Tag Archive | vintage

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!

not very rock and roll 40’s dress

So it all started when I was wandering about the West End and was stupid enough to go into Miss Selfridges and see this dress, which is actually much prettier in real life than on the webpage, but sadly only went up to size 14, which was most distressing.

So I thought about it for a few days and then went down to Rolls and Rems in Lewisham and bought what they had left of sheer black swiss dot fabric, which happened to be 4 1/2 meters in order to have a go at making my own and very quickly realised that was no way enough fabric for a maxi dress…

until I was digging through my pattern collection and found this lurking at the bottom…

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(image stolen off the vintage pattern wiki)

Now I gave up on this one about 18 months ago when I made a muslin that went horrendously wrong and I couldn’t work out what the hell it was I’d done. But it looked absolutely perfect for what I was after and only used 4 5/8 fabric at 40″ which was perfect as I have about that of 60″ to play with. well done 40’s austerity there!

So I thought I’d have a seccond go at a muslin of the short version and see what happened.

With hindsight part of what went wrong last time is I added a load of extra to scale it up as it was designed for a 32″ waist, I’m 34 or 35″ and I had just finished with a 40’s 34″ waist pattern by the same company that had come out horribly small, so I assumed this would have the same problem. I ended up having to take all the extra ease back out again and it came out a right mess.

So this time I actually measured the top of the skirt panels and added it all up before I started to see what it came to, and was highly surprised to find it was 40″! So even given there were 6 pieces all needing seams, I couldn’t see how that wouldn’t fit as it was. So i left the pattern alone and cut the pieces the correct size, the only modification I made was to add half an inch on each side at the back in order to move the side zip ( I hate them!) to the centre back, so I stood a chance of getting in and out of it myself.

And it worked, totally easy to sew up, took me two afternoons, and fits like a glove.

Obviously it being new clothes I wanted to wear it out immediately, and this is the bit I messed up on, I thought 40’s with red and black strawberry print, thats very pin up girl/vintage glamorous and I was going to see Rachel Stamp ,a glam band who used to be big in the 90’s play the Nambucca on Holloway Road the next night, so thought it was a good idea to wear the new dress. And then spent the whole evening feeling I looked a bit wrong, but couldn’t put my finger on why (though the gig was totally awesome!).

Then last week I was up at my mums for her coffee morning ladies xmas lunch (don’t ask!) and brought the dress to show my mum what I’d been up to and was immediately talked into wearing it at the lunch in a posh cotswold hotel and I got loads of compliments on it.

My mum took these pictures of me in it afterwards…

strawberry dress with belt

 

with a belt

strawberrys dress without a belt

 

without a belt!

And yes it is very appropriate for a day in the Cotswolds!

So that is something I never knew. The problem is, when looking up ideas from other blogs and online stores one has to remember that the vast majority, with a couple of notable exceptions of the girls you see, specially the ones doing vintage are all about half my weight so something that looks edgy and rebellious on them looks very respectable on me!

I will probably at some point make the long see through version of the dress as planned, and it has not totally put me off vintage patterns, though perhaps 1940’s ones at my current weight. And I suppose it is a good thing to have some really normal day dresses in my wardrobe. But if I’m going for a new pattern style I think I will look for pictures on the internet of someone with a larger figure wearing it a bit more carefully in future!

Anyway…heres a picture of our xmas decorations to be a bit seasonal! I shan’t be sewing till after christmas as they have displaced my sewing machine from the table!

xmas tree and lego

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! 🙂