Thursday, 31 March 2011

clothes from an unknown origin

I think, clothes wise, this last week has been my best for thrifting in a long time. The Aquascutum skirt was a good find, but my heart has been utterly stolen by two adorable blouses and the biggest coat bargain I've ever seen.

eBay (my second port of vintage-esque call) was responsible for me finding this little beauty:

Not long ago, I sold my faux fur coat because it was a) beige and did nothing for me and b) it was just a short jacket, and I wanted something longer, darker, and just more.... vintage-y. I trawled through for a couple of weeks, and found some that looked OK, and others that looked horrific, some that were perfect and the wrong size, and some that were the right size but completely the wrong style. Sigh. And then, like a furry beacon in a sea of darkness, the coat just appeared in a search one morning. I added it to my watch list, and then.... forgot to bid on it. Damn. Fortunately, so did anyone else, so I bought it directly from the seller (naughty, shhhh) - she was so lovely, and sent it super quickly. Unfortunately, the postman took it to the wrong address, and somehow it ended up back at the depot. By the time I actually got to it, I almost chewed his arm off to get to it - and then was so happy with it that I got the Husband to do an impromptu outfit post photo right there in the car park.

Ta daaaaaa:

I love it. I love everything about it. I love the fact that its huge and heavy (it really is vintage, not just 'vintage style' - not that it makes a difference to me, it was a certain look I was after), and that it has a thick cotton lining. I love the colour, and the length and the buttons. I love the fact that it looks cracking with my gold sunglasses (the sun was out, honest!), and that my friend said it made me look like I was from another era. I'm literally so happy with it that I give it a little smooth every time I open the hall cupboard.

I can't possibly put the rest of my finds in order of adoration, they're all wonderful and have their own merits. So I'll do them randomly. Continuing with the eBay theme is this lovely peter-pan collar, velvet ribbon tie, printed super-blouse. It looks pretty roomy, and I'd say it's roughly a size 12 (I'm a 10), which has turned out perfectly because I love a bit of volume, and it will work whether tucked into a skirt, or left loose over skinny jeans.

My favourite vintage shop was where I found the most adorable blouse for a bargain £10 - I have no idea what era it's from, or even what size it's supposed to be, as the girl who owns the shop hadn't even had time to price it before I clutched it to my chest, dribbling a bit. I also got a scarf, a ring, a neck tie thingy and a belt. A good haul!

When it comes to clothes, I'm more about the print, the fit and the details rather than insisting everything be vintage or 'on-trend' (should I admit that? Maybe not. Oh well...). Oh, and the price point. Being a mother who only works part time, and who has a Husband who is a mere insurance clerk (or something insurance-y), we don't tend to have a great deal of disposable income leftover for my clothes addiction. Which is why I buy the majority of my clothes from eBay or charity shops, and also why I choke whenever I think about paying more than about £5 for an item of clothing. People have mixed views on charity shops, and I have friends even now who refuse to go in them, and are constantly amused by my bargain hunting and love for 'old lady clothes'. And I honestly don't own anything more old-lady-ish than this mustard coloured cropped knit vest that I stumbled across in the British Heart Foundation. For a bargain price of £2.99. It's yellow, it's knitted, it has a lacy detail in the stitch. What more could a girl want to put over her tea dress or blouse? Happy days indeed.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

sunday morning whip up

I've been wanting to have a go at making removable collars for a while now, ever since I realised I had half a cupboard full of tops and dresses that I was planning on sewing collars onto. There's just something so final  about sewing directly onto a piece of clothing - I love little collars right now, but will I love them in three months time? My style choices tend to chop and change, so it's almost a dead cert that I probably won't. Then I'd be sat in front of Eastenders with the seam ripper every night, cursing getting so happy with the sewing machine in the first place. Removable collars are definitely the way forward.

So on Sunday morning, while the Husband was having quality man-time with the Boy, I set about thinking the best way to construct a pattern for my first draft collar. In hindsight, I could have probably found a pattern on the internet, but I'm stubborn and wanted it to be all my own work - so I measured my neck and then..... drew around a biscuit tin. No word of a lie - I got the curve right by drawing round the place where we keep our lunchbox snacks!

I used some leftover fabric from a pair of curtains that I bought in a charity shop to line a cape I'm sewing (that's another post entirely....), as I had enough for a small project like this, but not enough for something bigger like a cushion cover. I sewed it inside out in one long strip, which was a good idea at first, but then when it came to trying to turn it in the right way... well, it took a lot of patience, that's all I can say. I pinned the ribbon inside either end, turned the ends under and finished it off. Then ran straight to the bathroom mirror to see how it fit. Success (mostly)!


I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out - even though it's a little big and tends to fall forwards sometimes (how did this happen? I measured!), and I love that it fits over so many different styles and prints of clothing. One thing I will say - sewing these is extremely addictive, and I already have plans for different sizes, shapes and fabrics. Floral, striped, cotton, lace, cord..... the possibilities are endless.

Monday, 28 March 2011


Fleabay came up trumps recently when I managed to land this vintage Aquascutum pleated skirt for a mere five quid. It's 100% wool, and fits my waist just right - tight enough to suck it in, but not so tight I can't still manage to sit and eat in it. Sorry for the sour face in the bottom photo - I'm not exactly a natural in front of the camera....

Shirt - Paul Smith
Skirt - Vintage Aquascutum, eBay
Shoes - Kate Kanzier

Saturday, 19 March 2011



Me: "I'm going to sand down that table today."
The Husband: "Are you? Have you got any sandpaper?"
Me: "Yep, I got some the other day."
The Husband (looks up from his book): "What on earth are you wearing? You look like a fashionable robber."
Me: "I don't want to breathe the dust in!"
The Husband: (Laughs but tries to disguise it as a cough.)
Me: "Right, I'll be back inside soon, I'm sure it won't take long."
The Husband: "Righty-o."

Ten minutes later.

Me: "It's taking ages!"
The Husband: (sighs) "Give me the sandpaper...."

The moral of today's story - if you want something doing that's messy, and time consuming and not at all related to fabric or vintage clothes, get your husband to do it while you sit in the sunshine, crochet, and watch your toddler on his scooter. Or something. Ahem.

Friday, 18 March 2011

prints charming

Last Wednesday, after two weeks of working on nothing else, I finally dropped off a selection of prints at my local gallery, ready for them to mount and sell. The owner said she'd price them at £7.99 (my artwork, for sale, for actual real money!), and give them their own little space. There's something fairly nerve wracking about sending your projects out into the world to perform on their own - half of me doesn't even want to know whether people buy them or not, the other half wants to phone the gallery every hour to get a progress update!

All images subject to Copyright.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


I've made so many cushion covers, and have numerous piles of granny squares in different colours, sizes and yarns, so I've decided to turn my hand to making something that is actually wearable. Finding a pattern for a vintage-esque cardigan that was crocheted and not knitted was a bit of a mission to be honest - but as usual, Ravelry delivered the goods. I wanted a sort of mustard-y coloured yarn to begin with, but then decided to go with something more muted, as most of my tops, dresses and blouses have quite distinctive prints on them. I've already had to unravel it once, when I discovered that I'd missed a stitch and the left hand side had a fairly obvious slant to it. I used to be of the 'never-mind-cobble-it-together-I'm-sure-it'll-be-fine' school of thought, but the older I get, the more of a perfectionist I become. Which is probably why I haven't actually finished many projects....


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

the day trip and the retrocamera

The Husband, formerly in possession of an old Nokia phone, has recently upgraded to an HTC Desire, and I am absolutely green with envy. I'm a Blackberry user, which I used to think was the most wonderful thing ever, but since the arrival of the iPhone and Android brands, I've grown to detest the thing. The apps are appalling, the camera is terrible and the screen is, quite frankly, minute. What I am most jealous of, however, is the Retrocamera application available for free on the HTC - the iPhone has something similar with the Hipstamatic app (which I've seen on many lovely blogs over the last year or so) - but Retrocamera allows you to take pictures with one of five cameras; The Barbl (1950s Germany),The Little Orange Box (1970s USSR), Xolaroid (1970s USA), the Pinhole camera (a DIY camera from the 1950s), and the Fudgecan (1960s Canada). The effects on each are really different, and I absolutely love them all.

We went out on another wandering day at the weekend - I'm absolutely desperate for a new (old) dining table and chairs, so we went on a long march of all the second hand and antique furniture shops in Southsea. The Husbands fancy-pants new phone came in very handy, as I discovered once we'd left that I'd forgotten to charge the camera, and we only managed to get a couple of outfit pictures before it died completely!

I've got to be honest - I'm really not keen on outfit posts. I love, love, LOVE reading other peoples, and I like posting pictures of my clothes - I'm just not so keen on appearing in them myself. My face always tends to have some sort of a small fit when the shutter is released, and I just look mostly uncomfortable / bemused / cross (which I'm not, I just happen to be really unphotogenic!). However, I've decided to bite the bullet and make more of an effort and less of a fuss, so here is my first proper outfit photographed for your (what I hope will be!) sartorial pleasure. The dress is 1980s vintage from eBay (£4.99), the coat is also from eBay but isn't vintage (£15), and the bag was £4.99 from a charity shop. The cardigan is 1980s vintage, from the wonderful eBay again (£3.99), and my little boots were from Topshop a couple of years ago. I really, desperately want some little black lace up boots in the same design, but can't find any that are just right. The coat was purchased on a whim after seeing someone on another blog wearing a coat with a fur collar - I just don't look right in full fur coats, so this was my compromise. I love how it looks really old, but is actually just from Tesco originally - a perfect example of how you can do vintage, without having to try and track down or pay through the nose to get that look. I love everything about this outfit, apart from the terrible photograph of me in front of the garage doors!

From here on in, it was down to the Retrocamera to capture the day - and I think it performed marvelously. I love the bottom photograph of the tree - it has an almost eerie quality about it, and I love how it makes clothes look as well. 

We started off in an amazing shop called Mardi Gras, which was actually a converted old terraced house. I say converted, but actually I think they'd just decided to use the house as their business premises - there hadn't been much conversion going on from what we saw! Not that it mattered - the whole place was so full of the most wonderful old furniture that it became difficult to remember where you were at times. It was like a maze of antiquities, turns here and there, cupboards around this corner, old glass display cabinets and vintage dressers around that corner, stacks and stacks of vintage china and cookware.... the list was endless. Upstairs there were old mattresses (yes, really!), bedding, headboards to attach to divans, sofas and armchairs - and in the corner, perched on a battered old wicker chair, was the most amazing thing. A small chair, just the right size for the Boy, with a fabulous retro print all over it. It wasn't one of those little plastic chairs you see in Argos or wherever else, it had a wooden frame, with a cushioned back and seat. It was just immense!

I umm-ed and ahh-ed over it for about fifteen minutes, looked at the Husband, made the Boy sit in it, umm-ed and ahh-ed a bit more, and then decided that £35 for a chair which he would only be able to use for a very short period of time was a little excessive, even for an old furniture junkie like me. I'm trying to be a little more thrifty with my thrifting, as I've noticed from looking at the price tags that it's all to easy to veer from 'cheap and cheerful with character' to 'actual legitimate antique with a price tag to match'. One day, when I am a famous artist / sewer / crochet-er / delete as applicable, I will fill my house with 1940's writing desks and tiny child-sized chairs.

We had absolutely no luck with a dining table or chairs (I'm cursing myself for not snapping some up a couple of weeks ago when I saw some for a fiver a piece, pah), but I did find a couple of tables (watch out for a future post on these little beauties!). We also went for a wander and had tea and cake in our favourite little cafe, which I can now tell you is called 'Lovely' - and it really lives up to its name, the cakes are deeeeelish and the decor is just fabulous.

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