Make do and mend's modern makeover as popularity of sewing and thrifting surges on TikTok

Katy Rose Christopher from Glasgow and Evie Holdcroft, from London love sharing how they prolong the life of their clothes on social media Credit: Katy Rose Christopher / Evie Holdcroft

By ITV News Multimedia Producer Rachel Dixon

More and more Brits are switching sales for sewing in a resurgence of "make do and mend".

As the cost of living crisis continues, it seems many are saving cash on clothes by getting crafty with a needle and thread or home dying kits.

"Make do and mend" refers to a post-World War Two government campaign that urged people to repair the clothes they already have. The thrifty trend continues today with upcycling, with many sharing their tips on social media.

Evie Holdcroft, from London, grew up sewing and knitting from a young age, having been taught by her grandmother.

She uses her craft to express herself through fashion and loves hand-stitched patches or creative mends. As she's got older, sewing and crafting has boosted her mental wellbeing, as well as boosting her business Holdcroft Handmades.

Evie Holdcroft was taught to knit and sew by her grandmother Credit: Evie Holdcroft

She said: "Keeping my hands occupied with hand crafts has certainly become a solace to me."

The 28-year-old shares her needlework and tips on TikTok under the handle holdcrofthandmades. She hopes to help others prolong the life of clothes, including socks, which she says she's saved a huge amount of money on by fixing rather than buying.

In recent months she's noticed people commenting about saving money.

She said: "People are certainly looking more into preserving their clothes for longer as the cost of living crisis becomes increasingly concerning.

"I have had comments on my videos from parents looking to keep their kid’s clothes wearable for longer by mending them, and from other people feeling the pinch who ask questions about how much the mending materials cost.

"People are often shocked when I say that the mending loom I bought cost only £6 – but there are definitely other household items that you can use as a makeshift darning mushrooms. Other than that, it really is just needle and thread!

"So many people picked up sewing, knitting and crochet during lockdown to make their own individual garments, and a lot of those people have continued making things for themselves, which is brilliant.

How Evie uses a mending loom to fix clothes Credit: Evie Holdcroft

"The act of sewing and mending carries so much generational history, and it makes me so happy to see that this is not something that is likely to disappear any time soon."

Katy Rose Christopher started sewing as a teenager, growing up in Wigan. She loved spending hours rummaging through charity shops and the more she bought vintage clothes the more she found she needed to alter and upcycle items.

Katy now lives in Glasgow and runs her own business Mack and Rose embroidering vintage or second-hand clothes for bands, musicians, small businesses and other creatives. She shares videos of her merchandise on her account @mackandrose, including how she makes them and the important environmental cause, to a growing social media audience.

The 31-year-old said: “I have seen a growth in my reach over the last year in particular and I think this has come from the interest in eco-friendly embroidery merchandise that I do.

Katy Rose Christopher started sewing as a teenager, growing up in Wigan Credit: Katy Rose Christopher

“A lot of the interest on social media seems to be around the fact that I've managed to find a solution to a problem; small businesses and creatives rely on income from merchandise, however buying new screen printed t-shirts is damaging to the environment.

“By using second and hand and vintage I am cutting out the damaging processes of clothing production.

“Buying second hand is definitely a lot more popular than when I was growing up!

“I remember being seen as a little odd when I was younger, although my mum said it was a trend when she was a teenager too.

“I think more so in the last few years as many are becoming more cost conscious it is becoming more popular.

“I think many people like the uniqueness of clothing that is second hand or that they have made themselves.”

Katy creates unique items of clothing by embroidering and altering vintage items Credit: Katy Rose Christopher

Evie and Katy's videos are just two of many, as TikTok is inundated with people sharing their second hand purchases, money-saving hacks and tutorials on revamping old items of clothing.

There are 8.6 billlion views on videos using #thrifting and 15.1 billion views on those with #sewing.

Shoppers are also flocking to the haberdashery section, with sales of craft and repair products - including patches and repair tape - up 61% at John Lewis, compared to last year. 

According to the department store clothing colour dye is up by 24%, with black and navy proving particularly popular.

Evie Holdcroft shares tutorials on how to mend jeans on TikTok Credit: Evie Holdcroft

It appears others may be trying their hand at clothes-making with accessories, such as thimbles, dressmakers chalk and pattern-making accessories up 15% year-on-year. Safety pins (+21%), tape measures (+14%) and knitting needles (+6%) are all seeing growth too.

Susan Kennedy, Haberdashery Lead for John Lewis, said: “We’re certainly becoming a nation of craft lovers.

"Whether they’re looking to rejuvenate their clothes, or have been inspired by the likes of Tom Daley’s knitting efforts last year, we’re seeing more and more customers turn to sewing, stitching and knitting. 

“It’s a trend set to continue and we’ve recently launched some fantastic kits for new starters - from embroidery and stitching to crochet and knitting.” 

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