Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 17:48 UK

Mary Jane mends her ways - part one

Mary Jane Baxter at Greenwich market
Mary Jane's project kicked off with a stall at Greenwich market in London

By Mary Jane Baxter
BBC Newsnight

My alarm bell goes off at 7am but I have been awake for an hour already, wondering what on Earth I am doing.

Mary Jane Baxter is spending October making and mending her way around Britain for Newsnight
Find out more about Mary Jane's journey on Newsnight on Wednesday 7 October 2009 at 2230 BST on BBC Two

It is Saturday morning and I am kicking off my Make Your Way Around Britain month with a stall at Greenwich market in south-east London, and I am in a complete panic.

I have to sell enough today to help fund my travels onto the next port of call, wherever that may be.

A few weeks ago I spoke to the market organisers and it became clear that having a stall was more complicated than I had first thought. There are strict rules about who can apply and what people can sell.

Did I fit the criteria? Was I local? What was I planning to bring to the market? How did I envisage my stall looking? Was I insured?

The perfect stitch

Well, I do live in the Greenwich area. I also explain that I am planning to sell things that I have made or customised myself, and that many of my materials would be locally sourced.

I get the green light.

Which is how I find myself trailing piles of bags and boxes down the stairs at an unsociable hour on a Saturday morning.

When I arrive, I am allotted a stand. It looks impossibly bare - how on Earth am I going to cut it?

Greenwich market is high-end, with many regular sellers, craftspeople and designers offering their wares to discerning shoppers. Will I be able to hold my own?

Getting creative

Find out more about Mary Jane's journey

It takes me about two hours, but by 10am I am ready.

I have handmade hats galore (well, I am a milliner), shoe-bags made from vintage curtains, corsages made of ribbon, customised turbans, and T-shirts that I have printed with a photo of youngsters celebrating VE day.

I found the photo in a Greenwich antique shop, and wonder whether by some slim chance I will meet the now grown-up children today.

By the time I finish dressing my stall - I feel quite pleased with the results.

Many people are curious about my Newsnight banner, and it provides me with a great opportunity to talk about my project.

All sewn up

A woman wearing a corsage made by Mary Jane Baxter
Coming soon - Mary Jane shows you how to make your own corsage like the one pictured here

Custom is slow at first, I seem to be a curiosity rather than a serious concern, but little by little, I nudge towards the £50 mark.

The corsages sell well at £3.99 each, but my best sale is a £40 headband.

Running a stall is hard work but great fun. By the end of the day, I have almost lost my voice, I have spoken to so many people - it has been great for publicity.

As the afternoon draws to a close I count up my takings - nearly £150. After paying £39 for the stall, I am left with £110. That should get me to the Midlands and even beyond.

Britain here I come!

Mary Jane Baxter will be spending October making and mending her way from London to the Midlands, Yorkshire and Scotland to find out if the current vogue for make do and mend is more than just a fad.

She will be relying on her make do and mend skills to fund the trip.

Do you know of anyone who is living by make do and mend? Or someone who needs Mary Jane to lend a hand in exchange for board and lodging?

Send your ideas using the form below.


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