ideas on how to use it. This book sounds perfect! I need the confidence to have a go. My recent crochet hook roll showed me I can do it! I just need to have ideas and a little bit of confidence to have a go. I

  25. The last thing I mended was the puff sleeve of a nice and fairly new top which I’d torn on the latchy bit of the bathroom door. One of the perils of 1930s doorways with latches and handles just at my shoulder height, done it several times before!

  26. I would LOVE this book! I have just started trying to make do and up cycle – there is so much inspiration on Pinterest and blogs. The last thing I mended was my daughters school trousers, she’s such a skinny malinx I have to take all her trousers in! x

  27. The last thing i repaired was to put a button back on a jumper.I am really missing one of those sewing machines that will put it on for you. I’ve got lots of things i want to make with buttons on them but it’s really time consuming doing them all by hand. Oh for a fairy button mother !!

  28. The last thing I “mended” was sewing a button that had fallen off back onto my cardigan. Does that even count as mending?!
    The pouch is so pretty – love the Melody Miller fabric.
    Thanks for this lovely giveaway!

  29. Last thing I fixed was a pair of tinys school tights, but there us only so many times u can fix them before they are more fix and less tights! I currently have my big brothers old snow board bag to ‘salvage’. Massive zip, laods in handle and lots of paddedness! Any ideas!

  30. I’ve just started sewing so I’ve only just started looking at every bit of old clothing and wondering what I can do with it rather than throwing it out. My boys trousers need patching so that’s my next mending project

  31. The last thing I mended was a eye mask lol it was the first thing I’ve mended on my first seeing machine I’m already hooked on not throwing clothes away just encase I want the fabric for something

  32. The last thing I mended was a Pink Ladies Jacket that I borrowed for Sing Along a Grease – it had burst a seam but was a quick repair – it was nice to return something in better nick than I borrowed it!
    Great looking book 🙂

  33. This is just the book I need. I’ve got a pile of clothes I can’t bear to chuck and need some ideas. Loving the denim pouch!

  34. Have definitely been stockpiling here, but as we’re moving need to limit myself. Have just made an odd-sock bag out of two of my hubbies old shirts so that’s reduced it slightly. Last thing I mended was one of my daughters dresses.

  35. The last thing I mended was the cuff of a favourite jumper. I really ought to upcycle it or throw it away as it is in a dreadful condition, but it’s my favourite and I just can’t!

  36. I would absolutely love a copy of that book. I am really new to sewing and since getting my machine I have accumulated 3 carrier bags full of stuff that once upon a time would have found itself in the charity shop!

  37. The last thing I mended was a hole in my sons sock. The sock was not worn out, it just had a small hole at the toe. I’ve always got a pile of mending…and it never seems to get smaller even when I repair a bunch of items. This book sounds fabulous! I’ve got boxes of clothes that are waiting for a new repurposed life… Thanks for a chance to win! 🙂

  38. The last thing I mended was my Grandma’s crochet blanket which my 7 year old daughter chose as a keepsake in memory of her Great Grandma x

  39. Sounds like a great book. Pinterest is great for that kind of thing, but you can’t beat a good book to refer to. The last item I mended was my daughters dress up wedding dress. It was in a sorry state and far too small, but she insists on wearing it. I’ll definitely up cycle it when the time comes as it has really pretty sparkly netting on it. Great purse, patchwork upcycled fabric from the wardrobe makes complete sense!

  40. The last thing I mended was my youngest son’s school trousers! Why dot the hems always fall down on school trousers??
    I love your pouch1 The denimreally sets off the Melody Miller fabric!

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