Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Terrific Treasure

Well my friends, we need to play thrifty catch up, three weeks worth of thrifty finds to be precise. We've been here, there and everywhere in the name of treasure seeking of the vintage kind. First we had the boot fair in Somerset at Yeovil, then we had the boot fair in Kent (oh so huge) and finally, this last Sunday we went to another boot fair quite near to home. Phew!

So this afternoon, the Munchkin and I had fun with our "photo shoot" in the garden (the Munchkin takes this very seriously). How amazing to be taking photos outside at 6pm. Now I look at them inside, I think the colours may be a bit skewed but ah well, never mind.

It's fair to say my stash of vintage linen has expanded greatly! My existing collection is so large now that it has broken the wooden towel stand on which they're stored. Oops! But you know, I never can quite leave them behind...

I bought ten just on Sunday and also, these two pretty vintage fabric pillowcases. Chop, chop.

A lot of Sunday's haul was tray cloths. I do love that one with the bowl of flowers, I have plans for that one already. Sometimes I see things and think straight away of what I want to make with them, other times, they are "stash builders".

There were three larger tablecloths too. This one is very pretty, it has the same design in each of the four corners but each corner is embroidered in different colours.

This is a beauty. Pure snowy white linen in great condition with the most beautiful hand crocheted deep lace edging all the way round. Not bad for 50p, eh?

What do we have next? China. Ah yes, quite a bit of china!

My mum found these two gorgeous cups and saucers for me at car boot sales back home. I absolutely love the duck egg bluey one in particular She came up trumps there. Make teacup candles with them? I don't think so!

This week, I struck gold with two trios in this stunning pattern. They are oh so dainty and quite old I think, with a hand painted registered design number underneath.

Yeovil yielded this pretty gorgeous teaset. Swoon. The deal done, into the basket it went!

And I also found this cute wire plate stand which came home for 50p. No idea what I'm going to do with it but it strikes me as one of those things that's just going to come in handy one day...

Meanwhile, I've forgotten that there were also treasures to be had at the street market in Bridport (the market of the vintage hexy quilt). I selected these pretty vintage brooches (from a stall which has loads) for which I confess a terrible weakness. I haven't bought any in ages (honest!) and I bought these on the basis that I will start making bags again and use these to adorn them. Hmm, I think it's going to be hard letting them go. The little vintage lavender sachet was given to me for free at Sunday's bootsale!

Moving on to a few miscellaneous bits, all of which came home this Sunday: a very old rough wooden box covered in pretty vintage fabric, old buttons and some vintage baubles.

The Munchkin has had some super finds of his own and expanded his already overflowing library no end.

"Just William" has apparently been a fabulous read, already devoured. I love the cover on "Junior Detectives Work Again", never mind the story (though I bet it will be fab as these old books tend to be).

And finally, a couple of weeks ago, I seized this lovely print of delphiniums, mine for just £1!

Hmm, imposters in my photo shoot!


Lastly, here is what I brought home with me in my excited little mitts on Sunday! Oooh, I am just loving giving this a full-on Hen style makeover and thereafter, it shall be accompanying me to my next sale. All shall be revealed...

I'm signing off now for the rest of the half term week so I wish everyone a lovely and sun-filled weekend. Don't forget that boot sale!


  1. Hen,

    Absolutely beautiful things. I can't wait to see what you have planned for that wee little cot!


  2. Wow what fantastic treasures you have there.!

  3. Oh lots of lovely treasure! Let me know when you get fed up of looking at the pair of trios and I'll take them off your hands =O)
    Have a lovely sunny weekend- so lovely to see a munchkin devouring books in the sunshine!

  4. Wow, what simply gorgeous finds.

    I am literally drooling over your two bluey teacups - they are achingly pretty!

    Hmmm, suddenly the car boot I went to on Sunday seems a little lacking ... :-}


  5. what a haul.....plenty of raw materials there, cant wait to see what you do with them

  6. Super finds Hen, love the broaches.
    They will look fab adorning your beautiful bags.
    Have a fun half term, hope the munchkin enjoys his book stash.
    Luv Sophie

  7. Wowzers!
    Some most fabulous finds there!
    I am having a vintage themed tea party in July and am hoping that my local bootsale produces such pretty china as yours.
    Heres hoping!

  8. Hi Hen
    You are so clever, everytime I go to a boot sale, I can never find such lovely items, I love the cups they are gorgeous and the imposter in your photo shoot!!

  9. Your loot is making me sick with jealously!! I love love the teaset and the blue tea cup. Excellent finds!

  10. Oh Hen, you have certainly come up trumps with this little lot, I am expecting to hear that you will be moving house soon, so you will have more room to house your treasure trove!
    Gorgeous cups and saucers, sweet brooches, lovely embroidered linen and the books for the Munchkin, wow it couldn't be any better...could it?
    I would never find such treasures at our 'garage' sales, feeling a little green at the moment, enjoy them.

  11. Isabelle (from France)2 June 2010 at 22:52

    Hi there! I am very impressed by all these finds! I just cannot believe they are such bargains! Here in France, at least where we live, I always end up spending a fortune for not much, in comparison. I hope I can find some car boot sales to go to when we go to North Yorkshire in the summer!

  12. Love all the china (but then I have china addiction). Seriously though, where do you put it? I had a huge cull and sold all mine at my local antiques shop as it was all put away in cupboards. It always seems a shame for me to have things put away never to see the light of day. :-)

  13. I agree, what lovely embroideries. As a member of the Embroiderer's Guild I can appreciate how much time, effort, creativity, skill and work has gone into creating them. How distressing therefore to see the glee with which they are going to be 'chop, chop' chopped and so many of them in waiting for the same fate. I have seen some vintage work included into whole newer works but this trend for cutting them up is so sad. It doesn't seem to be the 'fashion' to take the time to embroider the images as I suppose that would cut into the profit of selling them. I'm also a member of the Quilters Guild and we encourage members to put details of themselves and their work onto labels on their quilts for future generations. With embroidery it is not so easy, but for generations to come it will be even harder to find whole original work. Whilst I encourage any type of hand craft I would please urge you to think twice before you chop and maybe consider using more of your own embroidery.
    I also see you take apart whole collections of tea cards etc to use. Could I please urge you not to separate them but to photocopy/scan them and keep the collection together for future generations - they too are irreplaceable, never mind some of them are quite valuable. No skill, just passion, involved in collecting them but still someone in the future may actually appreciate them.
    I know my comments will not be popular with your readers, however I am just distressed to see this growing trend of destroying 'vintage' items for a quick sale or enjoyment, with no thought to the originators or those in the future who would really appreciate them for what they are. Thank you.

  14. I feel I should respond to "Anonymous"' comment. What a shame you chose to air your views but were not prepared to put your name to them.
    I do not think you need to be a member of the Embroiderers' Guild to appreciate the skill, effort, time, creativity and work that has gone into hand embroidered works. I own some cloths which were embroidered decades ago by my own nan who is
    still alive (at 88) and actually, I do embroider myself so I am in a position to appreciate all those things.
    You are misinformed if you think I "chop chop" into any old thing with "glee". As I stated, I have a huge collection of embroidery which I treasure and as I have pointed out in previous blog posts, I only cut those things which are stained (yes, I do try first to get the stains out) or damaged beyond repair. I feel I give these treasured pieces a new life where they might have been discarded. I think you are completely incorrect to suggest that just because something is repurposed, it is "destroyed for quick sale or enjoyment". You are missing the point that many of these cloths would go unappreciated by people who have no need for a teacloth in an era where most people do not take afternoon tea, but a whole new level of appreciation is reached by those who can enjoy the vintage piece reworked into a bag or say, cushion or wall hanging. Who are you to say it is a "quick sale" and will not be enjoyed and put to a useful purpose for years to come?
    Similarly, tea cards are very prolific (I cannot stretch to the expensive and collectable ones) and I have both complete sets which I keep because I enjoy looking at them and find many more (like that in my blog post) which are incomplete and which I take apart. I see no reason why people should not be allowed to enjoy these vintage pieces in a new and fresh way at a price they can afford. These will be just as valuable historically in years to come as un-reworked "originals".
    The fact that I am using these items is in fact, clear testament that I do value and appreciate them. Personally, and I know I am not alone, I can get much more pleasure from repurposing a damaged item than keeping it locked away in a cupboard. If you visited car boot sales and saw how desperate people were to sell these "old" items for pence, considering them to be worthless, telling you that if they don't sell them they'll take them to the tip, you might be less judgmental. Some sellers are positively surprised you want to buy incomplete card sets or damaged cloths.
    As a creator now of both original and repurposed items, I can think of no greater pride than someone in years to come having the enjoyment and pleasure of taking my items apart and reusing them. I personally would not want to see something I had made stuck in a museum where people cannot get real enjoyment from them. I take much time and care over the items I produce of which I am very proud and I have many satisfied customers and as such, I have no qualms over my methods.

  15. I would just like to add to Helen's own comment on the Anon post - without people like Helen there would be a lot less appreciation of vintage items. I believe that she and other "craft" bloggers are rekindling enthusiasm for embroidery, crochet, quilting etc.
    I am a "bus pass holder" but thanks to these lovely ladies I have taken up crocheting (via a workshop run by Rebecca at Buttons and Flowers blog), finished embroidering a tablecloth that had languished uncompleted for many years and have given damaged, embroidered linens a new life.
    I am so enjoying reading their blogs and, thanks to their inspiration and tutorials, creating my own treasures.
    Helen, you do beautiful work and your blog is inspirational to your many readers. I just wish I could spot the lovely things you manage to find! Can't wait to see what wonderful plans you have for the cot.
    Carol xx

  16. Nice, nice, nice! :) I especially love that blue teacup! It's gorgeous!

  17. I adore the embroidery and the china! Absolutely gorgeous!

  18. Hi Hen - what lovely linens. I've got a great collection by now, but all yours from the last few weeks would prpbably match my entire collection! No wonder things are groaning under the strain! And whilst I can see exactly why your embroiderer is edgy about the re-purposing of vintage linens, I can also see that they will NEVER be reused for their original purposes in the quantities in which they were made, and I would think that the makers would be delighted if they knew that their work lived on this far into the future (and further) through creative re-use.

  19. I have to agree with Hen. I too am a collector of vintage linens, embroideries and other things, and I have to say before computers and blogging were popular I once saw and was impressed by a double crazy quilt made with vintages embroideries at a small local quilt fair here in Minehead about twenty years ago and have been collecting embroideries myself to make my own. Like Hen I wash and iron the pieces before even thinking of cutting them! In fact I boil the linen and 95 degrees in the washing machine. It is actually what they did when lady's had tea with their friends. If tea was spilt well...they wouldn't want their friends to see it next time what would their friends think! Also it tells me if the material has rotted, I also do it with my modern pieces too that I have designed and stitched myself, but I have to say it has to be Linen or pure cotton and good quality thread before I do that, and DO NOT do it with wool or tapestries PLEASE. Go here on my blog you will see how I did it.

  20. Lovely goodies Hen - great finds!
    I am also surprised that if "Anon" has such strong feelings she isn't prepared to post using her name.

    As a long time crafter - having done embroidery, quilting, patchwork, candlewick embroidery & much more I do appreciate the effort put into making these items. However, many don't, & generally if we don't buy them they end up in the rubbish bin & what a sad end that would be for pretty items which are no longer used - hardly anyone has a use for tray cloths or chair backs these days but if they can be reworked into something that people do use (cushions, bags etc) then surely the fact that they continue to be enjoyed & used for years to come is a good thing?

    I wouldn't cut up a perfect item anyway, but what to do with cloths which have holes or are badly marked or stained? Is it better to just throw them away or use them for something else?

    Isn't that what people have done for generations? What about quilts that were made by cutting up old clothing? Should those people have rather kept the worn out clothing to "preserve" it for future generations or reuse the fabrics to make a lovely & useful quilt? The use of new fabrics for patchwork is a modern invention!

  21. Hi Hen

    I think your work is gorgeous! I too use vintage linens in my work, not just with cushions but in my university work too! I find such linens give work more depth, and creates a historical interest exploring social history and the place objects once had in our society...

    As many people have rightly said, objects such as tray cloths have no place in many peoples home, much like cups and saucers. We all love them and appreciate their beautiful designs, but who wakes up and has their morning cuppa in a Royal Albert cup and saucer? More likely a Cath Kidston or Emma Bridgewater mug! : ) So people have found a new purpose for such items for example using cups and saucers for candles or flowers, giving the objects a new lease of life and another purpose! So why can't this apply to vintage linens?

    Charity Shops and people at car boot sales just about give vintage linens away, seeing them as worthless and unnecessary... then someone creative comes along and gives something unloved a new purpose, whether it be for themselves or for a sale, someone will have something new to treasure, prolonging the life and appreciation of that stained tray cloth, which would have otherwise been thrown away.

    People who use vintage linens in their work do so because they appreciate the time and skill that has gone into them, regardless if they are part of the Embroiders Guild or not...

    Tamzin X




  23. What a wonderful 3 weeks worth of goodies you have.

    Sorry to see the anon comment, I think what you're doing is great and as you rightly say half the people you/we buy these things of think its rubbish and would throw them away.

    Victoria xx

  24. Surely it's better to reuse items constructively and creatively even or especially if they're damaged, than see them discarded in skips or thrown out with the rubbish? My criteria has always been - can I bear to cut it up? - and if I can't then it goes in the linen cupboard. But the things made with damaged or repurposed items have just as much worth, I think.
    If the Munchkin loves Just William, look out for some Jennings by Anthony Buckeridge. They are some of the funniest stories I've ever come across.

  25. Hi Hen,
    Would you be so gracious as to recommend a boot sale in London,please ;0) In my neck of the woods, they are dire,...looks like people have emptied out their kitchen drawers and there is always a dodgy meat seller. Yuk. Regarding Anonymous comments. I did chuckle. They really have missed the point of the whole vintage life-renewal thing and came across as rather pompous and old-school W.I. Yourself and many others have used a talent to re-invent things of beauty that would be binned or hidden in dusty attics.

  26. i am totally broody and mentally picturing your cot a la transformation! you MUST show the finished article!

    ps my granny's old lace tablecloth (complete with holes) was cut up to wrap around the bouquets at my wedding. Now my dried bouquet complete with lace hangs on my bedroom wall and i look at it every day....the cloth had sat in a draw for 20 years. I love that it came to life again and my Granny would have loved it too if she'd been able to see it (although she'd probably have also mentioned that my hair was in my eyes too much, such is life..)

  27. I have some old pieces of embroidery that I did when I was a teenager and also some pieces from past generations of my family. I would much rather they were incorporated into something new and beautiful to be looked at again than left in a box to rot along with other rags and then slung out unnoticed! I agree with everything in your reply to Anon and I'm sorry this 'Anon' person has such an ill informed opinion!xx

  28. What great treasures! I too love the old linens. Looking forward so seeing what you do with the little crib!

  29. You are an amazing treasure seeker! To find so much lovely stuff at your car boot sales - your bootys are way better than the ones around here.
    I love vintage linens - I buy a lot, keep quite a few, and sell a few too. Keep reworking those which are no longer fit to use - what could be better than breathing new life into these treasures. Better upcycled than discarded - and so much greener! Can't wait to see what you manage to do with the cot!

  30. Your blog is so very inspiring
    and beautiful!
    Love the vintage embroderies!
    I just posted about my old bench
    and now I see yours is painted blue!

    Have a nice week,

  31. Re:anon

    here here hen!! love you work and love being able to enjoy and appreciate pieces in a new fresh way. xx

  32. I'd like to emphasise a different point in my comment, which is how great it is that your son enjoys the old-fashioned stories so much and appreciates his collection of them! He is so young he'll be strongly influenced by them and is developing a great habit in being a keen reader, I'm delighted to hear about what goes into his collection ;)
    I myself was a rather old-fashioned little girl and loved my Enid Blytons and old-fashioned pony books (etc...) while my mom was being all 60s modern, quite funny, really!! The only negative aspect is that I'm frequently disappointed in the lack of charm in our modern-day lives and wish it was just like in those old 20s-50s books... people think I'm really weird for some reason!!!

  33. Hen, I think the way you re-craft and re-fashion these embroideries is marvellous! Though I feel it is important to preserve work, I believe it is just as important that people like yourself bring these vintage and old-fashioned embroideries into the modern age, it keeps the interest alive for the younger generation! Your work will be just as valued by the owners in the years to come as these vintage embroiders are valued by people like you now.

    I am so sorry you had to experience that little bit of nastiness from Anon, shame that she had to try and darken this gloriously sunny corner you have created.

  34. Hurrah, let's get things out of the cupboards and start finding modern uses for them, especially the tatty and discarded ones destined for the tip, I couldn't agree more!

  35. oh hen what beautiful treasures you found you have been so lucky I love the china

  36. Keep on Hen! your crafts are gorgeous and the way you use vintage fabrics/embroideries that otherwise might be thrown away because of stains, holes, etc fascinates and inspires me.
    I really admire you and your life!

  37. Just keep doing what you are doing Hen. Anyone can see that you are passionate about these vintage pieces and wouldn't just cut them up without a second thought. Let's just hope Anon has read all these responses and realises that we are all giving these things a new life and preserving the intact parts of the embroidery (or quilting) for further generations to enjoy. And Anon, if you are reading this, pop over to my blog and see what I've done with a 1930s American wedding ring was beyond repair so I have given it a new lease of life. I'm really proud of what I've made, as Hen is, and the people who buy my work are thrilled to be able to hold on to a little piece of textile history which could have easily ended up rotting in landfill.

  38. You were spot on in your response Hen. I think that what you're doing to the embroideries is bringing them back to life. I see tons of it just mouldering in junk shops, and always feel it's a shame it isn't used in some way that brings it to life. And you don't cut up the embroidered bit, you use it whole in your cushions, so I don't know what that little anon lady is getting in a tiz about. Shame she had such a holier than thou tone in her message. I know you're very careful and very appreciative in how you use these pieces, and we always can tell how much you value them when you show them to us. I would have thought that by bringing these pieces into your work, you're probably inspiring people to make their own embroideries. We all love what you do, think it's fab, imaginative and beautiful. Love Vanessa xxx


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