Mary Jane's Blog



Super exciting news everyone!

I've been invited to do a talk at the Hemingway Festival of Thrift in Darlington all about my Mobile Makery and being Chic on a Shoestring!

The talk will be from 3-4pm on Sunday 28th September...the festival starts on Saturday 27th September.

This festival is an absolute must for anyone interested in upcycling, recycling, or even cycling (!) as it's all about ways of being green, creative, and of course thrifty!

I went last year to see what all the fuss was about. I had an absolute ball and came away buzzing with inspiration. 

There are stalls, events, swaps, music, vintage stuff, making...and a wonderful restaurant where you can eat in a variety of retro vans.

If you don't have time to drop by for my talk, come anyway and join me at the Mobile Makery to fashion yourself a fab vintage-style turban as featured in my book...'Chic on a Shoestring'.  

Just bring along an old T-shirt (as large as possible) and you'll go away loooking tres glam!

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Can't wait to meet you!



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As part of my plan to blog my way around Europe in my Mobile Makery (ah yes - that's my next plan!) I'm developing a collection of very simple-to-sew clothes that you can put together without a pattern. The idea is that you can make them as you travel (with or without a sewing machine) out of fabric you snap up along the way.

I've bought a wonderful vintage hand-crank Singer sewing machine on e-bay so that I can stitch on the go - no electricity needed. You could sew by hand of course, but having a machine just speeds things up a bit.


Here's the machine being put through it's paces by my brothers - they're making paper heart bunting!

Anyway - let's get back to the sew-on-the-go clothes!

The first thing I tried was this Doctor Who dress - so-called as it's made from an old Doctor Who quilt cover that I found in a charity shop up in Scotland.

You can wear the dress loose which would make it a great beach or camping cover-up or belt it like this to create more shape.

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You simply measure your bust and hips and add a little extra for ease and seams. The dress will be made to skim over your widest part - for me that's my hips - so that's my key measurement for this dress.

Then measure along your shoulders to see where you want your sleeves to finish and where to position your neckline.

You can shape the neckline however you wish - just make sure there's enough room to poke your head through (you don't want to be messing around with zips and such like when you've only got your basic sewing kit with you out on the road).

Once you have these basic measurements you fold your fabric in half right sides together and cut out two shapes like this.


Sew up the sides seams and the shoulders and then use bias binding along the neckline and sleeve edges.


Here I've teamed the dress with a collar/necklace from my book 'Chic on a Shoestring' and put a little tuck in the top of the sleeve to create more shape.

Once you have your basic pattern you can make a variety of different clothes.

Here's a top made in exactly the same way using a vintage pillowcase that I bought for a euro in France.

This time it's the bust measurement that's important - although remember that you want the top to sit nicely over your tummy too.


The bow detail makes all the difference I think. No tuck in these sleeves.

It's simple but it works, and the fabric is lovely and soft as it's been washed so often.


 Next up I tried adding a gathered section to the bottom of the top shape pictured above to create a loose waisted dress.

Again, belted, you get a fitted style.

This dress was made out of another Scottish charity shop sheet.

Team it with a fabulous 50's dressing gown from a vintage shop in Canada and you 've created a catwalk-worthy bargain outfit!


Remember, it's the detail that counts. I used check bias binding and added little gathered pockets.


It's sew-on-the-go!

Go on - have a go yourself!



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I know, I know...I haven't blogged properly for AGES!

It's down to Instagram I'm afraid. So quick and easy to use.

But I think Bambi's recent travels are worth a bit of typing up - so here goes!

I've spent the summer so far checking that my Bambi (aka the Magical Mobile Makery) and I are up for life on the open road.

So what better way to find out than to drive to Brittany!

Here we are waiting to board the ferry at Dover.


Sixteen hours later - we arrived at Carhaix our final destination - life in the slow lane ladies and gents at 50 miles per hour!

I have to say - I was thrilled just to get there without breaking down as Bambi had been receiving urgent medical attention until just two days before we set off!

Bambi went down a storm in France - many lovely compliments and admiring glances along the way.


One of my best discoveries was that in most little French towns 'camping cars' can stop for free (or for a few euros)

in special car parks where you can top up your fresh water and electricity supplies (not that I need such mod cons,

I have no electrics and no water pump) but it's fantastic to know you're welcome and well-catered for.


I checked out local brocantes, second-hand depots, and of course the food and wine.

But I was thrilled to come across a celebration of Breton culture - these hats and headpieces are impeccable.

They're treated with rice starch to ensure perfect crispness.



Note the Breton flag! stop....craft workshopping around France.

Let the plans commence!

Let me know if you have any ideas or places you'd like me to go.

Twitter: @maryjanebaxter

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My Mobile Makery - affectionately known as 'Bambi' (after the name of the vehicle) is heading to Bath this weekend and next as part of

Bath in Fashion.

On Sunday 4th May you'll find me at Bath's very own vintage fashion fair at Green Park Station....

..then on Saturday 10th May I'll be popping up at Milsom Place next to the wonderful Selvedge Craft Fair.

Bambi has come a long way since I picked her up from a rather remote and slightly scarey looking garage near Southampon.


..and she (and her owner) are now more than ready to get creative!

Come on board and craft your own fabulous floral headband..perfect for a bit of summer festival fun! (£5 per person)...


If you're not in the mood for making...please swing by and say hello and have a snoop around.

You'll get lots of ideas and I'll be selling signed copies of my books too!


I look forward to meeting you!


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I've been feeling a little below parr of late and realised how much I've been missing making.

It can be so theraputic to create something special.

So I've started work on a new range of summer wedding accessories.


These little beauties are meant to be a bit of fun - made out of millinery wire and bound with tulle...

they can be trimmed up in all sorts of ways..


And of course my burnt flower corsages are a wonderful wedding accessory...

20140328_163539_resized 2.jpg feels like the beginning of a rather romantic episode!

If you don't want to have a go yourself - my headpieces and corsages can be made to order.



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This is a project you can easily make at home useing the pages of an old childrens book.

Being a child of the '70's I have special memories of learning to read using Peter & Jane books.

So when I saw this one at my local market for 50p, I snapped it up! It's also the perfect size for creating bunting.

As well as your book you'll need:

a pencil and ruler, scissors (ones with a decorative edge are nice), a hole punch, double-sided sticky tape and some ribbon.

First draw your tiangle bunting shapes on the back of the pages. You can rub the lines out when you're done.


Cut out using the crinkly-edged scissors.


Next punch a hole in the top two corners.


Thread through your ribbon and secure at the back of each pennant with a little double-sided sticky tape.


Hang up and enjoy!




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A quick and tasty dip/side dish that I invented whilst defrosting my fridge.

How come you ALWAYS have a bag of frozen peas in there that you have to eat up in a hurry?!

So - cook the peas in a pan of boiling water.

Slice up a fat chunk of garlic.

Put in the blender together with a handful of fresh coriander, a good squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper, a pinch of dried chilli...

add two spoonfuls of Greek-style natural yoghurt....and a good glug of olive oil.

Blitz - adding a bit more olive oil to loosen the consistency as needed.

Adjust seasoning to taste.

Eat as a dip - but also great as a side with fish fingers.

Add a shake of cumin and coriander powder for a slightly different take.

You could also try adding fresh mint.




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My Mobile Makery is now ready to hit the road for children's parties.

Don't the girls look adorable - and yes - they made their pretty head-dresses all by themselves!

PS - grown-up girls love doing this too!



e-mail: for further details




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Well, welcome back to Mary Jane Makes!

It's been a long, hard, winter - but it's time to try and push those crochet blankets aside and stretch!

I'm kicking off the year with my first ever POP-UP SHOP in a wee town on the North East coast of Scotand.

Montrose in Angus is where my Mum was born, and it's here on 25th January (Burns Night) that you can find me!

Come along to 13 Bridge Street to try and buy some of my fabulous stash of vintage fairisle knits.

They were unearthed from a friend's attic where they've been hibernating since the 1970's!

All in mint condition and in their orginal packaging - they're a steal at the special price of £35.


Also available - these wonderful tartan dresses - also dating from the 1970's


Team the two together and you'll get an extra discount!

There'll be signed copies of my books for sale as well as some vintage-style headpieces and a few choice extra pieces.


Happy Burns Night for the 25th

Mary Jane x

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Back at the tail-end of the summer I nipped along to the Classic Car Boot event on the Southbank.

It was great fun with all sorts of fantastic old vehicles bursting at the seams with second-hand and vintage goodies.

It was a pretty grey day - so the bursts of colour gave everyone a real boost!


One of the main reasons I went along was to check out how other people are running their mobile businesses.

Two that especially caught my eye were the vintage clothes shop run out of a horsebox...

and 'chalky van' - a creative arts project where the idea is to promote recycling in all its forms.

The van is painted in blackboard paint so everyone can leave a message.

But even those without 'cool vehicles' had made their vans and cars work for them as venues. 

Lots of inspiration too in style terms..


And for those looking to pick up some ideas for 'making'...


That Mr Hemingway has hit just the right note with this latest offering.



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