Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Make, Do and Spend



First, the making. I rifled through my ever-increasing stash of vintage Indian silk scarves at the weekend and made myself a fringed kimono top. As it only took four scarves I've barely managed to dent my scarf collection but when the chazzas sell them at 3 for £1 you can't really blame me for hoarding them, can you?


I was inspired by Anna, a member of the Up-cycled Cloth Collective, who creates incredible garments out of vintage scarves. If you like her colourful, hippie chick style you can visit her shop HERE.


And the doing?  I've read:

  • Depths by Henning Mankell
  • Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason
  • Coastliners by Joanne Harris
  • Women on the Frontline by Stacey Dooley (kindly loaned to me by my friend, Lynn). 


On Thorne's recommendation I've tracked down this American hippie-inspired dressmaking book which is full of the brilliant ideas for pattern-free dressmaking which I'm hoping to have a play with soon.


I spotted this 1970s Indian gauze dress on eBay last week. She'd been well loved with a 50p sized tear in the skirt and perished elastic in the cuffs. The lady selling it was upfront and honest about the damage in the description which, no doubt, put most buyers off  - but not me. 


Replacing the sleeve elastic is a straightforward task, most vintage dresses suffer with this problem and it's something I do all the time. I snip a couple of stitches on the cuff, pull out the old elastic, attach a safety pin to the end of some new elastic and snake it through the cuff channel, stitching the ends together and resewing the snipped stitches. It's such a simple thing to do and along with replacing missing buttons, hooks and eyes or sewing up fallen-down hems, it's something many vintage traders don't bother with, a poor reflection on both them and their stock if you ask me.

 Here's how I sorted out the tear, boro style:


1. Measure the damaged area.
2. Using tailor's chalk, mark the measurements on to a damaged silk scarf and cut it to size.
3. Pin the patch of fabric to the wrong side of the dress.
4. Select a couple of spools of cotton in complimentary colours.
5. Using a simple running stitch, sew vertically along the patch in one colour and horizontally in the other.
6. Trim any loose ends and iron.

Less than a couple of hours later and the dress was - if not as good as new, wearable, damage free and saleable (that's if I can bear to part with it now I've tried it on).  

WEARING: 1970s Indian gauze midi dress & raspberry opaque tights (eBay); vintage leather belt, tooled shoulder bag and wool felt hat (all charity shopped); Clarks shoes (new!)

I look scarily like my Mum did in 1977, even down to the Clarks shoes!



On to the spending. I try to make a concerted effort only to buy items secondhand, ethically produced or from a company with a bang-on reputation for quality which is easy when it comes to clothes & accessories but with footwear I'll hold my hands up and admit to being swayed in the past by sale boots from TopShop (and company boss, Sir Phillip Green certainly doesn't have the greatest of reputations) so I'm happy to report that my new shoes answer the criteria. Clarks has been owned by the same Quaker family since 1825 and were the first company in the world to produce a foot-shaped shoe. Even today, every pair of shoes that Clarks produce begin on a last carved by hand from a single block of horn beam.


In a collaboration between Clarks and the V&A Museum to mark the company's 190th anniversary, these shoes were based on the iconic Wallabee shoe which was launched in 1970. They were reduced to £10 in Clarks' sale...bargain!

Waistcoat (eBay), White maxi dress (Viv's Vintage, Worcester), Block print midi (Oxfam)

As I said, there's no problem finding beautiful vintage clothes, my only problem is that just lately, I keep finding them. My latest additions are a Kashmiri crewel work waistcoat, an embroidered Pakistani-made cotton maxi and an Indian midi which has been completely hand sewn using block printed cotton bed covers, more than likely something a girl on the hippie trail had tailor-made in India back in the early 1970s, the type of dress that inspired Anokhi.


The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that the white dress is the twin sister of my beloved blue dress which I travelled around India in a couple of months ago. I definitely won't wear a white dress in India so I'll have to book a trip to Greece instead (that's if they'll let us in after all this Br*xit boll*cks).


 For the last three weeks Jon's been working on Gilbert. He's sanded him down, filled in all the holes and now he's applying the first coat of paint. It's a long and dirty job but doing it by hand saves ££££s and he should hopefully be back to his former glory in time for the Classic Car Boot Sale at the end of April.

See you soon!

41 comments:

  1. I need to find a white dress as I need to get back to Greece too! Great deal on the Clarks, I only get them cheaply when I find them in the thrifts. The other great thing about Clarks is that they are known for comfort, and I am all about comfortable shoes these days.

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    1. You do! A white dress is essential in Greece (that's my excuse, anyway).
      Us Brits all wore Clarks' shoes for school, they weren't as pretty back then though!

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  2. That maxi dress you made of scarves is fabulous...and how nice it took you only four scarves to complete it. Seeing you have a stash of scarves, more might be following? I once bought all the scarves I could find in one second hand shop because this store charges per kilo, and obviously scarves weight almost anything. I would have bought more if they had.

    It's great how you fixed that vintage dress you ordered from eBay. Elastic is always the problem as time passes. I had to replace some elastics that weren't even that old, I suppose that elastic as such isn't a very durable thing. It is not a difficult thing to do, but most of us are lazy, that's true...I can think of at least two skirts that need elastic replacing in my closet. Sometimes I'm so lazy I just tie a piece of elastic around my waist and use it to secure the skirts...silly, isn't it? I love how you patched the dress too. I've been searching pinterest for some Boro inspiration and I found so many great projects, some of them are very embroidery like, which I love! Those Clarks shoes sound wonderful. I do agree that finding ethnic footwear can be problematic. I used to buy almost all of my shoes from Croatian brands, but most of them went under and now I'm still looking for quality options. My father put me off from many popular international shoe brands by describing me the horrors the Indian people who make them go through. I wasn't able to step foot in many stores after that.

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    1. There's no problem being lazy with the repairs in your own wardrobe but when you're selling something it just niggles me when something isn't presented in tip-top condition.
      I'm glad you're inspired by Boro stitching, there's some wonderful idea out there and it's a lovely, mindful activity.

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  3. Again, you did a great job mending that Indian gauze dress and making a gorgeous kimono top out of those silk scarves! I never mind mending a charity shop or Think Twice find, replacing buttons or perished elastic) but I've walked away from garments with such issues in proper vintage shops or at vintage fairs. Some dealers, indeed! The gauze dress is looking fabulous on you (and your twin!) and I absolutely adore the Clarks shoes. For some reason, the Clarks shop here in Antwerp never has proper sales bargains like that! Fancy finding the white twin to that gorgeous blue dress of yours! xxx

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    1. You can forgive some vintage shops especially the ones who get their stock from wholesalers and can't possibly check everything but for us small scale sellers with curated stock it's just lazy.
      You'll have to remind me of your shoe size and I'll keep an eye out for bargains in Clarks' sale.

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  4. Wow! I love your kimono made of scarves - what a clever idea and it looks lovely! I had a scarf sort out this week, too...

    My mum taught me that replacing elastic trick, but I've only ever really used it on the kids clothes when they were younger. I expect a lot of people; me included, will find your step by step repair instructions very useful.

    10.00 for Clarks shoes - what a bargain! I have one pair of Clark's retail sandals - now in their 8th year I think, and several preloved pairs.

    I cannot believe you found the sister of the blue dress, which by the way, is my favourite of all your wonderful dresses! How lucky was that? I bet it will look fantastic on. The Kashmiri crewel work waistcoat is beautiful; I love, love, love it!

    I've read 'Jar Head' it's very good; I love all those Scandi/Nordic detective books. Currently on my shelves waiting to be read are books by Karin Fossum; Thomas Enger; Lisa Marklund and several Camilla Lackberg's; all these authors are highly recommended if you haven't come across them and I also recommend anything by Hakan Nesser.

    Gilbert is looking very perky!

    Have a fab week.
    xxx

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    1. I know you're a sucker for a charity shop scarf! I can't help myself.
      Jon's best friend bought him a pair of desert boots for his 50th, he's always worn desert boots but never the proper ones, it's taken him two and a half years to wear them in.
      I've read a couple of Hakan Nesser's books, I really enjoyed them. I don't know Thomas Enger or Lisa Marklund, I'll keep my eyes peeled in the chazzas, thanks!

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  5. awesome, you found a copy! The copy I have (somewhere) is from the early 1970's, so has a different cover. It was also fun to make tops with wizard sleeves and wrap maxi-skirts out of cheap Indian bedspreads from Cost Plus.

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    1. Yep, I loved the original cover but it's an American book so I don't suppose there's that many available in the UK! I did have a trial run with an ancient fit-for-the-bin Indian bedcover yesterday, I'm impressed!

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  6. Wow I'm amazed that Jon can paint the van by hand!

    We have an electric garage and it has been failing to close since yesterday. My husband said I need to call a repair man to come and fix it. LOL Instead I looked online and then promptly went out and fixed it myself. My husband is NOT a fix it kind of guy.

    Gosh the blue and white sister dresses are lovely! I don't often wear white but I'd be willing to try it with that dress. You are right, it would look perfectly at home in Greece.

    Your scarf Kimono is wonderful! Amazing that you had matching scarves for the sleeves!

    I've replaced elastic cuffs and neckline before but I've got a repair to do for another elastic and I'm not sure how to manage. It is in the waistband of a dress and the original fabric where the elastic was encased has disappeared in a few spots, well quite a few spots, so I have nowhere to thread the elastic through. It is on the inside of the dress. I've been thinking about taking all the elastic out and just suggesting people belt it instead. Any advice?

    Thanks
    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. The hand painted van job is a real hassle, you have to sand it down, paint it with a really fine roller, sand it down again and then repeat the process but it saves hundreds of pounds so it's worth the tedium.
      Well done for fixing the garage door!
      I think removing the elastic and suggesting a belt sounds like the sensible option, that's what I'd do.

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  7. I NEVER get Clarks in my size! I buy men's instead! Still, not that cheap though.
    How funny to find the dress twin! I love that dress of yours so that is super! Your scarf makeover is a super idea- the silk must feel gorgeous! I imagine they would be a real book in the SUmmer! Will you make some for festivals?x

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    1. I know, I can understand a twin of a mass produced vintage dress but not something like the embroidered Indian ones - it was meant to be!
      I bet if I decided to make those kimonos at festivals I'd stop finding any scarves in charity shops!

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  8. I did not know that about Clarks, thank you - I adore those shoes, Vix, they are so you! I do not mind buying new from ethical companies. I really admire that you're making something from your scarves and giving new life to these beautiful vintage garments. You are such an artist, in so many ways!

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  9. Just been doing the look for a winter coat route in the Charity Shop Sales , they had a five for a pound sale in the local christians , bought a pair of winter coats for next year a cardi and a couple of shirts for sarcastic son , it worked out far cheaper than the local kilo sale

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  10. I love your shoes! That white dress is gorgeous!

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  11. Love your Clarks shoes,in fact every single one of your finds in this post is absolutely gorgeous!
    Your mum dressed similarly in the 70s? How cool! She must have been such a fabulously dressed woman. X

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    1. Thanks, Jess! My Mum's dress sense was legendary. People still talk about her now!

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  12. That's really interesting to know about Clark's - I'll look differently on them in future .... thank you so much for the introduction to the UpCycled Cloth Collective in your recent post - drool worthy postings and your creations fit in very well - I love your scarves kimono.

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    1. Thanks, Fil! Yes, it's nice to know such a long established company like Clarks is still family run, isn't it?
      I'm glad you're enjoyed the Facebook group, I'm constantly inspired by the ideas on there.

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  13. woww, your kimono top looks Fabulous and it's so inspiring to see that you made of scarves! there are always tons of them in the charity markets I visit, so I'm taking notes on this!. I usually buy some scarves to use them as fabric when I revamp other clothes, but this idea is even better!
    And love to see your mending 'in action', thanks for sharing!. Your dress looks fab, and you look gorgeous in it!. Such a lovely outfit!
    I'm a huge fan of Clarks, they make really comfortable quality shoes and they're affordable!. And they're made in Europe which is something important for me. Those shoes look really cool indeed!
    Lovely to see Gilbert having a retouch! he's going to be ready to break hearts soon!
    besos

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    1. Yes! You can always rely on finding cool scarves in the charity shops, you'd be able to make something like this in no time!
      Clarks are great, aren't they? I've got lucky in their sales this year, I've got some boots that are so comfy I never want to take them off!
      Gilbert is a head turner (or he will be soon!) x

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  14. You are making some wonderful things Vix.
    I like your shoes, I really like Clark's, I often buy them.
    Its great to see Gilbert again and Jon is doing a good job with him, he'll look fab for the summer. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Sally! Topshop might do pretty things but Clarks stand the test of time and don't have a dodgy bloke in charge either.
      Its great that the weather's playing nice and Jon can crack on with Gilbert, he should be ready for the end of April with any luck!

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  15. gilbert will turn out the most handsome bully in england!!
    love your new clark´s - so cool! i have the tasseled pumps in petrol since ages - they still go strong, are very comfy and look pleasingly vintage-y.
    oh - and your makings & mendings! chapeau!! and you look gorgeous in your kimono and the newest dress.
    how big is the chance to find a twin of a vintage dress??? esp. one that was not massproduced for a big departmentstore or common brand. i´m fascinated!
    happy weekend! xxxxx

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    1. He's starting to turn heads already!!
      I bet your tasseled pumps are gorgeous! I've come across some wonderful Clarks shoes in charity shops but never in my style. I was amazed to find those for £10, I think they'll look even better with age.
      Isn't it incredible to find twin dresses? My original belonged to a lady in Germany! xxx

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    2. the german lady loved a wider neckline it seems...... :-D

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    3. She did, didn't she? I noticed that, too! x

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  16. I have a really old Sacred Threads reversable duster coat made out of a patchwork of old silk sarees that is battered and shattered. I'm going to attempt a revival inspired by what you've done with the Afghan dress and the voile one here, Vix. Better to have a go than to leave it at the bottom of the mending pile!!

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    1. I love the sound of your Sacred threads duster coat. That Facebook group is really inspiring me to look at the mending pile with fresh eyes, no more mundane repairs, it's embellish, chop up or perish!

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  17. I wish scarves were as fairly priced her in the US thrifts. The only time I seem to make a score, is if I go to a bag sale at one of the rural churches near our camp.

    We are taking the Benz out of winter storage, charging up the battery and hoping it drives for another warm season of back-roads bargain hunting. I would love to find dresses like yours!

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    1. Some of our charity shops charge £5 each! If they were special I'd have no problem but they're often machine made or riddled with holes. If you can get scarves cheap enough they're a brilliant thing to sew with as they're already hemmed, a lazy sewer's dream! x

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  18. Love your Clarks! They're good shoes, last forever.
    I have a pile of vintage sarees looking for a project. I must have 20-30 of them. Sewing with such delicate fabric seems like it would be tricky, but you've inspired me to have a go at it.

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    1. Thanks, Goody! They are! Jon's a huge fan. I was scared off them for years after having to endure them at school. I'm a convert! x

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  19. You should definitely keep the Indian gaze dress, it looks stunning.
    I have to say Clarks do create some lovely footwear and always so comfy!
    Gilbert is already looking very handsome with his new coat.
    xx

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    1. Thanks, Hazel - not that I need much encouragement. Spending a couple of hours mending it caused me to form a bond with it (do I sound mad?)
      Clarks are great, aren't they? I love that they do half sizes, too - so I can actually wear my size without an insole.
      Gilbert is coming on a treat. x

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  20. I've never seen Clarks that were as cool as those. The ones I have seen in thrift stores are extremely frumpy. How marvelous to find the twin to your blue dress! I admire the way you just plunge in when it comes to creating something new, or repairing a secondhand find. I have a pile of things that "just need something done to them" and I don't know whether I'm afraid of ruining it, or just plain lazy, but I can't seem to sit down and just do it.

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Lots of love, Vix