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Archive for the ‘thrifting’ Category

I’ve been doing a little sewing in the background, because it’s hard not to think about making pretty things–and then make those things happen.

I bought several charm packs of Moda’s Poetry fabric, and made some zakka style curtains for the living room. They sadly don’t photograph well because of all the light behind them, but they came out perfectly and I love them. And then I found myself with an extra charm pack of squares, so I set to work on using them up.

First I made this zakka bunny tote. It’s huge!3

I didn’t use those brick color squares in my living room curtains, because the color was too strong for that use. So they got used up in this tote!

3a

I embroidered the bunny by hand, and then did some light quilting so the batting stays in place.

3b

 

3d

These are actually the fabric patterns in colors that I didn’t like so much. But aren’t they still pretty?

3e

In case you haven’t checked my etsy shop lately, I will mention this tote is available for sale there. I make too many totes to keep for myself!

This next tote is also using my remaining Poetry fabrics. These were more my first-choice color/patterns, and it’s always a little sob in the heart to use them up. But there’s no purpose if they’re gathering dust on a shelf, right?

zakkatote

I gave this tote to a writer friend, and included the covered notebook. So she can carry around her notebook and write down all those momentary thoughts before they get away.

zakkatotebook

I thrifted the embroidered doily a long time ago, and hurray, it has finally found its purpose! I thrifted that pretty ribbon, too.

zakkatotoeclose

My sister (you can visit her blog, and her etsy shop–she lives in Japan!) gave me the watermelon fabric, and I knew it would end up in an apron.

apron3

That green and pink is pretty vibrant, so finding the right accent fabric could have been a challenge. But you know what? My sister had already given me the rose fabric (Lecien brand, Flower/Sugar pattern from maybe 2015).

apron2

I’m not much of a ruffle person and find making the gathers tedious because I hate pinning, and the thread always breaks, and on and on. But didn’t they turn out lovely? I probably only pricked myself with a pin twice, too.

apron

Another thrifted doily, just sewed straight on to make a pocket. When the top edge folds naturally over, it makes its own decoration and edge. How perfect is that?

apronpocket

And lastly, all the apricots on the apricot tree. I swear this tree is only four years old, but it’s about 30 feet tall now. Maybe 20. But MUCH larger than I ever expected. The variety is, if I remember right (and I am pretty sure I do) called Chinese Mormon Apricot.

apricot1

Even better? The apricots are not all buggy!

apricot2

The branches are so loaded with fruit they are touching the ground.

apricots3

 

 

And that’s my summer so far. How is yours going?

 

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flea market find

We went to a flea market/craft show. I thought it was a craft show, but really it was a flea market. In the bigger picture I’m happy with either, I was just expecting crafts. So I didn’t go with enough cash in my pocket to buy everything I wanted–because you never do, do you? I would have left with a lot more. We bought a plate of divinity (don’t you love divinity?), a gently used stuffed horse, and a pair of embroidered pillowcases.

My indoor lighting makes them look dingy, but really the cloth is fresh white.

pillow1

The lady who did the embroidery must have been 90. She explained, “There’s a lot of work that goes into these,” and I said, “Yes, I know, that’s why I’m happy to buy it from you instead of doing it myself.”  Because I know there’s 20 hours in these pillowcases. You can’t pay for that, that’s a labor of love. And of course she wasn’t charging as though she’d put 20 hours into them, which always hurts my heart a little bit. I don’t want to take advantage of anyone.

pillow3

She had a second pair, but I didn’t have enough cash to buy both, darn it. This pair had a crochet edge, and since I don’t know crochet I opted to buy these. She chose different colors than I would have chosen, so that’s part of the fun buying the work of someone else.

pillow2

It makes me wish there were more flea markets to visit. I asked, and it is held only every 4 months. Next time I’ll have to make sure to be prepared!

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My heart stopped for just a second, anyway. Do you ever feel like that, that if you take a breath or look away the moment might be shattered and whatever you see might not really be true?

That’s how I felt when I laid eyes on these patterns.

greciandress

Can you see view A? I think this pattern is from between 1920 and 1924. Views A and B have a Grecian, art deco feel. Quick research just showed me “Standard Designer” put out a fashion magazine at the turn of the 1900s, so must have branched out into patterns. Note this one cost forty-cents — that was a lot for a pattern! Most were a dime, or fifteen-cents. I haven’t unfolded it yet (you can see the edge got all chewed off), because I suspect I’ll only be able to unfold it one time and I want to have some tracing paper on hand. The measurements are my measurements, but since ladies are so much taller today I wonder if it will really fit? We’ll find out!

coatdress

I’d say this one is between 1928 and 1933. The hat, the hair, tell me it’s right around then. I’d make view 2, in the center, with the bit of frill at the neck. Having made this kind of pattern before, I know that skirt is not a breeze to put together. This pattern originally cost fifteen-cents.

patternenvelope

This last one is a slip pattern. And it’s easy to date, since the postmark says June 6, 1932. It was mailed from San Francisco, even though the pattern company was located in Portland, OR? I wonder how that happened…? Yay, a period slip to go with the dresses! These are going to be so much fun!!!

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thrifting: hand towel

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for bathroom linens ever since my friend Ginger showed me her beautiful bathroom sink. You need just the right sort of vintage linen to show off on that towel bar.

I finally found one.

towel

What’s remarkable is that the entire thing seems hand-sewn. The edges are rolled and stitched by hand, and all the tiny tiny blanket stitch on the applique is by hand.

towelclose

I was so amazed to find this towel, it appears unused. And of course I half-hate to let it go, but I don’t have the right bathroom to show it off in (yet!). You need a vintage sink to really show off such a pretty vintage towel. Sigh. I hope you like it, Ginger!

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I bought this cabinet before I learned about chalk paint, so it waited a long time for me to get around to painting it. I knew what I wanted it to end up like, but not how to do it. Aaaannd, I have since learned that yes, you can make your own chalk paint. Ace Hardware gets so many requests, they printed the recipe and hand it out at the paint counter. You can use either unsanded grout, or plaster-of-paris as the binder (look it up and the internet for exact paint/binder ratios), and any latex paint. I haven’t yet tried to see if it works with bold primary colors, or if the binder acts to turn it into a pastel — anybody out there tried it? So mixing your own instead of buying it takes the price down to half or less what I was paying for ready-made. Plus, Ace also sells the clear and dark wax, made by Minwax. For one-third the cost of the stuff sold with the ready-made paint. Doh. Not that I’m denigrating the ready-made, it worked beautifully.

I didn’t think to take a photo right away, so here’s the cabinet after I started painting the inside.

cabinetbefore

I love the carvings on it, and is why I bought it in the first place. I especially love the tulips on the bottom doors. I was careful to not hide them with too much paint.

cabinettulip

I wanted the inside to be the warm color of a seashell. The outside is actually a gray-blue, but so light it ended up looking a very cool white. I used a light touch of dark wax everywhere to shabby it up. Overall, I love how it turned out and it’s so much nicer not having a dark hulk in the corner anymore!

cabinetdone

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You’d think I would have thought to take photos of the “before” version, but I didn’t. I had painted this dresser about 15 years ago, using first a dark blue all over, and then a cream enamel over that that I sanded to distress it here and there and let the blue show through. I was not happy with the final result, but didn’t know what to do to fix it.

In the meantime, this thing called the internet came along, and with it exposure to tons of crafty and decorating ideas straight out of the heads of Other People. I know! It was like a miracle had occurred. And so I read decorating blogs, and found out about Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, the revolutionary shabby chic paint. Well, maybe no real revolutions were started over it, but if we lived anywhere near Lilliput it may have been a possibility.

On to the Photos!

The top coat is Annie Sloan’s Paris Gray. It is very flat, almost a cement color

I painted the outside of the dresser, and all the drawer fronts.

I had a helper do the distressing, sanding off patches here and there to reveal the white or blue paint beneath the gray.

The paint sands off very easily, and I should say that even though the price of the paint is a little high, one of the liter cans is enough to paint all the shabby chic furniture in a small living room or bedroom.

After sanding comes the waxing. Annie Sloan has a clear wax for finishing, and a darker clear wax to give paint an aged patina. I used the dark wax. Here is a compare photo of a waxed and an unwaxed drawer. Sorry about the flash glare.

Here is the completed dresser, sans pulls.

The dark wax definitely “warms” the gray. And darkens it quite a lot. It is recommended you wax first with the clear wax, and then the dark wax, and then wipe off the dark wax to end up with a lighter finish. I didn’t know to buy the clear wax, but will pick some up. I can’t wait to do that, and get this thing buffed up!

I should also say, this was a very plain dresser to begin with. I bought those wood scrollworks separately and glued them on to three drawers to dress it up a little.

This could be posted in my 1-day-projects. Painting is very easy, and it dries quickly. I was afraid to wax by brush because I was afraid of ruining a brush, but in the end I couldn’t wipe with a rag deeply enough into the scroll work and sacrificed a brush. But the wax did wash right out with soap and warm water, so whew! In the end, you will use more wax than you do paint.

Overall, I am very pleased!

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I haven’t been thrifting in a very long time, I guess I just got tired of buying interesting things that I don’t really need. When I spot something I just “have to have,” I ask myself, “The next time I move, is that going to go with me?” and if I have to admit it’s something not worth the effort, time, expense, to move–then I’m not going to buy it now. It’s only a semi-practical exercise in self-restraint, but at least it makes me think about my purchases.

So I was looking for old sheets to use as curtain lining, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $5 for a used sheet when a new one is $7 on sale. Really, when I started thrifting only 5 years ago, a sheet was $2. I don’t understand why some places want to ask so much for donated items–they pay nothing for their inventory. I guess that’s the other reason I stopped thrifting, the prices started becoming unreasonable.

My expedition to Goodwill was not entirely a lost cause, they had a rack full of clothing patterns mostly from the 1980s and 90s. Someone else must have picked out the earlier patterns, if there were any. I just don’t think the blousy, big shouldered looks of the 1980s are going to make a comeback. Ever. So even though I did look at every pattern there, I came away with 2 maybes, which just happened to be bundled in the same bag for 99-cents.

This kitchen combo is dated 1977. I have to think that the pattern companies made much better profit back then, because you can still buy a similar pattern to this for this price–or less if you catch a fabric store on 99-cent pattern day (limit 10 per customer). The cozies are as follows: 2-slice toaster cover, 4-slice toaster cover, blender cover. I’ll never make those, but it’s nice to have a pattern. Are blenders even made so tall anymore?

Which brings me to my other topic, this lovely blouse on Debbie Reynolds. At first I thought she was wearing a printed blouse, but on closer look, that’s embroidery. I have seen this stitch called chicken-scratch on aprons, so maybe it’s called the same on clothing. Even the hem on her sleeve is rolled and whip stitched by hand. Imagine how much time it would take to make this blouse.

Actually, I don’t think it would take that long.

So many many projects and so few hours.

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