The Leeds: The Secret DIY Fashion Destination

 These days, DIY fashion is all the rage, and there’s one secret shopping spot in Leeds that has everything you need…

From taking up the hem to shortening sleeves and nipping in the waist, you can turn last season’s looks into something completely new – and all you need are a few essentials. But where should you get them? According to Allison Keenan, from Leeds vintage store Alice Found Treasure, Leeds Kirkgate Market is your one stop shop.
Allison spends her days turning vintage pieces into new fashion finds, so she’s something of an expert, and with her store being in Leeds Corn Exchange, popping to the market couldn’t be easier. “I always use Kirkgate Market for getting the bits and pieces I need,” Allison told us. “I use The Sewing Basket for trims and other bits and pieces, and B&M Fabrics have a great selection.”
And actually, it shouldn’t be that surprising. Kirkgate Market was, after all, the birth place of Marks & Spencer. It was here that their first penny bazaar opened up, all those years ago, and they’ve gone on to become fashion icons in their own right – which is why the market is now home to a heritage stall that harks back to the good old days.
So if you’re looking to take those first, tentative steps into DIY fashion, Kirkgate Market is the place to go. But where should you start? Allison has a few top tips…
Shortening skirts
This 3/4 length, high waisted skirt is a real find. Florals are perfect for spring, but right now, it’s a little dowdy. “Shortening vintage pieces makes them much cuter and brings them alive,” says Allison. “A hem will add nice detail to it too. I have a box of bits and pieces that I keep so I can just rummage around to find something to add to items when they come in. People could start a collection of things and just see what matches.”
Look at the difference… it’s been revamped into a flirty, cheeky piece perfect for matching with a cute pair of heels if you want a really fresh look this season. The cream hem makes the pattern really pop too. You’ll see similar items in shops in Leeds, but nothing quite like this one. And with the lace trim costing all of 44p from The Sewing Basket in Kirkgate Market, it’s an absolute bargain.
Adding petticoats
Pastels are bang on trend this season, so this dress has great potential for your spring/summer wardrobe – you just need to shorten it and add a petticoat.
All very well, we hear you cry, but Allison is a professional! How could the rest of us tackle it? “Just give it a try,” Allison says. “People learn best just by practising, and they don’t need to have a strong interest in sewing. For this dress just cutting off the length and hand stitching the hem and petticoat is all you need to do.”
Perking up vintage clothing doesn’t have to cost the earth either. The netted petticoat for this dress came from B&M Fabrics in Kirkgate Market and cost just £1.38. Have a peek…
The polka dot dress now has a modern twist to its vintage style. The new length is much more fun and the tulle-style petticoat definitely de-frumps it. Best of all, there is nothing quite like it in other shops in Leeds. It’s one of a kind.
Turn jeans into shorts
Last up are these somewhat baggy and slightly battered looking jeans. You could easily overlook them in a charity shop in Leeds, but just look what you could create…
Allison simply chopped off the legs, plucked out some threading, and inserted some modern studs, which she found at Habiknit in Kirkgate Market. “They’re so easy to put in,” she said. “Just use a thread puller to insert a small hole, push through the stud and put the cap on it. They look really cute and modern, and I got loads of them for £8.”
We love the modern look of these shorts, and if you’re heading to a festival this summer, they’d be ideal. Allison pairs them with a floral, bell sleeved shirt. A fantastic festival look, and one that isn’t replicated in any of the shops in Leeds.
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