Archive | June 2013

charity shopping… the successes and the failures

last Thursday I took my friend Liz, who has just moved into the area and is currently not working up to Beckenham for a spot of charity shopping.

The Beckenham Charity Shop Crawl has become such a popular activity for old ladies and hipsters on the weekend that I tend to avoid going there on Saturdays anymore, so Thursday was the perfect time to go.

We had a really good fun day, the weather was nice, the shops were productive and we finished with a trip to our local pub the Catford Bridge Tavern in the evening where conveniently an Unfined (vegan) Beer Festival was happening.

However I am somewhat kicking myself with what i bought/didn’t buy…..

Firstly the successes……


This may only be small, but its a really beautiful hair clip, perfect if I was going in a Dolly Kei direction and it was only £2.50 so I am well pleased.

The complete stars of the show……



These were only £3 each, which even by charity shop standards is ridiculously low for frames of that quality, basically because the frames were a little chipped ;nothing that a little nail varnish and a few strategic flowers or bows won’t fix!

I wasn’t interested in the pictures at first and infact was going to ditch them, when it was pointed out to me that a few strategically placed zombies or faries will make them immeasurably more interesting.:-)

It will have to wait a few weeks though as our printer is out of cartridge, and part of our next stage of house reorganisation involves replacing it with a photocopier style wireless one and I’m intending to go down the collage route rather than try to draw my own.

But I am so excited to get playing with them and get them on the walls.

Then there was the failure…..


I was so excited when I found this…….I spent half of last year looking for a plus sized version of those Wednesday Adams dresses that were so popular last year and couldn’t find one. This one from Wallis is sized 22, large for me, but easy enough to take in and looked in good nick in the shop, hence I forked out £8 for it, which is rather a lot for me for charity shopping.

When I got it out in daylight I realised the collar and cuffs were a bit grubby so I decided to put it in the machine with a load of stain remover and it should be fine…well it worked with absolutely every other black and white garment I have ever owned!

Got it home, checked the tags and it was cold wash only. Thought that was a bit wierd, but added loads of stain remover and soaked it in a bucket of cold water for a couple of hours anyway. And then I came back and realised the water was dark grey, the collar and cuffs looked way worse than before and if I didn’t do something soon it would be a complete emergency! 

So we drained it in the bath (permanently staining our white rubber non slip bath mat in the process) and as a last resort stuck it on its own in the washing machine at 40 with even more stain remover of various types.

Funnily enough the dress didn’t seem to mind a warm wash at 40 at all! However on a dress where the contrast between the collar and cuffs and main part of the dress is the whole point of it, the white bits are now a grubby shade of grey!


I mean really what sort of complete idiot company designs and then mass manufactures a black and white dress that isn’t actually colourfast? Grrr! And also irritation reserved for the original owner, they must have known it was a dud, in which case Don’t Send It To The Charity Shop If It’s Broken!!!!

I’m not sure what to do with it now…Part of me wants to send it straight to a fabric bank (the correct offloading point for substandard clothes) but I am tempted to cut the collar and cuffs off and use them as templates, I have a small amount of a really nice silver and black jacquard brocade I acquired off my favourite market stall that would work wonders as a replacement for them. And would be safe in the washing machine with a staining dress!

I have so many projects on the go already though!

I am also slightly gutted because I left a miniature white china ladies head behind in a shop, i looked at it, decided we couldn’t use any more ornaments and completely forgot that it was exactly the right size to store a miniature hat.

I also spent a good few minutes eyeing up a black glass bead necklace and left it behind as I got distracted when actually i desperately need one and that was quite good quality.

I am so upset in fact I may even go back tomorrow and see if they are still there after the carnage of the weekend. 

Its always the bits that you leave behind get you the most, I suppose cuz you never see them again and everything you actually buy becomes literally part of the furniture.

But I would just like to take a moment to remember the solid wood framed gold gilt oval mirror and black lacquer marquetry tissue box from when we lived in Finchley (I forgot you can buy stuff and then collect it on saturday, and my parents hurried me away) and the working ice cream maker and amazing tacky hand knitted xmas sweater from Hitchin (I was just being dopey, I thought £20 was a bit steep for a sweater, then I looked up how much they cost online these days)……never will I see their like again!

Finally the overlocker….

So after several weeks of being ill I was rather well on Friday and finally got round to sewing up one of the t-shirts I cut out weeks ago.

I bought this fabric about the first time I found the amazing fabric stall on the market. Basically I was so overwhelmed by the availability of cheap jersey I bought everything vaguely decent looking without much thought, got it home and regretted it immediately.

It has ladybirds on it, and I for some reason thought it looked a bit cheap and twee….


So I decided to use it for practice pieces. However once I’d ironed it and cut it out, I suddenly realised its a lot cooler than I thought, from a distance the ladybirds don’t look cute and ladybird like they just look like random insects, and that kind of skin coloured light pink is actually one of my favourite colours for clothes…


So onto the top, it took me just under 3 hours to sew, but nearly an hour of that was swearing at the overlocker. Once I’d worked out how to set it up I found the overlocker quite easy to  use, the only problem is it goes very very fast and does not seem to have a slow down if I only press the pedal half way thing going on like my sewing machine does.

Next time I make one I need to adjust the thread tension, it wasn’t quite right. But it will do nicely for a first attempt.


Usual yuk don’t look at my arms disclaimer, we went out later and I put a chiffon blouse on over the top!

Next on the list of learning to use the overlocker jersey sewing is a 3/4 length sleeve version of this. 🙂

How I actually wear things…

Haven’t posted for a while, usual excuse been ill and stuff (really not having much joy with my health this year 😦 ) also the whole thing with having a blog which is mainly about sewing is you actually have to make things to post about them, which can be annoyingly difficult to get round to at times!

However, looking back at this blog, I’m completely aware I often take really crappy unflattering pictures of the stuff I make. This is partly because we don’t really have room in our flat for a nice well lit picture area, and also because to take pictures I’m usually dependent on Jon or family members, and although Jon’s photography is massively improving he still does have quite a low boredom threshold for taking snaps especially when we are drinking and dressing up before going out for the night.

I also find that on assessing the pictures I put on here I decided theres something needs tweaking with the clothes I’ve made and I end up adjusting them afterwards.

So firstly my Strawberry dress I made just before Christmas. Not only did I photograph this at my Mums just after her Coffee Morning Xmas Lunch, but there was something slightly off about it that was totally nagging at me. Luckily one of my friends posted when I linked this post to my old livejournal (everything interesting on there is long since privated I’m afraid!) and suggested the issue might be the hem was the wrong length. So I took a look at one of my favourite dresses, that I know completely suits me and yes, the hem on the Strawberries one was two inches longer. So I took it up…..

And took some more photos at home when I was dressed a bit more like me!



Its amazing how two inches makes a hell of a difference. Now I’ve sorted that out I love this dress, I wear it all the time. I’m actually planning two more from the same pattern at some point.

The little devil horns come from Kreepsville 666 and are totally awesome, they are my favourite hair accessories at the moment.