Tag Archive | charity shopping

Finery of the Red Queen

So after resurrecting this thing we promptly decide to move house and chaos ensues for several months while we try and sell it then do the whole wait for the paperwork to happen thing during which time I’m finding it hard to sew as for the best part of three months I’ve had to have my sewing machine packed away incase anyone wants to come round and look at the flat. (We sold it pretty quickly, but then there were second viewings and surveyors and all kinds of people traipsing round needing it to look like a civilised flat rather than a sewing studio with a bed in it 😂)

However I have managed to make some stuff, basically by keeping it really simple and sticking to quick and easy projects that only take a couple of hours to make.

So first up are these two beauties I made during the heatwave (oh yeah , that hasn’t helped- zero energy to sew and no way in hell Im wearing what I’ve made whilst that was going on). A plain black Sewaholic Renfrew and McCalls M7542 mashup, which needs no real explanation, it’s just a basic wardrobe staple….

And a self drafted gathered rectangle skirt with an elastic waistband (so barely drafted at all) made out of this gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana knock off fabric I picked up from a Russian seller on Etsy.

The fabric is actually really good quality, but I don’t think it’s genuine, or if it is it was a dodgy print run because the black background fabric is a bit mottled and grey.

There was only just over a meter by 1.5m of it so my options were limited with what to do with it – hence the gathered rectangle skirt to maximise use. It has pockets though (in a complimentary other fabric) I was undecided as to whether to bother, & I’m really glad that I did.

Here I am wearing both of them together on Monday…..

Think both of these will be very useful and get worn quite a lot.

The skirt has Alice in Wonderland vibes and I am going to try and find appropriate accessories to style it up in a more alternative kind of way.

The necklace I’m wearing in these photos is a good start. It is awesome actually, I was thinking I did not have any appropriate accessories and then I walked past the Sally Army shop in Catford and this was in the window for £3! I bit back my dislike of the Salvation Army (they are actually quite vocal anti gay and trans rights activists specially in America) and went in and bought it, and it’s perfect…

To me that looks like proper lolita brand jewellery.

It is about to be Halloween season though, TKMaxx have got all their stuff in already. So it’s just a case of waiting a couple of weeks till Claire’s and Flying Tiger and Asda start stocking stuff and then going down to Lewisham and doing a haul. I have a set of skeleton hand hair clips I bought in Flying Tiger last year that I have worn pretty much two or three times a week all year, & whenever I go out people comment on them. Hopefully I will find something as good this year, and I’ll certainly be looking for anything Alice in Wonderland themed.

Such an exciting time of year!

Chester….a weirdo’s guide!

I wasn’t going to post about this, as it was just a two day break in a random northern city, but actually it was too awesome not to.

First of all we got a first class train up there. This is because for whatever bizarre reason it was pretty much the same price as standard for that particular journey…

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Jon, having a beer on the train. Straight after that they gave us a free beer as well! 🙂

The hotel we were staying in was half way between the station and the town, it was a bit 80’s decor and had a very 80’s restaurant (breaded camembert, stuffed duck) that we avoided, but it also had an awesome swimming pool with a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi that we gave a good explore after settling in.

We then hit the town to find dinner and drinkies.

Chester is really weird as all the buildings even back to medieval are 4 stories high and the bottom floor and cellar are one shop and then there is a gallery you can walk along with a second shop at first and 2nd floor level. it is also a lot posher than I was expecting (Hollyoaks is not a good advertisement) and has a lot of interesting quirky shops……

including a Tiki Bar!!! I don’t think they even have one in London and I have been dying to try one out for like ever! This one was in the crypt of a building and was so pretty……

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I had a Mai Tai and a Pina Colada and Jon had a Tequila Sunrise to drink. It was so cool, though the choice of happy hardcore style dance music blaring did seem a little incongruous.

Then we cleared off to a pub near the river to eat, it was recommended to us as really special and it was ok, however £10 for a 8oz steak and chips and a half bottle of wine each was pretty darn good, I’ve got to say. We were a bit too tired and cocktailed out to want to get really drunk, so, as it came with a handy lid, we liberated the bottle of wine back to our hotel and had it the next day while getting ready for the convention.

Next morning we went on a walk round the town centre again. It is such a bizarre place, even Debenhams is in like a really ancient building…this is the coffee shop in the basement….

Debenhams chester

Then I went to look at a shop that had caught my eye the night before…

morgan chester mori girl

Morgan is a little chain of boutiques in Chester and Wales that does what I can only describe as Mori Girl – a japanese youth style that involves dressing like someone who lives in the woods and is close to nature – clothing. Which is awesome cuz this is the middle of England. The shop is very pretty (I had a job and a half making that photo not reflective, there are far better pictures on their website) but ruinously expensive, serious designer prices. As inspiration it is lovely though, and although the workers there and the clientele seemed mainly my Mums age, one of them knew exactly what Mori Girl was and had a pinterest board full of it apparently.

So feeling inspired, we head across the road to Cancer Research and there I did what I have to describe as my best charity shop haul in ages…

In fact if more stuff had stood half a chance of fitting I would have had half the shop away with me….

Here goes then…

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The blouse is a lot more poofy and victorian style when you actually have it on. Left behind of particular note was a one shouldered 90’s top sewing pattern that only went up to a size 12, a Mansun/Manics fan green army jacket (Jon already has one) and a blue velvet jacket (too small for Jon).

On the way back to the hotel we ran into a town crier convention as well….

chester town crier convention chester town crier convention

 

So then the convention, which is what we were actually in Chester for. It was a celebration of the works of a 90’s band called Mansun. For anyone who doesn’t know they were a britpop-glam style band a bit like the Manic Street Preachers, but with a much more prog edge to them. They were quite big at the time but never made it massive, to a large part because their record company didn’t think they were pop enough to push. They split up about 10 years ago now, but amongst young kids (And there really were quite a lot at the convention) they’ve once again got a bit of a cult following as people who weren’t there at the time reevaluate everything that happened in the britpop era and decide what they think was good or not, 15 years later without the record label and radio 1/nme interference that was a major issue at the time. A phrase that got bandied round a lot at the convention was ‘Britpop’s Velvet Underground’

Anyway, it was very good fun, there were a few exhibitiony things, a few talks and panels on various aspects of Mansuns history, and then a gig in the evening. I didn’t take many photos as I was having fun…

jon six mansun guitar

Jon posing as the album cover from ‘Six’ and one of Paul Draper’s guitars.

It was really weird though, back in 2000/2001 there was a whole community based round liking this sort of music, there were multiple club nights in London playing Mansun and other bands of their ilk and millions of underaged teenagers, who wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a nightclub at that age these days, following minor rock stars around screaming. I kept recognising people vaguely who I’d known back then and been to the same gigs and clubs and pub meet ups as, but as Facebook didn’t exist there was no practical way of keeping in touch with. I do miss London having a functioning alternative scene! One of the things you don’t realise until you see them all in a room with you is just how many people have had to move away!

Anyway, journey back was a right pain in the neck as Virgin trains, in their wisdom, had decided to do track repairs over the bank holiday weekend and so a train would have involved 3 changes and taken 5 1/2 hrs, so we took a coach which took 6 instead. Which was not great and made me kind of ill.

I’ve been kind of ill ever since actually. I have finally blocked my knitting, but due to rather damp weather and having to dry it flat its drying rather slowly. I also intend to spend tomorrow working on my next top.

china lady, dr who,another ladybird top and vexatious overlockers!

A while ago I know, but last time I posted I mentioned the necklace and the ceramic bust of a woman I was massively regretting not picking up from the charity shops in Beckenham. So early last week I went down there, the necklace had gone, which is sad, but I can always find another one I guess, but the woman’s head was still there…..

It is a little smaller than I thought so only my teeny tiny hat will fit it, but it is settling in nicely on my mini hat shelf….

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i thought that was it for charity shopping for a while, but our as I passed our local British Heart Foundation the other day I spotted a load of Dr Who DVD’S in the window for 99p each. There were some old series and some new series, and at first I thought each dvd was one episode they were so cheap, but for the new series it was 2 and the old series it was a complete story arc! Now I don’t mind watching Dr Who, which given I can’t really be bothered with TV is enthusiasm from me. Jon however loves Dr Who massively. So I bought them all….

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Turns out when I got them home and did a little digging on the internet, that they originally came with one of those monthly magazines, called the Dr Who Files . Anyway, when I went back the next day there were 40 odd more there. So I bought all of them! I don’t have photos cuz they are in a massive bag waiting till we can find somewhere to put them. but Jon is completely over the moon, and we are looking at it as a long term investment! 🙂

Also end of the week before last I sewed up another ladybird top….

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Same fabric, same pattern as last time….the ubiquitous Sewaholic Renfrew. Long sleeved version this time though. I’m going to try a couple more adventurous knit problems next time, however I didn’t manage to get any momentum going as despite it only taking an hour and a half to make and looking amazing on the outside, the back side of the overlocker stitch was looping/bubbling and no amount of fiddling with the tension settings would tell me what was wrong. So I left starting the next one for a week whilst I researched on the internet. Finally I found a couple of blogs which suggested the problem probably was one of the threads wasn’t between its tension plates properly (as opposed to every other blog which said rethread it entirely with  multicoloured threads and fiddle some more…not if I can get away with it!) and looking at it closely, yes one of the threads was out from its tension plates. So I’ve fixed that!

I have no idea if it has worked yet though, as the builder came yesterday to sort us with new radiators and put a power point in behind the table where I sew so I don’t have to keep long and dangerous extension cables winding across the floor to plug the machines into. So I had to put the machines away on a shelf and hopefully when I get them out again the overlocker will have been sufficiently un-jolted it will work and not need rethreading anyway! :-S

However when I got up to get a glass of water a few minutes ago I had to peel myself off the seat I’m on, so I’m not going to try anything potentially very frustrating in this kind of heat!

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……

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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……

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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…..

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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!

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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!

it can’t rain all the time!…….(I hope!)

Hadn’t realised it’s been an entire month since I posted on here, but actually I’ve been super busy and done quite a lot, its just taken till this week to collate it all together.

So started the month by trying to make some jam..Image

I haven’t done this for 3 years since we lived in Hitchin, but I want to make some onion marmalade at some point, I mean £2.50+ for a piddley little jar at tesco – rip off! And Lewisham market had peaches for £1 for about 1.5kg, so I bought £3 worth and had a play. Well its very nice tinned fruit! And my biggest jam pan does not take 4.5kg of fruit, which is good to know, but meant I couldn’t boil it enough to set it properly else it would over boil. Oh well, it was my first attempt in years, and it goes very nicely with yoghurt and ice cream! :-S

Then I spent two days trying to dye my hair purple and burgundy. So I’ve been having problems with hair dye for ages, salon and home permanent colour washes out in about 3 weeks so I thought I’d give La Riche Directions ones a go as someone said they were better. 2 days and many hours wandering round with my head covered in dye later, this happened….Image

and lasted for all of 3 days/2 washes. Which was most irritating, so now my hair is back to the manky faded red it usually is. Oh well!

Then things got a bit more successful and I made a top….Image

It is another Sewaholic Renfrew top, and in loads of ways is my most successful so far, I got a sensible looking neckline this time, except the jersey I used, although really pretty was £3 a meter off Goldhawke Road and was stretchy as anything and stretched like mad as I was sewing, as it has mostly cleared up with a go in the washing machine, I am taking a lot of the responsibility 😦 and must remember to actually wash fabric before i sew with it! But the neck being so wide after I’d totally nailed the technique for getting the neckline even is totally annoying!

Then last week I went to my mums and hit the charity shops in one of the small country towns nearby. Countryside charity shopping is the best! Especially pet charities and hospice shops where they don’t make a habit of sending choice vintage down to London to make more money.

So in the first shop I went to I got this…

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A totally amazing 80’s prom dress for £6! Not sure if it’ll fit yet, despite having been back 5 days I’ve barely seen Jon and I need him to be around when I try it on incase it doesn’t! If it doesn’t I will chop the skirt off and use that and not the top or something.

In the second shop i found this…

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A really cool vintage hand mirror. Was really happy to find this as it was cheap, is not scratched or pitted at all and was actually on my list of things to buy this month. (realised I needed one whilst trying to dye my hair.)

And then last of all I found this beauty….Image

Now every one else thinks its hideous, and true it was made in bits rather than one piece and doesn’t have a makers mark, so it obviously came form a fairground or woolworths at the time, but its all iridescent an pearlescent and pink!!! And it is sooo big, its not obvious from the picture, but its the size of a Barbie and Ken! And the features and the way its carved is done so well for something that bad quality, that until you see its jointed not whole it looks a lot better than it is.

It is still at my mums at the moment as I couldn’t carry everything back, but I can’t wait to get it home and I know exactly where its going to go! 🙂

This month I have to take some medication I am not overly keen on, so may be suffering a little from side effects of it. However I have 4 new sewing patterns and an endless stack of Renfrews to get through, so hopefully the ill will let up long enough for me to do stuff! 🙂