Mom Makes Her Own Glam ’50s Wardrobe From Charity Shop Curtains, Bedsheets, and Duvets

April 15, 2021 Updated: April 15, 2021

A glam-seeking mom who couldn’t afford her dream ’50s wardrobe but refuses the “drudgery” of being a stay-at-home mom instead makes her own beautiful dresses—from charity shop bedsheets, tablecloths, and even CURTAINS.

Rosie Chandler doesn’t like the “mom uniform” of jeans and a top and wanted to embrace glamorous mid-century fashion styles on a daily basis.

However, her fashion heart and her wallet didn’t match, with the full-time mom finding professional reproduction dresses—costing 160 pounds (US$220) a pop—too pricey for her budget.

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Rosie, 39, at her sewing machine. (Kennedy News and Media)

Undeterred, the 39-year-old decided to dust off her sewing machine and watched countless YouTube tutorials to learn the tricks of the trade.

Armed with vintage sewing patterns and charity shop bedding, Rosie started creating glamorous looks that meant she could kick jeans and leggings to the curb.

The creative mom-of-four not only loves the pocket-friendly price of creating clothes for herself and her family this way, but also the fact it’s more ethical and sustainable, too.

“When you are a stay-at-home mum it really can feel like drudgery at times,” said Rosie, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

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Rosie holding up some charity shop curtains she plans to make into an outfit. (Kennedy News and Media)
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Rosie wearing a handmade tartan dress made from a vintage Simplicity pattern. (Kennedy News and Media)

“I really miss the days of working in offices where you get dressed up for work and I didn’t want to wear the mum uniform of jeans and a top.

“In my everyday life I wear dresses most of the time, either I’ve made them or I’ve bought them from charity shops.

“I love the glamour of mid-century fashion and even though my life and day-to-day tasks aren’t glamorous I want to feel that way.

“I’ve always been a bit ‘extra,’ I’ve always been a bit overdressed and a bit over the top and unfortunately you always get a couple of people who say ‘why can’t you just wear jeans and a top?’

“I reply ‘because that’s just not me, it’s never been me.’”

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Rosie wearing a handmade dress made from a Butterick pattern. (Kennedy News and Media)

Rosie not only creates 1950s-style looks for herself—from secondhand duvets and bedsheets snapped up for 3 pounds (US$4.15) from charity shops—but for other members of the family, too.

Building surveyor hubby Clive Chandler, 39, twins Iris and Poppy, 9, young Edward, 6, and 3-year-old Daphne are also regularly kitted out in her thrifty makes.

Crafty Rosie’s journey started back when she was a teen and she dabbled in making basic items such as cushion covers on her Janome machine, but she picked the skill back up again in 2016 as a creative hobby.

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Some of Rosie’s vintage pattern stash. (Kennedy News and Media)
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Rosie wearing the first handmade dress she shared online. (Kennedy News and Media)

“I sewed a little bit as a teenager very basic stuff like cushion covers,” said Rosie.

“I took it up properly about five years ago, when my son was about a year old, because I really needed a hobby outside of children, something to keep me sane.”

She said she’s always been a really big period drama fan, and enjoyed TV shows such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“I would look at all the outfits and companies who made that kind of reproduction clothing but as a stay-at-home-mum I couldn’t afford a dress that was £160, it was way beyond my budget,” she said.

Then in 2016, a friend who runs a local sewing group suggested she come along and give it a try.

“I went along and since then just taught myself through YouTube videos,” she said. “I kept working at stuff and through trial and error eventually I got to the point I can make things I’m really happy with.”

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Rosie wearing a glamorous handmade dress. (Kennedy News and Media)

The mom has rustled up stylish dresses, men’s shorts, and even kids’ costumes from authentic patterns and secondhand fabrics snapped up for a few quid from charity shops.

“I buy a lot of fabric from charity shops, when they’re open I buy duvet covers, bedsheets, tablecloths and even curtains with the idea of cutting them up,” she said.

“It’s really nice because if you know you’ve paid £2 or £3 for a sheet and it goes completely wrong you can let that one go.

“When you’ve paid up to £10/£15 a meter for fabric there’s a lot of pressure to get it right.”

Since she’s a creative person, sometimes an item will catch her eye as something that can be repurposed as something else. “That’s how I do it really, I just wait for something to catch my eye,” she said.

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Rosie wearing a handmade dress made out of a charity shop duvet cover. (Kennedy News and Media)
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Rosie shows off the exquisite pattern of a dress she made out of a charity shop duvet cover. (Kennedy News and Media)

“I’ve made a pair of shorts for my husband from some old beige Ikea curtains, a house dress from blue flannel bed sheets and a dress made from a floral duvet cover.”

She made a housedress from a bedsheet she’d bought for 2 pounds (US$2.75) just before all the shops closed. She thought it would be something really nice for lounging around the house.

“The Babycham was made from a duvet I picked up from a charity shop that was originally from George at Asda,” she said.

“It was thin so I bought more sheets to flatline it so it wasn’t see-through, it’s such a lovely festive print.”

Not only does Rosie get immense satisfaction from turning out high-fashion looks on a budget, but also from knowing that it doesn’t have a damaging impact on the environment.

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Rosie wearing a handmade dress made out of a charity shop duvet cover. (Kennedy News and Media)

The mom is not an advocate of “fast fashion.” She tries to avoid it whenever possible.

“Of course I do still get the odd thing from there but with fast fashion the quality’s poor, the fabrics are poor and often after half a dozen washes things suddenly start to get little holes,” she said.

“It’s totally exploiting slave labour in the third [world] and isn’t environmentally friendly and I just think everything about that is super wrong.”

Now, with more skills and confidence under her belt, Rosie has built up a good capsule wardrobe and also makes clothing for the rest of her family.

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Rosie wearing a handmade housedress made out of a charity shop flannel sheet. (Kennedy News and Media)
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BACK (L-R) Young Daphne, Clive, Rosie; FRONT (L-R) Kids Iris, Edward, and Poppy. (Kennedy News and Media)

Adds Rosie, “I’m getting to the point where I’ve got quite a good capsule wardrobe of hand-made stuff.

“I sew when I have time, though recently life has been all over the place.

“I was home-schooling three school-age children and I also have a pre-school age child too so that was difficult.”

Rosie didn’t manage to sew much in January, but with her kids now back in school—her youngest now in preschool—she hopes to devote more time to her glam wardrobe collection.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.

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