We had a blast at our latest visit to Old Spitalfields Market with our vintage wares. The theme was 'May the Fourth Be With You', as it happened to be on the 4th of May ;-) As well as the usual quality selection of vintage fashion and homewares, there was a galactic vibe and sci fi twist to the market.
Retrovert's contribution to the theme was this gorgeous little sequinned purse - full of glamour yet evocative of galaxies far, far away!
I wore my new Horrockses fruit print frock which is now a firm favourite in my wardrobe. It was impossible to resist the temptations of the other stalls and I indulged in some novelty buttons from Accessories of Old
and picked up a pair of 50s specs from the wonderful Auntie Aviator
. I just need to get some lenses for them and then I'll share them here on the blog in all their cat eye glory!
Our stall was full of spring florals, colourful dresses and an array of stylish handbags and jewellery.
My favourite sale of the day was this 60s 'pixelated paisley' dress to the lovely Amy. She looked so fabulous in it she decided to wear it straight away!
We plan to be back at Old Spitalfields Market over the Summer, but for now we are busy choosing what vintage delights we'll be bringing to our stall at Cambridge Vintage Fair
this Saturday May 18th. Hope to see some of you there!
It seems like all things sewing and dressmaking are seeing a massive resurgence in recent years, and the popularity of the Great British Sewing Bee certainly looks to propel it even further.
I've recently embarked on a mission to improve my sewing skills through making a garment for myself each month. I plan to mainly use vintage fabrics and upcycled materials, and to recreate patterns and looks based on garments from the past.
For my first project I thought I'd start with something nice and simple - making a 50s style circle skirt from a 60s floral tablecloth. It was a joy to make and I have learnt a lot along the way. Here's how I made it I you fancy having a go too...
First find the centre of your circle by measuring the halfway point across from edge to edge several times.
Next, you need to do some more maths, but I promise it's not too scary! Measure your waist circumference, then divide it by pi, and again by two, to find out the radius of the circle you will need to cut out of the fabric for your waist. If that all seemed like gibberish then here is an example using my measurements:
Waist = 24 inches
Divide waist measurement by pi - 24/3.14 = 7.6 Diameter
Divide diameter by two - 7.6/2 = 3.8 Radius
To mark your waist seam on the fabric simply draw a circle with this radius centred on your mid point. I used the trusty 'pencil tied to some string' method to draw mine. Next mark your back seam for the zipper from the centre point, straight down to the hem. I didn't allow for seam allowance at the waist, as I found this was equalled out by the take up in circumference by the radial seam need for the zip.
You are now ready to cut your fabric along the lines you have marked and move onto the sewing. Zigzig along your zip seam edges, or overlock them if you're lucky enough to have the equipment ;-)
This was the very first project I've done involving a zip and I used this tutorial on Make It Love It
. Basically, you sew up the entire seam, tape on the zip (I hand basted it for extra security), then sew either side of the zip close to the teeth, and then unpick the seam from the top to reveal the zip. I found that though this took more time than other methods, it resulted in a good finish.
To finish your skirt you can edge the waist with bias binding, or you can make a waistband like I did. Cut a strip of fabric (with seam allowance) longer than your waist measurement and double the width you want your finished band to be. Cut a matching piece of interlining or stiffening fabric. I embroidered my waistband for added detail.
To attach it to the skirt you can either pin it and sew right sides together and then 'stitch in the ditch' all the way round, or, as I did, hand hem the inside raw edge, so that no stitching is visible. I then finished the waistband ends by hand and stitched on two hooks and eyes to complete the skirt.
And here I am modelling it in all its glory! It must say I am rather pleased with it and it does twirl beautifully. The fullness of the circle also creates a lovely drape.
So there you have it! What do think of my first foray into dressmaking?
Have you made any clothing recently? Don't forget that the second episode of The Great British Sewing Bee is on at 8pm tonight... Enjoy!
This Saturday sees the return of 'Off The Rails', a vibrant market of vintage and handmade wares.
Lots of lovely local sellers I know are taking part and I'm looking forward to trading alongside: Claire from Claireabellemakes, who makes beautiful handmade accessories; Lady Fen from Trash Chic who sells fun, quirky and affordable clothing; Jane with her cache of kitsch from Retro Junky , Sinead from CharlotteRoseVintage with her stunning apparel and Kat and her eclectic retro homewares from Funky Junk and Kitsch Bits.
Come and see me and all these great traders and more at St Andrew's Baptist Church Upper Hall, Cambridge, this Saturday April 13th from 2 - 5pm. It's free to get in and I can guarantee a fun afternoon of shopping indulgence!
I'll be bringing along a selection of my quirky and quality vintage fashion, accessories and jewellery. I've found some real gems in the last week which I can't wait to show off. Here's a few photos to whet your appetite...
I love that shopping is a big part of my job running this business. I get to seek out vintage treasures that are hidden away and find them new homes that can appreciate them again. So often I wish I could know more about the person that used to own the items I find for our shop and the stories behind the
This week's favourite finds are just that. I bought these dresses over Easter when I was away in Oxford. When I walked into the shop I saw this on the mannequin and knew I had to have it!
It's a Liberty print design for Sambo's Dollyrockers. It has a psychedelic print and a drop waist shape so is perfect for rocking both the Sixties and Twenties looks that are so on trend at the moment.
Seeing my enthusiasm for this dress, the extremely nice shop assistant directed me to two other dresses which had been brought in by the same woman.
Isn't this a fantastic print! I've dubbed it pixelated paisley.
Well you certainly wouldn't 'spot' anyone else wearing this dress! It's been handmade so its completely unique.
I would so love to know more about the person who owned and possibly made two of these dresses. She certainly was a woman after my own heart - we share a love Liberty prints, bold colours and eccentric dresses! The 60s is one of the eras that I would most like to go back to and the sheer fun of these dresses shows why.
Unfortunately none of these fab dresses are my size :-( I could try adjusting them but I don't want to spoil them. So I will be looking for new owners for them that will love them as much as I do. I'll be bringing them along to my next event at Off The Rails
at St Andrew's Church on Saturday April 13th. If they're not snapped up there, they'll be in my Etsy Shop
Which of the three dresses do you like best?
Today I managed to find time to visit A Soviet Design for Life at the University Library. There's such an array exhibitions on our doorstep here in Cambridge, but I must confess I always tend to miss them. But, I managed to make it to this one in the nick of time. If you're local and haven't been yet I'd recommend it - it's on until the 6th April.
I've always had an interest in typography and constructivist design, so the exhibits didn't disappoint. Unsurprisingly, red was used in a lot of designs and it was quite striking to see this colour in such abundance. Here are a few of the items that appealed most to me. Please excuse the noisy pictures as it was quite dark!
The abstract forms and complexities of constructivist works intrigue me. You can find out more about the movement here on MOMA
The exhibition was put together from the University Library's Catherine Cooke collection. Cooke devoted her academic life to the study of Soviet design, and one of her major focusses was on the works of Chernikhov, a graphic designer and constructivist. His work 'Fantasy no.87', above right, appealed to me with its complicated abandon. I find that looking at constructivist designs makes my mind want to try and create something coherent and 'construct' something from the chaos. What do you think of it?
Items were grouped into categories and were juxtaposed across times. I particularly liked these items of paper ephemera from the 'Food' section - Leningrad ration coupons from 1947 and a pea soup packet from 1973.
With my love of all thing atomic and midcentury design, it's not surprising that these two postcards celebrating the Soviet space programme stood out for me.
And finally, my favourite piece in the show was this fabric design from the 20s-30s. I can never resist a 'novelty print' and would love to have been able to seen the rest of the designs in the book.
If you'd like to find out more about the exhibition you can visit it's dedicated site here
and if you've been already then I'd love to know what the highlights were for you!
This Saturday we had the pleasure of attending From Cambridge With Love
at the Cambridge Guildhall. Despite the snow and rain we had a fabulous time and are very grateful to all those who braved the weather to come and see us.
We met some delightful fellow stallholders and here are a few of my favourite picks from their wares.
Mouthwatering cakes were on offer from Biscotti di Debora
. I had one of these tiramisu cakes and I can tell you it certainly did not disappoint! Further temptation was provided by Harry Specters
handmade luxury chocolates. Not only were they beautiful and delicious, but the fact that the business is a social enterprise supporting people with autism, made me feel even better about eating them!
Moving on to retro homewares, I spotted these two tea themed lamps. Annabel from Bellaboos
makes these quirky lamps by drilling into vintage china, and the bright red shade by Skylark Designs
has been embellished with cute teacup appliqués.
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It was great to find so many of the fellow stallholders were also Etsy Shop owners. These fun textile delights are from Bruise Violet Designs
and Wee Island
and you can see more of their creations in the links to their shops above.
As well as the stalls, there was lots going on throughout the day with face painting by E & K Occasions
, photography by JHarris
, retro hairstyling by Chelsea of Sitting Pretty
and live music that never failed to get me singing along! We also met poet Emmalena Ellis
who was offering previews of her upcoming book and poetry writing workshops. I was very envious of her music themed tapestry jacket. Isn't it great!
So finally onto our Retrovert stall. We had all sorts of vintage delights on offer; our quirky range of vintage clothes, an abundance of accessories, elegant china and of course a few bargain items too! Many of the items we sold were fitting with the awful weather. We said goodbye to a fabulous 60s sheepskin coat, a hand crocheted blanket and my beloved umbrella brooch
And I'll leave you with a few of my favourites from our very own stall. There's nothing like a gorgeous new cake stand, a kitsch clown and some dancing couples to make me smile!
From Cambridge With Love returns to the Guildhall on May 11th and it would be great to see some of you there. I'm looking forward to it already!
This Saturday 'From Cambridge... With Love' makes its debut at the Guildhall. I for one am very excited!
Here's what the creators have to say about this brand new handmade and retro fair: "A vibrant and fun event showcasing the very finest of Cambridge's local produce, artisans, handmade, retro homewares, independent retailers. This isn't just a fair - but an event for all ages. If shopping isn't you thing then try out our gorgeous tearoom, cupcakes, live music, workshops, beauty bar - and much much more!"I particularly like the sound of the truffle making and retro hairstyling demos. Head on over to their Facebook page for tantalising glimpses of what's to come.
I think the best thing about this new event is that it will showcase the amazing array of local talents that we have. I find you can get so much more out of buying from independent retailers - the story behind their products, attention to detail and just a more personal touch.
I'm busy getting ready a fabulous range of vintage fashion, accessories and jewellery for my stall at the event. I'm going to be optimistic about the arrival of spring and bring my collection of very pretty print dresses that can't wait to get out in some long awaited sunshine!
Hope to see you there! Sophie x
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending 'Second Hand Style', a wonderful local event. I have a passion for low carbon living and a love for fashion and design, so it was exciting to go to an event that combined both. The event was a collaboration between Cambridge Carbon Footprint
, Catwalk Cambridge
, and Wear it, Love it, Share it
. As part of the project they produced a photo collection showcasing outfits entirely created from second hand clothing and accessories.
The Fashion Show
The eagerly anticipated catwalk show was a success and I'm sure it inspired the audience to use second hand and vintage clothing to recreate this season's looks for less. Many of the models were familar from Cambridge Style Week
, so it was a joy to once again see their talents. The outfits had been put together with clothes sourced locally from swishing events, charity shops, and vintage and second hand markets. I bet they had a great time shopping for all the different looks!
The show was excellently narrated and I think this was a great event to highlight that you can still be fashionable at the same time as saving the planet and your pennies!
After the show was finished I took the chance for a photo on the daffodil adorned catwalk. As usual my outfit was almost entirely second hand and vintage. Here you can see: 50s style angora cardigan from Mango via a charity shop, vintage Liberty print skirt, 60s beaded necklace inherited from my Nan and suede boots that were a gift.
After the show, the swish was unveiled. The thrill of the treasure hunt had begun! For the uninitiated, a 'swish' is a clothes swapping event where participants take a few items of clothing that they would like to donate, all the items are then pooled and sorted into categories, and then everyone gets to a have good rummage and find clothes that they would like to take back with them. It is a fabulous way to update your wardrobe and even better, is usually free or for a small donation!
I donated these two skirts, one that I have had for years and don't really wear anymore, and another that I confess to never actually wearing at all!
The tables and rails filled with clothes and accessories were mobbed by excited women in search of new treasures to take home and you can see from this shot of the aftermath that many were successful!
And here's what I found! A lovely silk and cotton dress from Jigsaw in one of my favourite colours. I can't believe that someone didn't want it anymore, but I am very pleased to give it a new home. What do you think of my new find?
If this post has got you inspired to try your hand at clothes swapping, then you're in luck! Wear it, Love it, Share it has an event coming up next Saturday the 23rd March on Fitzroy St, Cambridge and you can find more about it here
. And while you're in town, why not make it a day of fashion indulgence and come and see me and my vintage wares at From Cambridge With Love
in the Guildhall.
Have a great week! Sophie x
This week's favourite find blog is another quick one as things here at Retrovert HQ are super busy!
So here it is! A completely over the top rust velvet coat with a giant faux sheepskin collar and cuffs. Here I am modeling it at Cambridge Style Week and doing by best Kate Hudson in Almost Famous impression...
The photo is by the fabulous Alex Bright, the official CSW photographer and you can see more of her photos of the event at www.alexbright.co.uk
Tonight we're off to the Ethical and Sustainable Gala Event, which I am particularly looking forward to as I am passionate about eco friendly fashion. Have a great weekend. Sophie
This week I've fallen for this vintage brooch. I've got a real soft spot for 1950s kitsch and novelty items so I knew I had to get this for the shop when I saw it.
Vintage novelty jewellery is great for adding a quirky finishing touch to an outfit. Doesn't this umbrella brooch look cute pinned to the lapel of this coat?
As I have a passion for all things vintage I've decided to add jewellery to our wares, so keep an eye on our Etsy Shop
for the launch!Have you got a favourite piece of vintage jewellery that you wear? A family heirloom or a thrifted treasure...