Wednesday, 31 October 2012

For the love of chairs..

Hello again and I will not complain about the weather given certain climatic events in the world. Thinking of those poor souls.

I like lots of things - no style, no discrimination - just lots of things.  What a hotch potch it all is.  As you may know from flickr I have collected things all my life and chairs are a good example  of that.  My  first chair purchase was at the age of 18 and it is (not was because I still have it of course) a beautiful Edwardian chair that I sit in every day to sew (you can just see it in my header photograph peepng round the right hand side)!  I have painted and recovered it many times over the years.  You may also know that I love Arts and Crafts design so had several years of collecting things from that time slot - this has resulted in a mini collection of chairs  from circa 1910 that have hearts in the back of them.  All used and pressed into action on a daily basis

This is the story of one of my old chairs (I remember that it cost £5 and I have easily had £5 worth of use from it).   The original rush seat had all but perished so a new one was needed - I am not a dab hand at rush seating so.............
Chair a few years ago after it had had its first makeover!
This was a while ago as it is photographed in Maille's old bedroom (note the 'fire' that I had made from a cardboard box - we used to keep an old enamel kettle and toy tea set by the fireplace so I could call round for tea...).  Over the intervening years and with lots of bottom sitting one side finally caved in again, thus:
Poor long suffering Dom, who would cheerfully throw this on the fire, whittled a new wooden brace out of an old broom handle!  It was then up to me to revamp the remainder.  As it was now to live in my sewing room I sloshed on a bit of leftover emulsion -  my makeovers are never meant to look perfect (ruddy good job I hear you say!).
Once painted I then made a new 'woven' seat - all I do is tie both the warp (grand!) around one side of the chair and weave the weft in and out (or is that the other way round???).  The fabric is just an old 1970s sheet so nothing fancy. I tear the sheet into strips and leave the edges raw. You do need a fair bit of fabric but it doesn't matter if you run out of one sort - which happened to me - I just swapped to something else, thus:
Just keep going, keeping it as tight as possibly, until you can go no further.  Of course you then have to add in all the accessories that you suddenly decide are needed to complete the picture.  Tah dah
Chair after

One rickety old chair transformed.... sort of.  Since I completed this the other side has caved in so I need to do this all over again....
PS My little table we have had for decades - the metal top rusted years ago so I used bits of Victorian and Edwardian china to cover it all (china found on the allotment again)

Here is my chair with another old chair that lives in our dining room - it just gets a fabric makeover every 5 years or so

I will now proffer my top tips for thrifty living - in no particular order.  A lifetime of watching the pennies..

1.  Always cycle or walk wherever possible - for 20 years I cycled from south (some very steep hills) to central (and sometimes north!) London, in snow, sleet and hail, on my clapped out 1950s sit up and beg bike - nothing would induce me to get on a bus because I could cycle to work for free. Perilous at times I must admit - especially Elephant and Castle roundabout at rush hour (always keep a water pistol to hand for squirting purposes).Oh and I was mugged once or twice....whilst going slowly up a hill.  You couldn't make it up!

2.  Cut own hair with stiff dress making scissors - not always tooooo successful I will admit.  I visit a hairdressers about four times a year and am always asked the same question:"Have you been cutting your hair yourself?"...oh dear. To be honest this more is more about embarrassment at having to  come face to face with myself in front of a mirror...

3.  Have camping holidays - we will not dwell on the time our tent nearly blew off an escarpment on the Isle of Wight.

4.  Use any left over food stuffs (see previous posting re: saving all home made pastry in the freezer)

5.  Make/bake all pies, pastries and cakes yourself - this way you also get to lick the bowl.....and tell the children that I used it all in the cake...

6.  Be a saver not a spender - I feel that I may give the impression that I am always spending but I love looking at savings calculators and working out predicted savings.  I always round savings up to the nearest whole number - I hate odd numbers (strange but true - £100 is so much nicer than £97.56). Chatting with one of my sisters recently we recollected my savings habit from a very young age - plastic tubes marked off  in targets for collecting coins.

7. Recycle - of course, an obvious one and I also give large amounts of children's clothing etc to charity shops.

8.  I cannot recall  buying new china - apart from a mug (a momentary lapse).

9.  Ask Dom to kindly mend ANYTHING that is broken - we will tackle most things thanks to the Reader's Digest DIY book! Dom has carried out 98% of all donkey work in our house - we have builders in only when essential.

10. Whilst at work always take own lunch - I have done this all my life and never more so when I was a student.    Dom spends a grand total of £1 a week on himself - I must ask him what that £1 is for....

11. If I buy anything that is pricey or a luxury I will always sell something to compensate = neutral cost.  Hurrah! I work on this particular formula that I will demonstrate with china : cost of purchase £15 (pricey I know)  - for 6 cups, 6 saucers and 6 plates. Only four of us in the home - sell one trio - sold for £20 and then sold another for the same amount.  I have got my original outlay back, made some extra profit which means that the four sets I keep cost me nothing.  I have done this many, many times

12.  Weigh up cost of old versus cost of new - I do this particularly with fabric.  At first glance it might seem quite pricey but if you calculate the cost of buying new,  good quality fabric (not that I ever have mind you!) you will find that it is actually very cheap....mind you did I really need it in the first place...cough, cough...

13. Instil in  your children your own philosophy...(very pleased to see that Bronte (aged 14) snips open tubes of cream in order to extract the last morsel).

Best wishes

Monday, 29 October 2012

Autumnal brooches

Thank you as always for kind words and comments - in our busy lives it is greatly appreciated

I have little to no expensive jewellery - no diamonds or precious stones - just one or two bits that were my mums and some old Edwardian bar brooches that I bought as a teenager (my sister and I would buy them from a local market very, very cheaply - not changed much in price in the intervening years!). Oh - I have just remembered that I did have the most beautiful James Fenton enamelled necklace (circa 1900 and quite wonderful here is a picture of the brooch version...).  When the Homes and Antiques mag came to call I did something that I have never done before - I hoovered the top of the mantlepiece (it is above head height so cannot see the top of the shelf but just waved the hoover in the general direction....!).  It was not until some weeks later I realised that I had hoovered up my necklace (not sure why I had so carefully placed it there for safe keeping...)  and disposed of it in the bin.....a moment to reflect upon that.....

 I gave up wearing jewellery when the children were little (too  much pulling) and also after loosing too many nice things....But I do like home made vintage costume jewellery.  In keeping with the autumn theme here are some of my old brooches - these wooden bead ones were all given to me by my sister (when I write this blog I am amazed by how much my oldest sister gave to me when I was young).  I also have some little bead men that she gave to me that I used to wear as earrings.....

I love these brooches - tattered and torn but mean a great deal to me

Of course I could remake the felt backing and make a brand new one...that wouldn't be quite the same would it... (mind you they look as though they could do with a dust!)

I could eat these

This suede brooch I have also had for about 30+ years..maybe even 40 - again from my sister

I think that she also gave me this one - not too sure now as it was so long ago

A charm all of their own

Stepping back to admire the tablecloth back drop

This tablecloth was bought a couple of years ago from the car boot.  The man selling it had a van load of wonderments - most of it in clear plastic bags and I was not sure if I could believe what I was looking at.  I know next to nothing about lace etc and this all looked so pristine and so intricate I thought it must be new machine made modern copies.  This tablecloth was a bit dusty and had a mark so looked as though it had some age to it - for £6 I decided I would risk it for a Swisskit.

After posting these photos on Flickr I was advised to post it on the American Ebay textile forum for further probing - I had some wonderful sage advice. It was indeed hand made and very special - I was also advised to go and buy all the other bits.....but I never saw that van again. This last photo shows the reverse!
It is very large and quite marvellouso

Remembered that some of these brooches and my old embroidered ones features in a previous post about Bronte's Blythe doll coming for vintage tea 
Copying one of the photos again here - same old nonsense going round and round.

I hope that you have an enjoyable half term 
Best wishes

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Tweed, lace and Dorothy bags....

Thank you so much for all your very interesting and poignant comments on the school knickers post - that struck a chord I think.  Do you feel that we could possibly write a 'blog' book with childhood memories and school day flashbacks....Next week school dinners and the terror of the toilets!!

Anyway you know what it is like when the mood strikes - late the other night I had go through little piles of lace and see how it would look with the tweed fabric that I bought a while back see here if desired! I spent a while fiddling about with various combinations of vintage lace and doilies, tweed and some nice buttery mother of pearl buttons....thus...

The photo doesn't really show it but the centre of the one above is mother of pearl and is a button that I could look at all day

After the fiddle faddling I decided upon this combination for a good old fashioned Dorothy bag.

I will make it differently next time - make the 'frill' bit deeper but it was good enough for a first attempt.  I shall make lots more for Christmas as I have a bit of lace...oh goodness this cough....also as I have a few bits of embroidery...cough, cough, cough..... I will give embroidered ones a whirl too. Fill with some sweetly scented bits and you have a nice present

This is for my sisters birthday (my three sisters are currently in Marrakech and my brother is in Iraq so I think that the secret is safe with us!!!).

This particular sister collects Alice in Wonderland books....(notice behind a rolled up Witney Blanket - I found several of them in the back of the wardrobe..)

By pure chance the book fits neatly in the bag!

Also pleased with bottom alignment....

As I was in the right frame of mind I also made a little zipped purse using a little embroidered doily that had burn marks on one half of it (waste not..).

Needs an iron here!

Next week - Plus Fours!!

PS Just adding in that today is The Great South Run and it runs past the end of our road - we are at around the 7 mile mark so (as they set off at 10.30 this morning) I intend to park myself outside the telly cameras at around 11.20 with a sign that says 'Hello from The Custards' - what a hoot!! I would take my bike along for extra visual content but it is usually very packed and I don't think I would be too popular!  The route follows my bike route along the sea front - tra la la!!

The kindliness of bloggers - Oooh Betty, The Green Orchid and Barbara

I have delayed posting these lovely photographs because I have been waiting for a sunny day but that has taken far too long!
In no particular order I would like to express my deep thanks to Oooh Betty for her lovely giveaway prize that I was fortunate enough to win.  Oooh Betty's sewing skills are perfection and the little bag was a delight

Bronte was very taken with her and she now lives in Bronte's bedroom

What a fine display of loveliness  - all beautifully presented

We were greatly taken with this clock - tick tock - I feel a little chalet chic display coming on....

Next I did a little swop with Barbara and she very kindly sent me these package of loveliness below - I am particularly looking forward to sewing the purple poppy seeds and I loved the envelopes (reminded me of my first weeks pay)

Barabra's works is wonderfully pretty and delicate - teeny stitches and wonderful combinations of fabrics.  Lovely choices for this extra special needle case

And a surprise package from  The Green Orchid- what a fabulous tea towel (should I use it??) with marvellous graphics.  A great mix of seeds (thank you for the instructions too)  - hollyhocks are a particular favourite of mine so again looking forward to seed sowing season

Thank you all kindly for kindness and cheeriness on these colder, darker days
Best wishes

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cottage Garden purse.... feeling the lack of sunlight....and loin girding

Hijacking my own blog to have a mini moanette (I hope to keep a real perspective on life so not a full blown moan) regarding shorter days and early morning darkness...and the clocks haven't changed yet! 

Got lots to do and finding it increasingly hard to gird my loins!!! Having had peep into other blogs I have found that others have dipped in their blogging activities possibly due to S.A L.D = Seasonally Altered Loin Disorder. 

 I will try and do a bit more girding and apologies for lack of umph
Decided that I would make some ( given my current loin girding issue) purses with stiffer lining - a bit tricky but a more robust final result I think.  I am going to venture into making a few clutch bags...possibly....

I am very fussy about my bottom ('Madam - please refrain from sitting on the bacon slicer as we are getting a little behind with our orders' of my dads old jokes....).  Can you see that with this one it is a teeny, tiny bit 'out' in its alignment....grrrrr

Never mind I will try and get it right next time...Oh you wanted to see more of that quilt did you?

Threadbare and worn within an inch of its long life - but oh so soft and lovely

As I like to cater for all tastes here is another purse that I made a while ago - something more modurhn dahlink!

Oh - not that modurhn at fact maybe a little older!

This purse went to live in America  ;)

May your bottom always be perfectly aligned and your loins always girded....
PS Still no claimant for the grand purse giveaway prize- is there a protocol for this and what I now do with it?

PPS: Just noticed that it is very sunny in all the photographs - oh the irony!!!

Monday, 8 October 2012

China close up

Nothing to do with the Chinese elections! 

Just a close up of the set of china that is on my kitchen shelves - this is one of the part sets that I have 'moved on' in the past (no lid or saucers but found a welcoming home).  Team up with a suitable tablecloth and you're away with the retro fairies!

As with ironing I do like washing up when it is nice older stuff - not so keen otherwise!

Marked as Kahla Foreign on the underside

The three sets of this that I have owned were all bought from local charity shops so  I assume that it is not a great rarity  and not a retirement investment piece!! Nice to drink tea out of though (though strictly speaking a coffee set!)

Thank you kindly for kind comments and supportive words....extra busy for the next few weeks but I  easily get side lined when someone asks for a bit more detail about something...'tis a nice distraction to have....

Evolution of kitchen shelves...

Sage pots are handy for sage (though I know that this is rosemary!). Thyme pots are handy for thyme

One day our kitchen will have a revamp - one day but not now. 

60s/70s bits and bobs tend to live in the kitchen (I am not including myself here!) and also Bronte's bedroom - she now refuses anything that is not secondhand!
With the pots above the last one on the right is not for ARSNIC or anything else beginning with A!!!! A photographic faux pas n'est pas!!!!

The pot below dates from the early 60s - a particularly lovely design I think - forgot to photograph the lid for completeness

Shelves are always in a state of flux....
none of the photographs below show they look today!

These shelves also show one of our Atomic coffee machines - the other is used every single day and never fails to deliver perfecto coffee (just checked out the current price of these - lawks!). 

I have owned at least three lots of this tea set! Yikes!

The photograph below is from about 5-6 years ago I think - one item I have had since a child - can you guess which one (or perhaps you know)

If you view  'Eat' from a lower angle it reads 'Fat'.....enough said.....

PS RE: Mr Langford - a wonderful place for a good rummage but it is probably best that you do not have a Mr Langford's nearby...if you know what I mean...all our homes would end up looking like Mr Langford's...

PPS: Thank you for kind comments regarding our children's lawnmower - it is quite lovely and the children used it when little (it does actually cut grass) - I will try and do a post just about children's vintage gardening equipment.  What do you mean you don't have any....

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Night and day....stoves

Thank you to Oooh Betty for noticing my enamel stove - bought nearly 30 years ago (wasn't everything Jenny!) from a junk shop in Dulwich (those were the days) - we had this 'plumbed' in our old house but still waiting to do this in this house.....we will get there!  I love the grill in particular and how it lights up like a standard firework!  In the past I have cooked pies in the oven (a bit tricky to regulate!) and made lots of coffee on the top.

This little room is a bit of mess really - the table is an old Edwardian one (bought from Mr Langfords) that was riddled with woodworm, Dom cut it down to a smaller size and we found a piece of sea worn wood on the beach for the top!  Make do and mend at its best

The photo above is from some years ago and was taken the day the children decided to do a 'Victorian wash day'. We washed clothes with a bar of soap and 'pegged out'.

Usual changing shelf arrangements....this photo above is also from a few years ago

I recently popped into Mr Langford's establishment - I wished to discuss his appearance on the 'Antiques Road Trip' that was on telly recently.  I could not believe that he had bought something from one of the roving autioneers - he gave me the inside story.  Basically his arm was forced...'It is for charity Mr Langford...'.  I also discovered that this was the fourth airing of this particular series. We got chatting about this lurverly enamel sign that I bought from his shop a few years ago - he remembered very well indeed and  regrets selling it.  He tells me that I can bring it back at any time and get a good return for my money.  Perhaps one day....

Mr Langford is an old fashioned trader - he lets me take things home (no deposit) to see if it looks right and then I can bring it back if it doesn't. I did buy something very nice indeed from Mr Langford - I have left it in his care (I have to make some space for it) was one of those things that you just cannot leave behind....oh dear...I will share it with you when I finally bring it home...

As well as a solid fuel stove we also have a few paraffin stoves - this one also dates from the 1920s I think (looks lopsided but that was me that was leaning!) and uses finest greenhouse paraffin!  Gives off a nice heat on chilly evenings and also has a coloured piece of mica so it always glows red. It is called the 'South Pole' according to the metal panel.

I posted these videos on Flickr a couple of years ago - worth seeing again I hope.  I like chatting with Mr Langford very much - we discuss a range of  issues such as his pigeon problem and the demise of good shops to rummage in! I was a little alarmed the other day as Mr Langford had clearly been tidying up (as you enter his shop you are given a statutory warning concerning taking your life in your hands) - I could see the back wall in one section. I have never seen the wall before - I told Mr Langford that it was a little disappointing as I had always thought that the back of his shop was as the wardrobe in Narnia and that if I tried a little I would enter yet another world....

I believe that the saying goes that if it is not in The British Museum or Mr Langfords then it probably doesn't exist....

Time to turn the lights off!
Tatty bye