Bold prints in all shapes and sizes are big news this season (when haven’t they been?!) Whether it’s hand-painted florals, vivid colour, Indian prints, stylised blooms or folk-inspired, you can bet your bottom dollar some of the best examples can be had by shopping vintage! Whatever your preference, keep it fresh and bold with accessories to a minimum, and let the print shine!
One of the most useful skills I left school with was being able to sew. Having the use of a sewing machine has saved me a considerable amount of money over the years, and although I don’t proclaim to be an expert, I can complete several basic sewing tasks without breaking into a cold (or hot!) sweat. Here’s a perfect example.
Take one pair of 1970s wide-leg trousers. They caught my eye whilst on a recent buying trip. I love the pretty coral colour and style; so ‘on-trend’ for this summer and the construction and fabric quality are top-notch too!
Sadly, within five minutes of returning home, the zip broke! As you can see, a small section of metal teeth fell off which meant a replacement had to be found. To be honest, I was relieved the zip broke when it did. I’d much rather deal with the problem, than pass it along to a customer.
Professional zip replacement would cost around £10.00. However, I paid £1.49 for a new zip and already had matching sewing thread in my stash. Result!
As mentioned earlier, these trousers are extremely nice quality. The fabric looks remarkably like linen – and it is – although only 15% of it. The remaining fabric content is polyester. This means the trousers don’t crease easily. In fact after washing, I left them to air-dry and pressing wasn’t necessary at all. However, being a perfectionist, I did give them a light pressing and they now look as good as new!
Unfortunately the maker’s label has been removed but part of the woven label still remains which shows the trousers were made in France. I always think that garments with woven labels are a sure sign of quality. After all, why take the trouble of attaching an expensive woven label in a poorly made, cheap garment? It simply doesn’t make sense.
Summer catwalks were full of 1970s styling! Why spend your hard-earned money on high-end designer OR high street when you can have authentic quality vintage instead?
Visit my website today!
If you live in South Manchester, you may already know of The Green Walk Open House Arts & Crafts Weekend. The event has been running for several years, and although I’d heard of it, it never really came up on my radar until recently. There are around ten houses in this lovely, tree-lined cul-de-sac and I spent the afternoon there with my husband, daughter and few friends too. The weather was glorious, so we had lots of fun meandering around, enjoying homemade food and drinks on the Green.
The event is organised by a group of Green Walk residents who open their houses to local artists and designers. They use the houses as exhibition space in order to showcase and sell their work. Such an inspired idea – I love it! You can find all sorts of fabulous pieces including original paintings, ceramics, glassware, photography, jewellery and everything else in between! I loved that people were walking around in a very relaxed fashion with glasses of red wine. My idea of heaven!
My first port of call was to house number 16. My friends, Sue Fletcher and Barry Clark, were there to showcase some of their work. And what a fabulous creative couple they are too! Barry collects and sells rare art books, which is how I came about meeting them in the first place. They had a stall at the Manchester Vintage and Textiles Fair and my sister and I got chatting to them . . . . . and the rest is history, as they say! Read about my first meeting with Sue and Barry here . . . . . . . and also here.
Sue makes all sorts of wonderful ceramic creations and already had a couple of customers with her when we arrived. There was a real buzz about the place and it was a great opportunity for me to introduce my husband, daughter and friends to them.
As for Barry, in addition to sourcing and selling rare books, he is also into the art of bookbinding. This is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. In our fast moving digital age you would be forgiven for thinking that bookbinding is a dying art. However, you would be wrong. With the digital word taking over from the printed, popularity and interest in the preservation of specialist hard bound book covers is increasing. And it’s not difficult to see why when you look at, and more importantly, feel the quality of these gorgeous books. Here’s what I purchased from Barry.
In between visiting each house, Simon and Phil managed to scoff their way around Green Walk (there’s an art to that as well!!!), with a range of yummy homemade foods, including a pasty made with love by The Manchester Tart Company.
Here’s what else we bought . . . . .
I also bought these pretty cards, six for £5.00!
And finally, a few others we visited . . . .
I read a great post recently by Sandra Mendoza of Debutante Clothing. I’ve known Sandra (online) since becoming a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild a few years ago. This girl really knows her ‘stuff’, especially when it comes to vintage clothing. She sources it, researches it, styles it and writes about it. You get the picture! Read more about the delectable Sandra here, and also her splendid editorial entitled ‘Why That Vintage Dress is Worth More Than You are Paying‘.
In her post, Sandra mentions four key factors that go into the pricing of a vintage garment. And it’s fact number three, ‘Cleaning and Mending‘, that gave me the idea for todays post.
I always make sure that my vintage merchandise is listed in the best possible condition. If something requires cleaning, I clean; if something requires a new zip, buttons or hemming, I do that too. I wouldn’t dream of leaving these issues for my customer to deal with. And if there was an issue that I couldn’t fix – for whatever reason – I’d be sure to mention it and reduce the selling price appropriately. It’s all about taking pride in what you do, being professional and seeing the business from a customer’s view point.
When it comes to buying vintage clothing online, we all have different expectations. Clearly, if you want to buy something in pristine, unworn condition, then vintage is probably not for you. Personally, I don’t mind spending money on a gorgeous vintage dress that shows minor signs of wear; it only adds to the charm and authenticity in my view. However, I want be informed about any issues prior to making my decision to buy. It’s only fair.
Here are a couple of examples that I’ve worked on recently. The first one arrived with a zip that measured a good five inches shorter than the original; I could still see the faint stitch marks where the zip had originally fitted. In addition, the replacement zip was clearly visible, showing all the metal teeth, and had been sewn by hand – not always a bad thing, but if the garment is machine washable, then machine-stitching a zip is ususally the best option. It stands up better to all the friction caused during the machine washing process; and let’s face it, looks a hell of a lot neater than this!
So I purchased a brand new 20 inch zip with matching cotton thread. Here’s the finished result. It still requires pressing, but you can’t deny that it already looks 100% better!
My second little project was on this pretty chiffon blouse dating c.1970s. It has fabulous billowy sleeves but wait a minute; check-out the right cuff. What the . . . . . . ? Either the previous owner was unfortunate enough to have one wrist several inches thicker than the other, or alternatively, had some extra fabric to use up. I haven’t the faintest!
I carefully unpicked the stitching, making sure I gathered the fabric evenly, and re-stitched by hand. Here’s how it looks now. Yay! Perfect for anyone with evenly sized wrists!
I’ve not yet listed these pieces on my website, so be sure to sign up for my email newsletter or keep checking back to see what new items have arrived. I’ve got lots more to list over the coming weeks!
I’d been meaning to list this pretty duo for some time. However, the weather’s been so horrid, I simply couldn’t face listing anything with a floral theme just yet. But now, despite the continuing cold weather, I can’t deny that spring is finally on its way. So over the weekend I decided to make this flowery ensemble ready for sale and take some photographs for the website.
There was just one problem; the size of the skirt! Measuring only 25 inches at the waist, even a slender UK 8 would have difficulty getting into it. Drat!
The existing waistband had already seen some sort of adjustment. It didn’t fasten properly at the back, and was very untidy with poorly sewn fastenings (see below). As mentioned, the waist was tiny measuring just 25 inches and therefore only suitable for UK size 6 (US 2).
The only way I could see to increase the waist size was by removing the waistband completely and replacing it with a brand new one. A bit of a hassle I agree, but I would rather deal with it than pass it on to a prospective customer. And anyway, there can’t be many that can boast a 24 inch waist . . . . unless with the help of major body support, in the form of a girdle or corset perhaps!
As the skirt was very slightly gathered, I could see that removing the waistband would definitely increase the waist by a couple of inches. However, where to find the fabric? I needed at least a 4 inch length to make a decent sized waistband. Ideally, I would have taken it from just below the existing waistband, but there wasn’t enough width once I’d taken the overlap for the fastening into consideration. The only area I could use was at the hemline.
I was initially going to cut 2½” length from each frill. This would have provided a more balanced appearance, but after taking the measurements, I realised it would have made the top frill too narrow with no over-hang. I therefore decided the only way to resolve this quandry was to remove 4″ from the bottom frill.
And this is the end result. The waistband sits neatly on the natural waist and fastens properly at the back. The lower frill is much smaller now but the length is still there. Overall, the skirt is now more wearable with a 28″ waist, and suitable for UK size 10.
Waste not, want not!
I made a tie-belt with the remnant fabric. It can be used to make a stylish kitten-bow at the neck as shown below.
This outfit is now available for sale at Catwalk Creative Vintage.
I was browsing through my collection of vintage magazines and came across this charming cover which reminded me that spring is on its way. This cover is from Woman’s Pictorial dated April 4th 1925. I have a number of these magazines and each one displays a work of art on the front cover, rather than the latest ‘it’ girl or model of the day; something that came much later of course.
This cover design was painted in 1925, especially for the “Woman’s Pictorial” by Dorothea Sharp*, R.O.I (Royal Institute of Oil Painters).
Ten years later, the Editor of The Artist praised Dorothea Sharp as ‘one of England’s greatest living woman painters’. He described her work so eloquently by saying:
No other woman artist gives us such joyful paintings as she. Full of sunshine and luscious colour, her work is always lively harmonious and tremendously exhilarating … the chief attractions of Miss Sharp’s delightful pictures are her happy choice of subjects, and her beautiful colour schemes. Rollicking children bathed in strong sunlight, playing in delightful surroundings, her subjects appeal because they are based on the joy of life. And she presents them equally happily, with a powerful technique which enables her to make the most of her wonderful sense of colour.
(Harold Sawkins, Dorothea Sharp, ROI, RBA, The Artist, April 1935) information c/o millingtonadams.com.
Now I hardly ever publish photos of my daughter, but found these lovely images of her beloved cats, and simply couldn’t resist! Miko and Suki are brothers and almost five years old. They are arguably the softest boys in town (possibly the world!) As you can see, she loves to carry them and cuddle them at every opportunity; whenever they are not busy sleeping of course!
* Dorothea Sharp was born in Dartford, Kent in 1874. She had a talent for art but it wasn’t until the age of twenty one, when an uncle died and left her one hundred pounds, that she was able to study at an art school run by C. E. Johnson, RI, in Richmond, Surrey. She later spent some time at the Regent Street Polytechnic. Shortly after, Dorothea moved to Paris where she was influenced by the work of the Impressionists such as Matisse and van Gogh.
Sharp exhibited regularly throughout her career including the Royal Academy. She was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1907, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1922, and was also President for four years of the Society of Women Artists. She held her first one woman show at the Connell Gallery in 1933. Although Dorothea Sharp was a landscape and still life painter, she is probably best known for her pictures of children which are frequently shown on the beaches of Cornwall where she lived near St. Ives. Dorothea died on 17th December 1955.