Do I go too far? Sometimes I wonder ….

I was brought up in a very thrifty sort of household – we never had much money when I was a child, so make do and mend was very much a way of life for our family.  These days of course, making do and mending is not just about thrift – we’re all so much more aware of our impact on the environment, so reasons to reduce wastefulness have become ethical as well as financial.  

I love to rummage around thrift shops and jumble sales, pouncing with glee upon all kinds of vintage lovelies unwanted and unloved by their previous owners.  I found this lovely old creamy-white jug at a car boot sale last year – it looks perfect on my kitchen windowsill …

And the wire rack these savoury biscuits are resting their delicious selves upon came from a charity shop in Kingsbridge …..

But sometimes I wonder ….. I am very hard upon my ironing board covers.  I use my ironing board for all my applique projects, happily cutting, fusing and spraying my pieces with fabric glue.  Over time, no matter how careful I try to be, my ironing board cover is spoiled by accidentally ironed-on Bondaweb, fused on fluffy bits and even, on one memorable occasion, by a long cut when I was cutting fabric and accidentally included the cover as well!  It’s important that my ironing board cover is nice though, as it is the background for a lot of the “how to” photographs in my patterns, so I regularly replace it – usually with a nice new Cath Kidston version.  And then ….

I cut up the old one!  This time I have saved some lovely soft white cord, trimmings from around the unspoiled edge of the cover – a small piece has already been incorporated into my latest project for the March magazine and some nice lightweight white cotton.  But looking at my rescued  – and soon to be recycled – treasures I did start to wonder … do I sometimes go a bit too far?  Do normal people cut up their old ironing covers?  How far do you go in your textile recycling?


  1. I have just gotten into the recycling fabric habit. I don’t sew much clothing so most recycling is used for crafts. Ironing board covers are a great idea. They are often lovely fabrics. I say, go for it!

  2. Pam MacLennan says:

    I love reading about other peoples thrifty ways and also love to look in the second hand and recycling shops. One thing I am an avid collector of is, tea towels. New or old I pounce on them with great glee and turn them into all sorts of things, peg bags, aprons, plastic bag holders, drawstring bags to keep shoes and delicates in in your suitcase etc. Some are absolutely gorgeous and far too nice to dry the dishes with.
    Hope your weather improves soon, we are seeing the reports on our tv news here in New Zealand and actually saw that very same photo of the railway lines that you have on your blog. Ours hasn’t been a brilliant summer either with lots of wind and high temps. The paddocks are looking very scorched.

  3. Thrift shops are a wonderful place to find all kinds of treasures so why not take advantage? I do! As for your recycling of the ironing board cover, absolutely! Waste not want not 🙂

  4. I don’t think you can go too far. I reuse everything I can and if I can’t use it I try to pass it on to someone who can.

  5. Actually my mum used to make her own ironing board covers from old sheets, and used old blankets as the padding between the ‘new’ cover and ironing board.
    Julie xxxx

  6. My mother was very thrifty as was my mother-in-law, and I tend to look at everything before throwing it away in terms of a new life. I save all fabric that can be reused as well as buttons and trims, and it’s so nice to hear that others do the same.
    XXX Linda

  7. That much recycling is not going too far, much of humanity has been doing things like that for millennia. It was not until the industrial revolution that humanity began to lose sight of what is right for the planet instead of for human egos. We are just now (some of us) regaining our respect for the planet. I do not use an ironing board (no room for one) I use the counter covered by an old, folded towel. The towel (and other fabric items) is also used to wash the windows etc, at one point they were bath towels, but when they started to get a bit worn, they were “promoted” to house cleaning etc. We also do similar things for curtains, we usually have two sets hanging (not in the bathroom) the ones closest to the glass and absorbing most of the UV (damages fabric) are old ones that have seen better days, the inner ones (getting only a small amount of UV) are newer ones. When the older ones are no longer useable we sew new inner ones, and the ones that were the inner ones, are moved close to the glass. We used to have to replace curtains every year or two in some windows from the UV, but since we have been doubling the curtains, it is a lot less frequent. You could also use items like that to make quickie cuddle quilts for Benny and Daisy. I also “recycle” fabrics like that for my cats. They do not care that the cuddle/napping quilt used to be an old dishtowel and worn living room (or wherever) curtains…. We put the cuddle quilts etc on the furniture where the cats commonly snooze. Then, instead of getting cat hair on the furniture, it gets on the quilt, and we can just wash the quilt regularly and only have to clean up a smidge of cat hair instead of a pile. 🙂

    • Wow that’s amazing! I feel as though I’m not doing enough now – I will definitely take on board your curtain tips as my windows all face south the curtains do get very faded. Thank you xx

    • Love these ideas! What awesome things to do. But then again, I do a lot of the same things. I use the ugly, worn wash rags for my Swiffer- Wanna-Be floor duster. After use, I just throw them in with the laundry, well, after shaking outside. When these are wet, they make really good mops, too.

  8. With the way things are now, we need to reuse and re-reuse as long as possible. I have been saying for 30 years or more that we now live in a disposable society. It is so sad that we have everything in plastic jars now, instead of glass. A lot of glass jars can be used over and over again. If not for canning for other items. I love “re-purposing” all kinds of items. Do I think you go too far? No Mam, I don’t. I don’t we go far enough sometimes. Remember, our ancestors used old clothing to make quilts from.

  9. I don’t think you are going too far at all, just that my ironing board cover is definitely NOT Cath Kidston, lol, so always glad to see the back of it when I get a new one! My towels get cut up and folded neatly in the garage ready to wipe car windows, windscreen wipers etc of snow, rain, etc! I love charity shops, Goodwill etc!

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