Tuesday, 21 March 2023

It's A Stitch Up!

Nothing new to see here, just more old favourites from my not-so-compact capsule wardrobe. 

On Sunday I wore my vintage Mayur Indian cotton gauze midi dress with a vintage suede waistcoat, my second-hand The Jacksons suede boots - and my varifocals! - for a morning of shopping and an afternoon of eBay listing, hair-dying and stitching.

On Monday it was the turn of a vintage Phool midi skirt, Levi's denim blouse and my great-great grandma's monogrammed silver brooch.

I also wore my exotic snakeskin Gohill's boots, custom made in Camden in 1966 (a good year that!)

After spending the morning listing stock on eBay I visited the wonderful woman who gave me her boots (story HERE). Born in Walsall, she lived in London during the Swinging Sixties and was an artist's muse before returning to her home town to become a school teacher and, after retirement, as a hugely respected Labour councillor. With a passion for travel, Socialism, the Pre-Raphaelites, swimming, art house cinema, ethnic clothing and junk shops I can sit and listen to her all day long. There's a lot to be said for still living in the town in which you were born.

Tuesday started, as it has done for the last twelve months, with an early morning swim followed by breakfast in 'Spoons. I wore a 1970s Oasis Trading Indian cotton gauze blouse, 1980s Le Bon high waisted English-made jeans and one of my many vintage silk screen printed Indian scarves.Back at home, with the laundry pegged out and eBay parcels wrapped and dispatched it was time to put the finishing touches to the stitching project I'd teased you with in my last post...

My lovely friend Jayne, currently on a blog break, encouraged me to have a bash at embroidery, sending me lots of helpful tips and links so I hope she won't be appalled by my "make it up as you go along" approach. I can't draw for the life of me and the only embroidery I did at school was chain stitching "Mummy"on an apron at junior school half a century ago.

After buying that bargain box of embroidery thread in a charity shop last week I had a lightbulb moment in the car on the way home. I grabbed a khaki army jacket from the stockroom, scribbled on the back of it and, still wearing my coat and hat, threaded my needle and got stitching.

Needless to say, I was inspired by Becoming Frida Kahlo, the three-part BBC documentary I enjoyed so much last weekend that I watched it twice!

I've lost hours doing this over the last few days but what a wonderful, mindful activity it's been.

I really ought to watch a YouTube tutorial and learn how to do it properly but where's the fun in that? Instructions have their place, just not in my life.

Between stitching I read two books over the weekend.....

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood's superb reimagining of the story of Penelope, Odysseus's wife (the wily hero of The Odyssey) and Lawrence Durrell's masterpiece Prospero's Cell, the memoir of his life in 1930s Corfu. Needless to say that within a couple of hours of opening it I'd booked a flight to our favourite Greek Island for later in the year. 

Another holiday? In the words of Frida Kahlo: Keep joy alive, live life!

I'm off on an adventure with Nikki tomorrow, I'll be back soon with tales of culture, curry and, no doubt, random conversations with strangers. 

Friday, 17 March 2023

Big Girl's Blouse

It's been all about the blouse this week! 

The Lee black denim Western number I found in the British Heart Foundation charity shop on Tuesday ended up a keeper and added a new dimension to my trusty vintage Anokhi maxi skirt bought from eBay back in 2020. Along with the Proper Topper fedora, another ebay find, and a vintage Spanish coin belt passed on by my friend Cheryl, this was Wednesday's outfit for a morning of charity shopping and an afternoon of eBay listing.

Like my great-great-grandma, Elizabeth Adams (1854 - 1933) of the Adams pottery dynasty (more about them HERE) I'm rather partial to a brooch pinned at my neck. Along with the framed photograph, I also inherited the actual brooch she's wearing in the photo below but haven't worn it for a while.

Instead I'm wearing my antique ceramic brooch, made by Ruskin, a Black Country pottery who produced glorious Arts & Crafts ceramics between 1898 and 1933. The Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery has a very impressive collection of Ruskin Pottery if you're ever in my neck of the woods. My brooch came from a jumble sale decades ago, you can find similar on eBay but buyer beware, if it's not stamped Ruskin then it ain't Ruskin. 

Thursday's blouse is a vintage Indian block print by Alpnani, an eBay find four years ago. I worn it with my Dilli Grey cord maxi skirt, chazza shopped waxed leather Timberland boots and a Greek fisherman's cap. The day started with swimming and Spoons and the rest of the day was spent photographing stock and embarking on a new stitching project.

I wore one of my three pairs of Frida Kahlo earrings I've bought from our festival trader neighbours, Shilpa Silver over the years and the vintage lion's head belt snaffled from the 3 for £1 basket in a charity shop eight or nine years ago.

I'd been stalking this Levi's denim shirt for a couple of years so, when I spotted it reduced to half price, I pounced and subsequently donated the cotton chambray one I was procrastinating over to the Kinky Shed.

I'm wearing it with another of my Dilli Grey maxi skirts, Monsoon fedora and a charity shopped vintage tooled leather belt and cowboy boots (more on those shortly) and this was Friday's outfit for a morning of charity shopping and an afternoon of eBay listing and more stitching.

It's cracked but I wasn't going to pass up this whopping great banded agate brooch, set in gilt, for 75p when I spotted it in a chazza about ten years go.

Talking of charity shopping (and when don't I?) here's this week's finds...

 Clockwise from top left: 1980s green velvet jacket; Russell & Bromley blue suede boots; 1980s Planet cropped wool jacket; 1980s leather bag; 1980s green velvet braid trim jacket; Noa Noa midi dress with £95 store tags still attached; Run & Fly cactus shirt; 1970s Jasmine of Shanghai embroidered cotton kaftan; Vintage Rockmount of Denver cowboy hat; DH handmade wool fedora; Vintage Gorgon Fraser of Thurso Fletcher tartan kilt; 1970s hand knit cardi; 1990s graphic shirt; Woven leather belt; Levi's denim jacket; 1980s glitter cardi; 1950s worsted wool waistcoat.

And the keepers?

A boxful of Anchor embroidery thread (hence the stitching project) for £5

Another Atomic cat!

I'd rather have an adventure in Greece but this fantastic book is the next best thing! Abebooks have some reasonably priced secondhand copies HERE.

I was almost hyperventilating when I spotted these boots in the clearance chazza - a super funky mash-up of cowgirl cool and Edwardian chic. £3, my size and so comfy I might have to be buried in them! 

I don't always bother with the trouser rail but Cancer UK was playing some fab Nineties dance tunes and I was reluctant to leave.The quality of these cargo pants stood out a mile from the usual lacklustre array of Primarni and George at Asda. They're made in California by J Brand, the style is Houlihan and the original retail price was £200 (but £2 to me.) I reckon they'll look good with one of my Indian block printed blouses and my Morris & Co espadrilles - when it's warm enough to take my socks off, obviously! 

The fit of this 1960s Pierre Cardin jacket - sold through John Temple - is so good Jon's holding on to it for a while - it's really heavy and thick, more like a peacoat than a blazer (you can't beat a ticket pocket...or a brass button stamped with a unicorn!) 

Jon's favourite find has to be this Yamaha 12-string guitar to add to his collection. While it wasn't cheap, cheap it was a fraction of the retail price.

This weekend one of us will be playing guitar and the other continuing with this.....

And binge-watching Tokyo Vice on the BBC i-player. I've no idea how we missed it when it was originally aired but it's fantastic.

See you on the other side! 

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Questions, Questions - Time Management, Clothes Care and A Bag Hack

Hello! It's time I answered a few more reader queries. The first is How do you manage your time? A question recently posed by Tess.

I always set the alarm for 6.30am but I'm usually awake and out of bed before then. After a wash, I'll pull on the workout gear I've left on the bathroom chair the previous evening, go downstairs and open the curtains, switch on the electrics, put away the previous evening's washing-up from the drainer (we don't have a dishwasher), lay out the breakfast things, check eBay for questions and print off a pick list of sales that need wrapping. I'll also check that any laundry hanging in the utility room is dry, taking our stuff upstairs and folding the stock into a basket to transport to the Kinky Shed later.

My wonderful Wii Fit

I'm always on the Wii Fit by 7am. On non-swimming days, after my workout, I catch-up with Blogland and emails until Jon gets up at around 8.15am when we'll have breakfast. After we've eaten I'll wash-up, collect the stock from the shed, hanging up the freshly washed stuff and wrap the parcels then go upstairs, get dressed & clean my teeth. I've usually laid out my clothes the previous evening - although that doesn't necessarily mean that'll be the outfit I choose to wear.

The Kinky Shed!

On swimming days (twice a week) I'll wake Jon with a cup of tea at 7.15am and we'll leave the house at 7.50am to walk into town. The baths are a mile away and we're changed and in the pool by 8.15am. We have breakfast in 'Spoons, pop into the town centre centre charity shops and, if the cupboard is bare, call into Lidl for a veg box on the way home. After a cooked breakfast we'll skip lunch and have our tea earlier.

This week's veg box - the asparagus alone must cost more than £1.50!

Once or twice a week we visit a nearby town to hunt for stock. Back at home - after lunch - I'll photograph (weather permitting!) and write descriptions for the new acquisitions before I sling the washable garments in the washing machine. I peg the laundry outside if the weather's dry and if not, it's hung on the airer in the utility room.

In action, Jan 2023

When my eBay work is done  I spend my time either crocheting, sewing, mending, reading, blogging, gardening or cleaning - I don't have a routine, I just do whatever I feel like. This week it's learning about the Pre-Raphaelites and having a bash at no-rules embroidery (pimping up some charity shop shorts and stitching along the lines of the 1940s embroidery linen I made into a Frida Kahlo-inspired huipil a fortnight ago). 

After we've showered, we'll eat between 5pm - 6pm with Jon usually doing the cooking. After 7pm the PC is switched off and we watch TV in the lounge. Stand-out favourite watches recently have been the three part documentary Becoming Frida Kahlo on BBC4 (so good I've already watched it twice), BBC's The Gold, Paris Police 1905 and More 4's Home Greek Home because one day that will be us (and b*llocks to Brex**it). 

I'm usually in bed for 10.30 and read till I fall asleep (around 11.15pm) although my John Luther novel, The Calling, is - like the TV series - so compelling that I'm struggling to tear myself away from it. 

Tess also asked how I look after my clothes to make them last so long. The simple answer is - other than knickers, socks, exercise gear and thermals - I hardly ever wash them! When I do, I use the 15°C cycle on the washing machine, using soda crystals instead of washing powder and NEVER ever using fabric conditioner (it rots your clothes - fact!) My clothes are always hung up to dry, our 40 year old tumble drier, inherited from Jon's mum, is for emergencies only. When I've worn something I air it by hanging it up on the wardrobe door for 24 hours - if I notice a mark I'll spot clean it with a sponge and some soap. As a result I'm still wearing vintage clothes I bought in the nineties and nobody's ever told me that I smell bad!

Dora asked how I organise my clothes. At the moment I'm experimenting with a capsule wardrobe (see HERE) so everything that needs hanging (dresses, skirts, blouses, waistcoats, jackets and coats) now fit inside the same wardrobe. Everything else is folded and lives in my dressing table drawers. The clothes I'm not currently wearing are stored in my other wardrobe and the proper summery gear - shorts, bikinis, flimsy frocks & strappy tops and my far out festival stuff, is stuffed in the suitcases on top.

On my last post Louise asked, I notice you change your bag each day, do you have a special trick/method for doing that quickly?

Easy! When I get home I plug my mobile phone into the PC and then tip the contents of my bag into a basket, which I keep on the floor next to the wardrobe. Makeup bag, purse, glasses case, keys, umbrella, gloves, tissues, bag for life, all together and ready to transfer into whatever bag I decide to carry the following day. These seagrass baskets from Wilko are perfect - but other types are available

And talking of capsule wardrobes - mine's still going strong. On Sunday I wore my vintage wool housecoat which masquerades as a dress and was a gift from friends G'n'T eight years ago, along with a Dilli Grey reversible Indian block print jacket and Monsoon wool fedora. The Hand of Fatima pendant was 50p from a house clearance stall at a car boot sale about 15 years ago, I've seen an identical one at an antiques fair for £90!

On Monday I wore a Naked Generation block printed cotton midi dress with some skinny jeans and my Clarks suede boots.

I snaffled the choker for £2 from a charity shop last week.

And today (Tuesday) I wore a vintage Phool block printed skirt suit (I've also got the matching jacket) with a 1970s Ayesha Davar shirred cheesecloth blouse, Clarks boots and a charity shopped fringed silk scarf.

During lockdown I used to share my nail colour of the week - its the turn of Barry M's Matcha, a matt khaki.

And still on the subject of capsules, this Lee Jeans black denim western shirt came home with me today....

I've already donated two of my original sixty-six garments to the Kinky Shed so there is a gap, I shall ponder and maybe swap it with the cotton chambray blouse....decisions, decisions.... I've decided, it's a keeper!

My time management skills aren't always great - I'm way behind on commenting on blogs this week, sorry.