Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A commission of sorts, but no sewing…

I haven’t had any time to do any sewing recently, or knitting, painting, gardening, but this time it’s a good thing. You see, I was contacted out of the blue by someone wanting to buy one of my plates, this one to be precise:


Unfortunately this work was made for an installation and has been in storage ever since. When I went to retrieve said plate it was badly cracked so I offered to make the chap one of his very own.

These plates are one-offs and are very hard to make, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two weeks. It’s very exciting, because I’ve had to move into the workshop early (we’re still at the painting stage because my hurt shoulder means I can’t do too much) but this is what I want to do with my life.

This is the plan:

  1. Build workshop
  2. Make work
  3. Sell work
  4. Give up part of day job
  5. Sell more work
  6. Give up rest of day job
  7. Become millionaire

Number 1 isn’t finished yet but number 2 seems promising. Really, I’ve made The Plan much more vague than it actually is for comic effect, and I know it’s not going to be easy – I think the only way I’ll get to number 7 is to get really good at monopoly. My art degree had a large business component and my tutor would never forgive me if that was as detailed as the plan gets!

Having said that, when people ask I always tell them number 1 closely followed by number 7 and then pull a funny face.

But all comedy aside, it feels like something is happening and that makes me happy. If you’d like to see some more of my ceramics head over to my website and let me know what you think.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Dating vintage patterns – an answer for Catherine…

It can be hard to date patterns sometimes because they never do helpful things like put dates on!

Some patterns are obvious (style-wise) like the 40's one in my last post, but some early 60's can look like 50's, late 60's look like 70's etc. etc. For example, is my new Vogue 8187 late 40’s or early 50’s?

You can google the pattern number but companies have a tendency to use 1000 to 9999 then ‘recycle’ the numbers. This is also Vogue 8187:

!BmErFn!BGk~$(KGrHqEOKjsEtkNg6,g8BLeRj5)01w~~_12 Nope, that ain’t my pattern…

So what can you do? You can look at a lot of pictures of vintage clothing to find something that is similar and make an educated guess (hairstyles can be a big clue) or you can search for your pattern number in places like Sew Retro, So Vintage Patterns or the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. These will give you an era, or sometimes an exact date, if they have the pattern.

Your best bet for an exact date is the Commercial Pattern Archive, which is huge, but you have to pay for it at $40 for three months. It’s an awesome resource which gives you a date and an image like this for pretty much every pattern they have:

1219f 1219b

But only great if you’re the type who can built a pattern from schematics and a picture. They sometimes have a free weekend, which is where I got the images above (in case I ever do get good enough to make a pattern from a schematic)

So in conclusion? Well, according to So Vintage Patterns my Vogue 8187 is 50’s, and they are selling one for $28 (ha, I paid £2). The interweb is a fantastic tool for research and websites like this will help a lot – even if they don’t have the exact pattern you are searching for, a quick browse will find you a similar one you can use to date yours.

Remember, hemlines lower in times of crisis!


Monday, 15 March 2010

Lovely new [old] patterns and some thrifty fabric…

I’d love to be able to say I got all these for 50p and a smile like last time but these were from Ebay so a little more pricey!


I showed my gran the 50’s one above right and she said ‘Oh, I used to have an outfit like that!” I wish she’d kept all her old clothes, but then she had a tiny, tiny waist - I seem to remember her saying 21”. I may have had a 21” waist when I was 12, but not now…


I’ve been after a 40’s pattern in this style for ages, but they always seem to go to at least £15 on Ebay. Not this one though, it might be because the seller didn’t say 40’s in the listing, just ‘vintage’, so the hunters missed it and I got it for £2. And it’s more my size than the 32” bust patterns I usually see.

I think I’ve been overly influenced by Mena from The Sew Weekly. I love her clothes, hair, everything. Not in a stalkerish way, you understand, I just like her style :)


And finally, a bit of the good 70’s. I LOVE that jacket, and the dress is cool too, just the sort of thing I wear for work over jeans. I can’t rock a miniskirt on it’s own, my legs will not comply.

IMG_8609 IMG_8617

And finally some fabricy goodness. Above left is a double knit poly, just enough for a 60’s dress – I have a bit of red double poly left over from shortening a proper 60’s dress so I might give it red collar, cuffs and belt. Above right is a cotton single sheet and that’s a lot of yardage for something!


Above left is a piece of linen-look cotton, just enough for a shirt or the top right tunic. Above right is a big square tablecloth that I’d love to make into a dress like this one:


By adapting the top-left pattern, changing the neckline a bit and adding the double-breasted buttoned front, I might just pull it off. I’m also keeping my eye out for some white embroidered cotton for this dress. Assuming the embroidery is nylon thread, I should be able to dye the cotton green but keep the stitching white. I could add a bit of black embroidery with those snazzy (and never used) stitches on my machine.

IMG_8613 IMG_8611

And finally my last two finds. The fabric on the left isn’t 40’s, but it looks it right? It’s a bit like a poly crepe so it drapes nicely but might be an arse to sew. The one on the right is definitely 70’s and might make another dress (the one in the pattern with the fantastic jacket?) or a skirt.

Right, I think I’d better stop buying and actually find the time to make some of these awesome outfits! Even if the planning stage is the most exciting :)


Monday, 8 March 2010

The jumble sale high that nearly killed me…

Ok, so I’m being a bit melodramatic but haven’t you ever found the perfect charity shop where everything is a gem? A barn sale where the prices are so ludicrously low you think you must be on Candid Camera? (both references for you US folks, our barns are full of hay and I’ve never seen Candid Camera)

Well, this jumble sale was like that. First we spotted this solid wood, carved, white painted standard lamp.


I’ve been after one for ages and on Ebay they all seem to cost £40 upwards. We casually asked how much it was and the lady said £2. £2!!! “Would that be OK?” asked the lady, “Not too much?” Nope, that’s fine – I think my hand was shaking as I handed over my annoyingly Euro-looking £2 coin.

We also saw these two stools:


How much? “£1 each?” says the lady, and off goes another £2 coin. At this point I started to get worried about the size of the car – it is a Grand Modus, but really it ain’t that big. (It is however, that filthy – look at it!) We had also been food shopping so the boot wasn’t exactly empty to start with.

But the thing is, I had seen a 50’s formica-topped kitchen table. And the price? You guessed it, £2 – I think these ladies had decided that if they put a £2 price tag on anything we would buy it. (To be honest, they weren’t far wrong)

All I had to do was create enough space in the car for it. And I did.

IMG_8522 IMG_8523IMG_8527

That mark on the top is just tape, this table is pristine. I also got a Mona Lisa print for 50p to hang in the workshop bathroom – I know it should be a portrait of the Queen, but they didn’t have one of those.


So with our goods safely stashed in the car we went home with the feeling we’d just robbed a bank. A good day was had by all!


Sunday, 7 March 2010

Some jumbly goodness…

…and a description for Barbara!

Jumble sales are an awesome but slightly scary experience. Legend tells of unsuspecting people being elbowed aside by grannies determined to get to the good stuff before you - I’m so glad we aren’t allowed to carry guns.

Basically, trestle tables are set up in the local church or school hall and then mountains of clothing and bric-a-brac are shovelled in and separated into men’s, women’s, kids, toys, books and Stuff. None of it is folded or organised beyond that, and then the hordes are let in and you have to dig for victory. Oh, and it’s for a charity, this one was for the local school. We got there at 2pm, about an hour in, which is very late for a jumble sale but good for getting the cheap deals from the tired ladies who don’t want to take it all home again. It was guerrilla raid stuff, I wish I’d taken some photos!

I hit the fabric first but it was slim pickings, I got this fabby double duvet cover which I’ll cut for the fabric and an embroidered tray cloth.IMG_8538IMG_8542

I got three of these, they might form the basis of a skirt?


Isn’t this apron gorgeous? I might unpick the ‘Portugal’, but those two ovals are pockets.


This pink flowery pillowcase will also be cut for fabric.


I paid £1.80 for all of these, bargain :) The clothes were a bit better though, the lady said everything was 20p. 20p!!!! I could have brought everything home, my discerning eye was closed and I got a jumble sale high. Here are a few of the things I bought.

This skirt isn’t as short as it looks, it’s quite wide. I needs taking in and it has a button missing so I’ll take them off and replace them from stash. I might add some ric rac too!


This dressing gown will probably stay as is, or I might cut it for a dress. I really like the bordered hem.


I love this top, it definitely will stay as-is.


This shirt is a UK size 8 – too small for me but those buttons are mother of pearl and I might rip out and reuse the lace inserts. 20p well spent!


This jumper is going to become a cardigan – I’ll be slitting it up the middle, changing that collar and shortening the hem and sleeves. I might have to take it in too, I haven’t tried it on yet.


And finally, a boring lacy-type black shirt that needs some colour.


So, all that for £1.20 – even if it all ends up as dusters (and it won’t) I couldn’t buy the mother of pearl buttons for that new. So all in all, a good and random thrifty day.

Tomorrow I’ll show you the furniture where my jumble sale high was so great it made driving difficult…


Saturday, 6 March 2010

An errand and a maypole…

I had to run an errand today that involved driving miles and miles. When that happens we like to plot a route that takes in a few charity shops or Interesting Things. It’s been a gloomy day but we decided to take a slight detour to visit Isurium Brigantium, an unearthed Roman town complete with mosaic floors. Sounded interesting, but when we got there we found out it doesn’t open until April. Bums.


The relatively modern village around the site was really pretty though – complete with maypole and red phone boxes. I could easily live there, all we could hear was birdsong.

IMG_8497IMG_8502stable door

And an 18th century church, is it too morbid to like gravestones?

IMG_8503 IMG_85102 IMG_8507IMG_8506

We hit a couple of charity shops in a neighbouring town but on the way back from our errand we saw some signs advertising a jumble sale in aid of a local school, we had planned to go charity shopping in Ripon but I love jumble sales! Especially proper ones where everything really is jumbled together on trestle tables.

I’ll leave you with a sneaky finds peek for now, because I have a lot of sorting to do and photos to take. Honestly, pretty much everything was 20p but we got there pretty late and had to just grab whatever looked decent – we definitely got a few gems though!


I’ll post tomorrow with the best of the finds!