Friday, February 27, 2009

Loopy Lu

Last night I was playing with some odd scraps of antique lace, binding church candles and pastel hued cylinder shaped ones in the lengths of tatty gorgeousness...

A simple project, but one of a slight departure for me. When I sit down to sew, everything has to be so precise and measured, for a professional finish. As a result, I sometimes feel a little restrained and long to work a bit more freely.
I realise there is nothing particularly clever about these simply wrapped candles, but by using ragged bits of lace, I do feel they have a time-worn look that fits well with my love for vintage. I was wondering whether to make a few with special embellishments for the V&H fair...
I mean, it is all too easy to stick with doing what you know, but to break-free once in a while is a great feeling.
Or do I take along what people will be expecting me to take, all of which have proved to be good sellers in the past? I'm all for moving a business forward and trying out new ideas, but should I be sticking to what I've always done, with a 'don't fix what ain't broke' kind of attitude?
Perhaps I should stop philosophising and go with my gut-feeling; some things won't be successful, but not trying probably isn't a good approach...Ha! I'm going round in circles here! (And some would say "is that all you have to worry about?"!)
Well, I'm off out with friends today...I'm looking forward to a few hours in the big wide world, rather than the four walls of my workroom...hopefully that should clear my head and have me thinking with a bit more focus! ;-))
Have a lovely day,
Niki x

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Itty Bitty Pretties

Teeny tiny treasures found in my home...





"People may forget what you said or did but not how you made them feel"
Hope you're having a great day,
Niki x

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's a Girl Thing...

Yesterday was a good day; I got to spend the whole day with my youngest daughter. She has recently started to show an interest in vintage fashion. Of course I felt a need to nurture this interest, as she is the only one of my daughters to show even the slightest whiff of awareness or curiosity for my passion for treasures from the past. Despite growing-up in a home furnished almost exclusively with old tat (!), none of my three girls have wanted to follow in my footsteps, probably because they want to forge their own style or identity...
But anyway, yesterday began for us with a visit to The Ashley Hall Vintage Fashion and Textile Fair, held at the Assembly Rooms in Bath.
We were able to catch-up with some of my favourite French textile dealers again and I bought some lovely bits and pieces...

I loved these tiny unused dyed and carved mother-of-pearl buttons on their original cards from Paris.

I also bought a full card of Deco buckles.

Beautiful rich red mattress ticking fabrics in a variety of striped designs...

Silvery grey French lace still on it's card and some scraps of Victorian cream lace.

Some good usable lengths of C19th Vichy check cotton and also in a woven linen, as well as some pretty floral fragments.

A sweet selection of vintage buttons including glass, Bakelite, wood with hand painted decoration and glittering paste examples.

My favourite purchase from the fair was this hat stand from the flapper era, with its beautiful boudoir dolls head and fabric covered base. I have a small collection of these, which I have mentioned before on a previous post - If they are within my budget I like to buy them, as they are becoming a very rare find now.

My daughter loved looking around all of the stalls with me and commented how friendly everyone was. After a delicious hot chocolate in the cafe, we decided to take the tour of the fashion museum within the same building. (We were eligible for free entry with being residents within the Bath area.) The main theme of the exhibits at the moment is underwear through the ages. The displays are changed every now and then, in order to show a new selection of garments from the museums huge archive.
We then left the museum and walked into the town centre. I have been looking for a while for an outfit for myself to wear to my in-laws Golden Wedding anniversary party next month. And Sunday was the day for me to finally crack it! - I'm rubbish when it comes to buying on the high street! ;-)) Give me a vintage shopping list over modern any day, and I can usually find what I'm looking for quite quickly! Its just a shame that I couldn't have squeezed myself into some of the 1950's pastel tulle numbers at the fair!...but at least I can take pleasure from my youngest wearing vintage now...

Hope you had an enjoyable weekend too,
Niki x

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pretty Purple Pincushion

Making my 'living' (of sorts! ;-)) from my hand crafted goods, does mean that I am often reluctant to spend time making things for me. Consequently, I have made-do for years with an extremely tatty old pincushion! But not any more...
I was lucky enough to win one of the 'OWOH' prize draws, which just happens to have been a beautifully made pincushion. (Still can't believe my luck, as this draw received over 260 comments)

Debra from Manitoba Stitches, makes these adorable works of art using colourful wool fabrics, which she embellishes with hand embroidery. They can be seen in her Etsy shop, along with her partners fabulous leather work.
Thank you Debra for my delightful prize - I really will enjoy using it and can now relegate my tatty old pincushion into retirement!

I have also been bestowed several blog awards recently. Whilst I am flattered to have been chosen to receive them, I have mixed feelings about them....I recently read on a friend's blog that she had just received her first ever award after 5 years of blogging....Hers is such a lovely, warm and friendly, family orientated blog, which receives lots of visits and comments...It is sad to think of anyone feeling left out. And choosing favourites is always going to be a bit tricky... I love to visit all of the blogs on my links list, for a variety of reasons; be it for laughter, inspiration, tips, to catch up with friends, to gaze at stunning photography, or just to enjoy a brief story of a recent event in the author's life that they wanted to share.
When I first began my blog, it was basically an extension to my shop/website, where I thought I would share ideas and updates relating to the goods I had for sale. I guess that has changed over the years and I have gained a lot more than I was expecting from writing my posts. (I know that the majority of my readers are non-bloggers and mostly are customers to my on-line shop. With you reading my posts, it allows a little personal interaction in this cyber-world, for which I am grateful.) Having an on-line business does mean that life revolves far too much around the PC (I have my dreaded accounts to do again this evening!) and I admit to struggling to return comments to my blog on a regular basis, for which I apologise. Perhaps it is inevitable that we each run our blogs in the way that best suits ourselves.
Last year I read with interest how some of the ladies who had booked a stand at the V&H fair were struggling to make enough stock to fill their stands, whilst juggling family life etc. I can now relate to this, as I too am finding it difficult to make extra dolls, on top of what I would normally try to add to my website. Each one takes at least a day to complete, so making the extra is going to take time...For all of those who have enquired, I will add to my websites stock as soon as I can.
I have made lots of smaller 'gifty' items, as well as having some vintage treasures in storage for the fair, which I shall show here nearer to the May date.

In the meantime, I have managed a bit of 'blog-surfing' over the last couple of evenings (I am always amazed how many blogs are actually out there waiting to be discovered) and would like to list a small selection of my recent discoveries as well as to mention some that have been on my links virtually from day one:

This is my adorable little Rosie, who I purchased from Nicky last year. She enjoys sitting amongst the piles of vintage fabrics in my workroom (that's Rosie, not Nicky!) She is surprisingly heavy, with her tummy filled with metal shot (that's Rosie, not Nicky!) and I love the way she reclines on the shelf....

These ethereal grey watercolour postcards came from the extremely talented Lynn, of Sea Angels. Her dreamy blog is always a delight and I come away feeling calm and relaxed.
Some recently acquired names to my blog links include:
Sylvia with Villa Extra
Laeriss with Heart in Provence
Jeanette of Just Jeanette
Hope you will enjoy visiting them as much as I do,
Niki x

Monday, February 16, 2009

Scrap Happy

A little project that I've been working on over the last couple of weeks...

And I really do mean that(!)...this cabinet has been sat in my kitchen for a while, along with my basket filled with fabric scraps, and whenever I've had five minutes to spare in between cooking the family meals etc. another square of fabric has been added.

I used this technique, which I used a few years ago to cover some old lampshades. I gathered some of my most favourite C19th French fabrics for a cohesive look. It doesn't matter if they would be too frail to sew with, or if you only have a tiny fragment of some, as it's the overall effect that matters. By adhering them in place with PVA glue, smoothed with a paintbrush, they are held together for a fairly robust finish.
If any become worn, or soiled with time, another patch can be added over the top. I was going to cover all the edges in the same way, but decided to use this striped cotton tape instead, for a slightly smarter finish.
A beautiful French floral fabric covers the two door panels, with a patchwork border to tie in with the rest of the cupboard.

I use a lot of red in our home, as I find it has a cheerful, friendly feel to it.

It just needs putting up on the wall now, somewhere in our living room.
I've also been painting the built-in cupboards in this room with a fresh coat of white paint. They need another coat yet, but you get the idea...I've also put back the red gingham behind the glass, which I had in there a few years ago...maybe I should stop faffing and just keep things as they are!

On Sunday I took my daughter and her best friend to a vintage fashion fair that was held in Bristol. She bought a lovely Fair Isle hand knitted cardigan and a plaid skirt...sadly she doesn't want to model them for you here!
I bought some beautifully soft, cosy mohair scarves, mostly from Lizzie, which I shall turn into fashionable outerwear for my rag dolls!

There was also a fabulous stand, where the stall holder had bought all of her stock from the BBC's costume department. She said that much of it dates from the 1940's and the sheer volume of stuff that she has to sort through is incredible. Apparently, only a tiny sample of what she had was at the fair, as it will be a mammoth task. I bought these beautiful faux pearl stamens, which will be pretty embellishments for fairy folk.
Well, this week is half-term, so we shall see how much gets achieved...but I won't hold my breath; I am already booked as a taxi for this afternoon and a shopping trip for school supplies is also on the cards...hope you have a great week,
Niki x

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Beginnings

I know that it's not officially spring until towards the end of March, but its encouraging to see that things are beginning to stir in the garden...
I find it such an uplifting and welcome sight to gaze upon the first few signs of life breaking through the bare earth at this time of year...
Particularly thinking back to just last weekend when the fresh new growth would have been covered by several inches of snow.
These daylily, hemerocallis shoots look none the worse for the ordeal.
And we've discovered several fragments of birds egg shells scattered about the lawn this weekend, so there is brand new life hiding in the hedges and trees too...
As a child I remember gathering twigs laden with swinging yellow catkins and fuzzy pussy willow buds during February. They would be placed in water in glass jars amongst horse chestnut sticky buds on the school's nature table.
Snowdrops are one of the first bulbs to flower, so I thought I would take their photo today, before their sweet little performance is all over.
But it does seem that the miniature tête-à-tête flowers won't be too far behind this year.


And forced to flower early indoors, they bring a cheerful golden yellow display to the windowsill in our kitchen.
Spring really does feel just around the corner now and I can't wait to get back into my garden for a new season of planting and growing.
Hope you have a great day,
Niki x