Monday 28 November 2016

Ain't Going To Goa...Yet!

Today is sunglasses and big coat weather, which I like...
....but nowhere near as much as I like sunglasses and no coat weather.

10 months ago today, Benaulim beach at sunset. My recycled sari dress came from the 99 rupee shop in the village (99 rps was equal to £1 at the beginning of the year, not so now, bloody Brexit!)

Fed up with being told to buy nothing on Black Friday I went and booked a couple of flights to Goa. While I agree with not spending for the sake of it, I loathe being told what to do. I'm such a middle-aged rebel. I'm flicking my pigtails in defiance.

Sunshine or not, after yesterday's 17 hour day sunglasses were a necessity this morning. While Camden was no record breaker trade-wise we took as much as we normally do at the locally-based vintage fair we turned down in London's favour. Although the alternative was only twenty minutes down the road and the pitch fee was the same, there's acts doing covers of songs from the 1940s & 1950s and a large proportion of visitors who delight in telling you that their Nan/mum/auntie used to have one of those. 

Life's too short to spend doing fairs that feel like a chore. We opted for a six hour commute, sung along to 1980s dance music and hung out with people with a genuine understanding of vintage like our friends Fiona, Melanie and Ray.

I'm wearing a 1970s lurex catsuit (bought from a jumble sale in 2011 for 20p), silver Chelsea boots and a 1960s chain belt from my friend Eileen (who blogs here)

We even got presents! Melanie & Ray give us some vintage china, scarves, jewellery, Alan McGee's book, vintage velvet curtains, a Kangol velvet beret and a sparkly purse as well as some The Face magazines from the early 1980s. (And you don't need to tell me that you used to have some of those, we all did!)

Despite being half dead this morning we wrapped up and walked into town to blow away the cobwebs.  There's something wonderfully subversive about standing at the checkout with a basket of sun tan lotion when everyone else is loaded down with wrapping paper, celebrity perfume and naff gift packs. We're not going for weeks but I'm buggered if I'm venturing into mainstream retail shops any closer to Xmas.

Check me out - I'm not wearing Barry M lipstick. This is Flaunt It from Sleek. I bought it when Superdrug had a three for two offer on make-up. (Don't worry, the other two purchases were Barry M!) I've been looking for a cruelty-free true orange lipstick most of my adult life, I think this is the one.

WEARING: 1960s vinyl & fake fur coat (£1, clearance charity shop), Vintage psychedelic maxi (swapped with another trader at a fair last year), 1960s Clarks' Fireflies gold pumps (nicked from the stockroom), Primeta, West German sunglasses (20p, car boot sale)

This week we've got Frank's pom-pom removal, a massive demonstration against council cuts, an art gallery preview and preparation for our last vintage fair of the year (HERE) but all that can wait. Tonight is pizza, booze, a roaring log fire and the latest BBC Scandi-Noir on catch-up.

See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday

Thursday 24 November 2016

My Life In Orange

I know, I'm so behind the times. Vintage by name, age & wardrobe, hopelessly outdated by nature, that's me. I've finally read Caitlin Moran's book, How To Be A Woman. Being the thrifty chick I am, I didn't buy into the hype and thought I'd wait until it turned up in a charity shop. It only took four years. 

I'm a bit crap when things get hyped up. I still haven't watched Breaking Bad, Mad Men or Game of Thrones because I'm scared I won't like them and be even more of a freak than I already am. Luckily I loved How To Be A Woman, parts of it made me laugh out loud while others had me nodding away to myself, agreeing with every word. Off for a night out dressed in something from a jumble sale,I'm sitting at the back of the bus applying Barry M nail polish which cost £1, could have been written by me. Of course it helps that Caitlin Moran's a Black Country girl and shares the same self depreciating sense of humour. 

You should never describe your look as being "a mixture of high street and vintage" Caitlin writes, Remember how angry it makes you when Fearne Cotton says it. Don't let the abused become the abuser, so I won't. Instead I'll say that everything I'm wearing is somebody else's cast off, except the bag, which I bought new in Goa for £1.50. Well, a girl's gotta treat herself occasionally. 

Wearing: Lurex cardi (Mango via Beacon Centre for The Blind, £1.99), Felt hat (Car boot sale, 20p), Jane Shilton boots (Car boot sale, free), 1970s satin paisley print maxi (courtesy of Helga), Glass dragonfly choker (Originally from Biba in 1967, inherited from my Mum)

Talking of second-hand, here's this week's charity shop finds:

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Hawaiian novelty print shirt; American-made fedora; 1970s Collier Campbell skirt, blouse and headscarf set; Icelandic style wool jacket; American-made fedora; Punjabi waistcoat; St Michael cropped fake fur; Navy leather bomber jacket; Gents scarves; 1980s New Romantic style shirt; Midnight blue velvet blazer.

People often stop me when I'm out and about and tell me that they're followers of my blog (which still amazes me) but for years Jon was the recognised face of the relationship from his time as lead guitarist with indie legends, The Charlatans. If you want to know more about his days as a pop star either get him pissed or read THIS in-depth interview with top music blog, Louder than War. It's ace!

Insane-sleeved 1970s velvet jacket (Liebchen Vintage), Velvet scarf trimmed with pompoms and tassels (99p, Whistles via a charity shop) ...more high street mixed with vintage.....please don't call me Fearne....
 We're trading with Judy's in Camden on Sunday (details HERE). Do come and see us if you're in London town. It's our penultimate fair of 2016.

Work means we've had to postpone Frank's op as we've been warned that he'll need painkillers for 48 hours and, as we've got an 18 hour day ahead of us, we won't be around to administer them properly.  The marvelously monochrome pompoms are safe until Tuesday!!

See you soon and Happy Thanksgiving to Americans everywhere (with one notable angry & orange exception who shall remain nameless.)

Updated to link with Judith's Hat Attack.

Monday 21 November 2016

Bollywood & Beyond

It's truly horrible outside, it's been lashing it down for hours, freezing cold, dark and windy but you'd never guess from these photos. With the glow from my riotously colourful patchwork, it's always sunny in our house.

I thought I might have been in danger of blending in with my surroundings, sitting on the chaise in my quilted patchwork maxi, but I think that you can just about make me out. 

My fabric stash is running on empty so sewing was a no-no this weekend. Instead I had a massive jewellery sort out and made some earrings with the cast-offs.

I'd had these Tiger beer bottle tops stashed away for ages and combined with some 1960s images of Bollywood goddesses, Helen & Sharmila Tagore, pinched from the internet & printed out on photo paper, a rusty Lamani tribal necklace and some broken earrings bought in Mumbai I made these (I say me, Jon did the drilling, I'm not great with intricate stuff).

Ta-dah! I'm going to have to drink more beer so I can make's a hard life!

WEARING: Bri-nylon blouse (made by me using a 1970s pattern & vintage psychedelic fabric ), Vintage quilted maxi skirt (Vintage Village @ Stockport Market Hall), 1980s Finnish-made suede boots (bought from a blogger), Urban Outfitters neon & perspex belt (present from Liz)
In other news Frank's been for his check-up and is booked in for pom-pom removal on Friday. The vet reckons he's about three years old and in remarkably good nick considering he's been living rough for at least a year, he's also very impressed with the size of his plums. We've had him chipped and keep following him around the house saying, You're my cat now, in an evil League Of Gentleman way. Poor boy. 

See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday and Natalia, Tina & Beate's Midlife Fun.

Friday 18 November 2016

What Lies Beneath

Now, here's a dilemma. What's a maxi lovin' girl supposed to wear over her dresses when Britain is in the grip of winter? My cropped fake furs look fine but freeze my arse off and midi length coats just don't look right. I was desperate to crack open the wardrobe and give Sunday's Stockport finds an outing but didn't want to risk hypothermia.

WEARING: Dress made from the remnants of my culotte dress & my trusty 1971 Living dressmaking pattern; Original 1960s go-go boots (Ker-rang's vintage car boot sale, 2011); Swirly lurex psychedelic tights (present from a friend); Early Liberty of London silk scarf (car boot sale)
I've made a few mini dresses specifically to wear under mid-length coats (this green crushed velvet number being the latest) but sometimes only a maxi will do.

Fortunately the goddess of charity shopping was looking down on me and, on a visit to the shop our friend Ellen manages, she pointed me in the direction of this Verona of London 1960s maxi coat. British-made with pockets and a hood, 100% wool, fully lined and loads cheaper than anything available on the High Street. What's not to love? Yes, it's black but hopefully the Greek Key gold lurex braiding stops me looking like a clone from Commuterville. Those days are well and truly over.

I like that the buttons finish mid-thigh so you get a cheeky glimpse of psychedelia when I'm walking.

So, all wrapped up and ready to brave the icy conditions, we walked into town for our annual eye tests and some freezer bags, string & soda crystals from Wilko (I know, we're just so goddamn rock'n'roll) Afterwards, mission accomplished, we popped into The New Art Gallery to catch Oliver Jones' "Divine" before it closed.

Eva Rothschild  "Alternative to Power"
We regularly drop in but as I rarely carry my camera when I'm out shopping, fail to mention it on the blog. I was thrilled to read this post by Thrift Deluxe who made a two hour journey last weekend just to visit The New Art Gallery. Many people are amazed that Walsall has a world class art gallery but contrary to popular belief, the Midlands aren't a cultural wasteland.

Divine by Oliver Jones

Laundered, steamed, stitched and stashed away in the Kinky Shed, here's the rest of this week's vintage finds. Needless to say we also brought back paperback books, old school vinyl and numerous dance CDs, singing along to R Kelly's Ignition all the way home on Wednesday.

Clockwise from top left: Hand knitted jumper; St Michael wool blazer; Veronica for Rembrandt catsuit (which came with a see thru' over-dress); Silver Dollar rhinestone encrusted cowboy shirt; Gold lame pencil skirt; Quilted nylon jacket; Tooled leather bag; Suedette Italian-made bomber jacket; English-made fringed Western-style jacket; Burton Tailoring three-button blazer; Shannon of Walsall 100% wool pea coat.
We've got Saturday and Sunday off, that's the second free weekend this month! I've no idea what we're going to do but hopefully it might involve alcohol and pubs.

WEARING: 1960s Verona of London maxi coat (PDSA, Wellington), Vintage Pakistani velvet tote bag (Jumble sale)

Thank you so much for supporting Walsall and signing the petitions. You're all fabulous!

Have an ace weekend and see you on the other side

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Get Up, Stand Up: Don't Give Up The Fight!

Tuesday, already! It's a sign I'm knocking on a bit, where does the time go? Since I last posted my sewing frenzy has continued. Towards the end of last week Emma Kate sent me a length of 1960s psychedelic bri-nylon which was crying out to be made into a big sleeved mini dress which I promptly did. 

You probably can't tell from my photos but we've had a housework blitz which ain't no regular occurrence, I can assure you. I'd rather clean when the house really needs it so you can see a difference. We use an old school feather duster to dust, polish the glass & mirrors with white vinegar applied to a old pair of knickers and, after sweeping the floors with a yard brush, we mop them with a solution of 3/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and a gallon of hot water. This conditions the wood floors and makes the house smell amazing (I hate the artificial stink of shop-bought cleaning products).

Photo courtesy of Richard Roberts

Yesterday we took part in a peaceful demonstration against the proposed closure of Walsall Leather Museum (join us on a tour HERE). Along with the museum, the New Art Gallery is also under threat. While everyone is aware that the council needs to make massive cuts, sacrificing our culture and heritage (of which we're immensely proud) will make life in Walsall very bleak. You can read the full report (and watch a short video) HERE.

Yay! We made the front page of the paper - there's me and my hat!

If you'd like to help please sign the on-line petitions HERE and HERE and save us poor Black Country folk from an existence which offers little more than pound shops, fast food outlets and Primark.

If you want to visit either the Leather Museum or the New Art Gallery do get in touch, if we're free we'd love to join you.

On a more cheery note we made a welcome return to Stockport on Sunday. It was lovely to catch up with the other traders and regular customers we hadn't seen for months. I've mentioned before that Vintage Village is the most incredible place to shop and I got a bit carried away at The Vintage 78 DJs stall as they were having a massive sale but there was no way I could have left this mother load of American psychedelia behind! My winter wardrobe needs it.

Other than a quick look around the chazzas on the way to the pub last Monday, we didn't purposely go out hunting last week so today we did. Our finds included a 1960s deadstock gold lamé pencil skirt a woman nearly beat me up for, a Walsall-made 1960s pea coat (from the days when the town had a thriving garment manufacturing industry) and a ridiculous rhinestone encrusted American cowboy shirt (how did that end up in the Black Country?)

My favourite find was a bag of Indian decorations which included six of these colourful hand hangy-up thingys along with some purple paper rosettes for 99p. I couldn't be less interested in Xmas decorations but I love these. They'll be up all year (no doubt with added cobwebs as the months pass.)

WEARING: Handmade psychedelic mini dress (made using a 1971 pattern), Murano glass and beaten brass pendant (Walsall's very own jewellery maker, Jolene Smith ), Luminous green opaques (car boot sale, I think), 1960s lace-up boots (original Biba, inherited from my Mum)

 Who knows what madness we'll find tomorrow? I can hardly wait!

See you soon.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Green Velvet & Other Things

Other than an all-day session in 'Spoons on Monday I haven't really done a fat lot this week but I did manage to squeeze a quick tour of the Walsall chazzas before hitting the pub and found this velvet beauty for less than the price of a round of drinks. 

The London Mob was part of the British Boutique scene in the late 1960s. There doesn't seem much of it about but if all the designs are as fabulous as this jacket I can understand why people hold on to them.

The reason for my imposed house arrest? Other than it's been absolutely freezing and utterly miserable,  Jon's been in the workshop rebuilding an engine so I've been waiting in for deliveries of car parts as his project, a 1977 Volkswagen, is well underway. He's had it for 7 years (and I've yet to see it for real) after spotting it rusting away in a hangar on a RAF base he had to collect an eBay purchase from. An airman had found it abandoned in France and towed it back home never finding time to restore it. It's a left-hand drive and Dutch registered. Once Wolfsburg send us her birth certificate along with her original registration plate we'll be able to name her appropriately.  This means that poor old Gilbert will have to be sold next year. 

In cat news Frank has pretty much moved in. On Monday night he slept on the bed with us and there he's stayed for pretty much the whole week. He's obviously a fan of patchwork! It was sleeting the other night so, cool as a cucumber, he trotted into the utility room and used the litter tray. It's the vets next week (but don't tell him!)

Handmade culotte dress worn with Lamani coin belt (bought in India)

Yesterday, rather than waste energy venting on social media, I channeled my dismay (so sorry, America) into doing something constructive and made a crushed velvet culotte dress using the fabric I mentioned I was planning to buy from the market on Monday. There were loads of other colours to chose from and after a lot of dithering between aubergine, chartreuse and turquoise I went for the emerald green.

I quite like it with nothing underneath (a bit Studio 54) but the plan was to make something to wear with my vintage blouses and funky tops over winter. Here's my trusty 1960s St Michael ruffled shirt, from back in the day when Marks & Spencer wasn't an elasticated waist, greige acrylic frumpfest.

WEARING: Handmade crushed velvet culotte dress worn with vintage St Michael blouse (courtesy of Jo, 1980s purple suede Juhani Palmroth of Finland boots (bought from Liz ), Frida Kahlo pendant (handmade by Tamera), Patchwork & pompom bag (Xmas present, handmade by Izzybird Bags)

The parcels have been signed for and I'm off to the corner shop for cola. It's the Apprentice tonight (the British version, mercifully Trump-free) and that means rum! We're back to business this weekend and we'll be at Vintage Village at Stockport Market Hall this Sunday (see HERE). Come and say hello if you're around.

See you soon!

Monday 7 November 2016

Stash, Bang, Wallop....Further Adventures In Sewing

Cover your ears, lads Jon warned the cats on Saturday morning, The swearing is about to start! The cheek! All because I'd told him that I was off to do some sewing. With a weekend off and after a fruitless search for flights to India, I decided to make something....or, as it turned out, some things. As my fabric stash was mostly crammed with pieces too small to make anything significant out of, I decided to chop up the lot and make a new bed cover because, as you well know, our house is lacking in patchwork. 

Once it was on the bed the bolster covers I made six years earlier looked a bit shoddy so I knocked up some new covers with the leftovers, trimming them with pom poms, obviously!

Those Victorian ladies used to spend years making patchwork quilts, this Victoria took six hours. No fiddly little hexagons or elaborate designs for me, I'm all about the big and the bold and I use a shoe box as a template. Of course the women back then made quilts to hand down to future generations but, as I've no plans to reproduce, as long as it keeps us warm for the next few years it's good enough for me.

I snaffled this 1960s pattern on eBay for a Buy-it-Now price of £2 last week and it was arrived on Saturday morning. I know what fabric I'm going to make it up in (I think this might be the first time in my life of sewing that I'm actually going to buy some brand new) but the market stall that sells it is only in Walsall on a Monday. 

After finishing my cushion covers I was so gripped by Cerys Matthews' live broadcast from Orkney Library (listen to it here, it's an absolute joy) that I thought I'd stay in my sewing room and do a dummy run of the culotte dress with the one remaining piece of fabric in my stash, some East African waxed cotton (made in Tanzania) I'd bought from the "Everything ONE POUND" stall on the market in the Summer.

I'm glad I did, despite the pattern being for a 32.5" bust the boobs ended up massive and needed an extra dart. I'd hate to spend £10 on fabric only to bugger it up.

I just need to add a fake fur coat, gloves and a massive hat and I'm ready for a session in Wetherspoons. I know that we had the weekend off but I've got to pop down to the market and I think we need to celebrate finally shaking off the cold that's plagued us for almost a month. I wonder if I'll be able to top the chat-up line from last time, uttered by a chap celebrating his 80th birthday.....You're not like the other Walsall girls, you haven't got a massively fat lovely!

WEARING: Handmade culotte dress, fringed bodysuit (£2.25, Age UK, 2014), Suede Jane Shilton boots (Free from my favourite car boot trader), Banjara tribal pendant (The wonderful Ila Pop), Handmade disco ball earrings (Tamera who used to blog as The Menopausal Supermodel)

Jon needn't have worried, despite breaking four needles and the boob mishap there was hardly any swearing at all. I'm such a lady!

See you soon.