Vintage Tree…

I really got over-excited this morning, when putting the vintage decorations on the tree on my studio.  I’m not sure why it made me so happy, I know in the scale of ‘life’ putting baubles on a tree really shouldn’t have such an impact but I really did enjoy myself.

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One of the first things I did was quickly photograph the boxes open, so I can put the baubles away ‘in the right place’ when the tree comes down.  I know.  I’m weird like that.  I also found myself leaving everything ‘exactly as it is’ in terms of crappy bits of string etc dangling down, I like the imperfections, it’s what makes these beauties so special.

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One of my favourites to open, was an old plastic Jacob’s crackers box that contained a very eclectic mix of trinkets folded in old bubble wrap.  I remember bidding for this but it arrived after Mum became quite ill and was shoved away untouched,  so opening it today was the first time I’d see the contents.  It was quite a large lot of decorations that went reasonably cheaply (oh my goodness, I’ve noticed the Ebay prices this year are through the roof for these things!!) perhaps because it contained some ‘tat’ and wasn’t as perfectly presented as some items.

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It has to be said, I do like a bit of tat and it’s usually here that the real gems lay.  Take the fairy, she is quite knackered, but was sitting at the very top of the box and I was so pleased to remember I’d managed to get a tree fairy in the mix.  Check out her dodgy eye!

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The same box contained tree more clip on birds (I’d already collected a few) which I really do love as Gran had similar on her tree, when we were kids.DSC_0026
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and bunnies…so cute!

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I remembered that a main attraction of this Ebay lot, apart from the fairy, was that it contained a load of clip-on candles, which really did make me a happy bunny.  Our primary school tree had these and they used to light them on the last day of school and we’d each get a present from underneath.  I’m obviously not planning to light these, that would be a bad idea.DSC_0059I also treated myself to a new set of lights, in the form of these little coloured lanterns.  The cable is a bit clunky but the colours are so nice and I think it really works with the old decorations.  I’d love to have an original set, but would be afraid of burning the house down, plus the idea of a bulb blowing and spending hours trying to work out which one doesn’t really appeal.
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Even the scary clown made it up there.

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I found it really difficult to get decent photos, especially of the whole tree so you get one minus the top.  It’s sitting by my work bench, in the middle of the window area, I’m quite nervous of the boys (or cat) knocking it and the misery of a pile of broken glass, I’m sure there’ll be at least one casualty but that’s life.

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Back to work, I have the bathrooms and hallway to clean today.  I’m going to put a festive movie on whilst I work, oh yes folks, I really am getting in the mood!

1940’s Suit: The Pattern…

I think that most people who read my blog, know that I have a bit of a thing about vintage.  I used to wear lots of vintage clothing when I was quite young and much of my normal wardrobe is vintage inspired, with quite a few original pieces thrown in.  On a daily basis I have become very lazy with my appearance, which is something I’d like to rectify.  I think I keep waiting to lose the weight I put on when I had the boys, and in doing so, to be able to wear the 80% of my wardrobe that I currently can’t fit into.  Although I am working on this (the weight loss), I have been making an effort to increase that 20% that I can wear by adding some new pretty pieces, ie. not just Chie Mihara shoes, but actual clothes.

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On of my recent buys is this vintage suit.  I love it, but it does have a few problems.  Although it fits me on the skirt and waist, the shoulders are HUGE.  Basically, it has already been messed about with, the skirt has been taken in and there have been changes to the jacket, although these alterations are also ‘original’ I can’t wear it well as it is.  I plan to do some alterations of my own, if it was ‘pure’ vintage and had never been touched I would probably feel very guilty about this, but as is, I am happy to do so.

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In the meantime, it got me thinking that I might like to make myself a nice 40’s suit that fits me perfectly.  I have a quite specific idea of the fabric and shape of my ideal version, this, of course, has lead to many hours of trawling the internet, trying to find a good original pattern and the perfect tweed.

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I’m in love with this pattern (Advance 5399), how fabulous is that collar, the turned cuff and the scallop hem on the jacket?   Sadly, it is not meant to be as none exist even remotely near my size.

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In the end, I bought a Hollywood pattern (1145) in a size 18 and a Mc Call in a size 40.  I would like to point out, just in case you don’t know this, that vintage pattern sizing is teeny tiny in comparison to modern dress sizes.  I am a 14.  I was a size 8 when I got married  – boo hoo!  I had assumed I’d return to nearer that size after kids (which is when I gained most of the weight), now I hope to land near a neat 12 if I keep up my current, very slow, weight loss up, maybe even a 10 if I’m lucky.  Oh and dress size is relative to each person, I am in no way suggesting that a 14 is large, it isn’t, but for me and my personal frame, I’d prefer to be a bit smaller.

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Anyhow, if you want to know more about vintage patterns and sizing, plus learn some great sewing techniques I would suggest Gertie’s book ‘New Book For Better Sewing‘ it’s brilliant and also contains some great patterns.  I hesitated about buying this, as I tend to think I know quite a lot about sewing but in reality, I know about drafting patterns and historical design and construction, but reading this I realised there is so much I don’t know, especially about the kind of sewing I’m about to do.  A perfect example is Gertie’s (I write this like she’s my new BF – ha ha!) way to work out your vintage size.  She suggests you actually measure your upper bust measurement (directly under your arms) and use this for old pattern sizing, as the actual bust measurement (ie around the widest point) is all about  how busty you are and not about your actual frame size.  This way, the shoulders and arm of the pattern will fit and you should only need to make a simple bust adjustment, if needed.  So I’m between a vintage 18 and 20.  Whichever pattern I choose to use I’ll have to adjust it up or down, but this I am comfortable with.
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Next came the trawl for fabric.  My initial choice being the dog-tooth check above, but it’s too heavy and a much bigger design than I’d realised.  I am not disheartened as it’s lovely fabric and will be fabulous for bags and purses, but that’ll teach me to get samples in future.  Oh and the other small check is for a skirt.  No idea why the new Donna Wilson catalogue is there, I think I just took the photo as, at the time, it made a neat little pile on my desk.

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I decided on the Hollywood pattern, against my better judgement, the McCall was much easier to follow and the pieces were fully marked, but I fell in love with the peplum on the Hollywood one, so the Ginny Simms suit it is.  Also, my second order of fabric, this beautiful green/grey/blue/brown tweed is perfect for the job….and looks surprisingly like the image on the packet cover, I hadn’t noticed that until now.

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I had ordered 4 meters of fabric, as the width is wider than those given on the pattern back (which I didn’t actually have at the point of ordering the fabric as it was coming back from the US with my husband), so the first thing I did was carefully lay out the pieces to make sure I had enough.  I did and actually 3 meters would have been perfect.  When I was at college, we used to lay our patterns pieces on the large cutting table so see how much fabric to order.  Always a good trick.

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Next, I very carefully ironed the pattern pieces and copied them onto brown paper which I buy in long rolls (another old habit, I always use it for pattern cutting, even for my Linen Cat work).

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I then spent the rest of yesterday obsessively marking up the brown paper versions so they made easy sense to me, marking in grain lines, darts etc and even the stitch lines – I pretty much only ever work from patterns that are drafted without seams included so I’m bound to forget if I re-visit this in the future.

I’ve stopped there, as I need to make a few decisions.  Do I wait to lose more weight before altering the pattern and making it up?  Or do I make it to fit me now.  I’m going to wait a while at least.  There is no hurry and I want this to be a keeper, after all 4 meters of tweed, lining and a vintage pattern don’t come cheap.

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And now for a little eye candy.  I wanted to show you this fabulous purse I bought last Autumn from Sarah Culleton.  I’m sorry if I’ve shown it before, but don’t think I have and the image has been sitting on my laptop waiting to be mentioned.  It has had so many lovely compliments, I’m always a good girl and point out it isn’t one of mine.  The detail of adding a vintage brooch (which comes with the purse) is one I particularly like.

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I couldn’t resist this as well.

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Finally, as I just mentioned vintage jewellery, the brooch in the tweed shot above and this cute earring/brooch set (which I bought because I owned a similar one for dressing up with when I was a child) are from the UK Etsy shop Pearls Scarlet Vintage.  I’m really enjoying vintage brooches at the moment, it’s quite a nice and affordable way to cheer up an outfit. Our kitchen table needs some TLC doesn’t it!

Right, back to housework and refereeing the kids.

Vintage Decorations…

I wont go on about it, as I know many are in the same position, but we’ve all been sick again and I have spent my second year running trying not to cough all the way through the boys’ school nativity.  I feel a little better today, I realised last week that I have mild vertigo on the back of the recent flu, which explains the dizzy sick feeling I permanently have, hopefully this will go as my body repairs itself.

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Enough.  Back to the title.

I loved this question over at Lyn’s blog – if things as old as you are vintage, then are you vintage as well?  It has pushed me to write a post (sorry, blogging has gone by the way side as of late) about my most recent collecting obsession – vintage baubles.

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When I was little, every year that we bought our tree, we would also buy one for my Gran.

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She had a ‘mini’ tree, that sat on a table, in front of a window, in the corner of her room and it was covered in beautiful vintage decorations.  If we were lucky (and when we were a bit older and more trust worthy) we were allowed to put them on the tree and I have very fond memories of the mercury glass fish, birds and baubles that adorned  it. I decided this year, to obessively hunt vintage decorations buy a few vintage decorations from ebay so I could have my own little special tree in the studio.

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Apparently, vintage being very in fashion and all, everyone else had the same idea. Still, I started early enough so managed to get some good deals.  I’m also quite relaxed, things don’t need to be perfect for me, chipped paint and mixed quality are all the appeal.  I tell you, I was amazed at some of the ‘buy it now’ prices, I mean, I know vintage is all the rage but there was some wishful thinking from many sellers.

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I got some beautiful decorations, I even managed to collect some clip on birds, a fish and a rolling pin! The plan was to buy a little tree in a pot, which I could then try and keep alive in the garden for next year, and to pop it in the studio in front of the window, for the world to see from the road and to make me smile.

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Sadly, at the weekend, when I bought the tree for our living room from the local garden shop there were no small trees, in fact we bought their very last one (six foot and now in the living room), so I’m now debating leaving my stunning, cunning plan until next year.  That and the fact that the boys have already broken two of the modern glass baubles off the big tree, maybe they need to be a bit older before I can expect them to be careful around pretty, breakable, vintage goodness (I share the studio with the boys as a play room these days, they are SOOOOOO messy, I keep joking about taping a line down the middle of the room so they know which half is theirs – ha ha).

I’m happy though, the decorations have been collected over a number of weeks, during which time they have sat on my desk, where I’ve spent happy times looking through them and wondering whose house they used to decorate, plus I’ll have a fantastic ‘Gran’ tree next year 🙂

Vintage Knitting Patterns…

So, I have been feeling bad about not showing any new sewing designs for a while and there are a few in progress, but I just had to post on some of the ‘stuff’ I brought back from Yorkshire (M was sooooo pleased to have more of my stuff in the house).

I just unpacked this lot

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the bulk of which are old knitting patterns from my Gran.  They are mostly cardigans and hats for kids and few great 60’s/70’s mens cardis and waistcoats.  The girls do quite well, if you ignore the blushingly short hemlines

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but the poor boys!  The below pattern book had some classics

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and what’s with all the knitted romper suits?

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There were also some embroidery patterns, this one looked promising

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but was a bit of a let down inside.  And finally, a lot of the knitting patterns were from old Women’s Weekly, whilst flicking through a 1974 copy I found this

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Curried Eggs and Pineapple!!!!  I mean, I like to try new things but I think not.

More sewing and supplies posts coming soon, I promise.

It’s Raining, it’s Pouring…

I am feeling very lucky right now.  The builders got the roof on a couple of weeks ago and a few days later the rain came; It’s much needed, there has been very little rain here in Kent and the garden has been looking a little pathetic as a result, but oh am I glad we got the roof on first!   The builders took a break last week, on another job and waiting for our windows to be ready but before they left they put our new staircase in which is a major development as it’s straight so for the first time in 3 years we are able to move some of the larger pieces of furniture upstairs.  This includes my beloved glass fronted cabinate which is one of 3 items I bought while I was waiting for the sale of my first flat to complete, many, many years ago (good old Ilkley Salerooms have a lot to answer for).  I have always assumed it would house my fabric and nic-nak collection which, of course, would be perfectly displayed through it’s lovely glass doors.  In reality it has been stuffed to the gills with all sorts over the past few years, it’s like a Tardis and on emptying it to carry upstairs I filled all the kitchen surfaces with it’s contents.

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And that’s just some of it, there was also a large box of of old sketch books and art supplies and another of millinery bits and bobs along with my most precious vintage books.

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Whilst the said cabinate has been in the living room we (well, I) put a plain ‘etching’ film on the front, party to hide the mess inside but also because the glass is not safety glass, so should the boys break it the film should hold the glass fragments together, at least that’s the theory.  I decided to remove this and replace with an etching film containing a pattern from FrostBrite.  We have used this design before in the bathroom and I really like it as it works well with all our Marimekko blinds.  We have also used film from PurlFrost in the past who have some nice designs but are a little more expensive.

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(This is a shot of the bathroom window as it’s hard to see the design on the cabinet glass).

There is a definite knack to attaching the film, I rushed and creased it whilst trying to peel of the backing paper, I hadn’t enough time and it was getting dark.  I am rather cross with myself, but it’s done now.  The other thing I noticed was the film from FrostBite isn’t as dense as the one we have used from PurlFrost so creates a more see through effect.  Still, I like it and feel happier that the glass is a little safer.

Just to illustrate how long ago I imagined this cabinet in my ‘studio’ I bought this paper from the large Paperchase on Totternaham Court Road

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for lining the shelves over 3 years ago (shuuush, don’t tell the husband, he already thinks I’m nuts but I tend to buy things I fall in love with if I see where I plan to use them, I just didn’t think it would be 3 years).  They used to have a floor of handmade and art paper, not sure if they still do?

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The best thing is being able to have some of my vintage stash out on display, mostly things that belonged to my Gran and finally being able to put my fabric away safe from dust and direct light.

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Last shot is of the lovely Hector Wall Light…not sure where it came from, I am a canny internet shopper and spent a while getting the lowest price, we have one on either side of the room.  I bought a Hector bedside lamp years ago, in fact from Laura Ashley for a very, very reasonable price before they became a hit and the price soared.

So, the builders are back next week and hopefully they will be all done by Friday and I can have my house back.  I am rather too excited!