Tuesday, 25 October 2011

In Need

Yesterday was one of those days: time to catch up on all the chores which weren't done while we were away last week; a fridge freezer to order which wasn't in stock even when the internet said it was or alternatively, that couldn't be delivered for weeks; and when I finally got down to a few hours sewing, my maths was all wrong and my blocks the wrong size. I think I was out of practise after my week off. Oh dear. Off out we went for a curry, instead!

Today then, how lucky was I when a promised trip to the Lego store was sidelined when one of the school mum's rang to invite the Munchkin over to play. Ahhh, I deserved to do something nice, something unchallenging.

So I dived into my vintage stash and decided to make a really simple quilt. The sort of quilt I made when I first started quilt making and the type I probably still love the best. A quilt all about the fabrics.

I wanted to use some of the fabrics I had collected most recently (I've decided I am now officially a collector of vintage fabrics!) These seemed to have a predominantly blue and pink colour scheme so although I was initially going to add some red, I stuck to just blues, pinks and whites for this quilt. I cut out large 10" one-patch blocks and many smaller 5.25" patches destined for four-patch blocks. Just like the first quilts I made.

I got entirely carried away with the fabrics. Fabrics from France...

Fabrics from aprons now too worn or stained to use for their original purpose...

Fabrics which were likely once bedding/eiderdowns...

Fabrics which were probably pretty frocks...

Fabrics which were feedsacks...

Fabrics which are simply gorgeous!

The larger ten inch squares...

Hmm, it took some muster to cut squares that big from my precious fabrics (given they are mainly fat quarters, around 18" x 22" in size) but there's no point in them sitting on the shelf forever.

Hooray, we love quilts, say the furry friends!

I joined the small squares into two-patches before going up to my quilting room to lay out all the blocks on my huge (table tennis) table. I don't always do this, mainly I just "fly by the seat of my pants" (wild) and join them as I go but sometimes, you don't always get the most pleasing arrangement that way. My fragile ego couldn't take any more mishaps!

Oooh, isn't it looking scrumptious?

And while I arranged the blocks, I had a furry friend keeping a watchful, not entirely selfless, eye on my progress.

Edit: Rarely I find vintage fabrics thriftily, more likely I find them at vintage fairs and buy from my fave dealers, Sal's Snippets and Donna Flower. The French fabrics were mainly from Sandy at Rag Rescue.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Postcard from 1943

We've been lucky enough to enjoy another wonderful stay in the charming North Yorkshire town of Pickering this last week, something which is becoming a little ritual for our family, staying in the same super cottage right on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for the last few years now. The highlight, though it's hard to choose, is the annual wartime weekend which the railway held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. What a superb weekend it was! Step back with us to 1943...

There's really far too much to fit in on these weekends! Each station has its own events going on, this year Whitby joined in at one end of the line, and the main focus is Pickering at the other end, the whole town joining in is what makes this event so special. The boys are pretty keen on a bit of loco spotting, of course.

The Munchkin fancies getting onto the footplate. Hmm, maybe he'll be evacuated instead!

Is there a better, more classy way to travel than by steam train? Especially when travelling in an authentic 1930's teak coach.

The NYMR enjoys a relatively long stretch of track for a preserved railway (most were closed, mainly back in the 1960s), being approximately 18 miles long. The most stunning scenery accompanies your journey.

When not enjoying a trip by rail, there are so many other things to do during this weekend. There were more dealers than ever present in Pickering's station yard and it takes a pretty long time to go through all the stock on offer. There's the inevitable 1980's gear passed off as vintage at inappropriate prices but also some truly wonderful original finds to be made including real CC41 items. I still think the price of much true vintage is excellent given it is a unique quality piece of history. (More of the particularly splendid two vintage 1940's dresses I found this weekend another time.)

The stall holders usually look fab themselves and are very helpful if you are looking for particular items or to recreate a whole look. One thing I have learned is always to take along your tape measure and know your own measurements well (no cheating!) One of our favourite dealers told me that a vintage size 12 has a 30.5" bust!

There were opportunities for people watching a-plenty. So many people dress up for this event, it's really super.

Time to refuel? There are friendly ladies running the NAAFI on the station platform, complete with vintage pinnies. This side of the platform is reserved for re-enactors/those in period dress so always offers a top photo opportunity.

On the way into town, we spot make do and mend felt brooches for sale. A lady after my own heart!

The jewel in the town's crown and a must-visit for us where we are always greeted by friendly faces, is the shop Reeds, where fellow blogger Anne and her lovely friends turn her gift shop above the newsagents into a wonderful vintage tea room, just for the one weekend.

The Munchkin finds it impossible to choose between all the delights on offer!

Can you blame him?

Another day, another outfit!

What a thoroughly brilliant time we had. Do we really have to wait another year for the next?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Oh I do like

...to be beside the seaside!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Turning Ten

Happiness is...


A 1940's panda...

Proper big steam engines...

Full afternoon tea...

Chocolate cake and blowing out the candles...

Happy Birthday Muchkin.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Keep Calm and Clear Off

In the midst of chaos and generally feeling out of control (something which is very alien for the control freak that is me,) what better than to look at fabric. Nothing is likely to bring me more pleasure (except maybe sewing with fabric and of course, buying fabric). Piles in the Den were getting seriously topple-y and as a few new supplies arrived, order was needed in the vintage quarter of stash central.

Handy then that you just happen to have a nine year old keen to earn a few brownie (should that be Cubs) points?

I'm actually quite enjoying this Mummy, he declared after a while. That's my boy. All will not be forgotten when you turn ten next week. Really? How did that happen? That explains the grey hairs then.

But the real chaos is not going on in the sanctuary of my Den, the Den was merely a little diversion. We have never decorated our bedroom since we moved into the HenHouse and it really is (past) time. Yes, that plastered patch on the wall was a doorway that was blocked up and has remained unpainted ever since. Shameful. My beautiful silk curtains took a battering in the fierce sun that floods this room and have become tattered so have now been taken down.

We've never really liked this fireplace. It is not original to the house and doesn't really suit this room though it is an authentic antique piece. We're not going to the trouble of replacing it but I did think it would look better in a less dominating colour. I've got so far as priming it and buying the eggshell paint but there I've had to stop for now.

The real issue you can see below. In one way, it was great to move in and have this whole wall of wardrobes. In another, it would have been really nice if they'd actually had doors! We've had trouble in the past getting someone to make doors for us but finally we've struck gold with our faithful and much treasured handyman. But my oh my, how much stuff we had squirrelled away in there. It took me most of yesterday to clear my section. And the dust; oh dearie me.

The spare room now resembles a cross between a charity/junk shop (which has not received the Mary Portas treatment) and a car boot sale without well, the car boot.

I show you these photos not because I think you're going to find them thrilling but because I want to be able to look at them in a few weeks and see progress! So tomorrow, in comes our super decorator and the transformation can begin. Usually, I love the decorating process and I'd have the whole room scheme planned but other than choosing the wallpaper, everything else is still up in the air.

On to prettier and more fanciful things. As you know, I have a thing for these little felty and/or vintagey brooches.

This special one came from Niki's fabulous shop when we visited a few weeks ago. It's so unusual and seems to be made from a thin plastic, dating to the 1940s.

The big anemone was made by yours truly one morning and has adorned many an outfit since. And then there are these treasures...

I bought these from the Vintage and Handmade Textiles Fair a few weeks ago. They are clearly genuine 1940's pieces, the felt has those beautiful colours it's hard to replicate. I love the round one with the little whirls of felt and I do believe the other is in the shape of a "V" and would have been made to celebrate victory in the Second World War. A bargain for a fiver (see what you miss if you don't visit these fairs?!)

What I really love is that when I turn them over, I can see they never actually made it into brooches and I am enthralled by all those hand worked stitches from seventy years ago, imagining the hands cutting all those little felty leaves, selecting the colours. As a maker, seeing how someone else works is really really interesting.

So, a sneaky half hour in bed this morning, (in the spare spare room - Charlie Boy is thrilled and has taken up permanent residence on the pile of eidys,) saw the little felt pieces finally become brooches as my own fair hands sewed on brooch pins. This weekend, they finally shall be worn as we recreate a little of the era of 1943. Yes, off we go for a little jaunt while Steve the decorator and Lola the cat sitter take over.

(Dress from the London Vintage Fashion Fair in Hammersmith last Sunday.)

See you in a while...