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Hipster shopping in Lewisham -Cacti and toadstools.

I finally have my actual computer back! 🙂 I installed a new hard drive all by myself and got it loaded up again with everything, and it works, & I am so damn happy, as finally I can do stuff like clear out my emails properly and post on here without worrying about my phone app crashing every 5 minutes. I am less happy about the fact all the iPhoto photos on my external hard drive are no longer compatible with the version on my laptop, so I still might have to take it in to the Mac-store and get someone to sort it after all. But you can’t have everything I suppose. 😦

Anyway, apart from burgling my computer. I have been away for a week and then came down with the inevitable lurgy for this time of year. So I’ve been permanently under the weather and haven’t done much sewing.

However I decided to go for a walk to Lewisham this morning to get a bit of fresh air and exercise. As well as me being ill, London has been freezing cold and polluted as hell lately, so I haven’t got out much.

This may have been a bit of a mistake for my bank balance, though I am really happy with what I’ve come home with.

First the fabric stall.

Back in summer they had some cactus prints in and posted on Facebook about it, but I was ill that day, & by the time I got down there the next day they were all gone. I wasn’t that gutted though, cuz they were all on a white background. & me and white fabrics aren’t best friends.

But today I picked this up:

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The lighting makes it look a bit shinier than it should, but it is black, & covered in cacti  and succulents. I’m not quite sure which pattern to use with it yet, but I am dead excited by this. I need to use it soon though as it is excruciatingly hipster at the moment.

Oh yeah, I also picked up some grey jersey and a pretty floral fabric to add to the general stash (I don’t know why I do this, I am so badly out of room to store the damn stuff!)

 

Then I went to Tiger,

I was tipped off about Tiger being amazing for Christmas stuff last year, but then I didn’t make it there till after Christmas, and as they change their stock immediately afterwards and don’t have a sale, missed out on the pretty stuff completely. Seeing how much I bought this time round, maybe it was for the best!

Er yeah….

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Clockwise from the top

They have been doing stuff with the stags on all year, & I loved it, but this is the first time they did a tray that was actually a sensible size, so I snapped it up.

The small thing with a stags head is a felt fridge magnet, it is so damn cute, & I needed another fridge magnet as there is a particularly large Japanese takeaway menu that isn’t properly stuck to our magnet board at the moment. So for that one at least there was an excuse.

Which is more than I can say for the gnomes, they are apparently paint it yourself, but I think I might leave them white to go with our bedroom decor. I have no idea why I bought them really, except they were £3 and there is a female gnome, I have a real thing for female gnomes.

The two boxes of small mushrooms are supposedly for putting on the tree, but I’m not sure, I might keep one of them for craft projects, I can see them going really well with a fairy wreath.

Talking of which the four wreaths at the bottom are actually for round candle sticks. They have mushrooms and berries on them. I have four lovely black candles I stole off my brother earlier in the year, that will go with the wreathes very well but I don’t have nice candle sticks to go with them yet. I’d really like old fashioned brass ones.

The grey man at the front reminded me of Gandalf, which is a good enough reason to buy anything.

The two in the pack together I just thought were quite cute and the lots of little dolls in the pack are a garland of elves apparently. I quite like the idea of a garland of small dolls.

And lastly the mushrooms in pots. They are candles apparently! I just thought that was adorable!I love fly agaric mushrooms and I love candles so its a perfect match. there were cactus ones as well, but apart from obviously I am going to have a dress, I’m not that into cacti as a hipster thing (we tried recently but they lived about 6 weeks) so I left them behind.

There is also loads of craft stuff for kids in Tiger at the moment. I had to stop myself coming home with about 3 different types of toy weaving looms and one of those knitting dolls, but really we do not have the space.

Anyway. instead of buying stuff I need to get on with making stuff, my xmas dress is halfway through, so hopefully that will be finished in then next two weeks. I don’t want it to go over to another year!

 

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a whiter shade of pale

Over the bank holiday last month Jon took a coupe of days either side, & we used the time to sort out a diy job that has been bugging us for ever such a long time.

One of the things Jon brought to the relationship when we moved in together 13 years ago eek such a long time) was a rectangular pine table that had been the kitchen table when he was a little boy. Over the years its been several things in our various residences, a kitchen table, my sewing table, a desk in the study, & finally it became our computer desk in our bedroom.

Now basically our bedroom sharing a room with the study has never been an ideal solution, Over the years since we moved here we’ve gradually replaced a load of plastic drawers containing clothes with nice Ikea ones, however we were still left with a load round the computer. Our dream computer desk would have shelves above it and drawers beneath, but we were completely unable to find anything that practical, except recently in Ikea & that was made of completely shitty looking laminate & therefore not worth spending £350 on as only a medium term solution. (I do seem to think ikea has got crapper the last few times we’ve been there, the prices have gone down at the higher end, but the quality has as well, & virtually nothing they sell is made of real wood anymore.)

So we thought, how about we spend as little as we can get away with on a short term solution? And went to the British Heart Foundation Furniture Shop in Lewisham and bought a cheap, small welsh dresser instead.

In terms of storage, this has worked out ideal, it fits all our excess computer crap and stationary, with room for a few decorative items too. In terms of aesthetics, not so good.

All our bedroom furniture is either natural wood antique (0r natural wood that we’ve jazzed up a bit to look antique) that we’ve inherited from various parents over the years, or  white ikea units, & now plonked in the middle were these 80’s style orange varnish cheap looking desk & dresser.

I forgot to get a picture of the desk before we painted it, but here is the dresser in its original state….

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In real life its a lot more orange and looked horribly cluttered with all our stuff on it.

So yeah, over the bank holiday, Jon painted it all! 🙂

This was a  bit of a mammoth task as we had to do it in the living room & it took over all the space & the kitchen for 5 days.(so we ate out a lot, which was awesome then, but has somewhat come back to haunt us now its the end of the month) Also we were idiots and bought the cheapest primer and undercoat all in one we could find in B&Q which meant it was quite drippy, so the finish isn’t perfect, & it took about 2 coats more than we were planning,

However, given it is our first real try at painting furniture, I am really pleased with the results…

 

Here they are back in situ without anything on them. Already they go so much better with our  bedroom.

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and this is what we changed the doorknobs for. While I was immensely tempted by the gorgeous expensive mineral ones in Anthrapologie, we found these randomly in the clearance section of TKMaxx, six for a fiver, & I think they do fine.

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& here they are with everything back on them. Obviously we need to work on that chair cushion, but it makes the room look so much more coherent and brighter! (due to a whopping great wardrobe in the middle of the room & the bed taking up much of the rest of the space, our bedroom is pretty impossible to photograph.)

So because of the painting i had to put my sewing machine away & kept it away for a couple of weeks, but its back now, & in the meantime I’ve finished my hat, which I have yet to photograph properly (mainly cuz it won’t stop raining 😦 ) This means I get a fun trip to Loop in Islington for wool for my next project (rubs hands together).

unseasonal knitting and dastardly alcoholics.

So a couple of weeks ago I finally finished the scarf I have been working on for the last 6 months, well, I say working on, actually I mean doing everything I can to avoid having to touch the damn thing, doing two rows and then giving up in disgust and generally procrastinating as much as possible.

Me and k2 p2 ribbing really don’t get on. On the one hand cuz its so repetitive its really really really boring, on the other hand I found it easy to get mixed up so couldn’t have the telly on whilst knitting or get on with it at knitting group or I made mistakes.

Bizarrely, not all ribbing is equally awful, I am currently working on the accompanying hat for with this which is k3 p2 ribbing and that little amount of variation is just enough that I’m getting on with it in a lot more efficient way.

Anyway, the person it was intended for (Jon)  really likes it, & agreed to model it for me. After a period of insanely hot weather we are now having a cold spell, everyone I know had their heating on for a few days over the weekend, so the fleece is not entirely unseasonable.

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Oh yeah, the pattern, albeit a very simple one, was Ribbed for her Pleasure from the Stitch and Bitch book, the wool was Debbie Bliss Donegal Arran Tweed, which I had knocking around randomly from ages ago.

I know I haven’t posted a charity shop haul in a long time, but I had to share this awesome little pair of reprobates I picked up recently for £6.99 from one of my favourite charity shopping locations that shall remain nameless.

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I don’t think they are genuine 18th century. There is no makers mark on the base and the base is very unscuffed and in good nick ,according to the Antiques Roadshow which my parents used to watch religiously as I was growing up, lack of scuff and wear marks on the base suggest these things are modern reproductions. But they are really cute and were £7, so I’m glad to give them a home.

I’m in the middle of making a dress at the moment, and although the instructions are simple (its a Sewaholic Cambie) I’m feeling a bit bogged down as health and life has been such that I’ve only had about an hour and  half to spend on it over the last week. Specially as I am scaling up the waist on a size 16 pattern and have no guarantee the damn thing will fit me when its done.

Im also feeling a bit skint as I have finally found a plus sized fashion company that sells stuff I actually want to buy and I don’t really have a budget for clothes 😦 One of the annoying things about sewing ones own stuff is that although in many ways it allows one to stay true to a personal style, when stuff you like comes into fashion it is really difficult to react quickly to it. In this case its all the witchy, Stevie Nicks style Strega stuff. Even if it wasn’t beyond my sewing capabilities I am not finding chiffon or much stretch velvet on the market stall to play with, and even if I did, by the time I’ve done something with it the moment will have long passed.

Its one of those things about growing up actually, when I was a student my clothes were all in fashion having been acquired over the last 2-3 years since I stopped growing. I used to look down on ‘adults’ who were not fashionable and wonder why they didn’t care about having cool stuff, and be like ‘I’ll never let myself get like that’. Of course as one gets older one realises the importance of having a personal style over blindly following whatever Topshop, or in my case Camden Market dictates is in fashion this season. but even if stuff you like is fashionable at the moment, there is absolutely no guarantee it will fit you, the Strega stuff has been a youth/alternative trend for about 3 years, this is the first year it has hit the plus sized ranges, already making me out of date. & there is no guarantee that at the requisite moment you’ll actually have any money to buy stuff. Which is not that we are short of money by any means, but having ones own flat and grown up responsibilities means that money has to go on things like a new stereo as our old one conked out rather than clothes. Its also rather hard to justify frivolous clothes purchases when one already has a full wardrobe, & even these days a relatively well developed Lolita wardrobe, or at least one that fills the purpose given how rarely I actually get to wear it. So basically I am feeling somewhat sartorially frustrated.

Of course what I actually need to do is get sewing, even if it is not the garment I’d imagine it to be in an ideal world, having new clothes finished always makes me feel a little better.

So that means not whinging on here and getting on with stuff.

 

The Bathroom, normality and the trouble with Disney.

So now that we’ve given it a week or two to wear in and nothings actually leaking, here are a few pictures of what has kept me away from the internet and my sewing machine these last couple of months…..

 

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It is quite difficult to take photographs in there as it is a very small room and so its hard to get nice angles. Also the window is very bright compared to the rest of the room, so it skews the colours a bit in photographs. The wire locker is off the internet, and the shelf unit, lantern and metal stuff on the window sill is all from the garden department of TKMaxx. We are still working on some kind of attractive storage method for the toilet roll! The pictures are not spectacular, but we are very pleased with the outcome.

Even though the building finished 2 1/2 weeks ago now, the thing that is holding us to ransom is that as this is a very small flat with only two rooms apart from the bathroom, dust from the building work got everywhere. We have literally had to deep clean the whole flat including stuff like taking out all the cds and vinyls and cleaning them all individually. This has happened at a time when Jons work has gone ballistic and I have ended up with a Chronic Fatigue relapse as although at the beginning of the building work I was safely tucked up at my parents, I ended up having to come back to London and run round after the builders which has been very damaging to my health. So it has taken us a little longer than we planned to get the house back to normal. Hopefully it will all be sorted this weekend.

However this week things have been organised enough that I have been able to get my sewing machines back out and find some fabric ready to work on. All the fabric is sadly piled up in bin bags in its wardrobe at the moment, as we had to put it like that so the decorator could move the wardrobe to paint behind it (oh yeah, we had our bedroom repainted and the kitchen and living room ceiling and an air brick put in whilst we were at it.). Also the shelves inside the wardrobe, which are cheap garage ones from Argos, didn’t last the move (the plastic warped) so we are going to have to buy new ones before we can put my fabric back again properly 😦

Luckily however, when I opened a couple of bags up to see if I could find something I felt like working on, the straight dress fabric was near the top, so I was able to pull two pieces out and they are currently hanging on the back of the door washed ready to get used next week.

First up is this one….

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Its a really vivid floral brushed cotton effect fabric (which was not cooperating when I was trying to photograph it in focus)

I’m intending to use this pattern with it:

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Which I used to make this dress (link to post with considerably better photos, initial construction post here!)

I have only made it twice (the first time was a mock-up) but it is one of my favourite patterns as it is really quick to sew and only takes a few hours, and right now, even though I had a list of stuff I wanted to sew this year, I just need to get a few wearable things out quickly to regain some momentum, as having been out of action with the building for the best part of two months, and having spent the two months before working on that steampunk/lolita dress (which incidentally having mulled it over for a while I now reckon I know exactly what I need to do to fix it.) I’m kind of really rather behind and a little frustrated. I also have a massive gap in my wardrobe for just every day long sleeved dresses.

The second piece of fabric I  have is this….

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Which is just a standard viscose. But I absolutely love the pattern on it. For some reason it massively reminds me of Studio Ghibli films, especially Nausicaa, as its the same shade of blue as her outfit and has pollen/dandelions on it.

However, when mulling over what to do with it, I realised it has a much more mainstream pop culture reference going…

Disney "Beauty & the Beast 3D" Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

 

(image nicked randomly off google)

Which leaves me with a bit of a quandary. What I would like to do with this fabric is a 40’s style dress same as the one above, but there is only just about 2m of it, so even if I ignore any ideas about directional pattern placement it is going to be a bit of a squeeze. A pinafore dress such as my dragon one would solve the problem nicely (with less ruffles as I don’t have enough fabric). But if I’m going to do that, I might as well make it full on Belle cosplay, which does not go with my current hair colour and actually, despite me happily wandering round half the time wearing lolita or other OTT fashions, kinda isn’t my style. So I am going to have to go through my pattern collection really carefully and work out a way to use this fabric I’m happy with.

Hopefully I’ll have at least one dress to show by the end of next week, however I am once again struggling to get my roots dyed in a timely fashion (seriously giving Courtney Love a run for her money at the moment) as the towels I customarily use for the job (Ie the old skanky, it doesn’t matter if they get bleach on them ones) have been used to clean up for the builders, and it is only as I intended to sort it out today that I realised I needed to put them through the washing machine. So it will be next week before I get to do that too, and I’m sure as hell not taking any more pictures with my hair in this state! I’m sure I’ll manage though!

dragon dress again, new fabric and a caged Skeksi!

Finally six months later I have managed to get a good picture of me in my dragon lolita dress  that I made for doing Daenerys Targaryen Lolita cosplay at the Scifi weekend.  Unfortunately though I had fun, and though the wig I bought was actually reasonable quality, it did not suit my skin tone at all, also everyone was drinking and playing guitar and getting flattering pictures for my blog wasn’t a high priority (to be fair not really for me either) so the pictures I have are absolutely terrible.

To add insult to injury I’d actually been out the week before with a friend wearing the co-ord without the wig and a professional photographer had taken pictures of me that were unbelievably amazing, but they had all kinds of ‘Do not reproduce….ever’ signs up on their website, so I can’t share them on here 😦

These ones were taken by Jon when we were out in Shoreditch last week, so they will do nicely I suppose!

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Hairbow and JSK by me (fabric by Alexander Henry)

Blouse by New Look

Petticoat by Bodyline

Generic black tights and Clarkes shoes.

I am in desperate need of more accessories to go with this outfit. I have the stuffed dragon handbag, but it wasn’t suitable for what I was doing that day. Particularly a cute necklace.

Since I made the dress in January the cost of the Alexander Henry Dragons fabric I used seems to have more than doubled on etsy. (the one I have linked to may look reasonable, but omg have you seen the price of their international shipping!) part of me is relieved I made it when I did, part of me is sad as a friend asked me to make one for them, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get the fabric cheap enough to again!

Anyway…..

I have been working on a dress I’ve nearly finished but have been slightly scuppered by illness this week. grrrr!

The fabric stall is also back on Lewisham Market 😀 and she had new stock in, so I may have gone a bit nuts…

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I actually know what I am intending to do with all of it, but it will have to wait a while as I have stuff to keep me busy for the next several months!

Also last weekend, we went shopping in East Dulwich and found a birdcage in a charity shop. it is just the right size for making a top hat out of, but Jon for some reason has vetoed that (may have something to do with my vast collection of hats already that I hardly ever wear), I really want to stuff it with fairies or goblins or poisonous looking silk flowers or something, but I don’t currently own anything suitable, so it has been put to good use containing our Skeksi model Chancellor for the moment…..

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Doesn’t he look cute! 🙂

charity shopping… the successes and the failures

last Thursday I took my friend Liz, who has just moved into the area and is currently not working up to Beckenham for a spot of charity shopping.

The Beckenham Charity Shop Crawl has become such a popular activity for old ladies and hipsters on the weekend that I tend to avoid going there on Saturdays anymore, so Thursday was the perfect time to go.

We had a really good fun day, the weather was nice, the shops were productive and we finished with a trip to our local pub the Catford Bridge Tavern in the evening where conveniently an Unfined (vegan) Beer Festival was happening.

However I am somewhat kicking myself with what i bought/didn’t buy…..

Firstly the successes……

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This may only be small, but its a really beautiful hair clip, perfect if I was going in a Dolly Kei direction and it was only £2.50 so I am well pleased.

The complete stars of the show……

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These were only £3 each, which even by charity shop standards is ridiculously low for frames of that quality, basically because the frames were a little chipped ;nothing that a little nail varnish and a few strategic flowers or bows won’t fix!

I wasn’t interested in the pictures at first and infact was going to ditch them, when it was pointed out to me that a few strategically placed zombies or faries will make them immeasurably more interesting.:-)

It will have to wait a few weeks though as our printer is out of cartridge, and part of our next stage of house reorganisation involves replacing it with a photocopier style wireless one and I’m intending to go down the collage route rather than try to draw my own.

But I am so excited to get playing with them and get them on the walls.

Then there was the failure…..

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I was so excited when I found this…….I spent half of last year looking for a plus sized version of those Wednesday Adams dresses that were so popular last year and couldn’t find one. This one from Wallis is sized 22, large for me, but easy enough to take in and looked in good nick in the shop, hence I forked out £8 for it, which is rather a lot for me for charity shopping.

When I got it out in daylight I realised the collar and cuffs were a bit grubby so I decided to put it in the machine with a load of stain remover and it should be fine…well it worked with absolutely every other black and white garment I have ever owned!

Got it home, checked the tags and it was cold wash only. Thought that was a bit wierd, but added loads of stain remover and soaked it in a bucket of cold water for a couple of hours anyway. And then I came back and realised the water was dark grey, the collar and cuffs looked way worse than before and if I didn’t do something soon it would be a complete emergency! 

So we drained it in the bath (permanently staining our white rubber non slip bath mat in the process) and as a last resort stuck it on its own in the washing machine at 40 with even more stain remover of various types.

Funnily enough the dress didn’t seem to mind a warm wash at 40 at all! However on a dress where the contrast between the collar and cuffs and main part of the dress is the whole point of it, the white bits are now a grubby shade of grey!

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I mean really what sort of complete idiot company designs and then mass manufactures a black and white dress that isn’t actually colourfast? Grrr! And also irritation reserved for the original owner, they must have known it was a dud, in which case Don’t Send It To The Charity Shop If It’s Broken!!!!

I’m not sure what to do with it now…Part of me wants to send it straight to a fabric bank (the correct offloading point for substandard clothes) but I am tempted to cut the collar and cuffs off and use them as templates, I have a small amount of a really nice silver and black jacquard brocade I acquired off my favourite market stall that would work wonders as a replacement for them. And would be safe in the washing machine with a staining dress!

I have so many projects on the go already though!

I am also slightly gutted because I left a miniature white china ladies head behind in a shop, i looked at it, decided we couldn’t use any more ornaments and completely forgot that it was exactly the right size to store a miniature hat.

I also spent a good few minutes eyeing up a black glass bead necklace and left it behind as I got distracted when actually i desperately need one and that was quite good quality.

I am so upset in fact I may even go back tomorrow and see if they are still there after the carnage of the weekend. 

Its always the bits that you leave behind get you the most, I suppose cuz you never see them again and everything you actually buy becomes literally part of the furniture.

But I would just like to take a moment to remember the solid wood framed gold gilt oval mirror and black lacquer marquetry tissue box from when we lived in Finchley (I forgot you can buy stuff and then collect it on saturday, and my parents hurried me away) and the working ice cream maker and amazing tacky hand knitted xmas sweater from Hitchin (I was just being dopey, I thought £20 was a bit steep for a sweater, then I looked up how much they cost online these days)……never will I see their like again!

Wardrobe of treasure.

Had lovely time on holiday, nice and quiet and spacious compared to London. 🙂

As I’d previously mentioned we had to start redecorating and arranging our flat pretty much out the blue because we had a bit of a mould problem.

We hadn’t intended to do anything this holiday, but staying in a two bedroom house with a livingroom that would swallow our entire flat and was beautifully decorated, made us very keen to get our place as nice as we possibly could when we got home.

So on sunday we tackled my fabric collection. When we moved here 3 years ago, my fabric stash was fairly minimal and Jon had a lot of very bulky band equipment, so my fabric lived in a chest, and then when that broke, our Ikea Expedit cube shelves in the living room and Jons band equipment was contained in a large wardrobe in our bedroom.

Over the years however, I’ve got more into sewing and my fabric has bred and multiplied and taken over the entire living room, whilst Jons band equipment has actually shrunk as more and more technologys gone digital and it no longer makes sense to keep massive bass amps lying around and stuff. Also I access my fabric frequently, but not all that often as I take what i need for a project at a time, whereas Jon does some kind of music practice or messing around with recording software on the computer pretty much every day.

So we decided to swap.

So I moved 8 Expedit cubes, plus one basket, plus a couple of bits rammed in in various places, of fabric into the wardrobe and Jon moved what turned out to be 2 Expedit cubes full of leads and pedals etc, and 3 guitars out.

We have not finished in the living room yet to post pictures of how much better it looks, but here is what the wardrobe looks like. I just about got everything in!

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It is obviously bulging at the seams, but there is one glaring gap in my fabric collection at the moment, which is novelty cottons to make alternative dresses with. I think this is because they tend to be quite expensive, but it will be rectified 🙂