Vintage Basket Revamp

I adore charity shops, not only do they suit my budget, but I find they are teeming with things that inspire me.

Take this little lovely basket, I admit now that I have a wicker fetish I simply love them and have many baskets in all shapes and forms. I think it is the tactile nature of them, similar to wood it has a living appeal.

I think this basket harps back to either fifties or forties, the colours seem to be right and someone has taken good care of it so I wanted to re-vamp it in tune with its nature.

I made an inner bag using vintage style Kath Kidstonesque fabric from Fabricland. I love the combination of reds and greens, who says they should never be seen eh?

It makes the basket a little more useful as I can keep my purse in it and not have it on show while I am shopping.

I made the little bow on the side to match my stripy fifties dress I was wearing to Goodwood revival.

I could not resist adding the bobble ribbon round the rim, and the strawberries were fun to do which was a good job because the day I finished it someone’s dog chewed one off! They are hand stitched and it always surprises me how relaxing hand sewing can be. I used some red suiting I had left over and some green felt that I had made from an old blanket. I also filled the strawberries with some rice to give them a little weight. The buttons are from a new range Tilda has brought out they are designed for scrapbooking, but they were perfect for this because they are so tiny!

As with all things the project grew a little, I glue gunned the edge of the liner to the basket to fix it in place otherwise it would constantly sag. I also added lovely velvet ribbon round the handles as I found the handles cut in when the basket was full.

I love it, especially shopping with it it is so pretty.

If you would like to make some strawberries of your own, leave your email address in the comments box and I will send it to you.

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Playing dress up

Remember the dressing up box you had as a child, the sheer pleasure of wearing something that felt wonderful, like a big circular skirt? or the dress that made you feel like a fairy princess? It is a sad thing that as adults we rarely get the chance to dress up! Goodwood revival is one of those great opportunities to dress up and have fun!

What delighted me is that there are so many people dressed up, and smiling! Clothes were from all periods from sequinned from the twenties, the grace of the thirties, with satin and fur, and the utilitarian 40’s. I personally love the fifties, mostly because I have an hourglass figure and it suits my frame.

What I noticed was that everyone was having fun, most people had dressed up and there were not just beautiful dresses but hats and gloves too. I never miss a chance to wear a hat, but the weather was very draughty, I nearly lost it a couple of times!

There is so much to see, not just fantastic cars but lots of vintage clothing stores and motorbikes. There was even a vintage tesco with all the goods packaged in vintage labels!

The racing was exciting, if noisy and we also spent some time looking at the cars in the pits! There was even a whole group dressed like the guys from Dad’s Army and very good they looked too.

These are my fellow Belle’s, we all met up for a spot of lunch. Three of the girls had made their own dresses, and it was so lovely to see them! The sun came out in the afternoon and it became Glorious Goodwood. I put my head in the dancing tent, and watched a little of the lindy hop, it is so good to see it this setting, it felt so authentic, especially as the big band was live music. It was a shame that I did not see any familiar faces otherwise I might have have been tempted to have a dance or two. 
We spent a little time in the Kenwood Kitchen seeing demonstrations, I love my kenwood, Andy brought it along with him when he moved in. I really do think he looks like a farmer, but an adorable one! 
After 6 hours we were both feeling a little footsore but happy, there was still much more to see, but we were too tired! Will definitely have to go again next year… just enough time to plan my next outfit! 

September

I love September it gives me a sense of connection at no other time of year, although it heralds the start of Autumn for me it is all about new beginnings.

I remember that excitement of walking to school again after the long summer holidays with a spring in my step the anticipation of a new class teacher or that sense of excitement when you step over the threshold of your senior school for the first time. I only have to close my eyes and I am walking through the piles of crunchy leaves smelling the crisp fresh air of September as I tread the path to school. September was a time when you were given new fresh exercise books and also where you were determined to ‘write neatly’ to preserve the beauty of the notebooks. I am sure the sheer delight I have in buying a vast and wide selection of notebooks harps back to this.

The other joy of this time of year is jam making and blackberry picking. We used to blackberry pick as children, enjoying the free food harvest and my mother would appreciate us bringing back plastic boxes laden with fruit to be made into blackberry and apple crumble. It was while I was out one day I came across an extraordinary woman, who I think influenced me more than any other. She took us back to her small victorian cottage where in her pieced together kitchen, a far cry from my Mother’s immaculate but hardly used fitted one, she taught us things like jam making, candid peel and cordials. Her garden was full of vegetables waiting to be picked sitting on her threadbare chaise long one afternoon after stirring the Christmas pudding, I think I decided this was how I wanted to live my life. It was a taste of domestic bliss. I knew she wasn’t as rich as we were as a family, her house was small and scruffy whereas ours was pristine and glossy, yet, I would have done anything to live in that small house with her. I think she was my inspiration and I do feel connected with her every time I make jam or bake a cake but especially when I pick blackberries because that was how we met.

I made both jam and raspberry syrup with my hoard, this jam is a pot full of memories spending a lovely warm sunny afternoon picking the raspberries chatting to my friend Trish. We were inspired by the talk by Rosemary Moon gave at the Blakes Belles the previous Monday. Rosemary made a couple of pounds of jam as well as apple curd and pickles within the space of an hour or so. She also told us about the Apple Festival coming up at West Dean I am really looking forward to going, not only do they do some wonderful courses, but they have the most beautiful grounds I have been told. Rosemary Moon’s website is a sheer delight and if you are looking for recipes that really do work well then I can recommend it. She really does know her stuff, and had us all giggling. I love it when we can be inspired by others.

The other joy of September is that I feel the excitement building for Christmas, I love planning and cooking and making things for the Celebration and it is a wonderful three months, but then that is another post.

Happy jam making!

Naughty but nice – Applique

There are times when I am rushing through a project and my sewing machine is going great guns  it is all about getting the project done but hand sewing seems to be the opposite. It means that you have to take your time, enjoy the process of creation one stitch at a time. I made this project one sunny afternoon in our little caravan, the appliqué is entirely hand stitched right down to the beads and ribbon bow, but the bag itself is machine stitched.  I use it to keep all my tights handy as they seem to end up all over the place. It is unashamedly girlie but then I am a girl after all. 

Roses and tea

I find that wool shops can be like stepping into an artists palette, the colours and hues really do excite me. There seems to be an endless variety of textures as well as colours and after years of seeing haberdasheries and wool shops disappearing, the new wave of knitters and hookers has seen an upsurge in new wool varieties, merino and alpaca as well as denim, but I have a liking for cotton type wool and this is called baby bamboo.

Choosing colour is difficult for some people they are daunted by the sheer magnitude but I find if you look at a range you will find that the shades and colours have a harmony. Such was the case with this, there were a beautiful palette of the baby colours, blues, yellows as well as greens. The pink has come out in this picture a lot brighter than it is naturally it is lovely. Very soft to work with and gentle on the hands.

I have a sweet little tea pot, from Whittards, its lovely blue and white but was being swamped under tea cosies made for stouter pots! I felt it was small enough to practise on!

I wanted to learn to crochet but I have a terrible problem understanding practical things from books,  I wish I had let my Nan show me when she wanted to, she made the most wonderful bed covers using the granny square!

Since she could not show me, I did the next best thing and I took myself off to a local WI where a lovely lady kindly showed me the basics. I was then able to decipher the books and learn new stitches, but I still struggle to follow patterns!

So this is my little journey into playing with various stitches, made from two straight easy pieces of plain crochet and some practice frills. The roses were great fun, as usual I went off the pattern to create my own rose  but I was pleased with the results.

Crochet is so much more free form than knitting, you can make holes, add frills or simply pull and it will all come undone and you can start again. It really is the most forgiving wonderful craft.