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….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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thrifting

Set free as vintage gloves

There is something about an object with a story. A witness to the past. However humble it may be, turning it over in your hand, or stroking the surface, it has a tale to tell. Sometimes it is already known. Documented. Other times you can follow the clues. As a crafter, a real joy for me is that occasionally, I can add to its story, before setting it free to continue the journey.

These gloves are a good example.

Back in September, I picked up four balls of yarn from a charity shop. Each 1 ounce and 100% pure “new” wool.  Made in Great Britain. In other words, they had been spun and wrapped before the metric system was introduced into the UK. Before my time.

Judging by the font of the writing on the paper band around each ball, I guess that these balls of yarn had started their journey around the 1960s. Someone had bought them. Maybe there were more of them and only these four had been surplus to requirements. Were they stored away all that time, or had they jumped from one charity shop to another?

I only popped in to the shop, as I had unexpected bonus of time to kill. It was a lucky find. Priced at a level that I could never buy 100% pure wool in a modern wool shop.

I knew straight away that they would make a perfect pair of gloves. Also, who they should be given to. I dug out my favourite vintage glove pattern, which I’ve knitted many times. The pattern used to belong to my grandmother. It has her notes, scribbled all over it. Anyway, it felt like the right period.

I made a mistake with the sizing. I knitted one glove and had to undo it. Second time around, I knitted both gloves at the same time. With something like gloves, it makes sure that they match.

The gloves are now finished and gifted on to my sister. I’ve told her that once she is finished with them, that she should send them on their journey. Set free from their paper band and their charity shop basket, they feel like they need to continue their story. She says that it won’t be for a while. They are exceedingly warm to wear. I hope that they will journey with her for a bit.

So the moral of the story is to check out the odd ball section of the charity shops. There is a chance that you might just find something that deserves a turn to be set free.

I still have two balls left. I already know what to make from them.

All about the tablecloth

Almost to the day, two years ago, I found a hand embroidered tablecloth in a local charity shop. The stitches were beautiful. Clusters of flowers, joined by ribbons and bows. I cannot imagine how long it took the stitcher to stitch the whole cloth. It looks like love has been poured into the piece. All those little, precise stitches sewn in colourful threads. It hadn’t faded either.

I could be over romanticizing it, of course. It has been known. The embroiderer might have hated it. Completing it under duress. Stabbing the linen with each stitch, but I don’t think so. Something made them finish it. The stitches are too good. I can’t believe they didn’t feel some joy while making it. That’s good enough for me. I’m going with the love.  Just look at those flowers. I’d be proud to make it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to allow it to languish on the charity shop shelf any longer. It needed to be used and admired.

So I brought it home. Washed it. Used it once. Then put it away in the cupboard and there it stayed.

Sigh.

Part of the problem was that I wanted to use it outside. Now we tend to use a parasol for the tables outside, to provide extra shade. Any cloth we use would need a hole slap bang in the middle, which my rescued table cloth did not have.

A couple of days ago, inspiration struck. I’d make a hole. Not a big light bulb moment, admittedly, but maybe I needed the two years to realise I wasn’t going to use the table cloth for anything else, and it wasn’t going to be used unless a hole was cut.

Deep breath. Scissors out. Snip.

To tidy the cut edges and stop it fraying, I encased them in bias binding. I had just enough off-white coloured binding for the straight edges. I used a dark red to go round the hole. I hand stitched most of it, as I wanted to keep it true to its original making style.

Diving into my ribbon drawer, I found two pieces of red gingham ribbon. Different widths, but I decided the smaller one would look good at the table cloth edge without overpowering the surrounding flowers and the wider one would work in the centre.
They don’t distract from the embroidered flowers.

Final touch was to make a cream tea and serve it outside today. (Scones, with jam and cream, and tea.) I think it was a bit of a surprise for the children when they got in from school. Fine china and cream teas is not an every day occurrence.  Never to miss out on a good thing, the children seemed to take the change of routine in their stride. Scones soon disappeared. Let’s hope they don’t expect this every day from now on.

I’m so glad I gave the table cloth a new lease of life. It should stay on more times out of ten, against the wind too. I don’t know the story behind the cloth and how it ended up in a charity shop, but I hope the person who made it would appreciate the care I’ve taken and the use it will now get.

 

And I made a cushion too

Ralph Lauren Koi fish cushion top

There is something truly satisfying when a modest charity find turns into more than originally imagined. When you spot something you like, take it home, and find the perfect place for it. Doesn’t always work, but over the years, I have had a few notable wins.

Take the half finished curtain I found a few years ago. As soon as I spotted the blue fish, I fell in love with the fabric. So I paid the princely price of £2 (I know, unbelievable – and it was lined) and brought it home.

charity shop fabric Ralph Lauren

It was too long for the bathroom window, so I cut the bottom off and hemmed it. It really worked well in the bathroom. I discovered, printed on the selvedge “Ralph Lauren – Home”. Hmm. I have expensive taste.  Somehow it seemed even more of a bargain for my £2 investment.

bathroom curtains

The curtain is still in use in the bathroom. It has survived the dirty hands, and been washed many times. This is good quality fabric. It’s showing no signs of needing to be replaced.

Ralph Lauren Koi fish cushion materials

 

This left the cut off fabric. It has been sitting in my fabric cupboard, all this time. Making me smile every time I see the fish. They are so beautiful. I needed to make something from the fabric. This week, I finally took the plunge. (pun intended)

After all, I have a good reason. For the first time, I’ve got a dedicated sewing room. Happy times! No longer do I need to clear my current project away, every time we sit down, as a family, to eat. I even can grab the odd 10 minutes to sew. Oh bliss!

sequin helper

I wanted to make something special for my new work space. There was enough fabric to make a cushion. Even allowing for a bit of fussy cutting, to position a whole fish on the front. Using my rotary cutter, I sliced the fabric into three pieces, to make an envelope style cushion.

Hmm. What do I spy? It seems my new area has attracted a helper. Just the right height for him to stand and play assist.

sequin fish

The fabric is lovely. I love the fish, but I wanted to make it mine. Like a fairy godmother, I added a splash of mini pom-poms and a sprinkle of sequins. Maybe not quite so many sequins as my assistant suggested, but one in each of the fish eyes would do.  (I wonder if he would have suggested so many if it was left to him to sew them on………..)

Ralph Lauren Koi fish cushion top

We had a bit of a debate about which way up this particular fish was meant to be. Fortunately, an “up” symbol was printed on the fabric (first time I’ve seen this symbol – very useful), which proves that this is the way the fish is swimming. Swim, fishy, swim.

Ralph Lauren Koi fish cushion back

On the back, I managed to position two more fish. Ideally, I might have avoided some of the extra blue, but there really wasn’t much fabric left to play with.

pincushion pot in new sewing room

Now my new sewing room has a cushion. Before I show you where I put the cushion, do you fancy a quick tour of my new area?  So glad you do. Come this way. It’s alright, we haven’t got time for me to show you everything, just the layout.

I have a sewing table, where my machine is permanently set up. Remember the pots I made and turned one into a pincushion. It’s looking quite at home by my faithful machine. And very useful it is too.

bureau in sewing room

Next to the table is my bureau, which used to belong to my Grandma, and before her, my Great Grandfather. I’m using it as my work desk. I can swivel around on my chair from the desk to the sewing table and around again to the ironing board. Even my fabric cupboards are in easy reach. I couldn’t have designed it more perfectly.

Everything is white (at the moment), apart from the bureau and the floor. This is the one room in the house that I cannot reach the ceilings. Really, I mean it. Most of the rooms I can reach without resorting to standing on tippy toes. Old cottages have low ceilings. This room used to be the old wash house. Tacked on the side of the cottage. When we renovated it, we raised the roof just that little bit more and added velux windows. I’m hoping to maximize the light.

Ralph Lauren Koi fish cushion on chair

So there you are. End of tour. The cushion is to live on my chair. And very comfortable it is too. Avert your eyes from the dangling cables. I’m still setting every thing up. Although the sockets could not be better positioned.  Instead, take a sneaky look at the work-in-progress, hanging up to the right, that is next on my list.

My thrifty find, four years ago, really did work out well. I now have a beautiful bathroom curtain plus a fun cushion. And the fabric cost me not a penny more than £2. Just goes to show, it’s worth popping into a charity shop, on the off chance of a bargain. You never know what you will find.

Linking up with Thrifty Thursday.

Photos

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