Festivals Are Back In Full Swing 2022

After the covid years, being back in the fields for a full season felt good. It was obvious that people had really missed the festivals and were beaming with joy. The summer sun was on our side too, we got lucky and didn’t get rained on very much at all. Just to settle the dust!


We started the season with a new kid on the block. Kite Festival. You may assume like the name suggests that it’s a kite festival, confusing yes, but it’s not.  It calls itself a festival of music and ideas and its set in the beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire that happens to have a lot of kites. The bird variety that is.. For a new comer we feel it did well and has potential to be something different. Grace Jones was headlining and as per usual she didn’t disappoint.

Next up was Glastonbury. The combination of the forced two year break and delayed 50th celebration made it extra special. Even the weather was well behaved.  A truly magical weekend.  One of the highlights was having Rajasthan Heritage Brassband flashmob our stall.

Straight after we had our local Love Supreme Festival. Conveniently only a 20 minute drive from home, we had a couple of days to restock and and shower then hit the fields again. With its jazzy groovy vibes its a much more chilled and compact festival compared to Glastonbury.   Erykah Badu were amongst the headliners.

After a five-year hiatus, the Secret Garden Party returned to its usual magical spot in Cambridgeshire. It was as raucous and silly as it used to be with a few issues that will hopefully be ironed out  for next year.  SGP is never about the line-up, its more about discovering smaller acts and walkabouts. We got sited next to Small World Stage, one of our favourites.

First weekend of August is Wilderness As sites goes its our favourite. But this years line-up was weak. And with all festivals back and running, they had barely sold half of their tickets. So from a trading point it was below average.  On the plus side there was never a queue to get down to “the valley”.


After a nice couple of weeks back in Brighton and one of our favourite little daytime events Brunswick Festival, we headed all the way to Lincolnshire. A new one for us this year, Lost Village Festival. Set in a beautiful woodland, it’s a dance music festival with a young crowd.  Line-up is a great mixtures to explore. Our ring-pull clothing samples we have been working on with Purple Community Fund went down a storm. We are hoping to launch these as collection next spring.

To finish the season is our usual End Of The Road Festival  Indie band heavy and family orientated its a chilled one to finish the season. Just how we like it.

Back In The Fields Half Festival Season of 2021

Shaboutique crew End of the road festival

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and all the festivals got cancelled there was a small part of me that was quite pleased to have a summer off.

If you choose to have a season off your spot at the festival will be given to someone else and the following year you are less likely to get in. So a forced year off was kinda welcome.

But by spring 2021 we were all gagging to get back in the fields! Even though the season officially didn’t start until late July we still managed to squeeze in four festivals. One was just for fun! As a punter! Unheard of!

We started off with Latitude Festival. They were actually the official government approved trial festival. We had to do Covid tests before and durning the festival. 

The transmission rate at the end was very low which was a good outcome.  Considering there were barely any masks being worn and no real social distancing. Which was nice as it wouldn’t have felt like a festival otherwise. 

Strong crew this year with Nick, Glenny and the lovely actor John Dagleish on board. He is the winner of the Olivier Award for best actor in a musical for his performance in Sunny Afternoon as Ray Davies. Legend.  ·


After a weekend at home post Latitude we headed to our favourite festival field in Cornbury Park. Wilderness this year had some rain and cloud but it didn’t dampen the spirit of the British people who hadn’t been at a live music event for two years. They were keen to dress up and take part. The spirits were high and everyone seem to haver an amazing time. Including us! 

We were also in a much better spot this year. Location is everything at festivals. You can sell the coolest stuff ever but you won’t sell much if there is no footfall.

Before our last trading festival we went to We Out Here Festival as punters. Since its launch in 2019 its always has an amazing line up. So I wanted a work free weekend just to enjoy it all.  Always nice to see people wearing their “Leftover Threads” from previous seasons too. 

We got accepted to End of the Road again, which was lovely. I love how each festival has such a different crowd.  EOTR isn’t necessarily very “dressy uppy” compare to other festivals we usually do. Do they have a good eye for cool sustainable clothing so it still works for us.

Such a good feeling to be back in the fields with happy smiling people and good music!


The Face Mask Story With Our Partner Charity

Ash Cloud with a Silver Lining

In the months leading up to summer, my small team and I would usually be busy sewing colourful upcycled wears ready for the festival season. However 2020 had different plans for us all. With this years UK festivals cancelled, we are now making masks instead.

But my personal mask journey didn’t start with the Covid-19 pandemic. It started back in January, in the slums of Tondo – Manila Philippines.

Jane Walker, inspirational power house and founder of the Purple Community Fund (PCF) had invited me to participate in an education-development project for the residents of Manila’s most densely populated slum, Barangay 105 in Tondo.

PCF supports the community through a range of services and livelihood schemes, its signature project being the making of upcycled products including bags and jewellery made from ring pulls, to shoes out of aeroplane tyres.

Last year, Leftover Threads sold PCF upcycled products at UK festivals giving 100% of the money back to the charity.

The original plan for my stay in Manila was for me to design a festival range of hats and waist-coats made out of neckties for the nanays (mothers) working in the livelihood centre to sew. Nature, however, had a different plan.

Jane and Simon with the local kids in Happy Land
Tondo Recycling Dog

24 hours before my flight, Taal Volcano, 100 km south of Manila, started spewing hot ash columns exceeding a kilometre in height. A state of emergency was declared on the island and its nearby residents were evacuated. The situation on the ground worsened rapidly, with continuous eruptions leading to an ash cloud visible from space, swiftly moving towards the capital Manila, one of the most densely populated cities on the planet (more so than Delhi). Tondo, the slum I was to work in, houses 38% of the city’s inhabitants, crammed into a small area with poor sanitation, negligible security and health provision. Accommodation is made of found materials and the windows are merely apertures without glass through which the harmful volcanic dust threatened to rampage.  Fear surged through the area, as measures taken to protect inhabitants were inadequate.

With smoke still billowing from the volcano, 80,000 passengers had their flights cancelled or delayed but luckily my connecting flight from Hong Kong was one of the first to arrive in Manila. As we began our descent, I could see the big ash cloud lingering threateningly.

Upon arrival, Jane and I quickly decided that the easiest way to give immediate support to the Tondo community would be to provide face masks. Mask prices locally had quadrupled in the days that followed the eruption making them unaffordable for many. Could we make some? Of course we could!

At the time, there weren’t many patterns online. We downloaded one from craftpassion.com.

Within 24 hours of my arrival, I had trained a team of 20 women to make the masks using recycled textiles we had at hand. Bed sheets, shirts, t-shirts, school uniforms, you name it.

Over a 1000 masks were distributed to the local residents of Tondo in our first week of mask production.

Face Mask Cutting
Face Mask Making with Purple Community Fund in Manila

The city remained on high alert for a month, after which the volcano calmed to a level 2. But at this point Covid-19 had already arrived in Manila. Fear surged through the community once more.

In Tondo, it is very common for families of 10 or more to live in a small room together. Due to these living conditions, it was a huge concern that the virus would spread like wild fire with a devastating impact on mortality rates. Fortunately, by the time Covid19 arrived, we had a team of 40+ women across Luzon already skilled in face mask making. So PCF could continue paying them a good living wage whilst providing free masks to the communities.

The nanays in the livelihood centres in Tondo, Baguio and Bulacan made around 4000 masks during my time there.

When lockdown was announced at the beginning of March, I was working at the PCF centre in “Dumpsite” Irisan- Baguio, North Luzon

All foreign nationals were given a 72-hour window to leave the country. I didn’t really want to leave. It felt like my work in the Philippines wasn’t done. We had so many other projects in the pipeline. School uniforms, shoes, hats… But sadly I didn’t have a choice.

After hours spent trying to get a last minute flight on a terrible internet connection I then had the challenge of finding a way to get to the airport. Public transport had stopped overnight. No buses. Not even taxis or private vehicles for hire.

Finally, we managed to get in touch with the local tourism department and they gave me 30 minutes to get to the city hall. Luckily my bags were already packed. With a handful of other foreign nationals, I got escorted to Manila airport. What should have been a 4-hour drive took 9 hours with 5 temperature checkpoints and massive queues along the way.

Face Mask Making from Secondhand Textiles
PCF handing out masks to the local community

On my return to the UK, I continued making face masks. It suited the Leftover Threads ethos well as masks can be made from smaller pieces of fabrics like off-cuts, end of roll and other reusable textiles. At the beginning, I was donating a mask locally for every one sold. But the demand was so high and I couldn’t keep up. Luckily there is a big group of people making and distributing free masks to those that need them locally. So I decided to donate 15% of all our masks sales to PCF instead. I know that all the money goes directly where it is needed the most, making a big difference to people’s lives. PCF do so much for so many. Their charitable schemes span education, nutrition, housing, health, and livelihood.

Lockdown in the Philippines has been strict. Struggling families are even worse off now. They are only allowed out one day a week. Most families have had any chance of earning an income totally taken away from them. We are grateful that there are some nanays who have mask-making skills enabling them to go out on their day to the market, sell some masks and make some money for groceries. Strangely Taal Volcano‘s ash cloud had a silver lining and had prepared us for what was to come.  I know they are very grateful for the skill-sharing which enables them to sell direct. Purple Community Fund also continues to buy masks from them and distributes to those in need.


Many of PCF’s beneficiaries live in, on and are surrounded by waste. Not their waste- other people’s waste. Half of the community sort recyclables all day, every day.

Even the food waste from fast-food restaurants is “recycled” refried and sold. Its called pagpag and people eat it because it’s cheap. In Barangay 105, survival is a constant battle.

Every so often there’s a fire. Usually a result of working with plastic and heat in cramped conditions. Last month, a big fire meant over 1000 people had to be put in emergency housing by the charity with no government help whatsoever. Families are familiar with losing the little they have. They are resilient, positive and creative in the face of constant change. They know that life is as flimsy as the walls of their makeshift homes and rebuilding is part of staying alive…

Tondo local with facemask
Nanay's Making Healthy Meals

However, parents are hopeful for a brighter future for their children and believe education is the key. This is why PCF sponsors hundreds of students through school year in, year out. The opportunity of an education keeps hope alive.

Residents of Manila continue to live on strict lockdown measures. The Department of Education has announced that all learning will move online, via an App, for the foreseeable future. Without electronic devices, the poorest students are unable to continue their education. The Coronavirus pandemic and associated school closures now pose another immediate threat to the Tondo community; loss of hope.

PCF’s “Phones for Futures” campaign aims to secure electronics for as many students as possible so that they can access online learning.

By buying our masks you are providing essential support to these students and their families.

If you want to help directly by donating cash or a smart phone you can find more information here:


UK Festival Season 2019

Even though it’s hard work, long hours, and lots of prep working up to it. It’s always exciting to be back in the fields.

We started off this years season with the lovely Alfresco Festival at Hop Farm, Sussex. Always good music and a cool crowd. The bonus is its only an hours drive from Brighton! Its always good to start with a smaller local festival close to home incase something is missing before hitting Glastonbury.

The big G was super sunny and dry this year which I have figured only happens about every seven years! Ha! Well, its quite unusual. We also had new signage that we were really excited about getting out.  Designed and made by the talented Matt from Guud Designs.

KT Tunstall at Glastonbury wearing Leftover Threads dungarees.

I love seeing customers of all ages and sizes walking away with a big smile and a totally unique one of a kind item.  Always a bonus when you get to dress a celebrity too! Here we have the gorgeous KT Tunstall rocking leopard print dungarees made from vintage bed sheets. 

Duncan from Duncan Disorderly and The Scallywags wearing one of our statement upcycled suit jackets.

I also played  a 7″ vinyl set at Shangri-La.

Im wearing a Pika Pika Feathers head wrap. Such a vast festival. I tend to keep to the Green Fields where our stall is and the Green Peace stage, south east corner with Shangri-La and the best crew bar in town, Maceo’s. That’s where you are most likely to find me. Luckily they are all fairly close to each other. My feet can’t keep up with all the walking around the site. I rather save my energy for dancing. 

Our next top was Latitude Festival. A family friendly affair suitable for all ages. The line up is never really my cup of tea, but there are always a good surprise or two. But this year Khruangbin was playing. I was very excited to say the least! 

The good weather seemed to continue. After a weekend at home in my own bed we were back on the road for Wilderness. As UK festivals goes this one has the best site in my opinion.  Acres of ancient oak forest and a swimmable lake? Yes please! The line up can sometimes be a little bit of a let down but there is plenty of fun to be had. The visual and audial effects of the valley rarely disappoints. 

This year our best seller was hands down our new range of dungarees. These are all made from vintage kids bed sheets, or curtains. With pockets of course! Or smiler t-shirts and jumpers always go very fast too. Especially bright ones like this psychedelic number.

Our dungarees are all limited edition or one of a kind. But feel free to get in touch to ask what we have in stock.

You could also get a pair made to order. Maybe from your own funky bedsheet or curtains.  Simply by giving us your measurements and popping the fabric in the post.  Made to order pieces usually takes 2-3 weeks to complete.

Same goes for the smiler jumpers and t-shirts. 

What else?  Mid August we did the little lovely and local Brunswick Festival. Held on Brunswick Square in Hove this is a sweet little event featuring local arts, crafts and bands. Following weekend, bank holiday we usually do Shambala with Crystal Vintage, but this year we tried something different; Towersey Festival. One of UK’s longest going festivals since 1965. We then finished the season with a surprise last minute invitation to trade at End Of The Road Festival. If you are into indie bands, this is the one for you. 


Velvet Patchwork Foot Stall-Cubes

Upcycled Foot-Stalls

Made to Order Upholstery

Most folk who live in Brighton UK know about Shabitat – Home of Magpie Recycling. Treasure trove and bargain hunters paradise. I came across some battered old foot-stall cubes in there a while back. They were upholstered in faux leather, that always starts peeling after a while. But they had potential so for £2 each I snapped them up.

They then gathered dust at my workshop for a while until I finally decided to give them the facelift they wanted.  Compare to the armchairs and sofas I have been doing lately, I thought they would be a fairly straight forward job. But things always takes longer than you think right?

I had some velvet off-cuts from my patchwork chairs I upholstered a while back, which were just enough in the yummiest colours to wrap these cubes..

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