Archive for May, 2013

When will I ever learn…?

May 29, 2013

Well. It’s been one of those “when-will-I-ever-learn?” days. I know I have ENOUGH stock to do the festival with now, although there are still things I’d like to have and think would be fun. But I don’t need any more, and I’m struggling to store what I already have. However I developed a nasty case of Ebay finger last weekend and put in a rock-bottom bid on something I would never normally have looked twice at, vis. a bundle of binbags allegedly containing “vintage” clothing. My reasoning was that it was, if not exactly close by, fairly accessible, and there looked to be enough that it was likely there’d be at least a couple of decent pieces in there, which would cover the cost of buying it plus the transport costs of fetching it, and hopefully more. I wouldn’t have gone above the initial bid, though, and I thought there’d probably be dealers closer to it who would swoop at the last minute & drive the price up. They didn’t. I won.

So yesterday I asked for the address to collect from, today being the first day I was free to pick up. And was a little miffed to find that the bags weren’t so easy to reach after all, but 20 miles further on from where Ebay had placed them, well off the beaten track. They were where the seller works, not where he lives. But I girded my loins, allocated more time & went anyway, though by now I’d convinced myself that I was driving a long way – and back again too! – for stuff that was likely to be mostly rubbish, and had lain awake half the night mentally kicking myself. When I arrived, there were at least twice as many bags as had been shown in the picture; luckily I had the larger car with me, the one where all the back seats fold flat to give a load-space not dissimilar to a small van. But it was touch & go; I had to belt several bags into the front passenger seat & drive back without any rear view to speak of, just using my door mirrors. Worryingly, the glimpses I’d got where the bags had split weren’t very promising – bobbly jumpers, greying underwear, lots of socks. However, it was a lovely day (though I’d rather have been outside in it than driving) and Classic FM played some of my favourites, and the road was reasonably clear & free of recklessly competitive idiots, so a smooth & swift journey both ways soothed my soul a little.

When I got back, I had a welcome spot of home-made French Onion soup, then we set to; 3 girls & I spent all afternoon sorting clothes. And phew! Indeed there was some decent stuff, enough to make it well worth my while to have gone; a few high-value items and a reasonable amount of useful stuff that I suspect will be very handy to have & will sell for a pound or two; those pounds add up quite quickly. There are even some things in there that we’re keeping; a brand new pair of comfortable, soft red leather shoes that fit me like a glove, a very warm & practical dark blue wool serapé that’s round my shoulders now, and a lifetime supply of just about brand new, decent nightwear in my size. The shoes alone will have cost more than I paid for the whole lot. But I’ve also taken one full bag of donations (some things still in their original packaging) and three of rags (worth money again now) to a local charity shop, and there are at least 10 full bags waiting to be picked up by our indefatiguable local jumble collector, who appears to have a bottomless garage. And the washing machine has been going full blast cleaning things that will be dismantled for fabric – for example, a large quantity of cotton paisley pyjamas, well past selling on but made from lovely fabric – or felting.

So all in all, I’ve come out of this escapade without too much damage. Actually I think I’ve been very lucky; bidding on something sight unseen, age & quantity unknown, is pretty stupid, really. But all’s well that ends well. Now – where the heck am I going to put it all…?


Steaming mad!

May 11, 2013

Yet again, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew 😉  I’ve signed up to do not one, but two stalls at a major festival this summer. All I can say in my defence is that it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I know it will be huge fun. But I really hadn’t thought it through; I need five days worth of stock! And the thing about properly vintage stuff is, they’re not making any more of it.

So, although I’ve had a couple of major haberdashery “finds” lately, I’ve also had to start buying stuff in, sight unseen. And the results have been very variable! The first “job lot”, a sack full of maxi dresses from the 60s & 70s, was utterly delightful; virtually all clothes that I would have loved to have been able to wear back then, if I could have a) afforded them, or b) had the skills to make them (which I’ve painstakingly acquired since) c) had anything to wear them to or d) fitted into them – Twiggy has a lot to answer for! Just one dress made me blench, a salmon-pink nylon extravangza with white lace & ruffles. But maybe someone out there will love it…

The job lot of lurex clothing was a bit hit & miss; I won’t lose out for having bought it, because there are over a hundred items & the vast majority are saleable. Some are absolute treasures, but quite a few don’t really qualify as vintage, as they have holographic sequins, which I’m fairly sure didn’t come into common use until the mid 90s. And two items were not just dubious, but wrecked; a pair of glittery trousers which smelt strongly of smoke also had extensive mouse damage, and a top had been badly hacked off above the waist in an abandoned attempt to make it into a bolero.

But another delight has been the velvet jackets. We lived in velvet jackets from about ’76 to about ’82; I’m pretty sure I had at least three at any given time. All bought in charity shops, needless to say. But they are a bit of a nightmare to clean, so a sack full of crumpled velvet is going to be a bit of a challenge… Luckily I have a steam cleaner, which came to me for free a couple of years ago. I’m still investigating what it can do; I’ve been a bit reluctant to use however many kilowatts it gobbles up, given our ever-escalating fuel prices, but I’m even more reluctant to slosh chemicals around or pay dry-cleaning prices. And I’m thrilled with the results of a few minutes steam on the velvet; it took about two minutes to go from this:


to this:


There’s still work to do, not to mention about 20 more jackets to steam, but I’m beginning to believe it’s do-able now. And come to think of it, it might even give me an excuse to hang onto, at least temporarily, the beautiful Lloyd Loom ottoman that came my way last week; the fabric on the top is original & very lovely, but quite badly stained, yet I can’t bear to rip it off & replace it with something more to modern tastes. But it’d be a very good thing to store half a ton of semi-vintage lurex in & sell it from…