Wednesday 29 March 2017

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - A Bloggers' Day Out

It's been ages since I last saw Tania & Curtise so when we met yesterday we were far too busy catching up to take many photos (thanks to Tania for sharing hers). We chose a town we'd visited a couple of times previously because it ticked all the right boxes - within easy reach of Sheffield, Nottingham & Walsall and with all the essentials, a train station, loads of cheap charity shops and a Wetherspoons. I could tell you where it is but then I'd have to kill you....

After telling the girls that I wouldn't be buying any stock 'cos I couldn't be arsed with lugging it around all day, within minutes of entering the first chazza I'd snapped up a 1960s dress suit for the Kinky rails...promptly followed by a jacket, a dress, a trilby hat and a scarf.... and so the buying continued. I pounced on this lurex maxi knowing it would look incredible on Curtise and it did. The black Berketex midi dress was another of her purchases but although we loved Tania's vintage Austrian Loden suit it got left behind as it needed a bit too much work to tailor it to fit her tiny frame.

Tania's photos

 I loved the colour of this Angela Gore of London gauzy cotton maxi but felt it was a tad too demure and Little House On The Prairie for my liking and despite this 1970s wedding dress having the bastard massive sleeves of my dreams it went back on the rail. Jon and I celebrate 25 years of unwedded bliss on Saturday and, after a quarter of a century together, still have no desire to tie the knot. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Check out those bags - that's what I call a successful day of charity shopping! (Tania's photo)

After we'd scoured the chazzas, exchanged presents and devoured smashed avocado bagels, chips and beer in 'Spoons we returned to our favourite charity shop as the manager had kindly offered to sort out the stockroom and find us another rail of vintage to rummage through after lunch. 

Tania's photo

This gingham and cheesecloth maxi was a winner. I'm not sure if it was the naughty lace-up bodice or the label I loved the most.

Uninhibited - it's got my name written all over it!

Here's what else I bought:

Handmade cotton mini dress with pockets; 1960s lace dress suit; Gents' vintage scarf and feather trimmed trilby; Aquascutum bomber jacket.

These were my gifts from Curtise & Tania
Clockwise from top left: Moroccan leather babouches, Vintage swimsuit; handmade wrap top; Feather earrings; Taunton Vale ring holder; 1970s Indian cotton tunic

Shopping done we returned to 'Spoons for yet more booze and chat and then, all too soon, it was time to catch our respective trains home but not before we'd had a bash at the obligatory failed middle aged selfie at the railway station. None of the photos do us any favours which just as well we're old enough not to care.

What an ace day. We really need to meet up more often. Who's up for joining us next time?

See you soon.

Monday 27 March 2017

Mega Flares, Ruffles & Wonder Woman

 There's something completely ridiculous about making myself an entire outfit to wear to Wetherspoons for today's drunken lunch date but there again, I've never claimed to be normal.

Me-made flares and blouse worn with original Biba choker (my Mum's), floppy felt hat (20p, car boot sale)

With a rare weekend off I plonked myself beside the sewing machine, tuned into 6 Music and transformed a vintage St Michael bedspread and a length of 1970s suiting fabric (from Nikki and Jayne's stash) into some high-waisted mega flares and a flouncy blouse.

The blouse was an absolute pig to make, easing in the sleeves and getting the cuff ruffles level were a bitch of a job and a professional seamstress would have a dizzy fit if they examined my handiwork up close. Luckily Wetherspoons is dark.

This is what I used, a Style "Misses" pattern from 1974. Both pieces cut to a vintage size 12 (34" bust, 25" waist, 36" hip) worked out to be a perfect fit although I needed to shave 4" off the hem of the trousers as they were probably designed to be worn with massive platform soles!

Clockwise from top left: 1960s leopard print sheepskin coat;  Lace shawl; 1960s toweling tabbard; 1970s embroidered blouse; Chiffon maxi; Chinese hand embroidered wrap; Chinese blouse; Tab collar lurex shirt; 1980s suede cropped jacket, 1950s handmade circle skirt; 1970s Paris-made midi; Velvet skater dress; Vintage Indian block print maxi; 1960s toweling mini; St Michael toweling tunic; 1960s Jean Varon brocade maxi (with pockets!)

Last week was spot-on for good vintage finds - a couple of pieces were sourced by friends but their taste is so similar to ours that it's impossible to tell our choices from theirs. Between sewing the weekend was spent washing, ironing and mending the new additions ready for our next vintage event, Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair in Bethnal Green, East London next Sunday. (Details HERE)

Clockwise from top left: Harris Tweed three-button blazer; Jermyn Street shirt; Hardy Amies jacket; 1950s Brook Taverner raincoat; Dunn & Co overcoat; Centaur of London double breasted jacket; 1980s suede jacket; Janitor shirt; 1970s zip-up bomber; St Michael smoking jacket, Man at C&A 1980s shirt 

Jean Varon, Hardy Amies & Harris Tweed but those discoveries paled into insignificance when rifling through a charity shop rail on Tuesday I discovered this......Yes, be still my beating heart, just what every 50 year old woman needs, a Wonder Woman costume. On second thoughts, maybe I should wear this to Wetherspoons instead?

I can't get too carried away with today's £2.09 a pint 'Spoons Real Ale Festival, I'm off on a girls' day out tomorrow which (judging by past experience) will involve yet another boozy lunch and a mid-afternoon wine stop. 

See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday and Judith's Hat Attack.

Friday 24 March 2017

Curtain Couture - Backyard Swagger

Yesterday a sun-bleached curtain, today a psychedelic maxi skirt. This is my latest creation, made from the superbly named Swagger, a 1960s screen print by British textile designer, Peter McCullough.

Any sewing aspirations have been scuppered of late. Whenever I've been struck with the urge to make something, I've cracked open the fabric box only to come up with a big fat nothing. Plenty of wild vintage dressmaking patterns to use (this is just a tiny part of my collection) but no funky fabric to do them any justice.

The 1973 skirt pattern on the bottom left is the one I used to make my maxi.

Vintage fabric either doesn't turn up or, like buses, several arrive at the same time or, in my case, the entire bus depot decamps and parks outside the house. Within minutes of abandoning a sewing project due to lack of material up popped an email from my friend Jayne (she of the legendary packages of retro partyware & vintage clothing) asking if I'd like a motherload of fabric she'd found in her grandparents' attic. Within 24 hours I had another email from my friend Nikki, telling me she'd had a clear-out and wondering if I'd be interested in giving it a home.

Vintage fabric? In the words of Tom Hardy in Taboo, I have a use for you.

This is Nikki's donation (which included the Swagger fabric I made my skirt from). The incredible 1960s orange and lavender Marrakesh by Jonelle is going to become the curtains in our ongoing VW campervan rebuild.

Jayne's contribution filled two huge boxes. I'm dying with excitement over the 1970s Mughal photo print fabric.

My stash is too big to fit in my blanket box now, just the way I like it. Not so much a fabric pile as a mountain of endless possibilities. Within a few hours one of these old curtains, bed covers or off-cuts could be transformed into a pair of maxi culottes, a floor length waistcoat, a catsuit, a halterneck sun dress or a bastard massive sleeved mini dress. Watch this space!

Anybody who tells you that dressmaking is an expensive hobby ain't no charity shop shopper. Lots of chazzas have boxes of notions, patterns and thread going for a pittance, as sewing is still regarded as a dying skill nobody uses any more. These five vintage Sylko cottons, metallic embroidery thread and the contemporary uncut Simple Sew pattern I found in town this morning cost me £2.50. I'm not a fan of jersey wrap dresses, they shout middle-aged to me, but I'm curious to see what this kimono dress will look like made up from a funky 1970s cotton bedspread. I've never used a modern pattern before but the Simple Sew website looks great with lots of tutorials and videos to help novice sewers along.

WEARING: Me-made psychedelic maxi skirt, mustard lace-up bodysuit (retail sale, get me!), Vintage tooled leather belt with lion buckle (33p, charity shop)

We've got this weekend off as, inexplicably, the world of vintage comes to a grinding halt on Mothering Sunday. I'm not sure why as not all of us have mothers nor have any aspirations to become them. No matter, it'll be a wonderful weekend of unplugging the PC, sewing and watching TV instead, the rum's already on ice.

See you soon!

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Workin' 5 to 9

What A Way To Make A Living!

.......And that's 5am till 9pm, not the other way round.

Sunday took us to Balham in South London, which turned out to be a great day despite the 3.45am start.

On Friday we popped over to the next town to see a friend and had a quick tazz around the chazzas. In a shop we usually dismiss as being hideously overpriced Jon snaffled this 1970s belted wool jacket by Dhobi (which is an odd name for a line of posh vintage menswear as it's the Hindi word for laundryman) from the £1 rail. A quick going over with the car boot sale steamer and it was ready to wear for work.

I thought this radioactive pink chiffon maxi was quite appropriate for my working day. It's labelled "Young Mayfair" and Balham's only 6 miles away from there. Ain't blogging great? After scrolling through some old posts I discovered that the last time I wore this dress was four years ago, high time it got another outing. 

A lot of traders say they find maxi dresses a hard sell. Not me. I wonder if it's because I wear them to work so people can see that they're not something only worn for fancy occasions. How incredible does this gorgeous customer look? She called this late 1960s lace number she bought from us her Hero Buy. It fits like it was made for her.

Of course when you're self-employed there are no set hours. After unpacking the van yesterday,   washing off the make-up stains and replacing busted zips, the inevitable stock casualties from being tried on over the weekend, we were out on the hunt again this morning. While the hours may be long at least I can dress in whatever I want, no more f*ckin' corporate pinstripes, pencil skirts, court shoes or flesh coloured tights. Amen to that! Dressing in happy clothes is good for the soul.

Topped with my turquoise leather coat (and with thermals underneath) this was today's charity shopping outfit. It got loads of love and brought some chazzing luck, too - we found some cool stuff.

1970s Tori Richards, Honolulu maxi (last seen HERE), Vintage Mary Quant scarf (jumble sale), Gold leather boots (retail, in the sale), 1960s plastic earrings (Car boot sale), Pink cat's eye glasses (Retro Bambi)

So what do we do when we want a break from vintage? A large rum 'n' coke, a cat or two for company and some quality The Lunchbox.

This wonderful offering is currently available on the BBC i-player and is utterly captivating. It's Bollywood but not as you know it, there's no singing and dancing, just a beautifully written story, romantic without being mawkish or overly sentimental. You might recognise Irrfan Khan from Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire & The Darjeeling Limited.

I'm itching to get out in the garden but whenever I have time to spare it's either chucking it down (yesterday) or bitterly cold (today). There's definitely a hint of Spring in the air though, I spotted this Snake's Head Fritillary in the garden when we were taking photos earlier.

Right, I'd better crack on, today's charity shop finds need sorting out and washing before the cats decide to make a bed out of them.

See you soon.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Buy Buy Love - This Week's Secondhand Finds

For a woman who spends a large part of her life shopping I rarely end up keeping any of it. Take this slinky 1970s number I picked up in a chazza today. It ticks all the boxes - snake print, halterneck, maxi length - the drawback? It's at least three sizes too big (the sides are pegged) and a foot too long. One for the rail, then.

Or this Kati for Laura Phillips maxi my friend Lynn found me at Sunday's Vintage Village at Stockport. I love the paisley-printed gauzy cotton, the velvet bodice and the massive Edwardian-style sleeves.  Yet again, it's too bloomin' big. The row of pegs I've got running down the back make me look like a stegosaurus. 

Vix 0 - Kinky 2

I don't know how many times visitors to vintage fairs tell me that they only made dresses in small sizes  in the 1970s and that it's impossible to find larger sizes. Almost every bugger I like is always too bastard big and honestly, I'm not that tiny.

Success! Finally, a new addition to my wardrobe in over four months.The first frock of my fifties! I bought this Genesis of London maxi from a fellow trader at Judy's in Cambridge last Sunday and before you accuse me of nicking all the good stuff before the doors open and the general public get in - I spotted this beauty 10 minutes before closing time.

Unlike my Leo Narducci maxi, other than a dress and blouse on Etsy, I can't find anything out about this label so I'm guessing it was a boutique brand that disappeared years ago.

While we were out trawling the chazzas this week I did find a few keepers of the non-clothing variety like this vintage turquoise feather boa (a girl can never have too many) and the 1970s navy felted wool wide brimmed hat. 

As you can see from yesterday's middle-aged s*elfie, I had my hair up so, as we've got similar sized heads (big!), I got Jon to try the hat on. We were in an unfamiliar town and were already attracting interest from the natives so a big bald bloke in a woman's hat was probably the talk of Gloucestershire.

I've been whinging about the sorry state of my fabric stash for ages so was thrilled to discover a bolt of vintage green lamé for £7. Indian or Egyptian? Either way, it's fabulous.

I'm a sucker for a vintage dressmaking pattern illustration. Look at the girl's hair in the maxi! Even if I never get round to making the dress (although it would look pretty good in that new fabric) I'm inspired to do mine like that. 

I always snap up books with an Indian theme. Vikas Swarup wrote Q & A, the book on which Slumdog Millionaire is based and both that and Six Suspects were brilliant reads. I'm already halfway through Saraswati Park, set in the area around VT Station in Mumbai it's an area I know like the back of my hand (see it HERE). A Wedding Man is Nicer Than Cats, Miss is a brilliantly titled work of non-fiction written in 1971 by a teacher working with Indian and Bangladeshi children newly arrived in Britain with their families.

I couldn't resist this grumpy 1950s Tiki vase for 49p.

I've already got quite the collection of these psychedelic 1970s Beefeater plates but a couple more won't hurt. I've seen sets of six sell for silly money on eBay (£245!). I don't think I've paid more than £2.

How fortuitous. I also found an unused pack of 1970s cloth jam covers and sticky labels - perfect for the cucumber pickle I've been making this week (at only £1 for 3 cucumbers I have to buy them!)

(It wasn't all me... we found some decent vintage stock, too.)
WEARING: 1970s Genesis of London chiffon maxi, Lamani coin belt (India) and hoop earrings (50p Indian jewellery stall, Walsall market)
The slinky snakeskin dress, the Kati maxi and lots of my own clothes (Vix's wardrobe rules - one in, at least three out) will be adorning Kinky's rails (HERE) this weekend.

See you soon (if we don't see you in Balham!)

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.