Friday, 22 August 2014

Charity Shop Tourism - Chazzing in the Black Country

Fire up the camper! We haven't been charity shopping (aka chazzing) since Tuesday.

Today took us to the Black Country town of Halesowen, which, according to the Doomsday Book, was once larger than Birmingham. During the Industrial Revolution Halesowen was famed for its coal mining as well as its nail and iron industry and, at its peak in 1919 had 130 working coal mines.

Plenty of the original Norman architecture is still evident at St John the Baptist church which stands on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon church in the centre of the town and there's a Medieval cross in the churchyard.

But enough of the history. According to The Charity Retail Association's website there are 7 charity shops in Halesowen town centre and that's good enough for us. (We found eight!)

First up there's Shelter. Dresses with peplum waists, visible zips, studded collars and Ikat & bird prints - the racks are groaning under the amount of them. At between £2.50 - £4.50 the prices weren't bad if high street fashion is your thing. I spotted a tatty vinyl Kelly bag labelled "Vintage" and priced at £15 and left empty-handed.

Even the sale at the Sally Army didn't tempt us. Jon spotted a chunky 1960s Icelandic knit for £4 but it was so filthy it should have carried a health warning. 

I couldn't tell you about prices in here because the stock was so uninspiring that I didn't look at a single tag. Jon went through the huge pile of £1 vinyl albums but the only ones of any interest were already in our collection.

The bric-a-brac shelf in Acorns was good, a lovely 1950s yellow ceramic 6 person tea set for £14.50 and a selection of 1960s coffee pots for a very reasonable £2.99 but they weren't for us. I did make one purchase, though.

A suitably bright and groovy 1970s nylon maxi skirt. Acorns had a "three for two" clothing promotion but it was the only thing in the remotest bit interesting, the rest of the stock was a sad 1990s time warp of Next bias cut dresses and polyester work trousers.

Cancer UK was full of nutters gazing blankly at the bric-a-brac shelves, muttering to themselves and blocking the aisles. There were quite a few nursing home dresses in here, 100% polyester with a zip front and the deceased owner's name scribbled on the collar in marker pen which always make me feel sad.  I spotted a lovely set of boxed 1960s Ravenscroft glasses for £6 but I've already got far more than I need.

We bought this Orkney Island tweed trilby 

...and a rather sweet '80s St Michael leather belt (which I was about to write off as knock-off Radley until I examined it further).

The Beacon Centre for the Blind was another shop with annoying customers, chatting between themselves with their coats chucked over the rails and their shopping bags cluttering up the aisles. A polite excuse me please failed to make an impact but a shoulder barge and I'm sorry, I didn't see you there soon did. The shop had an initially tempting basket of linen for 40p an item, sometimes a good source of funky fabric for patchwork, but everything was a bit wishy washy and twee.

I managed to find a couple of pretty, hand rolled scarves which are getting to be quite scarce in chazzas and when they do crop up they're usually marked up at more than I'd sell them for.

I won't be selling this one, though. A gloriously tacky souvenir scarf to add to my ever growing Spanish collection.

I clocked the striped dress in the window from across the road 'cos I can spot vintage at 100 yards. The lady at the till had a queue of customers to deal with but I jumped to the front, smiled sweetly and asked if it would be okay to take the dress off the mannequin and she was fine. You snooze, you lose!

Here it is. A cute 1970s Kittiwake beach dress, strangely marked up at a fraction of the price of the ASOS and H&M dresses, not that I'm complaining!

This type of local charity shop can go either way, sometimes the tattier ones are filled with amazing vintage pieces at silly prices but this one wasn't, just overpriced rubbish, unfortunately. Other than a couple of interesting paperbacks there wasn't anything for us here.

What we wore: Jon: 1970s wool blazer, military shirt, Topman skinnies, 1970s Doc Martens (all car booted or charity shopped) Me: Vintage Indian embroidered maxi dress (Belonged to Sabine's Mum in the 1960s), Indian chappals & beaded peacock bag (jumble sales)
My friend Romy posed by a blue wall recently so when I saw this one outside the main shopping centre I thought we'd do the same, which bemused the passing shoppers no end.

Halesowen. Our verdict? Entertaining for an hour or so. Not so much for the charity shops, more for the higher than is normal amount of weird people and downright nutters. 

I've been far too virtuous this week what with all the sewing, cleaning & cooking. Time to kick off the chappals, dial a curry and bust open the rum. Cheers!

See you soon!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

In The Bedroom

These vintage feather filled quilts can fetch a small fortune on eBay and although undeniably pretty they do crop up regularly when I'm out charity shopping. I found this one for £2.99 in the British Heart Foundation yesterday, making a total of three in my collection. 

I machine-washed it on a regular 30 degree cycle with a tablespoonful of Wilko's soda crystals (other varieties are available!) and dried it in the tumble drier. 

me on Make A Gif

Ready for the cats to deposit their fur on, no doubt!  

I'm having a lovely time of it between vintage fairs, my hair is freshly dyed, Kinky Melon has some spectacular new stock, the house is getting a rare tidy up, the mending pile is no more and everything that can be patchworked has been.  

So what have I been doing today? 

Sorting out my vanity cases.

Dusting my Spanish doll collection.

Tidying my shoe rack.

Pondering on where to hang this sweet vintage souvenir print I bought from a car boot sale for the other day. 

Looking forward to wearing a gorgeous Levis jacket my old school friend Kate bought in 1981 and passed on to me today. 

Playing a CD I bought Jon for his birthday.

Untangling my necklaces. 

Contemplating which shade of Barry M to paint my nails.

Remembering the 1950s fake fur stole I bought for a jumble sale weeks ago and promptly forgot all about.  

Swapping three dresses in my wardrobe so I can keep my latest 1970s beach dress.

Wishing it wasn't so bastard cold that I'm seriously considering wearing fake fur to the pub tonight even though its August.

Colonial style bed (eBay, 2005), Edwardian Indian rug (eBay, 2004), Bentwood chair and velvet cushion (jumble sale finds), Bohemian glass chandelier (40th Birthday present, 2006), "Caroline" print (car boot sale), wallpaper (Laura Ashley, Kimono), all patchwork made by me
See you soon!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Suits You! Further Adventures In Curtain Couture.

When I posted about my Grace Sullivan curtain couture me-made dress HERE I'd mentioned that the seller kindly threw in a set of 1950s satin boudoir curtains for free. Being a fan of neither conventional curtains or the Fifties I simply had to drag them into my favourite decade, the 1970s.

It was the perfect opportunity to get cracking with the 1971 Maudella pattern bought from last weekend's Vintage village at Stockport for £2.

My plans for an evening of midweek sewing got postponed until the weekend after Stephen Squirrel asserted his authority.

Instead I cracked on with transforming an Edwardian wheeled bench into a patch-worked & pompom-ed wonder instead, immediately claimed by Polly Piglet. Thankfully I'd had the foresight to make a removable cover rather than a full reupholstered number.

I'm a slave to those cats!

But my suit got made in the end.

Jon was a busy boy, too; rescuing & revamping this discarded vintage kitchen cupboard into useful storage for our cluttered utility room (and a handy backdrop for my latest creation). Transforming those soda siphons are next on his to-do list.

A placket, a Petersham waistband and a Mandarin collar - all new to me but surprisingly simple to master. Forget enrolling in costly sewing courses, if you get confused with a pattern just use Google, you'll find a simple explanation for free and feel empowered in the process.

Perfect with my original go-go boots from Vonda.

Just the thing for brightening up the depressingly drab Post office queue on a damp Monday morning.

Linking to Sacramento's Share In Style.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Patchwork Crazy

Not content with dressing in, making a living from and filling our home with other peoples' cast-offs, I can't resist doing something with our own leftovers, either.

Vintage Sears tie-front maxi (from Krista), patchwork curtains (made by me, tutorial HERE
Welcome to my crazily colourful, patchwork covered world. 

If you look closely enough, you'll spot tatty tea towels, naff old aprons, discarded table cloths and offcuts from vintage clothes too far gone to sell, alongside scraps of fabric salvaged from previous sewing projects like these:

Clockwise from top left: Blue paisley me-made maxi (fabric courtesy of Em); Skirt made from a 1960s Conran curtain from a jumble sale; 1960s shortened monkey print mini (bought on a bloggers day out to Sheffield); jungle print maxi skirt (car booted curtains); Halterneck maxi (Hawaiian fabric from Tamera); Frances Prince sunflower culotte suit (salvaged from a friend's parents' loft)

Here's my latest saved-from-landfill creations.

This appallingly dull lampshade came with the mid-century standard lamp (with handy built-in booze shelf) we bought from chazza last month. I swapped it for a lampshade I'd pimped up previously as the mere sight of the off-white monstrosity made me feel miserable.

That's better...

Tutorial HERE
...and, of course, everything's better with pom poms.
(The fake green onyx lamp base came from a car boot sale years ago.)

This curvy lady used to look like this:

She was a freebie from an interiors company. Despite retailing at over £100, after a week, the stand snapped in two and the joie de toile print covering the body started to seep glue-y gunk. (No wonder I got sent the sodding thing for free). She nearly went to the council tip this week but I had a change of heart.

We used a charity shopped 1970s hair drier stand as a base. One of those things bought months ago knowing that it would come in useful eventually (and it did).

I'm on a bit of a getting things done roll this week. I've even managed to update our website, too. We've still got no idea what to do with our free weekend but I'm sure we'll think of something.

See you soon!