Mary Jane's Blog


Happy New Year everyone!

I hope 2016 is going to be a creative and successful year for you all. I have got some exciting plans for the year ahead - a new travel-inspired craft book, a project with The Imperial War Museum in Manchester and lots of making and motoring in Bambi!

I'm also going to be offering classes in constructing vintage-style headpieces using wire frames. These sessions will be available on a one-to-one basis as well as for groups. If you are interested please contact me on

For the time being I'll continue to blog on

Look forward to meeting you sometime soon!


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From the 23rd April (St George's Day and Shakespeare's Birthday) I am taking my Mobile Makery (my upcylcled craft studio on wheels) on tour around Europe - stitching, making, cutting and sticking my way from place to place.

I'll be running workshops as I travel and meeting other artists & craftspeople, talking to them about their work.

To follow my adventures 





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Many congratulations to Victoria Gartland who's won a copy of The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking in the recent competition.

There were lots of correct answers..but for those of you who didn't know:

The RSPB was originally set up to try and prevent the destruction of exotic bird species whose plumes were plundered by fashionable women during the late Victorian period.

Well done Victoria.

A copy of the book is now 'winging' its way to you!




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This is just one of the stunning yet simple-to-create designs you can find in my latest book

The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking.

It's full of hats and headpieces that you can make at the kitchen table WITHOUT the need for specialist equipment.

Or if you don't fancy making an entire hat, how about fashioning some pretty fabric blooms instead?

To win a copy of 

The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking...

just answer this question:

Why is the RSPB linked to the history of hatmaking? 

Correct answers will be put in a hat and I'll pick out a winner on 5th April!

Answers to





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I am currently having some work done on my website so please forgive the lack of blogs!

I will be up an running in time for my 


which I begin on 

23rd April

Shakespeare's Birthday 

St George's Day!


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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!

Shot 01_H.jpg

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.

doctor who dress.jpg


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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Welcome to mary jane makes. Writer, maker, and hat-making adventurer.