24 10 / 2012
20 6 / 2012
First, apologies for the ridiculously long absense. Final year of uni ate all of my time but I’m finally free and it’s back to cheap blogging!
One of the things I thought would be a good idea to talk about is cheaper alternatives for a well known brand. We’re often reluctant to try anything but our favourite brand, so I’m here to review products for you and give you an idea of what’s out there.
Archers peach schnapps and lemonade is always my drink of choice when out, but when buying a bottle for myself I found it’s really rather pricey, so over the course of my uni experience I have tried plenty of cheaper alternatives.
Archers- £12 on tesco groceries
Archers is the kind of ‘big brand’ for peach schnapps. Absolutely delicious but not cheap by the bottle, so I wanted an alternative
Orchards- £8 at drinksfactory.co.uk
I bought a bottle of this from our uni shop because it was sat next to the Archers but cheaper. Six months later, I still had an almost full bottle because NO ONE WOULD DRINK IT. It wasn’t just not as good as the Archers, it was actually a chore to drink because it was unpleasant. I felt I should drink it because I had bought it, but just couldn’t bring myself to. The only reason I don’t still have it is because I took it to a party and left it there…
Savanna- £6 at tesco groceries
Bought this the other day and was very pleasantly surprised. Not quite to Archers standards but WELL worth it for half the price.
Oscar’s- £5.29 at Aldi
The cheapest and, as it turns out, the nicest. If you gave me a bottle of Archers and a bottle of this, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell the difference and at less than half the price, that’s an awesome deal! Definitely the one out of the four that I will be buying in the future :D
05 5 / 2012
I’ve been a bit inactive lately (sorry!) but expect a tutorial soon on how to make your own winged sandals in the style of these beauties by Vivienne Westwood
12 4 / 2012
10 3 / 2012
Making your own clothes can be time consuming, so if you don’t have the drive for it, it probably isn’t worth the money you save. However if, like me, you would love to own pretty expensive Lolita dresses but are not willing to throw £300 at brand, learning to make your own dresses can be wonderful.
This is not a pattern for a dress, but an idea for how to make your own so do not, and I repeat, do not, cut these shapes straight in to your expensive material before you know if your pattern fits you. Find some old material or buy the cheapest stuff you can find. You will need approximately 2m of fabric.
You will need 6 sections to make your bodice. For every measurement I give you, you should assume I’m adding “plus a few cm for seams”.
Firstly, the rectangle piece for the front. The length of this should be the length you want your bodice (experiment a bit with this to see what looks good- I always accidentally make them too long) and the width should be the distance from one boob to the other.
Next, the ‘boob’ pieces. You need two of these, one for each side. The curved part makes the dress fit around your boobs, so adjust appropriately. It may be a good idea to do as I did, take a picture of yourself from the side and draw the outline on to the picture to get an idea of the shape you will need.
After that, the side-back pieces. These are almost rectangular, but the width at the top of the piece should be a cm or two bigger than the width at the bottom to account for your waist. Once again, you need one of these for each side.
For the back, you have several options- zips, corset back etc. I will be doing an elasticated gathered back because with this method, you don’t have to worry too much about making the whole bodice fit you.
Cut a piece of material that is the same height as the side-back pieces but 4x the width. Then you need your elastic. Thin (less than 1cm) elastic works best. You will need one piece for the top of the material, and then the rest of the strips of elastic should be spaced about 5cm apart, stopping just short of the end of the bodice. Each strip should be half the width of the material.
We will leave the piece at the top of the material for last. Start on the second piece, placing it about 8cm down to leave room for a hem (I haven’t done this in the picture, mine’s only about 5cm down. Whoops!). Sew the end of the elastic as normal, then take your elastic strip, stretch it as far as you can, and sew along it while keeping it stretched. As soon as it is through the machine, you should see it start to gather. Continue like this until you reach the end of the elastic, then repeat for the other strips.
Here’s what it should look like after one strip!
For the top of the material, sew the hem, leaving a ‘tube’ for the elastic. Pin one end of the elastic at one end of the hem and slide the rest through the tube, gathering the material as you go. Sew over the elastic to secure it at both ends.
Leave the bottom of this section ungathered, we will deal with that when we do the skirt!
Now pin your whole bodice together to see how it fits you. Even with the gathered back, it is unlikely to fit first time, so pin the parts that need taking in and adjust accordingly. It is much harder (usually impossible) to adjust to make something bigger, so always cut your pieces bigger than you think you will need.
The skirt is one piece, a rectangle. The height should be the length you want the skirt and the width should be 2 or 3x your waist (depending on how much poof you want). First, sew the two ends of this rectangle together to get the beginnings of your skirt shape. Take the top of the back of the skirt and sew this on to the bottom part of the back section of the bodice (where you have left the bottom ungathered). Grab another strip of elastic, the same length as before. Place this along the inside, rough part of the seam you just created and sew it with the same method that you used for gathering before. This will leave the back section of the skirt gathered.
(I got a picture to show what I mean by the rough part of the seam.)
For the rest of the skirt, we won’t use elastic. Take a needle and sew as pictured around what remains of the top edge of the skirt, making sure to secure the start of the thread. Once you reach the end, pull the thread and push the material back to gather. Adjust this until the top of the skirt is the right size to attach to the bodice (pinning as you go along to help). Sew this on to the bodice, hem around the bottom of the skirt and the top of the bodice, and you have a fabulous dress!
Straps are optional but recommended because they hold the dress up nicely, but I won’t cover them here because they’re pretty simple. Drop me and ask if you want any help with them! :)
08 3 / 2012
Food shopping can be one of the highest regular costs in our lives. I’m not suggesting you buy less food (you’d be surprised how many students try to save money that way) but there are lots of easy ways to save money in your groceries.
1. Brands vs Value
Some of us can be very particular about our brands. I won’t eat anything but Heinz ketchup and if you give me any other type of cola and try and pass it off for Coca Cola, I will probably punch you in the face. However, there are certain things that we might buy the more expensive brand out of habit, when actually the taste of the cheaper option is no different (or better). Vegetables, for instance, are often more expensive because they are a more appealing shape. You can get three Tesco’s loose onions for 48p, but a packet of Tesco’s finest onions is £1.50. Tesco’s value chopped tomatoes comes in at a brilliant 33p and will make enough pasta sauce for two servings. Cook Italian’s chopped tomatoes are £1.11, over three times as much. Having bought a whole range of chopped tomatoes I can tell you that they all just taste like tomatoes.
There are also certain products where you won’t be able to taste the difference between brand and value. I was given a Tesco’s mini apple pie by a friend and commented on how ‘these Mr Kipling apple pies are always delicious!’, so it only goes to show. The Tesco’s pies are 65p, a whole 70p cheaper than Mr Kipling! Biscuits and fruits juices tend to fit in this category.
2. Bulk buying
If you have a food that you buy regularly that won’t go off any time soon such as pasta, try looking at how big a packet you can buy. As a general rule, the bigger you get, the better value for money it will be.
Tesco’s penne pasta 500g 95p 3kg £3.50 You save £2.20
Tesco’s Basmati rice 500g 89p 2kg £2.49 You save £1.07
Tesco’s classic coffee 100g £1.79 300g £2.69 You save £2.68
3. Make your own
This is my favourite category and probably the biggest saver if, like me, you eat absurd amounts of pasta/curry from a jar etc. Pasta with Loyd Grossman sauce used to make up about 50% of what I ate in the first year of university. At £1.79 a jar, it was not very cheap. I started making my own sauce on a whim but since then I have realized just how brilliant a money saver it is! I also make my own curry sauce after they once substituted my pre-made sauce (£1.76) with the equivalent paste.
Pasta sauce (serves 2)
Tesco’s value chopped tomatoes 33p
Half an onion 8p
One clove of garlic ~4p
You save £1.34
Not only is this cheap, it’s very easy to make and delicious. Just chop and fry the onion, crush and add the garlic, throw in the tomatoes and simmer. Add a pinch of bazil or some vinegar and sugar to spice it up at bit (I don’t include the cost of these because with the amount you use, the cost would be negligible).
Tikka Masala sauce (serves 2)
Patak’s curry paste (1/4 of a jar) 50p
Tescos value tomato soup 24p
Half an onion 8p
You save 94p
Another very quick, easy dish. Chop and fry the onion, add the soup, stir in the curry paste and simmer. It’s less than half the price of the pre-made sauce with exactly the same taste and almost zero effort.
Discovered this when researching for this blog and it is just plain brilliant. Compare prices of products across supermarkets or for different brands and best of all, there is a page summarizing all the best deals currently on offer. Definitely worth a look for scrimpers like myself!
(PS- I promise I’ll get the Lolita stuff up soon!)
10 2 / 2012
I have a number of old tshirts that I have bought in a moment of madness (most of them because they have something nerdy on the front) or received that do not come even close to fitting me. My victim today is the tshirt I got when I was part of the Japanese Society dance team, which I would love to wear but despite being the right size, it is the most shapeless awful tube of a tshirt I have ever seen. So I decided to make it more wearable while providing you guys with a tutorial!
1) Put your tshirt on inside out, then pin down the sides as tight as you want your new top to be, baring in mind that you will have to get out of this in a second. For this reason, place your pins facing downwards so they dont stab you on the way up.
2) Using a sewing machine (or hand-sewing, if you’re brave enough) sew up the lines you’ve just marked out. Make sure to cut the now spare material close to the line you’ve sewn so it doesn’t make awkward bumps when you turn it the right way around.
3) Turn your shirt inside out, try it on and admire your fabulous new sexy top :D You can stop here you want to or go on…
4) I wanted a tank top, so I cut just on the inside of the seams for the sleeves, then cut out the neck.
5) It may go a bit baggy around the armpits at this point, depending on the original shape of the tshirt. Don’t panic, just sew up the places marked by pins until it fits better:
6) Fold over the edges and hem them so it’s all neat and your top is finished! :D
23 1 / 2012
I saw someone posting some tutorials for fake flowers and thought they would make for a great post! Attached to a hair clip or broach they could make a great present and cost you nothing if you have material (or for one of these examples, a plastic bag) lying around. Some of them don’t even require you to be able to sew!
No sewing required