Friday, 16 March 2018

Charity Shopping & Mini Makes

Look! I'm finally out of the doll's house and back to full-size. Here in the real world, life continues as usual. We've been out and about vintage hunting so the washing machine is on overdrive and I'm back to mending like a maniac. In vehicle news Jon's trusty mechanic managed to weld the undercarriage back on to the van (that's the works van - Gilbert is enjoying his annual winter break) so the need to replace it isn't quite so urgent.

You'll be pleased to hear that I've been wearing clothes. Today's outfit is a '70s cotton maxi by Gerard of Paris - it's been on the rails in the stockroom for ages as no-one but me can get the zip up, I think that's a sign from the vintage selling gods telling me that I have to keep it. The maxi coat was a £2 bargain - not the greatest quality but the colour, described as freesia, makes me very happy. The brass necklace is made by a hill tribe in Orissa (another Indian state on my must-visit list) but bought in Tamil Nadu. The papier mache bangles are Kashmiri but found in Black Country chazzas. The 1950s beach bag came from a car boot sale years ago and cost me 20p.

Monday's outfit consisted of a British-made maxi dress I bought new (!) in the dregs of the winter sales for £2. As it's so low cut, I stuck an emerald green charity shopped swimsuit underneath to preserve my modesty. The Welsh wool cape last made an appearance on the blog before we went to India. 

I picked up this super funky denim jacket for £2 in the charity clearance shop on Wednesday. Labelled Marguerite Thursby, a bit of internet research revealed that she was one of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong's leading dressmakers of the 1970s, her clothes were worn by, amongst others, the then governor's wife, Lady MacLehose. I'm wearing it was my beloved slinky psych maxi I bought from eBay for 99p years ago - at £2.99 this got to be one of my cheapest outfits.

I nearly walked past it - I find the charity shops that colour co-ordinate their stock an absolute nightmare to shop in - but the zips caught my eye. Nothing says 1970s more than a big white plastic zip. 

If the weather forecast is to be believed we're in for more snow this weekend so finding this Missoni wool scarf in another clearance charity shop couldn't have come at a better time - although Jon's claiming finder's rights to it. 

Swedish Hasbeens for £1.99 in Banardos? Don't mind if I do. Roll on Summer!

I'd show you our latest finds but they're already packed for this weekend's back-to-back vintage selling extravaganza, which kicks off with Walthamstow tomorrow (details HERE) followed by Moseley on Sunday (details HERE). 

It's not often I come across 1950s dresses in such pristine condition (two are by Horrockses) so I did photograph these beauties the minute I got them home. I'll be taking them along with us at the weekend. 

Meanwhile, back in the world of miniatures, here's my new sewing space. The cupboard is made from matchboxes, dressmaking pins and beads and covered in a photo of our curtains. The Picasso is from a 1970s necklace and the patterns are photocopies of some of my stash, scaled down and printed off. The ferns came from a plastic palm tree I found in a 20p charity shop rummage box. The metal sewing machine was £1.75 from eBay.

The kitchen is coming together. I won these 1970s Lundby cupboards on eBay for £2.19. I found pictures of the original kitchen set they came from and printed off an imagine of the splash back onto glossy photo paper, glued it to heavy duty card and then attached both cupboards.

The flooring has the same black and white quarry tiles in our real-life kitchen and also, just like Stonecroft, no.62 has patchwork curtains.

I'm having so much fun playing with miniatures I've just gone and bought another doll's house! Pictures to follow shortly.

See you soon!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Inside Number 62

It's official, I'm now utterly obsessed with dolls houses.

This was the original 1932 catalogue advert for my inherited dolls house. The Lines Brothers toy-making company was founded by brothers Walter, William and Arthur Lines on returning to civilian life after WW1. They used Tri-Ang as a brand name since a triangle is made from three lines and at one time the London-based company claimed to be the largest toy maker in the world. From the 1930s through until the 1950s Tri-Ang produced a large proportion of Britain's dolls houses - each style was issued with a different number (numbers 49 through to 53 are Art Deco mansions to kill for, see HERE). During the late-1960s business started to flounder and sadly, in 1971, Tri-Ang ceased trading.

Mum's childhood pride and joy can no longer be described as magnificent, there's a hole in the roof, the chimneys and one of the garage doors are missing as is a double upstairs window but, according to the blogs I've recently discovered it's extremely rare for the single downstairs window to survive and to have a functioning door knocker and letterbox plate. When I was little the light bulbs in each room all worked, powered by a battery almost as big as my head attached to the back.

As a child no.62 always felt like a grander version of The Cottage, the house that I grew up in.

WEARING: Handmade crochet and fabric maxi skirt (present from Liz), floppy felt hat and vintage suede platforms (charity shopped), Indian tribal pendant (a gift from Ila Pop), Off-the-shoulder shirred hippy top (£1, retail sale)
I seem to spend a large part of my life hanging around the derelict homes of my childhood. Here's me in The Cottage last November.

The metal windows still had their original curtains - until I got my hands on them! They were filthy and rotten and I'm sure I can come up with a far groovier alternative.

Overhead are the original electrics (which I've now removed). I'm going to screw cup hooks into the ceiling to suspend some home-made lamp shades.

Can I restore it? After a weekend dedicated to all things miniature it's beginning to take shape. The new floors are down, the ceilings are painted and the staircase is a mini replica of our full-sized one down to the Wall of Misery and the papered risers on the staircase.

Like Stonecroft, our real house, no.62 is going to be decorated with skip finds, inherited pieces and hand-made stuff - no running off to the shops and buying new - I want a house filled with personality and not a soulless show home.

The latest additions to No. 62 include some inherited 1940s Dol-Toi furniture, a Tudor style dresser I painted teal, a fireplace I painted pink and tiled (with Poundland's 3 for a quid Washi tape), a pair of brass candlesticks, a Robin Hood book and an Art Deco style clock.  I made the rug from a cut down napkin (which was in the parcel Sarah sent me) and trimmed it with pom-poms. The reading lamp was the top from a used-up bottle of Jon's shave cream covered with Washi tape and glued to a Bakelite thimble I found in the button box. The pouffe was the lid off a carton of milk covered in felt, edged with vintage braid and with cocktail sticks for legs. The hipster stag's head was sawn off a broken 1950s Kenyan antelope figurine and glued to a shield shaped piece of cardboard. The fancy coat was photocopied from the book Lynn sent me,blu-tacked to a coat hanger I made from jeweller's wire. The Lundby Gustavian-style clock, bread bin, ceramic poodle and mannequin were things I already had and Helen is a brooch Tania made me years ago.  

This obsession will have to be put on the back-burner very soon - we've got back-to-back vintage fairs to prepare for next weekend. 

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday. See you soon!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Miniaturist - Life In A Doll's House

It all started with a box which arrived with the postman at the beginning of the week. I know that describing somebody as inspirational is a phrase often done to death but, when I discovered Linda's incredible miniatures on her Instagram page (see HERE) I was captivated. Her tiny interiors weren't just good, they were so cool I wanted to shrink myself down and move in. You may remember me mentioning rescuing Mum's childhood doll's house just before Xmas, but other than dusting off the decades of dust, I'd had zero inclination to do anything with it - that was until I'd seen Linda's creations. When she sent me these wonderful pieces she'd made herself, that was it, I was inspired to get cracking and create a miniature interior I'd be happy to live in.

When I first started the task of clearing The Cottage I came across a box of doll's house furniture in my old bedroom but, assuming the doll's house had long gone, I sold it all off as a job lot on Ebay. I could have kicked myself when, five years later, Jon found the house in the attic. Luckily there were still a few bits of the original 1940s English-made wooden Dol-Toi furniture inside - on the tatty side after being loved and played with by both Mum & young Vix. 

 I suppose a vintage purist might have been tempted to leave the pieces original but I wanted a doll's house that reflected my taste so I sanded them down, patched them up and painted them with some bright & cheery Wilko's tester pots of emulsion I already had.

Dressing table & stool are original to the house as was the brass fruit bowl, Linda made the vase of roses. The stool is covered with a piece of card cut from a box of Pukka tea bags. I borrowed the bangles in the bowl from one of my Spanish dolls.

Discovering the world of miniatures is a bit like falling down a rabbit hole. Over the past few days I've entered a previously unknown - and at times, almost surreal - world of blogs, fan pages, forums and a billion Pinterest pages. Scrolling through eBay's Doll's Houses & Miniatures listings is mind-blowing - flat screen TVs, surround sound systems and DAB radios ....who knew such things existed? There's pages and pages of blogs offering free printables of paper ephemera from scaled down vintage wallpaper, books smaller than postage stamps, dressmaking patterns and magazines.

I found the hardwood floor and 1970s wallpaper HERE and the teeny tiny mock leather-bound antique books HERE which I printed and padded out with bits cut from a household sponge. The mahogany bench was another surviving piece of furniture.

The guitar was borrowed from one of my Spanish dolls as was the Fedora hanging from the mirror. I bought the Trimphone back in the 1970s. The original legs had fallen off the bed so I used beads for feet. I bought a kid's pink fake fur hat from a charity shop yesterday for 50p and cut it up to make rugs. I made the bed cover & pillows from some of the scraps of vintage fabric Sarah had sent me with the bag I wore on my blog last week.

I've always wanted an original Woodstock poster. I found this image on the internet and scaled it down to miniature size, gluing it to cocktail sticks and suspending it with thread. The bedside table is made from an old match box with cut down matches for legs and a glass topped dressmaker's pin for a knob.

Like the bedroom the living room also has a hardwood floor - in the same shade of Jacobean Oak as our own house - and another scaled down printable 1970s wallpaper. 

The kidney-shaped settee was another piece from the doll's house but the covering was drab rather than fab so I recovered it with some of the groovy fabric Sarah sent me. The titchy pompom trim was salvaged from a poshly-wrapped birthday present. I crocheted the blanket and made the orange & turquoise felt cushions. 

Tiny cushions are a perfect way of using up scraps of vintage trim and odd buttons.

Can you believe that the light box actually works? The silver Buddha used to be attached to a necklace and I found the Whitbread tankard in the pocket of a vintage jacket we'd bought from a charity shop. The brass candlestick was another treasure from the original doll's house.

How cute is this pineapple table lamp?

Linda's Mid-Century rocket lamp is sheer genius.

The 1960s magazine with Jimi on the front was another free download from one of the miniaturist blogs I've already linked to. 

And can you believe what arrived five minutes ago? Only this incredible gift from my lovely friend, Lynn, who I sometimes think must have a sixth sense. It's probably just as well we're not working this weekend as I'll probably have my head stuck in this book for most of it.

I'll let you into a secret - the rooms might be furnished but the actual doll's house is still a wreck. Prettifying over practicality - that's me all over.

See you soon!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Buy Buy Baby - My Latest Secondhand Finds

Well, the least said about the past week the better. Our vintage fair got postponed, our big Saturday nigh out was shelved and to top it all off, when Jon finally managed to get out this morning, part of the van's undercarriage dropped off. Looks like next week will be mainly spent hunting for a new-to-us work vehicle. Thank goodness we've got no vintage fairs booked until the 17th and 18th March.

I did use my enforced imprisonment wisely by mastering treble crochet, blitzing the mending pile and getting creative with some lacklustre vintage gear. The chiffon blouse I'm wearing beneath this psych maxi used to be a dress but the skirt hung badly and was full of holes (well, it did only cost me £1). In a flash of inspiration I unpicked & removed the skirt, replaced the zip with a shorter one and threaded elastic through the bottom before hemming it. I wasn't 100% struck on the shape of this dress before but with added kitten smuggling sleeves I love it.

I've had a massive wardrobe clear-out this weekend, too. Four waistcoats, five skirts, two catsuits, five scarves and fourteen maxi dresses have now been added to the Kinky rails and I've sold a pair of boots on eBay, making room for my latest secondhand finds.

I spotted this lilies-on-LSD maxi skirt listed as a Buy-It-Now on Ebay for £12. I didn't have to think about it for long, I've never seen a more outlandish floral print. Like most of the West German-made vintage clothing I come across, the quality is superb and it's fully lined.

As always, when I'm trawling eBay, I always look at what else the seller has got listed. The person selling the skirt had this vintage waistcoat, described as a child's, and priced at a mere £5. I checked the measurements and it sounded like it would fit me - and it did - the joys of being a short arse. It's velvet, cotton lined and hand embroidered on both the front and the back. I saw a girl wearing something almost identical on Instagram which she'd described as Hungarian but I'm pretty sure this is Indian.

You don't know how excited I was when Jon spotted this denim waistcoat for £1.49 in a charity shop last week. It's identical to the beloved travel companion I've tried (and failed) for years to find a replacement. I'm wearing the original here in a crumbling old lodging house in downtown Madras on my 40th birthday back in 2006.

Now I can finally lay my 20 year old faithful friend to rest.

You saw my quilted maxi skirt on last Monday's blog post. Here it is without me in it. 

When I spotted this crazy 1960s showgirl costume on eBay I was convinced I'd be outbid - I mean, who in their right mind wouldn't want a marabou feather trim, backless, bell-bottomed catsuit? I was amazed when I won it for £2.20. It's from a long defunct Italian costumier and the previous dancer's names are written on the inside. The colour looks a bit off in the picture above, below is a more accurate representation.

From showgirl to demure country girl. An unworn Dollyrockers gauzy cotton maxi dress for £4.99? Don't mind if I do. 

Our Banardos £1.99 clearance shop is usually pretty dreadful although it does throw up the occasional gem (a Jean Varon maxi and a 1930s crepe evening gown both spring to mind). This metallic gold and black Crimplene maxi skirt is a perfect fit and very Biba-esque. With the temperatures as ridiculously low as they have been I'm so pleased I'm not a fabric snob - synthetics rock when it's bastard freezing!

This rainbow stripe maxi dress is an utter pig to photograph. It's last year's French Connection so not in the least bit vintage. If we go on a European trip this year I'm picturing it with the metallic leather chappals I bought in Mumbai and a heap of silver tribal jewellery - or maybe a long sleeved top with voluminous sleeves, a floppy felt hat and some ankle boots if I'm too impatient to wait. It was £4.99 and the quality stood out a mile from the rest of the limp viscose offerings on the rail.

I always say that if you wait long enough then the thing you want will always turn up in a charity shop. On Tuesday, these beauties caught my eye amongst the usual depressing charity shop suspects from the likes of New Look & Primarni. Yes, some handmade and unworn Jeffrey Campbell Lita boots. I've waited 8 years for a pair. How lucky that they were both my size and well within budget (£3 as opposed to £120!) 

I do love a vintage tooled leather belt - at £1.99 I had to add it to my collection.

This vintage Indian silk scarf was in the 3 for a £1 basket. 

I do love a tacky beaded bag - Jon spotted this one for £1. It might be from Jerusalem but it'll forever remind me of the camels we saw in Gujarat.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday

WEARING:  Remade vintage chiffon balloon sleeved top worn with 1970s psych print maxi dress (eBay, £5.50), Lamani tribal coin necklace (India), Vintage French-made high heeled wellies (Jumble sale)

See you soon!