I’m a Sacks Addict

January 20, 2010

No, I said SACKS. Indian rice sacks. French linen flour sacks. Old English wheat sacks. Colourful American ‘grain’ sacks. What-evaaa. I want sacks in the morning, sacks all day long, and sacks every night.

They make such fabulous cushions! Retro, cheery, quirky, recycled, cheap, easy to sew – what’s not to love?! I think my addiction kicked in properly a few weeks ago, when I spotted some VERY cool patterned sacks of Basmati rice for sale in a Halal butcher’s shop in south London. Of course, I like rice, but it was the sack I really wanted!! I bought one (just £8), slung it over my shoulders and trudged home with a tonne of rice on my back. Decanting the rice (into, like, a million Kilner jars) took a while BUT it was worth it – the empty sack is covered in Indian writing and bright colours, and it’s going to make a fantastic cushion!! I think this was all a step too far for the boyfriend. He thinks I am completely mental. And he’s a bit bored of eating rice, too.

Of course, new sacks are all very well. But it’s the vintage ones I really love – particularly the colourful American ones, which often pop up in vintage shops or on ebay. I’ve been hunting for two really gorgeous sacks for ages, and just bought a fabulous pair from Coast and Country Home:

The first one has a pretty orange and brown retro carnation design on it, and comes from Oregon, USA originally. It used to contain bleached pastry flour.

The second one has a lovely ‘Colonial Rose’ design and was used for ‘phosphated’ flour, which doesn’t sound very appetising! I really love this sack, because at some point somebody has traced the sewing pattern for a little girl’s apron onto the back of it, but for some reason (and luckily for me!)  they never got round to cutting it out.

Could this embody the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy any better?! It’s funny that I’m re-using this piece of sacking to make a cushion cover all these years later!

And if you prefer the simple, rustic French linen sack accessories, head to Notonthehighstreet and check out Parna‘s range. Right, it must be time for lunch, now. Basmati rice salad, anyone? – Ellie

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Just in case you don’t already have enough prints around your house with words and messages on them, check out this new limited-edition, exclusive design from Gail Bryson for Pedlars.

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‘Keep calm and carry on’, ‘An apple a day’, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, ‘It’s what’s inside that counts’, ‘Tea revives you’, ‘Make do and mend’, ‘Eat your greens’, …these wordy poster slogans are everywhere now and nice and easy to understand. Now, perhaps I’m missing something here, but what exactly does this new Bryson print MEAN? ‘We’re not here because of gravity, we’re here because we like it.’ All very strange. But it’s a poster with words on it, so no doubt it’ll sell like hot cakes anyway. – Ellie

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Wartime tips

April 2, 2009

Do you want to save money? According to new research, six out of 10 people in the UK think a return to a Second World War approach to using resources could curb waste. With this in mind, a new ‘Wartime Spirit’ campaign launched today by the Energy Saving Trust aims to share 1940s tips and tricks for reducing waste and saving pennies. Although wartime ideas may sound old-fashioned at first, in today’s shaky economic climate as we batton down the hatches and tighten our belts, a lot of this advice is still relevant today.

Dig For Victory Ð Grow You Own Vegetables

This morning I went to the Imperial War Museum for the launch of the campaign inside a life-size 1940s display house, where I met Energy Saving Trust experts to find out how we can implement energy-saving ideas from the past into our 2009 homes. Here’s a diagram of a 1940s home with some tips:

picture-2As part of the launch, TV presenter Miquita Oliver (of T4 fame) demonstrated inexpensive wartime make-up, including beetroot juice mixed with beeswax for lipstick! It worked surprisingly well but even in our cash-strapped times, making my own make-do make-up seems like too much effort to me! Think I’ll stick to composting, instead. – Ellie

Make Do and Mend

Make do and mend

March 11, 2009

I’ve been writing a feature about thrifty craft for Ideal Home this week, and got sent this fabulous little book called Make Do and Mend. It’s a reproduction of a wartime Ministry of Information leaflet, first published in 1943.

make-do-and-mendIt’s packed full of great advice, a lot of which is still relevant today, particularly the cleaning sections. I love the way it’s written – from an article about banishing the ‘moth menace’ to a classic tip about using the tops of old woollen stockings to make ‘cosy underpants for a small boy’ – it’s wonderful!

Look out for our thrifty craft feature in the July issue of Ideal Home. – Ellie