From Rags to Riches

Sep 18 2014

Here at Material Girls we often find ourselves making something out of nothing! So we thought it would be fun to come up with some of our favourite females who have made the very best out of very little. Check out our first From Rags to Riches success story.

#1 Coco Chanel – The globally renowned brand that started with one woman.

On one chilly day in Deauville, Coco Chanel fashioned a dress out of an old Jersey that she’d worn because she was cold. After many enquiries about the dress she offered to start making them for people, and so her career as a fashion designer really took flight.

Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in Saumur, France, Chanel spent her childhood in an orphanage following her mother’s death. She was taught to sew by the nuns who raised her, and it was learning these skills that would immortalise her name in the world of fashion.

It was during a brief spell as a singer that she picked up the nickname Coco, supposedly from a song she used to sing. After her second marriage, Coco opened her first fashion shop in Paris’ Rue Cambon in 1910 making and selling hats, before opening shops in Deauville and Biarritz that also sold dresses.

According to, Chanel owed her fashion career to that first up-cycled dress, saying ‘my fortune is built on that old jersey that I put on because it was cold in Deauville.’ From learning to sew in an orphanage, to up-cycling one old jumper, Chanel has become a true fashion legacy.

‘Very Vintage’ and ‘Welsh Flavoured’ Fashion show 19th July 2014

Aug 04 2014

On the 19th July we teamed up with ‘Love Neath’ and all the Charity shops in Neath town centre to present a fashion show in Angel Square, Neath.

Here we were able to show off our wonderful up-cycling Social Enterprise ‘Beautiful on a Budget!’ The Neath charity shops donated vintage and welsh themed fashion items to be modelled in the Fashion Show. We also encouraged these Charities to donate any items that they wouldn’t be able to sell due to; stains, wear in the material and general ‘tiredness’ so that we could show off our up-cycling skills and transform these items into something new, fresh and desirable.

The volunteer models consisted of; local ladies, service users and creative volunteers from our project. It was amazing to see the transformation from some shy and reserved women to confident ladies strutting their stuff across the catwalk.  

We raised £100 selling raffle tickets and fashion items. The Fashion Show was a huge success in promoting our Social Enterprise and the services that Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid provide.

Darren Nichols chairman of the Chamber of Trade – “The girls absolutely smashed it”.

The success of this Fashion Show has inspired us to host another Fashion show later on this year, so watch this space.  

Please note that all the outfits below are for sale and if you can’t find them listed on our online boutique yet please contact Holly for the size and price,



Positive Outcomes and New Launches of PTAWA Projects

Jul 10 2014

Over the past year the project Beautiful on a Budget has helped over 27 women to regain confidence and communication skills, whilst at the same time become more sociably interactive. The new ‘Welsh Inspired’ fashion show that will be held in Angel Square Neath, on the 19th July 2014 at 11am, as part of the Love Neath campaign has created more positive attitudes and determination for Volunteers to accomplish up-cycled outfits.

One lady who started in February with no self-esteem has now designed her own three signature pieces using her fantastic art skills and is going to model herself on the catwalk to show off her new found confidence thanks to PTAWA.  

Two personal quotes from previous ladies who have used the facilities:-

“I have gained extra skills from working alongside the others. I really enjoyed creating a poncho from a tired blanket which sold at the fashion show.” Re-use (of donated items) is the way forward; it helps the environment and families on a tight budget.” Diane Williams

“I enjoyed being at the centre. There was a lovely friendly atmosphere there and I enjoyed meeting new people and engaging in social activities with them. I feel I have more confidence in myself and that I may be able to help more women who may be living in fear or suffering Domestic Abuse.” Tracey Williams

 Seeing women become more confident and going from strength to strength with learning new skills along the way is the whole point of Beautiful on a budget. Now too see three 3 ladies admit how much they have benefited from the project is a huge achievement.


Recently PTAWA has launched a new project called ‘Positive Relationships’. The project has been awarded a 3 year funding by the Big Lottery which is a massive, proud achievement for the whole team of PTAWA. There has also been great support by the town’s AM David Rees and Suzy Davies , South West AM.

The projected is designed to help 13-25 year olds to understand the difference between a healthy and bad relationship, due to a recent survey that has shown 47.3% of young people are already in bad relationships.

There are four specific outcomes for the project which include raising understanding of healthy relationships, reducing the number of children displaying violence and aggressive behaviour at home, improving already established relationships and working individually with young men and dads.

To accomplish this great project the team will engage communication with a number of multimedia methods working with singles and young couples. The team will also go into schools delivering the message through class workshops.  

Achievement for next three years is to reduce percentage rates and to provide easy access to help and advice for those who seek it.

Welsh Flavoured Fashion Show Preparation

Jun 25 2014





















Were currently preparing for a fashion show hosted by ‘Love Neath’, which will be held on Saturday 19th July 2014 at Angel Square, Neath.

All the outfits are either hand-made from scratch out of donated, unwanted clothing, bedding and curtains, or, up-cycled using spare buttons, zips and scraps of fabrics!

Every item is made with love by the material girls! You won’t be able to find any of these fashion items on the high-street; they are one off crowd stoppers!

These items are designed and handmade or up-cycled by our amazing team of volunteers and beneficiaries all putting in their time and skills to help us fundraise for Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid.

We trade fashion to break to cycle of domestic abuse and up-skill women!

We have a ‘very vintage’ and ‘welsh flavoured fashion’ range that will be modelled at the fashion show.

The outfit pictured above has been created using a plain cream vintage skirt, plain green jumper and a tartan scarf. The tartan scarf has been re-fashioned; cut and stitched as pockets on the skirt and a heart template on the jumper. This once plain and drab outfit has now been up-cycled into a fashionable ‘welsh inspired’ ensemble.









The dress above was once a plain black dress and a little girl’s Welsh outfit piny and shawl. We have combined these items to make a fashionable ladies welsh outfit!





























The outfit above is a combination of a plain red denim jacket and a welsh dragon t-shirt. This is a real statement jacket that will make you stand out in a football / rugby crowd! 















 This statement dress was handmade from a donated welsh flag, plain white vest, net fabric, a green scarf and red lace! Perfect for a fancy dress party or to wear to the match.















The daffodil flower crown above was made from a donated head band and fake daffodils. Simple design that glams up any summer outfit.


















This cute outfit is a modern take on the old welsh costume that children wear on Saint David’s day! Stylish and welsh inspired.


Fashion Photo Shoot – Model, Amy John

May 27 2014

Are you looking to start a career in modelling? We’re looking for women of all shapes and sizes to model our pre-loved, vintage and up-cycled fashion! Start a portfolio of professional quality photos whilst helping your local community! You could be the next face of – Contact Holly or Nicola on 01639 894864 for more information,