Special Announcement: Retail Royalty Challenge

Firstly, thank you SO MUCH to everyone who voted in the Refashion Runway competition. I was delighted (and a little overwhelmed) to be announced as the overall winner of the challenge!! I had such a great time participating in the competition with the other fabulous ladies and learned a lot in the process. Thanks again to Beth, the organiser of the challenge, to my fellow competitors and to everyone who voted. Beth let it slip already that there will be a Season 2 of Refashion Runway coming soon, so I hope you will consider participating.

Anyway, today I have a rather special announcement for you…

I was invited by MoneySupermarket.com to take part in their Retail Royalty Challenge. They give £30 to bloggers to spend on goods for a charity of our choice. The challenge part is that we are supposed to haggle on behalf of the charity in order to get as much as possible for the £30. You can see what the other bloggers did with their £30 by searching the twitter hashtag #RetailRoyaltyChallenge.

I wanted to find a charity that would accept a gift of something sewing-related, and it took me a little while, but finally I stumbled across Bag Books, via the lovely Rosie over at DIY Couture, who works there. Bag Books makes multi-sensory stories for people with learning disabilities.


Bag Books’ stories are multi-sensory books that can be enjoyed without being understood. The stories are told through shapes, textures, sounds and smells. They are designed for people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (a maximum developmental age of 18 months), people with Severe Learning Disabilities (a maximum developmental age of 6 years) or people with severe Autistic Spectrum Disorders. They are often non-verbal so do not get the same joy from mainstream books that other children do. Often they are quite isolated in their own world as they can’t communicate in a way that most people will understand.

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Bag Books’ ‘books’ are very unusual. Each ‘page’ is a sheet of A3 cardboard with a handmade object attached to it. They are told by specially trained librarians, teachers or storytellers. There is a sort of script that the story teller uses and they are very theatrical. Each line of the script has a page or an object that appeals to one or many of the senses – sound, sight, touch, or smell. The children get great pleasure from interacting with the stories and the stories also facilitate connection between isolated individuals, as they are always told in a group, so there is a feeling of participation and shared experience.

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Bag Books uses a lot of different types of fabric in its books and happily for me, they can sometimes accept gifts of specific fabric types/colours/quantities!

The next step was to haggle for as much as I could get! I got in touch with the wonderful people over at Minerva Crafts, told them about the challenge, and they very generously agreed to match MoneySupermarket’s donation, bringing my total to £60! What a great result. They also covered the cost of shipping. Thanks so much, Minerva!

Based on a shopping list from Rosie, I picked red polar fleece, red gingham, red felt and red polka dots, along with a new pair of fabric scissors from Minerva’s website.

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Rosie tells me that the red felt is used in a story called ‘Lost in London’ in which a dog runs away; it features the guards at Buckingham Palace.

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The red polar fleece gets sewn into a stuffed pouch that is used to represent the warming African sunrise. The story teller will hold this on the child’s neck so they get a soft warm sensation (below).

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Thanks very much, MoneySupermarket and Minerva Crafts! Kudos all around!

**Normal refashioning service will be resumed shortly**

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28 comments

  1. Clare Szabo

    Congrats on being selected by Moneysupermarket my dear! This is a really heart-warming post. We all blog about the things we have made for ourselves, so it is really nice to read about fabric and sewing being used in other ways especially for those with greater disadvantages in life. The multi-sensory books are such a neat idea. I love the picture of the woman holding the red fleece to the child’s neck to simulate the feeling of a warm African sunrise. Love this post, and hats off to Minerva for matching the £30. xxx

  2. Marie

    Congrats on being approach to take part in such a wonderful challenge and I love what you created! What an honour it must have been to contribute to such an amazing charity and big respect to Minerva for matching the funding! Fab post all around!xx

  3. kazzthespazz

    Aw that’s just lovely a fantastic way of telling a story. Congrats to you for winning Refashion Runway. Exciting!

  4. Jane

    First of all congratulations on winning Refashion Runway – totally well deserved! Secondly hats off to you and Minerva Crafts for putting together such a wonderful fabric package for Bag Books (all my favourite fabrics too!) This post is really close to my heart as my son is autistic. Although he doesn’t have severe learning disabilities he has a lot of sensory issues, so I know first hand how important these books will be to the children who use them. You’re a superstar Sally, THANK YOU! x

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks so much Jane, and thanks for your continued support. I thought Bag Books was a great idea and let’s hope they can bring delight to many more people through the medium of gingham!

  5. sstoney

    Congratulations on winning the competition – I loved all your entries. I am awed by your approach to the Retail Royalty Challenge – what a fantastic thing to have done, and how wonderful are the stories! Thank you – made my day!!

  6. Thea

    Yay, congratulations on winning the challenge (well-deserved, your outfits were amazing!) and on your great haggling for a good cause!

  7. Helen in the UK

    What a great charity. Thanks to you and MoneySupermarket and Minerva for making your contribution possible :)

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