Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What's on my work desk today!

Time for a makeover!
Thought I'd join in the WOYWW gang today, for 'What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday'.
This yummy, vintage sewingbox has been languishing under my sewing table for some time, feeling a bit neglected and waiting for a little TLC. The legs are wonkey, screws are missing and this Little Lady needs a bit of spit and polish. 
Our journey together started when I visited a local charity warehouse for my weekly rummage. 
I discovered the adjoining unit had been taken over by a house clearance company who'd piled lots of rubbish outside just waiting for a skip - or me!  
I couldn't resist a look. I spotted the handle of a sewing box!  I popped inside and asked if I could have it - "yes, it's waiting to be skipped". I picked it up. My heart was racing because it was so heavy - always a good sign of treasure.  When I got home, the bottom tray was full of vintage knitting needles and the rest were lined with buttons! Happy me.
 Since then, the sewingbox has been waiting for a makeover, so I took out my trusty screwdriver. 
Unscrewed. Dismantled and piled up all the parts. 
This little Lady was filthy. 
Out of the kitchen came the microfibre cloths and anti-bacterial cleaner and I started scrubbing. 
So much dirt!
That little bit of elbow grease has made such a difference!
I'm so happy. My postman delivered the replacement screws today. 
No more wonkey legs for this Lady. 
As of this morning, this is what's on my workbench.
The sun is out and I'm pondering the next stage before I reassemble. 
Watch this space. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Cotton Mills by the Irwell

Even though I've been wet-felting for years, it still amazes me what can be created with some wool roving and a bit of soapy water.
At the weekend I had another brilliant day with the Feltmakers, this time with the very talented Valerie Wartelle. Her landscape work is stunning. 
I started with a blank piece of pre-felt and started imagining a landscape of my own. 
Slowly the picture developed. 
A bit of rolling later.

And a bit of fulling and rinsing later.
The felt was drying. 
My Cotton Mills by the Irwell. 
It needs a good press, a little bit of embroidery and then framing. 
I'm chuffed to bits with it.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Corsets, Bustles and Lace - Vintage Fashion in Bath

Whatever the weather, there's plenty to do in Bath.

Me and my chum had been planning a day out in Bath for ages and we'd hoped for some glorious sunshine. On the day we visited it was cold and raining, but that didn't curb our enthusiasm for a fabulous day out. After lunch in Cafe Lucca we went rummaging around the streets looking some for vintage shops and found the most wonderful Vintage to Vogue, tucked away down an alley, and very close to the Fashion Museum
After another cup of tea (we like our tea), we popped into the Fashion Museum for some more vintage treats. Lucky us! There were two exhibitions on - the History of Fashion in 100 
Objects and Lace in Fashion. Here's a browse through some of the treats we spotted on our visit. 

Gorgeous garments dating from the early 1600's onwards.
All hand embroidered and hand stitched.  The workmanship's breathtaking. 

Dresses from the Georgia Period in the 1700's.

These Muslin dresses of the 1800's.

A beautiful printed cotton day dress dated around 1860.
An embroidered Dolman - part coat, part cape, dated 1870.
A gorgeous, embroidered silk bodice and skirt dated 1865. 
Fabulous vintage 'fashion on a ration' 1940's pieces.

The Lace exhibition was a smaller curated selection of the most exquisite pieces, ranging from historical to contemporary catwalk couture. 
Examples of bobbin lace, tatting, crochet and many other forms of lace are on display. 
I never knew there was so many forms of it!
  And to finish. 
I fell in love with this little number from Alexandra McQueen.
 If you've enjoyed my edited highlights, then pop along to see the other beauties on offer - vintage embroidered gloves, tiny shoes and there's also some lovely outfits you can dress up in too!

Monday, 15 May 2017

A Whistle Stop Visit to Brussels - Beer, Chocolate and of course Shopping

What a wonderful visit to Brussels! - something to tick off my bucket list.
I love a good city break. Each place I visit I like to do some of the usual touristy things, then go hunting for something that's a little bit off the beaten track that makes the trip my own.  My Brussels' highlights included chocolate, beer, an Orange Tour and of course some textiles shopping. Here's a few things I can recommend.

Starting with a little bit of shopping.  I found some scrummy vintage textiles sold by the kilo at Melting Pot Kilo - including baskets and baskets of vintage embroidered linens. Make your selection from all kinds of vintage goodies - clothes, shoes, handbags, coats, and textiles. It's an Aladdin's cave of treasure.
On Rue Blaes - on the way to the famous Marolles flea market - there's a yummy Mid-Century furniture shop and several eclectic, vintage clothing stores. I loved the curated collections of pieces in these shops - lots of inspiration, nice pieces and nice prices. It was such a contrast to the jumbled chaos waiting for me, at the flea market just meters down the road.
Marolles Flea Market at La Place du Jeu Balle is on everyday 5am-2pm. I arrived at 8.30am and spent a good 2-3 hours rummaging - there's treasure to be found, but it takes time, patience and lots of haggling. There's plenty of cafes in the square, so you can take a break and rest your legs before returning to the rummaging. Lots more about my visit here on my previous blog post
When I'm not rummaging, I like to look around for inspiration. Around every corner there's a new surprise. These stunning carved biscuit moulds were on display in the fabulous Maison Dandoy
Fabulous, colourful yarn bombing - the crochet was weathered and rather wonderful. 
Every now and then I find a food place that really stands out. On this visit it was Mer du Nord in Place Saint Catherine with their alfresco tapas style seafood lunch - I had calamari and oysters - all prepared fresh to order.  Give them your name & order and find a table -  they call out your name when the food's ready. The place was very busy and had a real buzz. 
I then popped around the corner to Gaston for a sit in the sunshine with an ice cream 
- the deck chair and view were free. 
There are plenty of galleries in Brussels, but for me the Rene Magritte Museum is a must, especially for all the Surrealists out there. I'd seen postcards of his work before, but to see his life and paintings curated in such a beautiful way was a real treat.

Finally beer - it's everywhere.  I can heartily recommend a visit to the Delirium Cafe, (very close to the Jeanneke Pis). With over 3,000 beers in stock you can definitely find a beer to suit your taste buds. My favourite Trappist beer was the Westmalle Triple.
The bartenders here, know everything about everything when it comes to beer. I asked them for two very chocolatey beers - Oh Wow! Barista Chocolate Quad was like very dark chocolate and Pannepot (mine was a 2010 vintage) was like treacle toffee. Delicious and very easy to drink.  
I hope you've enjoyed sharing some of my city highlights.
I can heartily recommend Brussels,  it's a very special city and I'm sure I'll be back again soon.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Flea Market Shopping in Brussels

Morelles Market at La Place du Feu de Balle is open everyday 5am-2pm and well worth a visit.
It's a good old fashioned flea market selling bits and bobs from house clearances.
It takes a keen rummager to find the treasure so allow yourself a good few hours to browse.
As for prices, I love a good haggle - I managed to haggle down to around half of the original price, only paying what I felt it was worth.  
There's everything from furniture, ceramics, jewellery, paper ephemera and of course textiles.
Two stalls had boxes of chandelier crystals.
A receipt for macaroons dated 1938
These goodies came home with me.
This book is full of vintage wooden matchbox covers.
The tiny piece of film - the kiss.
I ran out of small bank notes early on and had to buy a coffee at Pin Pon (fabulous bar decor!) to break into another large bank note - note to self: take plenty of change and small notes next time. 
I arrived at 8.30am and by 11am some of the stall holders were offering 'anything for a Euro'.
It's a brilliant place with plenty of cafes dotted all around the square. Good food at good prices so you can rest your feet if it all gets too much.  
It's a traditional Belgian Flea Market with an absolutely, fabulous atmosphere. 
I'll be returning on my next visit to Brussels with a much larger suitcase

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Disappearing Mill on the Hill

 I love my new disappearing Mill on the Hill, my purchase of the day from Living Crafts.

Made by Ray Temina

An afternoon of Making Dresses

Oh my, what happened to the weather last week? - it's went and turned cool again! 
When it's like this, my first thought is to retreat inside, pop on the kettle and get creative.  
So that's exactly what I did - out came my big suitcase full of felt making kit and I started to think about what to make. 
My local branch of  the  International Feltmakers Association  are having an exhibition in Olney towards the end of the year on the theme is Lace and I've been pondering on what to make.
Slowly an idea has been formulating. 
Whilst I was rummaging in the suitcase and getting ready to felt, these goodies popped though my letterbox from a friend who had just been visiting the wonderful Lace in Fashion exhibition at the Museum of Fashion in Bath. What a fabulous read! I've already booked a day in the diary to visit.
I thought .... Dresses, Lace.... and then thought again .... Dresses, Lace and came up with an idea.
So for the afternoon's makes I started creating a selection of nuno felted dresses from merino wool roving, lace and crochet doilies. 

A bit sloshing about with soapy water later and I'd completed three little cream dresses.
And my little red dress.  
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