Tuesday 31 January 2012

Brand New Friend

I have been in a bad relationship. I knew it was all wrong, but I just didn't get round to doing anything about it.

                                    Well, I don't know when I'll be content, but I do know I need...

                                                                    ... a Brand New Friend!

I've had a Brother sewing machine for the last few years, but I never really liked it - not sure why, I just struggled with it. So when I came to use it for my latest project and it kept jamming (let me count the times), I finally saw the light and decided to get rid. Luckily my local sewing machine emporium reconditions and sells secondhand machines, so I took it in, and negotiated a good deal on this baby. Yes, I know it looks as though it's meant for a child. Unfortunately, that's about my level.

Sew much better!

Since it was a cold sleety grey old day, I decided to spend the afternoon getting acquainted with my new friend. I ran off 10m of bunting, to be used at our upcoming jumble sale.

Does it look like a pile of thongs to you too? I assure you it isn't! You really wouldn't want to see my old pants hanging up anywhere...

Not feeling in the slightest bit glamorous today, but I'll show you anyway, it's good to challenge my ego by publicly acknowledging my dowdy days.

     The dress is only a supermarket brand and nothing special, but at 20p from Saturday's jumble, it's OK.

I do like brown, and I think it suits me, but I find it hard not to feel drab in it. Even when it's cashmere. I was warm though!

More bunting to be cut and sewn, then what shall I make? Am I asking oh for so much? You could do anything you wanted to.....

I bought this Hawaiian cotton maxi from Chesterfield flea market last week but it's too big.  Might take the side seams in. On my new machine. Cos I've got a Brand New Friend, woo hoo!

PS. And you can blame my not-so-brand-new friend Sarah for my current Lloyd Cole obsession. She started it!


Monday 30 January 2012

A fumble at the jumble

I'm not going to moan any more about my ongoing snottiness. Really I'm not. I'm boring myself with droning on about it.

Instead, who fancies a fumble in the jumble? Me, that's who. There are so few jumble sales these days, I get very excited when I spot one advertised. Although Saturday's event didn't fulfil my fantasies of vintage goodies galore for tuppence ha'penny, I got a few bits and pieces, saw some friends, had a piece of cake, and it got me out of my slough of despond for an hour or so, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

A lady behind the women's clothes stall picked this 1970s M&S skirt up to show her colleague, while laughing and shaking her head. "Crimplene!" she said with disdain, before chucking it back on the pile. I swooped, it was the only vintage item there, I reckon.

The sheer blouse has ruffles on the front, though you can't really see in the photos. It's cheap modern tat but I rather like it! Skirt and blouse - 20p each.

Tights, silver T-bars and suede belt all charity-shopped. I think the total spend must be around £6 - giving our Kerala-loving Vix a run for her money!

                                            This is what I actually wore today. I needed the colour boost.

1970s Austrian wool blend skirt, belt, bangles and leather shoulder bag (charity shops), boots and 1970s Sarah Coventry owl pendant (Ebay), sweater (jumble sale)

                                          The wise old owl of vintage - may he bring me vintage goodies aplenty!

I had an ulterior motive for going to the jumble sale. Our school fund raising group is holding its inaugural Rumble in the Jumble next month - guess whose idea that was? So I wanted to get a feel for how others do it, dos-and-don'ts, pricing, that kind of thing.

I think we should keep the prices low, we don't want stacks left at the end; we need lots of helpers so people can pay quickly and easily; and a separate area for tea, coffee and good quality cake is essential to keep punters there longer and boost their blood sugar levels (they may return to the fray for another rummage once they are refreshed!)

Any jumble sale aficionados out there with handy hints - please let me know your thoughts. If this one goes well, we could make it an annual event. And I kind of have a point to prove, as I think some of my colleagues think it's all a bit low brow - I need to convert them!


Thursday 26 January 2012

Where oh where has this week gone?

For me, it has passed in a haze of sore throat, snot, coughing, aching in my very bones, and worst of all - losing my voice! OK, it was only for about an hour first thing in the morning, but without my voice, I am nothing. Seriously. Couldn't shout at the kids to hurry up and get ready for school, it was a disaster.

I did consider whether I should go on the school art gallery trip as I felt so crap, but Smallest LB's face was a perfect portrait of misery at the thought that I wouldn't be going with her. And I had promised her teacher. And I had made a fuss about the sculpture. So I went. 

And yes, the sculpture was included on the tour, with the little talk about it. I had imagined that the sculptor Marc Quinn was referencing Rodin's The Kiss, but in addition, we were told that he was thinking about ancient statues which are considered so classically beautiful, despite being damaged (Venus de Milo in particular). If those works are beautiful and valued despite not being perfect or complete, why not a representation of contemporary people who are not physically perfect or complete either?

I'm very grateful to N's teacher for realising there is nothing inappropriate for children in any of this. She even bought me a postcard of Quinn's sculpture to say thanks for helping. Or maybe to say keep your sticky beak out and your huge gob shut in future, I'm not entirely sure...

So I haven't been feeling at my most stylish this week, I must confess, despite the wonderful Karen's (mistaken) impression that I am dressed up to the nines every day!

This is me today. I need a bold print to distract from my hacking cough and the monstrous carbuncle on my nose. Damn the peri-menopause, it's giving me teenage skin to go with my wrinkles, that's just not fair. And now I sound like a teenager too!

Charley's not impressed. Or perhaps he thinks I'm after his fur, like Cruella. This is another alleged maxi which isn't on me, but I like it anyway.

1960s Davisella maxi dress and Jones boots (Ebay), faux fur jacket, cardigan, gold leather belt and bangles (charity shopped), enamel pendant (flea market)

You know all about my charity-shopping frenzy this month, which has left me financially embarrassed and a little guilty... But this little find was a mere 10p in the knitting pattern box.

                                                                Recognise this lovely lady?

 If I'm not mistaken, that's iconic 1960s beauty Jean Shrimpton, modelling for Patons knitting patterns and looking exquisite doing so. There are loads of pictures of The Shrimp on Google images so having compared, I'm pretty sure it's her.

                                                                    Beautiful, isn't she?

I am looking forward to watching "We'll take Manhattan" tonight, a drama about Jean Shrimpton's relationship with David Bailey. One to watch on your Ipad, Ariane!

And speaking of Ariane at Style Montreal Sud-Est, she tagged me to answer some questions, but because I'm feeling grumpy and hormonal and teenagery, I'm not going to! Such a rebel without a clue.

 What do you think makes you unique
What is you hidden talent
If you had the choice, where would you live
The things you hate to do
The worst injustice
Fast fashion or vintage?
Red wine or white wine?
What makes it that you will be loosing your patience?
Favorite male actor and why?
High heels or low heels?
Favorite subject in school

Blame the head-full-of-mush but I can't think of interesting answers to the tricky ones, so I'll just do the easy ones - any wine, vintage, I would love to live by the sea in my dotage, and I love high heels but my feet don't.

This reminds me of doing (or not) my Maths homework - trying a couple of the easier bits then refusing to do the rest while sulking and whining "It's not fair! I hate Maths!" Reverting to one's teenage self is so unappealing.... Sorry, Ariane! (And sorry to Mr Buckingham, my Maths teacher 1976-80.)


Saturday 21 January 2012

We all need a Kiss

Another little ranty post coming up...

                                                                "Kiss" by Marc Quinn
                                                    Sculpture in Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield

Click on the link here for another look at the sculpture by Marc Quinn. There's a close up and more information about the sculptor and models here. Try some of the other links too, they're interesting.

I helped out on a school trip this week, taking two classes of Year 1 children (aged 5-6) to an art gallery. The theme was portraits, particularly focusing on feelings; the feelings portrayed in the art, and the feelings we have in response.

We were given a wonderful talk and slide show by a member of the gallery's staff, who then took us to look in more detail at some of the exhibits while she told the children about the artists and the people featured in the artworks. She spoke about this sculpture, explained a little about the history of thalidomide and its effects, asked the children if they could see anything different about the models compared with themselves, and said it was her favourite piece in the whole gallery because it is so beautiful.

The children who had the session in the morning listened to this talk and looked at the sculpture. By the afternoon, this section of the tour had been dropped. There seemed to be a view (that of some parents accompanying the trip? Or the teachers? I don't know) that the content of the talk or the statue itself was inappropriate for young children.

What on earth is all that about?

If the issue is nudity - oh please, all the children on the trip have seen their own naked bodies, and most likely that of their siblings and parents too. PLEASE let nudity not be the issue. If children of 5 and 6 are to be taught that there is something embarrassing, shameful or "inappropriate" about the human body, we are setting them up for major problems in life. 

Is the issue disability then?

So we have to shield our children from the dreaded horror of difference, do we?

Now, I know I have a particular sensitivity to this issue. I want my daughter to hear the message of this sculpture; that difference and disability are no barrier to love and beauty. You know how I feel about this, I wrote about it recently here. But this isn't just a personal crusade on my child's behalf. It's an important message for all children to hear. All children can benefit from realising that it's a big wide world out there, with people who face all sorts of challenges, who look and behave and think differently, but who are loved and appreciated, and are just as suitable a subject for art as anyone else.

Inappropriate? How can thinking and talking about difference and disability be inappropriate? Any child who has first-hand experience of disability (be it their own, or that of a sibling, a parent, family member or friend) will be thinking and talking about it from an early age.They don't have the luxury of ignorance.

My daughter's class wasn't on this particular trip, they will be going on Wednesday and I will be going along again to help. I have spoken to N's teacher to ask why the sculpture was edited out, and made my plea for that part of the tour to be reinstated, for all the above reasons. She seemed sympathetic, so I am hoping N's class will have the opportunity to look at this beautiful sculpture and think about its meaning and relevance.

If they don't, then I will be taking my kids back to the gallery in our own time and making a bee line for that sculpture. I'm not afraid to discuss the issues it brings up, and I know they won't be either. We can't ignore difference/disability, because we are living with it.

                                                                  This girl will never be invisible!

Thursday 19 January 2012

How do you like it, how do you like it?

                                                                  First things first.

                                                  Since these two were clearly separated at birth....

                                                ... Miss Dolly has been renamed Lucille.

Now, it occurs to me that I talk a load of bullshit. No, don't try and disagree. (Oh. You weren't?)  It's true. I blather on about needing to be frugal and enjoy what I have blah blah de blah. And then I spend all month chazzin' like a demon.

Seriously, you can't believe a word I say.

Have you ever experienced that great moment when you realise someone has donated a lot of stuff to a charity shop which is all right up your alley - and in your size? It's a good feeling. And it's a feeling I had last week in the PDSA shop when I found 4 vintage late 1970s/early 1980s frocks which fit me. Just. Though there may be minor adjustments/button moving required... Boobs. Don't they get in the way sometimes?)

                                 Do I need more frocks? More more more? I do if they are like this one.

It's got that 1970s-does-1940s styling about it, a beautiful butterfly print, and I can just about squeeze into it, so I'm gonna.

                             1970s dress, woolly beret, tights, basket bag (charity shopped), shoe boots (Ebay), red flower (Boots sale)    

        I actually wore something more suited to braving the elements at Chesterfield flea market today.

More more more faux fur. Yes, I know I already have 4 fur jackets/coats. But I didn't have a black one,and it's so lovely... It was only £5 in Oxfam, bargainacious.

It has the name Doreen Shuttleworth written on the label. I can only assume that Doreen went into residential care (what other reason would there be for having your name written on your clothes as an adult?) She probably died and the family took her things to Oxfam, but I hope she would appreciate the fact that I will continue to wear her coat and that I love it. Thank you Doreen Shuttleworth.

       This sweater dress, last seen here, is proving quite a useful garment over leggings with long boots.

I had a productive trip to Chesterfield and came back with all sorts of interesting goodies. Too much to show you here, but I will be revealing each and every one when they are washed, altered where necessary, and ready to go.

By the way, does anyone know if it's OK to wash brocade? I'm thinking a very gentle hand wash in soap flakes, but let me know your thoughts and experiences.

                                                                      Here's a little preview.

                                      This bargain doesn't require any work, it's ready to wear as it is.

A cashmere (well, 88% of it is) Paul Costelloe coat for a fiver. Ridiculous bargain price. More more more coats, but I couldn't leave this one behind, could I?

I feel that I may have slightly overdone the shopping this month. However we all know you can go through droughts when it comes to hunting for vintage treasures and secondhand bargains, so I have the philosophy of "buy it when I see it". That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Now wouldn't our Vix look amazing in the hot pant suit Andrea's wearing in this clip?

Sadly Andrea True died last November, aged 68.  I had no idea she was a porn star when this single was released in 1976; perhaps she's referencing her previous career in this song?  I remember it well and I still love it! xxxxx

Monday 16 January 2012

Objects of my affection

I usually go straight for the clothing rails in charity shops, but I also like a browse among the accessories, bric-a-brac, books and linens.

My latest favourite purchase is not an item of clothing. Would you like to meet her?

                                                    She doesn't have a name yet - maybe you can help?

                                                   She look 1950s to me, and she's gorgeous!

I think she's off for a weekend away with some unsuitable man, hence the cheeky twinkle in her eye. They will be driving to the coast in a convertible, so the headscarf will keep her hair in place. She obviously likes her make up and accessories so she needs that vanity case, and she's keen to show off her mean backhand on the tennis court. And naturally she selects her suitcase, handbag and coat to matchy-match!

I've looked on Ebay and had a little trawl round the many vintage doll sites which exist on the internet, but can't find anything which resembles her. Any ideas about her history?

                                                                  Does she remind you of Doris Day?

                                                                                 Or Grace Kelly?


                                                                           Maybe June Allyson?

                                                                              Or Deborah Kerr?

                                                                                Or me? Hahaha!  


No, I didn't really go out in this, I was playing dressing up. I look like my mother did when I was little. And not in a good way. Note to self; head scarves should really only be worn by the Queen.

                                         So what other non-clothing items have I found recently?

           A very cute 1960s kids' height chart. It's a cotton wall hanging made in Austria and it cost £1.

More EPNS. I know they aren't worth anything but I love the shapes and they are usually so cheap in charity shops. The teapot and bowl were £2 apiece, the spoon and forks 20p each.

I like researching the maker's marks on the bottom, especially if I discover they were made in Sheffield. The bowl and spoon were. Everything needs a good clean!

                              Knitted nanna coat hangers! 50p each. I always need more vintage coat hangers.

Style advice from the Daily Mail Annual for Girls. There's no date anywhere in this book, but I'm guessing late 1950s/early 1960s. Possibly contemporary with Doris/Grace/June/Deborah?


           I love this quirky edition of Pinocchio from 1931 with both colour and black and white illustrations.


And an amazing Das Rheingold score and libretto, with beautiful frontispieces in gold and an inscription dated 1919. 

I have a dilemma over these pictures. Other Half loves Wagner's Ring Cycle with a passion (can't be doing with it myself...) so I had thought of removing these pages from the book and getting them framed for his birthday.

 Is that a heinous crime against books? Probably. But these fabulous illustrations will never be seen if they are in the score, just sitting on a shelf. What would you do?

That's the joy of charity/op/thrift shopping. You never know what you might find, and what you might do with it. Keep treasure hunting, my treasures!