Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Folkin' Great Weekend - Towersey, 2017

As is always the way, by the time we finally get the hang of our stall set-up it's almost the end of the festival season. Those red drapes we made last week don't look half bad, do they?

This was how our pitch looked seven and a half hours after arriving at the Towersey Festival site last Wednesday. After a can of gin and tonic by 10pm we were fit for bed. With the festival due to open to the public at midday and the festivities scheduled to continue through until Monday night it would be the longest running festival we'd ever done. We needed to pace ourselves.

Thursday's weather was as drab and overcast as it had been for pretty much most of the entire month. As is often the case on the first day of a festival, the general public weren't in any rush to shop and the few that ventured into our stall seemed a bit bemused by it all. By the time we'd closed takings were still in double figures. Was bringing our vintage clothing to a folk lovin' crowd going to be a disaster? 

Wearing: Vintage Farah skinnies, Wrangler shirt, Diesel waistcoat (all charity shopped)

When the alarm went off on Friday morning we were met with heat & blazing sun and, on venturing over to the portaloos, discovered that the general public were already up and about despite it being just after 8am. After a quick wet wipe wash and a breakfast of fruit and yogurt we pulled on our finery, rolled up the tent flaps, dragged the rails outside and plonked our deck chairs in the sunshine. 

Wearing: 1970s Prova maxi skirt, used-to-be a sari gypsy top & pom pom choker (both made by me), perspex & neon belt

That's not going to be real vintage, we overheard a passer-by telling her husband, so I invited her in to inspect our stock. I even showed her the manufacturer's label on the maxi skirt I was wearing as she didn't believe something forty-six years old could look so vibrant. They left half an hour later having made two purchases. So much for my initial misgivings, business was brisk, the crowd "got" us and by the time we'd rolled down the shop front on Friday night we'd covered all our costs and could finally relax and enjoy the weekend.
Chin, chin! Jon had to get changed, it was too hot for formal gear! 

I was thrilled when Maureen, a friend I've made through my blog, came over to say hello. I had no idea she was coming to Towersey and recognised her instantly from her Facebook photos. Jon & her husband Ian got on famously when they discovered a mutual love for classic VWs. I've pinched the photo she took of us from her Facebook page. In case you're wondering, with our new healthy regime we don't crack open the booze until 2pm these days. 

Towersey is what we call a proper festival - good clean fun for all ages. There's always something interesting going on and you don't need to move from your chair to catch some cool entertainment. This is the Frumptarn Guggenband, a band made up of musicians of all ages, playing anything from Katy Perry and Beyonce to Oasis and The White Stripes. 

The band hail from Barnsley in Yorkshire. Frumptarn or From Up Town is what Barnsley folk will tell you if you ask them where they live. Several of the band members ended up as customers. 

Wearing: Thomas the Tank Engine maxi dress (made by me from charity shop curtains), Mongolian lamb stole (jumble sale), Frye boots (eBay)

 On Saturday night we managed to stay awake long enough to catch Newton Faulkner's headline set over on the main stage. The weather was incredible, I didn't even need a coat when we went out - something that hasn't happened since we traded at Cornbury way back in early July. I didn't really need to wear my bargain Frye boots but I've become rather attached to them.

Martin our unicorn wore a different outfit every day. The kids loved popping in to see what he was wearing. Sunday's number was this rather snazzy kimono.

Wearing: 1980s Gabicci silk shirt & 1970s Polaroid sunglasses (borrowed from the shop), antiqued leather cap (End of the Road festival, 2015), Pink shorts (retail) 

An August Bank Holiday weekend and no rain! Convinced that the weather was going to be crap I'd only packed a couple of Summery outfits so I had to raid Kinky's rails for something to keep me cool (hooray for selling clothes I love, it's no hardship!) Our wired head bands got such a positive reaction that by the end of the weekend we'd hardly got any left.

Wearing: 1970s handmade patchwork maxi skirt, made-by-me vintage fabric pom-pom trimmed gypsy top & matching wired headband, 1980s Reactalite sunglasses (all borrowed from our rails)

More entertainment on our doorstep. Two different Oxfordshire Morris Dancing troupes, a Ukulele band and a Belgian flag waving act. 

This was yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday.

Yet more glorious weather and another outfit robbed from the rails although the dress was mine originally but had been relegated to the stockroom when it got too tight to be comfortable - it fits me fine now so it's back where it belongs.... in my wardrobe!

Wearing: 1970s batik print maxi dress (reclaimed from the rails) with wired headband (made by me!)

After six days in Towersey (and five days of trading) we were beginning to feel like Oxfordshire residents. Several of the people we'd met at the beginning of the weekend had been back to see us every day and were beginning to feel more like friends than customers.

Just some of the beautiful people

The Towersey festival has been running for 53 years and loads of people we met had been going for decades. We chatted to revellers who hadn't missed a year since the Sixties, thirty-somethings who'd been conceived there, married couples who'd met at the festival and entire generations of families camping en-masse often only seeing one-another once a year. 

The best festivals offer so much more than music.

Towersey had beekeepers running wax candle workshops.

Classes in everything from cross stitch, Zumba, Yoga, crossword puzzling and Zulu dance.

Numerous craft sessions including turning old festival flags into rag teepees.

Towersey's Grand Finale involved an illuminated procession by the villagers. Once they'd passed by we packed up the remaining stock, took down the stall and headed back to Walsall, getting home just after midnight.

So after racking up over 50 hours of trading this weekend we had a nice restful day today? Oh, no! We need to be on site at the End Of The Road Festival tomorrow morning so today's been manic - three loads of washing, unpacking and reloading the van, shopping for supplies, planning outfits and banking the takings. It's been six days since I had a bath or washed my hair, I cannot wait to get in the bathroom.

It's just as well that we love what we do!

Have a fabulous week and see you on the other side!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Machine Head - Meet The Family

Minimalist types, look away now. Serendipity*, the 1970s Jones machine we found dumped in a hedge last week isn't our only sewing machine, in fact we've got a whole family of them!

*Thanks, Beth!

Is it just me or does it seem like half the world is gripped by some sort of mania? The constant need to edit, declutter and simplify. Sod that. I don't need to give all my possessions away in order to think straight. My mind works perfectly well despite having two wardrobes crammed with vintage dresses, numerous overflowing bookshelves, a shed full of vinyl and more jewellery than a jewellery shop, ta very much.

I'm maximalist and proud. Viva variety, that's what I say. Hence owning five vintage sewing machines, obviously!

I'm not alone in my love of vintage machines, am I? I've loved hearing about your machines in the comments and over on Facebook

Here's my 1970s New Home, bought from a jumble sale for a fiver. Before the arrival of this machine I used a modern Toyota which got donated to the charity shop once I'd mastered this one (bizarrely the shop priced it at more than I'd originally paid for it). Lately the thread keeps snapping and having eliminated all other options I've come to the conclusion that the tension spring needs replacing which I'll search eBay for once the festival season is over, there's no way I'm dumping this baby in a bush! 

This dinky number came from a car boot sale at the tail end of last Summer. The pork scratching man abandoned his stall to ask if it was a Frister Rossmann (it is) and asked how much it cost. He thought £10 was a good deal - I agree. We'd owned it for months before we used it as neither of us could figure out how to thread it - now Liz has given us a lesson Jon's claimed it. Long time readers may remember his previous sewing machine (HERE) which he had to abandon after it went up in smoke.

When I first started blogging I was amazed by how many bloggers got excited over buying manual Singer machines at vintage fairs. With over 36,000,000 produced by the Singer factory in Scotland between 1884 until 1943 I assumed that every home in the UK had one, at least everyone I know did (unless that says more about the kind of people I hung around with). The model above was the one Jon grew up with. It skinnied up many a pair of jeans back in his punk youth.

This is the machine I remember from my childhood and an older model than the previous one. When I was a teenager I'd transform many a jumble sale find into something far more me (ie., a bit weird) to wear to the school disco.

The new-to-me Jones did me proud this weekend. Not only did I get my 50 vintage fabric wired headbands made but I whipped up some sumptuous red drapes from a huge bolt of fabric we found going for a song in a chazza recently to add a bit of drama to the Kinky Melon stall.

There you go, Bonnie!

Sewing goddess Sue asked if I'd used a pattern or drafted something from a ready made one to make my headbands. Neither. The ones I'd seen in shops were a bit small and feeble looking, I wanted something with shaped ends - as opposed to blunt ones - and large enough to twist around a few times so it could be worn with the ends sticking up (like a head scarf) or tucked in (how I wear mine, turban style). Using a 1970s dressmaking pattern for a tie-back halterneck dress for inspiration, I sketched out something similar on draft paper, adapted to fit all head sizes (including my mahoosive one).

WEARING: Vintage 1970s Dove Clothing Company cotton maxi dress (99p, Sue Ryder Clearance Shop), 1960s lace-up suede waistcoat (Birthday present from Liz), 19th Century Indian tribal neck piece (last seen HERE)

We're off to Towersey Festival on Wednesday. Despite it going for a whopping 53 years we never been but I've heard good things. You never know, maybe the lovely Newton Faulkner will pay us a visit... stranger things have happened!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

See you soon!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Modern Life Is Rubbish (And So Was My Latest Sewing Machine)

What a bloody dump! I complained to Jon as we walked home from the town centre, picking our way past stained mattresses, old fridges, knackered microwave ovens, rancid sofas and sacks of god-knows-what dumped on the pavement by Walsall's residents in the deluded belief that someone else will clean up after them. Since the introduction of the fortnightly bin collection and the council tip cutting its opening hours, our town has become an absolute disgrace.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a blue plastic case peeking out of a hedge, Hang on a bit, I think I know what that is. Gingerly we undid the catches and, much to our relief, the contents didn't reveal the corpse of an abandoned pet but an electric sewing machine! It weighed a ton but luckily we were only five minutes from home so Jon handed me the shopping whilst he, not trusting the stability of the handle, staggered behind carrying the machine in his arms. 

After a thorough wipe down with a cloth marinated in white vinegar I threaded the machine - easier said than done, it's completely different to my usual 1970s New Home model, then held my breath and plugged it in.

It worked!!

There's no instruction manual or model number marked on the machine but a quick search on Google revealed it to be an English-made Jones D-69 hailing, I think, from the early 1970s. There's even a couple of companies on-line selling reasonably priced copies of the instruction manual and spare parts.  

It has settings for Embroidery, Silk & Normal as well as all manner of scary looking attachments.

I'm afraid that hardware's wasted on me. All I need a sewing machine to do is to sew straight, zig-zag, put in a zip and reverse stitch.

I couldn't have found it at a better time. There's something amiss with the tension spring in my machine and I've got 50 vintage fabric wired headbands to make before we leave for the Towersey Festival on Wednesday morning.

Fifteen down, 35 to go!

WEARING: Made by me African waxed cotton culotte suit (last seen HERE), Tribal-style breast plate (Topshop via a charity shop)
What is it they say about one man's trash?

See you soon!