Wednesday 17 October 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin

We have been watching Kevin McCloud on Sunday evenings, building his “Man-made Home” on Channel 4. He bought two acres of land adjacent to his house, felled a couple of trees and erected a fancy off-grid ‘shed’. The idea is that everything is recycled/reclaimed/re-used/refurbished/from nature… [more here]

Like the stove built inside an old safe

kevin-mccloud again

Or the easy chair made from an old tractor

kevin McC

The thing is, Kevin, that your style of ‘recycling’ does not come cheap – a few minutes googling shows that you have to spend a fortune to get all those bits and pieces. And that you have to get hours of help from friends and acquaintances [and time is money – unless you think a glass of home-brew is adequate payment]

Sunday night’s offering included a hot tub built inside the cowling of an old aeroplane engine, which he ‘picked up’ at a salvage yard. Then, to keep warm after his spa-bath, he got a nearby alpaca farmer to let him shear her Bollinger, and the Weaving Witches of Frome, or whatever they call themselves, spun and wove it into an alpaca dressing gown. They told him this project represented around 200 hours of work. That would be one mighty expensive robe if he had paid them!

Meanwhile, back to the Thrifty Theologian, whose ancient green M&S dressing gown [vintage 1995] is beginning to show awful signs of wear round collar and cuffs.


The collar is completely  coming away and the hanging loop has collapsed.

The main body of the dressing gown is OK [just] altho even that is getting thinner [wish I was!] Bob is very fond of wrapping himself in it and relaxing. What’s a girl to do?

DSCF4750Mindful of the words of Jesus in Matthew - People don’t sew a patch of new cloth on old clothes. The new piece will pull away from the old. That will make the tear worse – I looked around for some old towelling.


I found a brown bath towel – a 1979 wedding present which had already been altered. About ten years ago the hems were frayed so I had trimmed them off and overlocked the edges. That would do. I made a paper pattern for the collar, and sewed a new collar over the old one, also trimmed the cuffs and the pocket tops. I am not 100% happy with the result- the cuffs need re-sewing as I managed to fold them over and make the sleeves too short. But hey, Mr McCloud, this is how to re-use existing stuff thriftily!

Perhaps the saddest bit was the end of the programme, when he invited all those who had contributed [time, skills, resources] to a party and concluded that they’d all had such a great time because of his project. I suspect that they would have enjoyed the party just because they were all together having fun, without having to build him his glorified man-shed. It was the group of people and the atmosphere that mattered most.

And he only built one chair ‘so I can relax in comfort’ – not even a second one for a friend to relax with him. Hmmm…


  1. I have similar thoughts about Kirsty's Homemade Home series, and stopped watching it. Love your make do and mend dressing gown, though - great job!

  2. Kevin Mcleod really grates on me ! Some of his views and opinions on things. He saw a huge house once which had a big open plan area downstairs and he commented that ' he was worried about the adults having to share the space with the children'. So patronising as most of the viewers are probably sat in their tiny working class ' front rooms' ! A similar programme was Kirsty Allsopp and her homemade things, getting the UK's best blah blah blah to make things. How the other half live !

  3. Bob seems very happy with his 'new' dressing gown - brilliant!
    What upset me was that he blew up what seemed an very useful shed - why wasn't that recycled?
    Boys and their toys!!!

  4. I get annoyed with these types of program to. The worst for me was Kirstie's homemade home where she basically messed about while people were trying to teach her stuff.
    x x x

  5. But the program will be recycled over and over again.
    We sat and said much the same our recycling is
    found, discarded dumped a different world,
    all together.

  6. I so agree with your comments about Kevin's programme. Yes it was so "organic" but the man hours and skills used come at a price...and that isn't cheap.

  7. mmmm!i know what you mean about kevin!i have to admit he gets on my wick!notice the very expensive "collectable tiles" i the background i wonder which skip he got those from?

  8. It rather reminded me of dear Kirsty's 'home made' series, when she started a project and handed it over to a professional to finish!

  9. Gosh,all Bob needs now is a cravat to complete the 'gentleman at home' look!
    Jane x

  10. I haven't seen Kevin's programme; a few episodes of his Grand Designs put me off; but I too find some re-cycling ideas rather annoying. "Turn an old tin can into a pen holder" etc. How many pen holders does anyone need? I use some of my jug collection and a beloved but cracked mug to hold my pens; the tins go in the re-cycling bin, in the hope they'll be turned into something else like ...a tin can, maybe.
    Your repair of Bob's dressing gown is far better; it looks really good, it uses material that might be thrown out (not by you or we commenters, obviously!)and saves you buying a new dressing gown.

  11. I love the idea of thrifting and recycling - but your way, not his!!

    PS I'm now realising that my choice of cast colour was clearly subliminally influenced by thoughts of chocolate ;)

  12. I agree! And Bob looks brilliant in his stylish new dressing gown! Well done you! Love your Biblical take on this make! What about putting old corked wine into a new wine bottle-would that work?!

  13. And does Bob use this fine garment a la smoking jacket over his dapper work clothes? Does he banish you to the withdrawing room while he theologianises in the library? I was sure that the thrifty theologian would be you! Am deeply impressed. I am less deeply impressed by the felling of the trees for Kevin's project.

  14. Recycling, and 'making do and mending' is such an important part of most ordinary peoples' lives these days, just to allow them to get by. It's a shame a program wasn't made to help all those who are struggling financially, and teach them some of the old skills, such as darning a sock or making a meal from very little or what you have in the cupboard to feed your children healthily while surviving on a low budget..........I'm sure this would be a much more useful venture than making a hot tub out of an aeroplane engine ............I'm a little frustrated with all these celebrity type programs that have jumped on the 'handmade and recycling bandwagon'.......they do indeed live in a very different world to most of us.

    Love your makeover dressing gown, very fetching indeed.

  15. What a lot of gimmicky "recycling". Have you ever seen the magazine "GreenCraft?" Very similar concept - full of projects that turn various throwaway bits and bobs into jewelry, stationery, etc. BUT the projects all require other equipment or supplies which have to be bought and aren't necessarily eco-friendly. Not so very green after all.

    Your bathrobe makeover is perfect! I always keep that verse in mind when patching fabric - the One who invented fiber must know how best to take care of it, after all. :) Old towels come in very handy - I never throw them away.

  16. I think all your other commenters have expressed my thoughts exactly. But Bob does look very stylish in his dressing gown!!!

  17. Dressing gown looks very stylish!

  18. I love the Dressing Gown. Making Do and Mending is something I am trying to embrace, but my favourite type of recycling is re-using jam jars for home-made preserves.


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