It's tomorrow! Come and join us at the Cambridge Guildhall this Saturday 19th October, for another fabulous event.
I had a brilliant time at the last fair - check out my post Favourite Finds at From Cambridge With Love
to see what delights were on offer. I'll have even more vintage clothing, accessories and homewares at Retrovert's stall this time and the event looks to be even better than the last, with even more local businesses, workshops and hopefully no snow!
Here's what the organiser's say "At From Cambridge With Love
you can meet the city’s finest artisans, independent fashion designers, foody businesses, retro homewares traders and much more! Handmade meets vintage is our theme with an emphasise on locality! Think fun, unique, affordable and VERY VERY inspiring! As well as the fabulous stalls, you can devour yummy cakes in our gorgeous vintage tearoom, get crafty in our 3 great workshops (crochet for beginners, felted earrings and vintage corsage brooches - as well as sourdough demos through the day), live music and lots more!"Check out the Facebook event page and let us know you are coming. Hope to see some of you there :-)Have a great weekend,
Yesterday I visited the Cambridge Town and Country Show on Parker's Piece. Now in its 7th year, this local event prides itself on having 'something for everybody'. Well it certainly looked to have fun, food and entertainment aplenty, but I wanted to find what it had to offer a vintage addict like me! Here's what I found:
First I spotted these vintage sewing notions to fuel my haberdashery habit. This cute little sewing box came home with me, along with a collection of buttons and an unusual double ended crochet hook.
In the craft tent I came across a rail of dress made from old kimonos. This is the one I liked best with its classic oriental print.
I also found the fabulous Tweed Vixen, fellow exhibitor from Cambridge Style Week
, and her contemporary twists on classic tweed. These colourful notebook cover were bright and modern, yet the fabric gives them a vintage feel.
Over in an outside stall I discovered this antique remnant. Isn't the jet beading exquisite? My guess is that is was a strip cut off the hem of a Victorian gown.
The same stall also had this fun flamenco table. I love pictorial coffee tables like this and I can picture it being the focal point of a retro 50s room.
The show also had plenty to offer for those fond of vintage transport. From this vintage inspired cargo bicycle...
...to this iconic midcentury microcar...
...and of course a few classic steam trains.
So as you can see the show had plenty to keep me and my vintage obsession entertained. Anywhere that you can find vintage novelty buttons gets a tick in my book!
The Cambridge Town and Country Show continues today (Sunday 9th June) so if you're local why not head on down! And don't forget to let me know how you get on ;-)
On last week's episode of the Great British Sewing Bee I was fascinated by the silk map dress that they included in their Make Do and Mend history section. And judging by the flurry of mentions it got on twitter at the time, I'm not the only one that thought it was exquisite. If you didn't spot the dress, you can see it oniPlayer
, at around 27mins.
To the left is a similar example from the Imperial War Museum collection and an original Escape Map. These maps were made from first from silk and then rayon, materials which allowed them to be folded up very small, and thus be concealed more easily. The use of fabric over paper also had other advantages, such as its resilience to tearing and water damage, as well as its 'rustle free' nature. It is estimated that many thousands of British and Allied troops may have used these escape maps to evade capture and return home. More detail about the history of WW2 escape maps can be found here
I have always found maps fascinating. Is it the aesthetically pleasing presentation of information that is so appealing, or perhaps the sense of journey and discovery that is embedded in them?
One of the things I love to collect is souvenir textiles. I like the sense of adventure that they have associated with them and I daydream about the exotic trips that they were acquired on. One of my favourites is this 60s Souvenir Of Aden scarf. It is full of spelling mistakes and shown here upside down (whoops!) but I love the vibrancy of the colours.
The interest in map clearly runs in the family. The very first item my Dad bought at auction were these Bartholomew's Maps from the 50s. They are enormous and weigh a ton, but they are wonderfully detailed. I love their tagline 'The Good Companion - For the Wise Traveller'.
The most treasured map I own is roughly sketched on the back on an envelope. It was drawn from memory by my Grandpa, showing the route he travelled from where he was stationed in World War Two, to the beaches of Dunkirk where he was evacuated. I embroidered it onto a piece of textile art that I made about his life, which you can see below.
Do you share my fascination for maps? What is it about them that appeals to you?
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 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!
Well here in Cambridge it is an extremely grey and dull day, but earlier this week it started to feel like spring had sprung and I splashed out on these floral plates.
I am always on the look out for lonely china plates that I can upcycle into vintage cake stands and that's what these beauties are destined for.
Queen Anne 'Old Country Spray' c.1960s
Tuscan Bone China 'Albany' c.1947-67
Tams England 'Lismore' Art Nouveau
Tuscan Bone China 'Albany' c.1947-67
Booths 'Floradora' c.1917
I look forward to seeing these beautiful blooms not just on vintage china, but in the garden before too long. Here's to hoping we have a glorious spring where we can enjoy cakes on vintage plates out in the sunshine!
It was with great excitement this Saturday that I set off on my bike to Ta Bouche for the very first Cam Blog Meet. Bloggers both local and not so local (one intrepid traveller came all the way from the Isle of Wight!) gathered together for a meeting with fellow creatives. I didn't know what to expect, but in turned out to be a fabulous afternoon of chatting about life, craft, baking, and all sorts!
The day was made even more exciting by the goody bags that Claire from Claireabellemakes
had put together for us. She had clearly spent a lot of time making them and had procured some very generous donations from various companies. I didn't manage to take any photos of the day, but you can find some on Claireabellemakes
, Miss Dotty
, Emma Block
's posts about the day. Instead, I thought I'd share with you the lovely gifts we received!
First up, a handmade button ring from Claireabellemakes. These make really nice gifts and I am looking forward to wearing this floral one with my vintage spring dresses. You can find Claire's handmade accessories in her Etsy Shop
and also come and visit her stall at From Cambridge with Love
on the 23rd March, where I'll also be bringing my vintage wares.
More handmade loveliness came in the form of Lush 'Dirty' Soap
. The name at first put me off a bit, but it does smell lovely and minty and happens to be one of my favourite shades of blue. I also discovered that this soap is palm oil free, so gets a tick from me for being more eco friendly.
I also love my washi tape from washitapes.co.uk
and this will definitely be featuring in the wrapping up of purchases from my Etsy shop
from now on.
It was fantastic to get together with fellow creatives and chat about our crafting achievements (and failures!) Crafty Glitten
and Suzie Makes
have both recently adventured into dressmaking and their enthusiasm has got me itching to do get on with my own. I am planning on starting with a nice and simple circle skirt (which I am sure will end up not so simple!)
Following on with the craft theme, we were treated to a taster from Crafty Creatives
, who have a monthly box subscription service. These bits and bobs will be making their way into my supply stash until I come up with something to make with them. I can never have enough buttons!
I am also looking forward to trying this little treat from teapigs. It smells quite delicious and you can see that it really is a tea with quality ingredients.
I think I will enjoy my 'super fruit' with a more in depth read of Homemaker Magazine
. It is beautifully designed and full of upcycling ideas and vintage homewares, so couldn't be more suited to me.
I'm sure all my fellow attendees would agree that the first Cam Blog Meet was fabulous and the standards have certainly been set high for the next one! I can't wait.
Well I hope you all had a great Christmas and are now enjoying the New Year!
Here's a little round up of the best Christmas presents I was given and gave to my family in return :
My favourite gift this year has to be this extravagant 1960s hat, which my Mum managed to secretly buy from a fellow stallholder at Pop Up Vintage Hampstead. The Bernat Klein fabric is really unusual, a herringbone weave in a slub yarn, and I just love the vibrant colours.
Mum also got me these fab tartan trousers from the lovely Rehab Vintage and I like the two teamed together for a rather eccentric look!
I got some great books too - a multitude of cookery books, a 1940s manual of stitchcraft with this gorgeous graphic cover and the lovely Vintage Fashion. This book has some seriously stunning dresses in it, so expect a review of it her on the blog soon.
Now on to the favourite presents I gave. I simply couldn't resist this 1980s Popple for my 1 year old niece. It's oh so kitsch and garish, but she loved feeding it with its bottle and unrolling it from its ball.
For my sister I made this mouse doorstop from a vintage traycloth. I love upcycling materials and transforming them into something different. In return she gave me the book ReCraft: How to Turn Second-hand Stuff into Beautiful Things for your Home, Family and Friends, which was very appropriate!
And finally for my Mum I made this 50s inspired apron from vintage barkcloth - and yes I was still sewing it on Christmas Eve!
All the family agreed that we had done very well on getting each other great gifts and I think they are things we will enjoy and treasure for years to come.
Did you give or recieve any vintage or handmade gifts? Do share...
Now that I'm back and starting to recover from my weekend camping at Cambridge Folk Festival, I thought I'd share some of the lovely things I came across. Here they are:
Karine Polwart had to be my favourite artist of the festival. Both her sets were excellent. On Friday she got us singing along in Stage Two and doing Usain Bolt moves to Chariots of Fire played on the Kazoo. On Saturday she showcased her songwriting talents with eloquent new songs 'Cover Your Eyes', about Donald Trump's controversial golf course, and 'King of Birds', which nods to the Occupy Movement. In the singing workshop she showed us what a talented musician she is, switching keys and harmonies effortlessly and directing the entire Club Tent to sing together in many different parts. Here is Karine rocking the twenties look 'Flapperette' style:
The best band to dance to was Blackbeard's Tea Party. Wonderfully energetic songs played with bountiful exuberance were just the thing to ceilidh to. Reworkings of Tomorrow We'll Be Sober and Chicken on a Raft were my personal favourites. R2 magazine described them as ' vintage folk-rock at its best' and I would quite agree. It just goes to show even my taste in music is vintage themed...
Photograph from http://www.blackbeardsteaparty.com/
As always fashion at the Folk Fest was diverse, from waterproofs and wellies to crazy hats and cut offs. Flower garlands and headscarves proved popular too. Gorgeous vintage inspired dresses were provided by Lynn from C+V in the Traders Marquee. The fabulous Fifties shape frocks came in an eclectic array of vintage fabrics. You can see my love of print and bright colours in the ones I showcase here. The dresses are made at the HEBA Women's Project in Brick Lane, so they are not only stunning, but have great ethical and green credentials too.
Ossie Clark Trouser Suit Fabric
Inspired by Bonnard
1980s 'Princess Margaret' Fabric
Ikat with Lace Trim
I spotted some great ideas for reusing and upcycling fabrics around the festival - signs covered in old knitted jumpers, floral bunting made from clothes scraps and cute patchwork bags upcycled from girls' jeans. Definitely going to try these out...
What Sophie Did
In amongst running around after my niece and nephew and listening to all the lovely music I managed to get quite a lot done: dancing, playing my guitar, taking over 600 pics, going to lots of workshops and modelling some of Retrovert's vintage accessories.
Such is my dedication to vintage treasure hunting that I even walked 3 miles to a car boot sale after only 5 hours sleep! I found some beautifully embroidered linens and two romantic tea sets, as well as the 70s beaded bag and headscarf in the above picture.
And finally, here I am brushing up on my circus skills and looking like a really hippy in Retrovert's 70s bead and seed necklaces and the read garland I made. I did take me quite a while to get the hang of plate spinning, but was ridiculously delighted when I finally did!
Did you go to the Folk Festival? What were your best bits...
Here at Retrovert we love to upcycle and reuse old things. I try to buy as much as I can second hand, but sometimes it's harder to find exactly what you want.
Recently, I bought a couple of items of clothing at car boot sales that were well made and my size, but the colours weren't right for me.
Finally, an excuse to spend the day dyeing in the garden! I used Procion MX dyes, which work well on vegetable fibres like cotton, as well as silk. Here is how my two experiments turned out:
I love the block print pattern of this vintage Anokhi two piece so I tried not to dye it too dark, so you can still see the design. I like how the buttons and a bit of darning are still yellow; two little touches that add to the quirkiness of the garment.
I think it turned out just right - turquoise and rush green are colours I love to wear and it will be a perfect outfit for the summer that has finally arrived!
For my second experiment I transformed this white silk dress. It was pretty, but you can probably tell by now that I have a propensity for bright and colourful! I used a mix of royal blue and magenta to give a heathery purple and for a mottled effect I loosely bound the dress before I dyed it.
I love the way it has turned out, it's amazing that a simple change in colour can give a dress new life.
So there you have it! I now have two lovely outfits for the summer that are completely unique (and cost me less than £3!)
Do you make or upcycle clothes? I'd love to hear about any projects and tips you'd like to share!