Making Skirts Into Dresses

On a recent review of my wardrobe, I realised I have two very lovely skirts which I wasn’t getting much wear out of, but not because I didn’t love the prints. They are in fact two of my favourites, especially because Michael helped me to choose them. I just don’t really wear skirts as I never feel as comfortable in them as dresses, and I like the fact that a dress is an instant outfit. So I thought I ‘d see if I could adapt each of these skirts into dresses and get them into more regular rotation!

Mid Century Lindy Bop Skirt to By Hand London Kim Dress

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I bought this skirt from Lindy Bop a couple of years ago after instantly falling in love with the bold, mid-century inspired print. It wasn’t available as a dress, but I liked it so much I chose the skirt anyway.

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As it was a very full gathered skirt there was plenty of fabric to play with, so I managed to cut out both a By Hand London Kim bodice and an Emery skirt. And so the skirt became this dress!

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I happened to have some yellow piping in my stash so I used it to highlight the princess seams in the bodice and the waist seam. And as I didn’t have enough fabric to be able to pattern match across the seams, I hoped adding piping might break up the seam line so it wouldn’t matter if the pattern didn’t quite line up!

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To finish it off, I added a blue lace exposed zip. I’m very pleased with the finished dress, and I think it shows off the fabulous print even better than the skirt!

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Palava Farmer’s Market Skirt to By Hand London Flora Dress

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It’s no secret that I love Palava and their beautiful story telling dresses. When they released their Farmer’s Market collection a few years ago, I treated myself to this skirt since I couldn’t stretch to the dress at the time. I have worn it a couple of times, but not nearly as often as my other Palava dresses.

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When I spotted an apron made in the same material for a very reasonable price in Palava’s last sale, I snapped it up thinking I could use the extra material to make a bodice to attach to the skirt.

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I chose the By Hand London Flora bodice as I love both the shape and the fit and thought it would complement the skirt. The square neckline is great for showing off a statement necklace, like this cheese & biscuit beauty by Hello Sunshine.

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I took the waistband off the skirt and gathered the main fabric to attach it to the bodice. It’s slightly shorter than my usual knee length, but I think it creates a cute shape.

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I’m so pleased to have created a more wearable outfit using this fabric. There is so much detail in the fabulous border print, even the little girl at the market is wearing a Palava dress!

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Lucy x

DIY Tutorial: Knitted Bandana for #WearItOut

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Following my DIY tutorial last week to sew your own bandana to wear on Friday 3 March for the Bandanas For Brain Tumours #WearItOut campaign in support of The Brain Tumour Charity, tonight I have another tutorial for a different take on the bandana! My lovely Mum Bev, aka Spotty Daisy, designed and knitted this beautiful collar with a ribbon edge effect which you could wear as a bandana on Friday 3 March. Isn’t it pretty? And she very kindly put together the instructions for you to make your own! It’s very easy to wear as one end slips through the other to secure it, and super snuggly too!

How to Make Your Own Ribbon Edge Effect Slip Through Collar

You will require:

  • 1 x 50g ball of DK yarn (more if larger collar required)
  • 4mm knitting needles
  • Stitch holder
  • Darning needle

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Instructions:

Cast on 3 stitches

Row 1. Knit 2 slip last stitch purlwise

Row 2. Knit 1 increase 1 knit to last stitch, slip last stitch purlwise

Row 3. Knit to last stitch, slip last stitch purlwise

Row 4. Knit 1 increase 1, knit to last stitch, slip last stitch purlwise

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you have 12 stitches

Place these 12 stitches onto a stitch holder

Cast on 3 stitches

Repeat above instructions until you have 12 stitches

Rejoin the first section you knitted (12 stitches) onto your needle, ensuring that the two straight edges are on the outside of your knitting (i.e. the edges where you have increased should both point inwards to create a cut ribbon effect (see photo below) 24 stitches in total

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Knit across the 24 stitches for 30 rows, remembering to always slip your last stitch purlwise on every row

Now rib (K1 P1) to last stitch, then slip last stitch purlwise

Repeat this for a total of 8 rows

Rib 8, cast off 8 stitches, rib 7, slip last stitch purlwise

Rib 8, cast on 8 stitches, rib 7, slip last stitch purlwise (24 stitches in total) (this creates the hole for your collar to thread through, it’s the same procedure as when making a button hole)

Rib for 8 more rows, remembering to always slip last stitch purlwise

Now knit every row (always slipping last stitch purlwise) for approximately 15 inches (or however long you need the collar to be, check your neck measurement as you knit to ensure a comfy fit!)

Rib (K1 P1) for 18 rows, always remembering to slip last stitch purlwise

Knit 30 rows, again remembering to slip last stitch purlwise

Knit 11, slip next stitch purlwise, slip remaining 12 stitches onto a stitch holder

Working on the 12 stitches left on your needle:

Knit 1, knit 2 together, knit to last stitch, slip last stitch purlwise

Knit to last stitch, slip last stitch purlwise

Repeat the above two rows until you have 2 stitches remaining

Cast off

Pick up 12 stitches from stitch holder

Knit 11, slip last stitch purlwise

Knit 9, Knit 2 together, slip last stitch purlwise

Repeat these two rows until you have 2 stitches remaining

Cast off

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If you do knit your own bandana to wear on Friday 3 March, don’t forget to share a picture using the hashtag #WearItOut, and why not text TMBF81 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, or make a donation here.

Thanks for your support!

Lucy x

A Weekend in London: What I Wore

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A handy consequence of having a slightly out of control fabric stash is that I can quickly whip up a whole new wardrobe for a weekend away! I planned a trip to London last weekend to catch up with friends and eat lots of cake, and I made a few fun outfits to wear while I was away.

Raised On a Diet of Broken Biscuits

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I’ve been so excited about this biscuity outfit ever since I first had the idea! I’d been planning to try out the Tilly & The Buttons Cleo dungaree dress pattern after seeing about 3 million amazing versions on Instagram, and had chosen the baby pink denim kit. Then the Nikki McWilliams Biscuit Babe patch I had separately ordered arrived (Instagram is a bad influence on my online shopping habit!) and it looked perfect against the pink denim! Which also reminded me that I had bought a Makower biscuit print fabric last year which was still loitering in my stash, and would complement the dungaree dress nicely, so the idea for the ultimate biscuit outfit was born!

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Although I mostly wear dresses, I also want to keep improving my sewing skills and I fancied trying to make a shirt. Generally speaking shirts don’t often fit me well, but I liked the curved lines of the Tilly & The Buttons Rosa shirt. A biscuit print shirt to match my dungaree dress seemed the ideal choice. It’s quite a full on outfit, but I’m not usually one to shy away from a bold print – go big or go home!

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I really enjoyed making both the shirt and the dungaree dress as I learned a few new techniques. As usual with Tilly’s patterns, both were easy to follow and fun to sew, and resulted in modern, wearable, comfortable garments with lovely feminine silhouettes. I’ll definitely be making more of both.

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I was a little concerned about sewing up the denim dungaree dress since I haven’t worked with denim before, but it was lovely to sew. I’d highly recommend one of the Cleo kits since it comes with absolutely everything you need to make the dress. I always find it frustrating when I want to start a project but haven’t got all of the bits I need (zips, linings, interfacing etc) so it was very handy to buy it all in one package! The Cleo is a surprisingly quick make, and very satisfying to sew.

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I’m quite proud of how the collar on my Rosa shirt turned out as it’s the first time I’ve assembled a collar stand. It’s pretty sharp for my first attempt if I do say so myself! I used a contrasting pink and red polka dot print for the inside of the collar stand and button band facing, and finished it off with one of my new mint green “Smile & Make”labels.

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I wore this outfit to meet up with Daisy of Make Thrift London for a fun day exploring Brick Lane. Daisy had whipped up her own dungarees to wear too so we wear proudly flying the flag for handmade!

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D’ya Wanna Cwoffee, You Schmuck?

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Next, I made a classic Christine Haynes Emery dress in this incredible retro coffee pot print by Melody Miller for Kokka, which I picked up from The Eternal Maker’s destash Instagram account last year. The Emery always seems to be my pattern of choice for fabrics I really love, as it looks so good in pretty much any print and I know it will get lots of wear. The fabric is a cotton/linen blend with a lovely weight, so I made a pleated skirt since the fabric holds the pleats well, and it creates a great full shape.

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I only had 2 metres of this fabric, and although it was a little wider than the usual quilting cotton width it was still a little tight to cut out an Emery with sleeves. So I’m quite pleased with my pattern matching across the sleeves and around the skirt given how little fabric I had to play with!

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I wore this dress to meet friends for coffee & brunch at the Palm Vaults cafe in Hackney. Yep, I like to be literal with my outfits – a coffee dress for a coffee date!

Bullseye Mark Two

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Have you ever had a fabric you love so much you bought it in more than one colour way? I already have a Mortmain dress in the navy version of this Cotton & Steel print, and when I spotted the pink/coral alternative in the sale on The Crafty Mastermind I decided I needed a second arrow dress. The print is particularly special to me as it’s one Michael chose for me last year. I’d created a Pinterest board for fabrics I loved which he had obviously been looking at, and he said I absolutely had to get the navy striped arrows, so I immediately ordered it. And now I get to have two versions.

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Since this will really be a dress for summer, I made a By Hand London Flora with a full gathered skirt. I think the dress has definite Palm Springs vibes, so I accessorised with ice cream, cacti and a mid century Palm Springs house!

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My favourite detail in this print is the metallic gold touches. I love any fabric with a hint of metallic.

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I wore this dress to meet my best friend Jo for dinner at All Star Lanes on Brick Lane. I think I’ll be wearing it lots more with my range of pastel Sun Jellies in the summer.

Beauty School Drop Out

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I could have purchased all of Melody Miller’s latest collection for Cotton & Steel, Jubilee. Ultimately I settled on the ladies with balloons and this make up print from The Fabric Fox, which has so much detail and great mid century design references, making it the perfect balance of girly and retro.

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I made a princess seamed bodice with a full gathered skirt for a classic vintage silhouette. It was a great match with this Tatty Devine harlequin necklace which I picked up in the sale after Christmas.

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I wore this dress for afternoon tea at Hoi Polloi with my lovely friend Livvie, and jazzed it up with some bright pink tights!

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I had a really lovely weekend in London, if a little exhausting! I snapped lots of photos of the places I visited which I’ll try and share in a separate post soon.

Lucy x

DIY Tutorial: Twist Tie Bandana for #WearItOut

In two weeks time on Friday 3 March I’ll be asking you all to grab a bandana and #WearItOut in support of The Brain Tumour Charity (which you can read more about in my last post). This year, the theme of the campaign is to Make your own bandana, Buy one or Use one you already have, so I’ve put together a simple tutorial to encourage you to Make your own wired bandana to wear on the day. I made 30 of these bandanas to sell in my Etsy shop in support of the campaign and they proved to be extremely popular, selling out in less than 12 hours!

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I personally love to wear wired bandanas since I find them easy to style, and much better at staying put in my fine slippy hair. You can just twist the bandana in your hair and you’re ready to roll! If you’d prefer a bandana without a wire, I’ve explained how to adapt the pattern at the end of the post. And if sewing isn’t your thing, I’ll be posting another tutorial to make a very pretty knitted bandana in a few days, put together by my lovely Mum, Bev of Spotty Daisy.

The weather hasn’t been great here and some of the pictures are a little darker than I would like, but hopefully you can still get the idea!

How To Make Your Own Wired Bandana

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Supplies:

  • Fabric of your choice – you will need a piece measuring 88cm x 13cm (see later in the post for tips on how to make the bandana from just a fat quarter, or how to make the bandana reversible)
  • Matching thread
  • Craft wire 2mm thickness – you will need a 95cm piece
  • Washi tape (optional)

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Fabric marker if you have one, or a pencil will do!
  • Point turner – you can use a knitting needle, or anything with a blunt point

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STEP 1: draw the bandana shape & cut out your fabric. Take your ruler and draw a rectangle measuring 88cm x 13cm on your fabric, using an erasable fabric marker if you have one. Just a pencil will do if not, as the lines you draw will not be seen when the bandana is finished.

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Once you have drawn out the rectangle, you need to taper in the short edges of the rectangle to create a pointed shape at the ends of your bandana. Measure in and mark 3cm from each corner along the long edges of the rectangle. Then mark the halfway point (6.5cm) of each short edge. Using a ruler, join these marks together, as shown below.

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Cut out the rectangle and cut around the pointed edges you have drawn, which should give you a shape as below.

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STEP 2: Fold in half, then pin and stitch the sides. Fold your bandana in half along the longest width, so the right sides of the fabric are facing together. Pin the raw edges together.

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Make sure to leave an opening in the centre of about 6cm so that you can turn your bandana inside out and thread in the wire once you have sewn it. Use 2 pins to mark each side of this gap to remind you to stop sewing here!

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Sew along the raw edges using a 1.5cm seam allowance, and make sure to back tack at the beginning and end of each seam. Start from the pointed edge and sew towards the middle.

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Once you reach the edge of the opening which you have marked with two pins, pivot and sew off the edge of the fabric at 90 degrees as shown below. This will help to keep the opening neatly tucked inside when you turn the bandana the right side out. Repeat from the other pointed edge.

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STEP 3: Trim your seam allowances & turn the right way out. Trim your seam allowances down to about 1 cm. Cut diagonally across the corners, but be careful not to cut too close to the stitching line.

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Turn the bandana the right way out. Use a point turner to poke out the pointed corners and keep them sharp. I use a bamboo point turner, but you can use anything with a blunt point, like a knitting needle. Be gentle and make sure not to poke a hole through the seam!

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STEP 4: Press! Give the bandana a really good press with your iron.

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STEP 5: Make and insert the wire. Take your craft wire and cut a length measuring 95cm. Fold each end in by 5 cm, then twist together as below. This will prevent having a sharp end to the wire which could poke through the fabric and worse, poke you!

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If you have some washi tape to hand, you could cut a strip and wrap it around the edge of the wire as below, just to be extra careful.

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Now carefully insert the wire through the opening. Once the wire is in place, try to grip each end of the wire in each corner of the bandana and give it a good pull to straighten the wire out, as it can get a little twisted as you thread it in through the opening.

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STEP 6: Topstitch the opening. The last step is to sew up the opening you have just inserted the wire through. Use thread in the same colour as your fabric, and stitch close to the edge as shown above. Back tack at the beginning and end of the seam to secure it.

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And ta-da – you have a fabulous new bandana to wear! Now for the final and most important step…

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STEP 7: Wear It Out! On Friday 3 March, wear your handmade bandana proudly in support of The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, take a picture of yourself wearing it and post it to social media using the tag #WearItOut, and text TMBF81 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, or make a donation here.

Wired Bandana from a Fat Quarter

If you don’t have a wide enough piece of fabric to cut out your bandana, you can easily make one from a fat quarter! My lovely friend Daisy of Make Thrift London recently gifted me a set of fat quarters cut from vintage bedding, which I thought would be perfect for making bandanas.

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To cut a bandana from a fat quarter, you will basically need to cut it in two halves and sew these together along the middle, and the rest of the construction is then the same as above. So, you will need to draw out two rectangles measuring 45.5cm x 13cm, and then taper one end of each rectangle as shown in Step 1 above. This should give you two pointed rectangles as below.

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Pin the two rectangles together along the flat short edge, right sides of the fabric together.

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Sew along this edge using a 1.5cm seam allowance, and back tack at the ends. Then press the seam open as below.

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Now follow on from Step 2 above, and make sure to pay particular attention to Step 7!

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Reversible Wired Bandana

If you’d like to make your bandana more versatile, why not use a different fabric for each side and make it reversible? You’ll need to cut a rectangle measuring 88cm x 8 cm from two different fabrics, as illustrated below.

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Then taper the ends of each rectangle to create a pointed edge by measuring in 3 cm from each corner along the top of each rectangle, then use a ruler to draw a line from this mark to the bottom corner.

Or, if you don’t have wide enough pieces of fabric to hand, you could use 2 fat quarters and cut out 2 rectangles measuring 45.5cm x 8cm from each fabric, as below.

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You’ll then need to taper the ends as below.

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Next, pin the matching rectangles along the straight edges.

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Sew along this edge using a 1.5cm seam allowance, and press open.

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Pin the two rectangles together all along the raw edges, right sides facing. Make sure to leave a gap in the centre of about 6cm so that you can turn your bandana inside out once you have sewn it. Use 2 pins to mark each side of this gap to remind you to stop sewing.

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Sew all around the raw edges using a 1.5cm seam allowance, and make sure to back tack at the beginning and end of the seam. Then, follow on from Step 3 above, and you’ll have a nifty reversible bandana!

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Making a Bandana Without A Wire

If you would prefer to make a bandana without a wire so you can simply tie it in your hair or around your neck, it’s very simple to adapt the instructions above. The main change you will need to make is to cut out a longer piece of fabric, as the bandana will need to be longer so that you can tie a knot to secure it in your hair or around your neck. Ideally, you’ll need to cut a piece of fabric measuring at least 110cm x 13cm. Then follow the instructions as above, but don’t insert the wire!

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To make a non-wired bandana out of a fat quarter, you’ll need to cut two rectangles measuring at least 56.5 x 13cm, and follow the instructions as above, skipping the step where you insert the wire.

Or to make it double sided, you’ll either need to cut a rectangle measuring at least 110 cm x 8 cm from two different fabrics, or cut 2 rectangles each measuring at least 56.5cm x 8cm from two different fabrics, and again follow the instructions as above, skipping the step where you insert the wire.

I look forward to seeing your makes on Friday 3 March! And don’t forget to take a picture of yourself on the day wearing your bandana and post it to social media using the tag #WearItOut, and text TMBF81 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, or make a donation here.

Hopefully you can follow my explanations above, but do let me know if you need any help! Happy sewing!

Lucy x

#WearItOut

On Friday 3 March, exactly one month today, will you wear a bandana and join me in supporting The Brain Tumour Charity’s #WearItOut campaign? Our united community will come together to raise awareness and vital funds for research into brain tumours – all while rocking a bandana! It’s especially poignant for me this year as the date falls just after the first anniversary of losing Michael, and I’d love it if everyone who knew and loved Michael, or who has come to know our story from my blog or Instagram, will don a bandana and make a stand with me on 3 March.

This is a statistic I often quote, but in the UK less than 2% of cancer research funding is spent on research into brain tumours. For the 10,600 people diagnosed each year, this isn’t good enough. You can help us change this. The Brain Tumour Charity aims to raise £150k throughout Brain Tumour Awareness Month in March, which could fund 600 days of research.

This year, the theme of the campaign is to Make your own bandana, Buy one or Use one you already have, so it couldn’t be easier to join in! I’ve been making a mountain of bandanas which I will be selling in my Etsy shop to support the campaign, and donating 100% of profits to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund. I’ll also be encouraging all of my creative pals to make your own or style up something you already have! Read on for more ideas of how you can get involved later in this post.

Whatever you do, make sure to wear your bandana loud and proud on the 3 March and get people talking about brain tumours. Post a selfie on social media using the hashtag #WearItOut, or wear one to work, to the post office or the supermarket and tell everyone about the campaign! Keep your eye on my Instagram feed as on 3 March I’ll be giving away a few Tip Top prizes for the best bandana pictures you share!

If you choose to make your own bandana or style something you already have, I’d love it if you could make a small donation to support the campaign by texting TMBF81 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, or make a donation here.

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To kick things off, with a bit of digging I’ve managed to find an excellent snap of Michael in a bandana to inspire us all. So here he is rocking a bandana at a festival! I think this was taken the summer before I met Michael, so I’m guessing it was at Truck or Reading? Always with his polo shirt buttoned up!

Buy it

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I’ve made a whole batch of fun and colourful bandanas which are now up for sale in my Etsy shop. I’ve made two varieties, either with a wire to easily twist and wear in your hair, or without a wire so you can tie it in your hair, around your neck, on your bag, around the brim of your hat, around your wrist – whatever you can think of! They are a slim design, equivalent to a traditional square bandana which has been rolled up, as I find this easy to style!

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I’ve used bright colours and bold prints, all in crisp 100% cotton, and every bandana is a one off. Each bandana is finished with a woven label reading #WEARITOUT in support of the campaign. I’ve made some in shades of red and turquoise, which are the colours of The Brain Tumour Charity. I even managed to find a beautiful Liberty Tana Lawn in a print named after the Olympic Diver Tom Daley, who is a patron of the Charity, which is available in the Charity’s colours, so I had to use it!

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You could also head to The Brain Tumour Charity’s online shop to buy one of the Charity’s bandanas. There are two designs to choose from!

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Make it

Why not unlock your creative talent and design your own bandana? The possibilities are endless! I’ll be posting tutorials here in the coming weeks for how to make a simple square bandana, or how to make a wired twist tie bandana like the ones I have for sale in my Etsy shop. And I’d love to see how you guys interpret the concept. Basically, as long as it’s something you can tie around your hair or your neck, anything goes in my book! So why not knit your own, crochet something, make one out of pom poms, upcycle an old tea towel or cushion cover? Here’s one I whipped up by making a patchwork out of scraps of fabric from each of the dresses I have made!

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You could take a bandana or scarf you already have and jazz it up, maybe add a fun trim like the pom pom border below, or cover it in glitter! You could even just take a plain bandana, handkerchief or square of fabric, grab a sharpie and use your design skills to doodle something fun!

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And if you’re looking for more inspiration, there are fun tutorials on The Brain Tumour Charity’s website to make the designs below, or you can apply for a free fundraising pack which includes stencils and other ideas of how to make your own!

If you do make your own, don’t forget to share a picture using the hashtag #WearItOut, and text TMBF81 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, or make a donation here.

Use it

Why not look in the back of your wardrobe and wear a bandana that you already have? It’s the perfect way to get involved this Brain Tumour Awareness Month and look great doing it! If you’re anything like me and have a hoarded collection of vintage scarves, now’s the perfect time to show them off, and I’d love to see how you style yours! I tried styling a quirky lipstick print scarf Michael gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

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If you choose to wear your own, don’t forget to share a picture using the hashtag #WearItOut, and why not text TMBF81 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 to The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund, or make a donation here.

I’m really excited about this campaign as it’s so easy to get involved. I can’t wait to see how everyone rocks their bandanas! Thank you for your support!

Lucy x