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Well, this might not quite qualify as a haul, as these things were bought a bit at a time over the past week or two, but I thought I’d share them with you all together.

I’ve had my beady little eye on Ebay lately, specifically on bargain vintage patterns.  I have a couple of simple rules for myself when buying vintage patterns:

  1. Only buy it if you love it.
  2. Only buy it if it’s cheaper than or the same price as a modern pattern.  (Unless it’s super, super special.)
  3. Only buy it if you’ll wear what you make with it!

And I only tend to look at 50s and 60s patterns, since I just love the styles of that era (I don’t watch Mad Men, but I would happily raid their early 60s wardrobes!).

I’ve mentioned my baking a few times recently and the other week I made a batch of cupcakes for my friend’s birthday (lightly spiced cakes with lime and coconut icing – NOM!), which invariably ends with me wearing as much flour and icing sugar as the recipe contains.  I’m also a fan of chilli and various tomato-based pasta sauces.  There’s no escaping it, these things require an apron!  Which brings me to my first pattern:

It’s Marian Martin 9091, which the seller said was from the 40s or 50s.  More importantly, it’s just so pretty.  As soon as I saw it, I had instant pattern lust.  But, according to my rules above, I wouldn’t day any more than £10, including postage.  It was lucky I got it for £9 including P&P, then!  Phew!

Remember my teaser from the other day?  Yep, that’s the full-length version made up already.  I’m feeling too ill to pose in it, so pictures soon, I promise!  It’s a simple pattern, so it came together really easily.  Look how simple the pattern pieces are:

The only down side of the pattern was all the bias binding.  I had a bit of a brain malfunction when cutting bias strips, so they were too narrow to use in my bias binding maker, so I had to hand-fold something stupid like 7 yards of the stuff (meh!).  Then came the attaching.  Those scallops!  They’re pretty, but a pain to stitch bias binding to, especially as I basically made up how to join the ends of the bias – I’m sure there’s an easier way, but for some reason I thought I’d make it up instead of looking it up!  Still, it looks OK:

Do you have any suggestions for a different way to finish the edges?  I was considering just hemming them instead, but then I’d have to ease the curves in and I’m not sure that would look very neat.  I’d really like to make these as gifts for people, but the bias is a massive pain in the arse and I’m really not sure what to try next time!  I’m also planning to make the half-apron version for sewing (maybe I’ll add some extra pockets, too).

Anyway, on to the next pattern:

Maudella 4378 – a super-simple blouse.  This was an uber-bargain – £1.84 including postage!  Wewt and huzzah, I say!  The thing I love about this pattern is that it looks really versatile – I can picture it made up in so many different ways – and I can picture it tucked into any of my high-waisted skirts.  Very wearable!  Here’s a bit more detail:

And I’ve already got some plans for this blouse using this super-cute cotton print (sorry, I’ve washed it, but haven’t ironed it yet!):

I couldn’t get very good light for a great photo, I’m afraid, but the background is off white and the spots are dark blue.  And I’m hoping that the red anchors will be set off nicely by these buttons:

I have to admit, I have a real soft spot for sailor style, so I can’t wait to make this one!  There were some gorgeous little anchor buttons in white, blue or red as well, but they were £1 each.  £1 each!!  They would have looked fabulous, but I really can’t justify paying £1 per button rather than 10p per button, however pretty the buttons (and especially on a pattern than appears to use 10 of them!).

The other pattern I got was for this fun dress, which again looks pretty simple:

I’m not usually into later 60s styles, but the A-line skirt with that inverted box pleat just called to me (perhaps becauses of how flattering A-line skirts are).  And considering I got it for £3.25, it was a good deal!  I’m also thinking that I could make this up as a skirt, too, and those long sleeves have me thinking about nice woolen winter dresses – all my dresses seem to be summery, so they would be a great addition to my wardrobe!  Actually, another possibility would be lowering the neckline slightly and making a sleeveless woolen version to wear over sleeved shirts.  In a dream world, something like these (very expensive!) wool pinstripes from MacCullock and Wallis would be great:

Hmm, so many ideas for this one!

There’s one more pattern and a couple more fabrics, but as this post is pretty long, I’ll be back with them in part 2!

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I may or may not have spent most of today messing around on a new toy: Scrapblog*.

The other day I realised that the reason I couldn’t find a picture of the 1780s outfit I had seen in my dream because it didn’t exist!   My unconscious mind must have put together elements of different outfits I’ve seen and put them together.  Clever unconscious!  So I had planned to make an inspiration board/mood board type thing on Polyvore, but I found it was a bit of a pain to import your own images on there.  I hunted around for something else and found Scrapblog.  And here are the results of my efforts:

So we have a pointed-front blue pierrot type jacket with what appears to be gold trim (as modeled by The Duchess of Chartres and painted by Charles Lepeintre, 1776).  I’m not generally a fan of gold, but in this case I think it works very well with the blue.  I think I’m going to have a look at my fabric with silver and gold and see what works best – and what trims I can find!  I already have a pierrot pattern that has a straight front, so I’ll just make it into a pointed bodice.  And that’s where those lucky symbols you lovely people have given me will come into play: self-covered buttons embroidered with lucky symbols down the front and on the cuffs.  Yes, this is how it was in my dream.  I know, I have strange dreams.

Then the sash is from that pretty cream and black zone-front (I’m a sucker for a good zone-front).  I have a little something special for the buckle (yes, I have a pretty little surprise which will be revealed soon!) and I have sourced some red stripe taffeta.  The one thing I’m not sure about for the sash is whether one makes a strip of fabric and carefully hems it, or whether you make a double-sided sash of fabric (with or without interlining of some description – lawn/organza?)?

And lastly, a white self-stripe petticoat.  I had envisaged regular stripes between 1/2″ and 1″ as in the image from The Duchess and the Pehr Hillstrom painting, but I haven’t been able to find the right fabric with that kind of stripe; I have found a pretty white voile with groups of stripes in different widths, so I think that will work still.

The only bad thing is that having seen that still from The Duchess, I now want a really over the top big hat (which is 1780s correct), but (a) that’s probably not a great idea for my first foray into hat-making and (b) I definitely wouldn’t have enough of the blue taffeta left over for that.  I might have enough left for a mini-tricorn, a la Dunst’s Marie Antoinette, but I’m worried that might not look right with a hedgehog (mine probably won’t be a huge ‘hog) – has anyone tried a mini-tricorn + hedgehog combo?

There’s the basis of the outfit, at least – of course, there will be accessories!

* As for Scrapblog – I enjoyed playing around with it; you can pay for ‘credits’ to buy ‘stickers’ (place-able elements) and backgrounds and the like, but there are quite a lot of these things that are free, so I just used those and uploaded my images.  You can even have multi-page pieces that will work as a video slideshow.  There are various options for sharing your collage directly or, as I have done, you can export to a jpeg.  Worth having a look at if you’re interested in creating this kind of board.

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I’ve just finished my cockade (well the ribbon part, still need to sew on the backing and a brooch pin) – I do rather love it. It would have been even better (and even more nautical) if I’d been able to get hold of blue and white stripe, but I’m still pleased with how it came out.

So cute, rather fun, a little fiddly, but totally worth it.

I made the larger white one first and while stitching it, I noticed how nice it looked on the back, so the blue one is actually on the reverse side. The button is one of several I bought a few months ago for this very purpose – yay for anchor buttons!

The button turns so you can wear the cockade a different way around

What’s that?  You want to make your own?  Well you bloody well can – go check out American Duchess’s easy-to-follow tutorial.  Go.  Do it.

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I think I mentioned a while ago that I had managed to get my little mits on a sewing box of sublime beauty and perfection.  Well, I finally got around to taking photos and now I can tell the tale of the sewing box that was fated to be mine.  Sometimes what you want manages to find you.

I’d been looking for a nice sewing box for a while, particularly after seeing The Boy’s Nan’s gorgeous old cantilever one.  It was so pretty that even The Boy commented on how nice it was.

At first I flirted with the funky prints at John Lewis, but they were quite expensive (£50 for the largest) and a bit … well … plasticky.  Plus, when I finally had the money to spend on one, they’d sold out.  They did have cantilever ones, but they weren’t very well-made (the one I saw in the shop was very wobbly and was already missing a handle!) and they were a bit chunky and nothing like the lovely architectural lines of the old one I’d seen, and were even more expensive than the owl one.

So, I decided to keep my eye open and get one when I found The Perfect Sewing Box, expecting it to take months, perhaps even years, to find The One.

But when I went back to work after Christmas, it just so happened that my friend in the office had a cantilever sewing box.  It just so happened that she was planning to sell it on Ebay, but had been putting off listing it because it was big and would be a pain in the arse to post.  And, it just so happened to be almost identical to the box I had fallen in love with at The Boy’s Nan’s house.

I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was after a nice wooden sewing box but hadn’t found one yet.  “I’ve got a sewing box,” she told me and it turned out she was selling it.  And it turned out that it was almost identical to The Boy’s Nan’s one.

And now it is mine (my precioussss!) and I love it.  It’s so incredibly handy and spacious and not rickety or missing any handles.  Sometimes things just fall into place – I love it when that happens.

I have to give much thanks to The Dreamstress for her tutorial on how to make Grandma’s Button Boxes with folded paper.  I made a handful of these for various bits and pieces.  And I am so geeky thatI also made one each for my presser feet and wrote on it which foot it is, in case I forget!  I already had some origami paper in rather small squares, which are the colourful plain and patterned ones.  Then, in my box of crafty bits I found a second hand book with fun 70s fantasy illustrations in it that I rip bits out of for cards and collage, so I tore some squares of my favourite illustrations and folded some boxes out of that.  If you try this, I have to warn you that the paper in the book I used (fairly standard mass market paperback paper, fairly rough, not too thin) wanted to tear more than fold, so try it out first and be more careful with papers like this than you would be with newer or origami papers – they might behave quite differently!

I am a bit obsessive about organising and organisation, so I did really enjoy going through my sewing bits, which had been kept in lots of smaller boxes dotted around the flat, working out where they should go (machine part in one place, thread in another section, hand-sewing and general tools in another section, etc) and putting them in their new home.

I even managed to make use of the little acrylic box my i-Pod Nano came in – it’s on the right full of bobbins, and the reels of cotton are in a bigger version of The Dreamstress’s button boxes with the offcuts from the other boxes slotted in as dividers (they are quite stiff considering how thin they are).

I think sewing boxes are one of those things that are so personal – surely no two people fill their boxes in exactly the same way?  I rather like that idea!

And lastly, when The Mothership gave me my sewing machine, she also gave me a little bag with all the original presser feet and bobbins in it, as well as this mystery item:

What is it?

I have no idea what this is and Mum doesn’t seem to remember, either!  It isn’t in the manual for the machine, and after a quick look in a sewing book, I thought it might be a slightly odd-looking magnetic seam guide, but it doesn’t seem to be magnetic.  If anyone can enlighten me, I’d greatly appreciate it!

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Here you are, dear reader, he promised pictures of yesterday’s pretties (or, to thieve The Dreamstress’s phrase, Pogey Bait!).  We set off early on the bus to get to Heanor and hit the Antiques Centre and plenty of charity shops.

First off, some true sewing pogey bait – a few bags of mixed buttons:

Vintage (and not so vintage) buttons – black and silver-coloured.  (50p for the bag!)

Brassy buttons.  (30p)

I love these blue stripey ones – very sailor chic!  (Also 50p)

These are for Top Secret Plan Number One – more information on this soon.

I also found a pretty little linen table mat to place under our key bowl to protect the antique mahogany chest of drawers my Mum’s giving me (pictures of that when it arrives!):

With pretty corners:

As I live with two boys (The Boy and the Flat-Mate-boy), I didn’t want to push it by getting anything flowery or too doily-esque, so I thought this was a good plain one.  (And, yes, it needs an iron!)

And some more sewing pogey bait:

A bag with all these for £3 – bargain!  I do love a good bargain.  And all the pretty colours!

And I bought a couple of things for Top Secret Plan Number Two – the selling of pretty vintage things on Ebay:

I have a bit of a thing for pretty brooches, so when I see nice ones, I want them!  But, a girl can only wear so many brooches at once and I can’t really justify having a million of them (unfortunately) and I could do with making a little extra cash.  Soooo, I am going to try my hand at Ebaying – we shall see what happens.  I figure I get to go bargain-hunting and enjoy buying pretty things, but don’t have to live with the guilt of spending the money!

I particularly love the first brooch and was quite tempted to keep it – I love how it’s a bow and arrow as well as a bow (of the tied type), rather fun – but I must be strong!  Plus, I’d rather sell something I love and feel that I’m passing on something gorgeous for someone else to enjoy.  It did give me a rather nice surprise when I looked at the back more carefully – it’s by Kigu, a company well-known for their gorgeous compacts.  To make sure I don’t try to keep it, I have already listed the first one (my first Ebay listing!), plus I think it’d make a great little Valentine’s present – Cupid’s bow and arrow!  If anyone has any tips (on Ebay selling, vintage costume jewellery or anything like that), I’d be more than glad to hear it!

I did get to buy one thing for myself that wasn’t second hand or vintage, but was a sale bargain:

They also double up as my (late) Saturday Shoe offering.  I do love leather brogues – they’re so, so comfortable.

So, I got to have a fun day and start my attempt at being a business-woman – wish me luck!  It’ll be nice if I can make a little money outside of an office and on my terms.  Let’s see how it goes …

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Window shopping on ebay is a dangerous thing, gentle reader!

After all, what in the world is there that is better to go with one’s changing styles in the latter decades of the 18th Century than an oak desk from c. 1780?

Rather charming, don’t you think?  And ample room for a polonaise to slide under – how capital!

However, if your budget (like mine) doesn’t stretch as far as the buy it now price of £1,350 (swoon!), then you can still own your very own little bit of the 18th century to weave into your own sewing with this delightful set of 8 steel Georgian buttons:

OK, so a buy it now price of £79 is not exactly cheap, but for the chance to use these lovely buttons in a very special 18th Century ensemble (I’m thinking a jacket?), then it would be very much worth it.  If I had the money available, I would be all over these buttons (or perhaps they would be all over me?).

Alas, I can’t afford them, so I thought I’d share them here, gentle reader, in case you can make any use of them.  All I ask is that if you do buy them, please send pics of whatever you use them for – I’d love to see!

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Time for a Quickie?


A quick, post, I mean.  What did you think?  Tsk tsk!

Anyway, here’s a quick bit of lushness:

French buttons 1785-95

How fabulous are they?  I’m afraid I can’t rememer where I got them from – all I know is that they’re French and dated 1785-95.

The whole colour scheme is rather bright, but totally works.  Love them.  Maybe I need to get The Boy to wear something 18th C…

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