Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Distraction Tactics

Its only been two weeks since our last festival but selecting stock, loading Gilbert & packing for a week away feels like a daunting task. With an Autumnal nip in the air, it seems like Summer has vanished overnight and, as we've been to End Of The Road before, I know just how cold it can get. I need to dig out the vintage knitwear, mohair shawls & fake fur coats and thin out the dress rail, replacing the strappy, sheerer confections with heavier fabrics and long sleeves before we set off to Dorset first thing in the morning. So what am I doing? Writing a blog post and putting it off as long as I can.

Remember last week's car booted fabric stash? Well, I'm calling today's top a Cur-mono - it was a barkcloth curtain yesterday.

The three pieces above were vintage table linen but, with my catering days long gone and yesterday's bank holiday weather being the usual wash-out, I dusted off the sewing machine and got creating. I'm going to be brave and stick them on the Kinky rails this weekend. Hopefully a merry festival-goer will ignore my wonky seams and embrace my tablecloth tailoring. 

The weekend weather was pretty decent so with so many car boot sales to chose from it would have been rude not to go to at least one (or four, in our case!)

Leather, hide & straw bags from the 1950s, 1960s & 1970s.
Decent finds were thin on the ground. The endless mountains of bobbled up, out of shape, greying piles of used high street clothing heaped on plastic sheeting was sickening. The money wasted on clothes so badly made that they can't even survive a couple of washes never fails to utterly appal me. I was brought up told to buy the best you can buy (second-hand if you can't afford to new), quality stands the test of time, and you won't be chucking stuff out after a few weeks of wear. 

Marvellous vintage turbans
Our few finds are all at least 40 years old and look at how good they still look. Can you imagine a Primark dress lasting till 2055?

Two exquisitely hand made 1970s maxis bought from the original seamstress

An early 1960s shift dress and coat in a much sought after UK size 20 (but more like a 16 -18 by today's standards).

A Scottish country dancing costume (velvet waistcoat, wool kilt), vintage English-made gents leather motorbike boots & a 1960s bikini
Right, I'd better crack on with packing the stock and, the trickiest bit, deciding what I'm gonna wear.

WEARING: Cur-mono worn with a vintage satin paisley print maxi skirt (pressie from the fabularse Helga 3 years ago). The Aztec platforms (£2), Floppy felt hat (20p) & Indian tribal necklace (£2) were all car boot sale buys this year.

Linking to Judith's Hat Attack #26

See you on the other side! 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Marchin' On - Charity Shop Finds

This morning we were driving through the arse end of nowhere when I spotted a charity shop on the main road of a grim ex-mining town. The pavement was littered with boxes of old VHS tapes and grubby looking pushchairs but Jon parked the van and we jumped out, 'cos you just never know.

On first glance the inside of the shop showed the same lack of promise as the outside, until I spotted a hint of blue fake fur set on a trumpet shaped sleeve. I pulled it out and to my absolute amazement discovered a garment dripping with tassels, sequins, rosettes and metallic trimmings. 

Handmade from Crimplene with a chunky metal zip, this could only be one thing, a vintage majorette's costume from one of the many marching bands popular in the Midlands from the late 1960s through to the 1970s. Find out more on local legend Brownhills Bob's blog, HERE.

As a kid with a bad limp and no musical prowess I was never a member of a marching band. The closest I got was being a cheerleader with our town's American football team in my late teens. We wore orange sweatshirts & black Lycra hot pants and shook pompoms. Away matches would often descend into chaos when we took exception to the terrible abuse we had to endure from supporters unused to the multiculturalism of the Midlands. Pom poms would be tossed aside as we scaled the terraces to punch the racists. You can't say they weren't warned, our theme song went, We are the Titans, the Walsall Titans, you take us on boys, you should be frightened.

 At 48 my scrapping days may be over but an abiding love for dressing up mad costumes remains.

I've had this 1970s pattern in my stash for ages but haven't got round to making it.

I wore this majorette's costume at the End of the Road Festival in 2012 and funnily enough I'm going back next week (as a trader this time).

I think this outfit will be joining me, it'll match my red wellies. I like how the bolero detaches from the dress, it'll be fab over a maxi when it gets chilly after sunset, dead practical you see!

Vintage Majorette uniform (£4, Humanitarian Aid), white go-go boots (courtesy of Emma)
A post on a Saturday, that's something that hasn't happened for an eternity. Hope you're having a fab weekend (a long one for some of us!)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Buy Buy Baby - Boot Sale Finds

Long time, no see! No excuses really, we worked at a couple of fairs which were good fun but no great earners, where vintage trading is concerned August is painfully slow.

The weekend was followed by a cheeky Monday all-dayer in Wetherspoons, Walsall. Jon's rather attached to his new-to-him pink canvas skinnies by Aussie label Cotton On, one of last week's car boot finds.

Today I'm wearing: 1970s Osti maxi (courtesy of the fabulous Helga) and vintage Anacat waistcoat (20th Century Stores, Stockport)
Which leads me - almost seamlessly - to sharing our latest finds. This fringed bag was handmade by Fran, a fellow trader, using leather & suede off-cuts. 

I've only bought one pair of new shoes in five years and why would I need to when I can get fab footwear like these Aztec-inspired platforms for £2...

and these ankle boots for £1.50?

Who says that all Eighties fashion is all polyester and shoulder pads? This fab embroidered jacket was purchased in Guatamala back in the 1980s.

I can't wait to transform these vintage curtains & bed covers into groovy clothing.

Jon found three pairs of outrageously flamboyant, British-made shoes on the same stall. He's keeping this red leather pair.

Some rather splendid vintage clothing, which was instantly laundered and added to Kinky's rails at the weekend. Here's just a small selection.

Clockwise from top left: 1960s Devonshire Lady mini, green leather jacket, 1960s micro mini, 1970s midi dress, neon pink 1980s Cashmere swing coat, St Michael swirly shift dress

I bought the '70s Tori Richards, Honolulu maxi I'm wearing below from a second hand stall on the market last year. I probably mentioned that the trader let me have it for £4 instead of £5 as he'd had a bet with his mate that no-one would buy anything so disgusting. I think it must be one of the most admired dresses I own.

Taken on Saturday at Bus Stop Vintage , Shrewsbury
We've got the entire weekend off - no fairs, no festivals, no markets, no plans. Fingers crossed for at least one dry day so we can go car booting.

See you soon.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

It Began In Afrika

I was planning to post about the dress I'm currently making but I came back with so much stuff from this morning's car boot sale that by the time I'd sorted all out, loaded the washing machine & tidied up I'd lost the will to hem it. I'll never be a professional blogger, will I?

Waxed cotton earrings (Cornbury Festival), Braided cuff (gift from friends, bought in Cuba)

I must have had a bit of an African vibe going on when I got dressed this morning, what with my Rwandan earrings, 

and Ghanaian basket. 

So it was no surprise that this dress called to me from a rail (or it might have been the stall holder, declaring her undying love for the Dollyrockers maxi I was wearing).

From a distance I thought it was African waxed cotton but the lady told me it was Kente from her mother's native Ghana, originally worn by Kingdom of Ashanti royalty (but widespread today). Each of the colours have a symbolic meaning so, according to the internet, my dress denotes high status & spiritual purity (gold), maturity (black), purity (white) and femininity (pink).

Not bad for a quid!

WEARING: Kente dress & head wrap (£1, car boot sale), Bertie cork soled platforms (charity shop), Ghanian basket (Kaya Festival), temple beads (Gokarna, 2015), all other jewellery (India)

The dress came with a head wrap, which I'm wearing as a sash, as I've got an annoying frozen shoulder from too much sewing and can't lift my arm high enough to tie it. I'm sure a therapeutic rum will sort me out later.

As for the rest of our finds, I don't know where to start. There's everything from professional disco lights, Aztec platform boots, sackfuls of vintage dresses & fabric, some prescription spectacles Morrissey would kill for and three pairs of the most outrageously pimp-tastic shoes known to man. Got to love a boot sale!

I'll leave you with the inspiration behind my post title, just in case you think I've forgotten how to use the spell check, you can't beat a bit of full-on trance on a Thursday afternoon.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Tales from The Riverbank

After eight years of being self-employed I still have to pinch myself to convince myself that I'm not dreaming, that I won't suddenly wake up, pull on my morning suit and take the 6am express bus to Birmingham. I dress in second-hand from head to toe, I cut my own hair & a treat is a £4.99 vegetarian meal deal at Wetherspoons but returning to my previous life is unimaginable. I may never be wealthy but my life is a hell of a lot richer without the money and status my previous career brought me.

This weekend's commute sure beats the Aston Expressway. 

My office is infinitely more attractive.

Tewkesbury Abbey is just visible over the water.

The view from the office window is a lot more scenic.

WEARING: Vintage Van Heusen "Latitude" shirt & 1950s Levi Pantella shorts

...and the company is second to none!

This weekend took us to Brookestock. Set in the grounds of an Elizabethan coaching inn ,on the banks of the River Severn, opposite twelfth century Tewkesbury Abbey, the event started as a joke wedding invite from Steph & Richard Brookes, keen festival goers who married on the jetty. Their guests had so much fun that they decided to made it into an annual charity event with live bands, a silent disco and family fun.

Steph invited us to trade last year, guaranteeing we'd have a brilliant time even if we didn't make our fortune.

And she was right, we loved it.

We returned this year, looking forward to another chilled out, pressure-free weekend after two months of madness.

My fake fur jacket (borrowed from the Kinky Melon rails)

The days were free and easy. We opened when we were ready and closed when we fancied; we'd cook dinner (our staple camping food, haloumi & cous cous or chana masala), then grab a beer and walk for miles along the river bank.

Wearing: Vintage Swedish army jacket (Ebay), Skinnied-up trousers, cord trilby & fake fur lined walking boots (all charity shopped)

While we love live music and enjoyed Brookestock's day time acoustic sets, after 8 weeks of amplified sound, wandering along the tow path with just the chug of a passing boat or quack of a duck was perfect.

 The sunsets were spectacular.

And not being the last to bed was a real novelty.

The Lower Lode Inn was open to the general public as well as the festival goers and, as a well known biker haunt in addition to a popular spot for overnight moorings, visitors to our pitch were varied and fascinating. We met people who'd sold all they owned for life on the water, ex-paratroopers on an epic canoe expedition to raise funds for post traumatic stress disorder, Hells Angels, NHS workers, taxi drivers, school teachers, club promoters, musicians and wedding planners.

If I'd stayed in my corporate career I may have been able to buy one of these play things, but would it have made my life any better? I somehow doubt it.

Vintage nylon maxi with fringed sleeves (eBay, 2011)

Again we didn't make our fortune but we'll be donating a percentage of the weekend's takings to The CJD Network, Brookestock 2015's chosen charity after the loss of one of their friends from the disease last year.

Chilled, relaxed, sun-tanned and rested. No camping for us this weekend, just back to back vintage fairs instead, one in historic Shrewsbury and another in Moseley, Birmingham's Bohemia. Trading on an area other than grass, it will feel very odd!