My make-do-and-mend self was intrigued when I heard about Thrifty Style: Clever Ways to Revamp your Wardrobe by Janine Chisholm. When I received my review copy I eagerly flicked through. The book promises to help you "make one-off fashion forward pieces". Though the key to all the example projects is 'fashion forward' (think mainstream-meets-vintage style icons like Sienna Miller, Kate Moss et al), with a little imagination any of the tips and techniques can easily be applied to more, er, 'fashion backward' projects.
For example, I love the idea of using doilies to create lace inserts in other garments. This technique could be adapted to a more vintage-compatible look - I'm picturing lace doily pockets, or shouler-yoke inserts.
The book presents a series of projects, rated for difficulty from 1 to 4, the techniques ranging from simple embellishment ideas like dyeing and hand-beading to more complex refashions.
It also includes three full size patterns including this cute capelet, which in the example incorporates a collar rescued from a damaged coat.
Each project is illustrated step-by-step with instructional line drawings.
The photography is gorgeous throughout - it's worth flicking through just for the eye candy!
There's also a full chapter at the back of the book dedicated to techniques from absolute essentials like basic stitches, darts and gathering fabric to setting in a zip and making bias binding. Helpfully, there's even instructions for how to create your own 'body double' mannequin.
Thrifty Style has some great ideas, and certainly gets the creative inspiration flowing when you start to think about how the techniques can be applied in different ways. Many projects do need you to be at least a little bit handy with a sewing machine - the techniques chapter at the back does cover everything you need to know, so theoretically it's accessible for a complete beginner, but it's best for someone with at least a basic knowledge of how garments are assembled.