Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Treasure Seeking in Dorset.

Hope you had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend...

We combined one of my buying day trips with some family fun...Hubby and I took our youngest to see the sea at Burton Bradstock.
It turned out to be a lovely sunny day, although the winds were still a bit wild...
which meant the waves were coming in quite high for this coastline.
As well as savouring the scenery, I did do a little treasure seeking...
I bought this pretty layette basket. I imagine that it would have been put together by a clever crafter in the 1930's...I ran a few small repairs to it today, but generally it is still lovely.
Love the pincushion for the nappy pins.
I also bought a gorgeous hand painted floral picture, a rose tin and a c1950's jacket.

A reel of braid will be useful for my handmade hand bags...and I've already re-purposed the hand embroidered antimacassar into a shopping bag...

Complete with a shaped bottom(!) and a Sanderson print for the back.

I've been busy making other new stock for the shop too...

More can be seen on my other blog.

My day off tomorrow and I intend to take my daughter and her boyfriend out for a treat, before my in-laws arrive for a few days stay with us.

Enjoy the rest of your week,
Niki x

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Talking Shop

Having spoken to quite a few people that I know in the retail trade, I think it is fair to say that this year has been a difficult one so far. One person said to me that in their opinion, if goods are in the high-end price bracket, then generally things are still OK, as people with money will still have some spare cash to splash around. The low-end/budget-line businesses are also managing to keep their heads above water, as more of us are having to turn to these outlets for our general buying needs.
Its the middle-of-the-road businesses that are possibly being hit hardest, as those who previously shopped with us are now faced with high utility bills, astronomical petrol prices, and food costing more and more each week. I don't intend to start getting political, but when a government is encouraging us to save rather than to spend, its another barrier to negotiate.
The fact that the items in my shop can't be considered a necessity, makes securing a sale even more precious.
I don't want to sound like I'm whinging, as I know we have it a lot better than many other countries in the world...but I just needed to get my thoughts onto my blog today, so that if/when things turn a corner and they do pick up again, I can look back and reflect that I made it through...
To look at some of the positives this week...
1: I met a lovely lady called Lisa on Friday. She had travelled from Buckinghamshire to visit my shop after reading my blog. (Having read that I had been feeling a little under-the-weather this week, she arrived with a pretty pelargonium plant for me (so sweet!) - I have already planted it in our garden :)
2: Some great news that I heard today, is that after an appeal, enough money has been raised to renovate the ageing Market Cross on Shepton Mallet's Market Place. Wonderful to think that after the work is carried out, it may stand tall for another 5 centuries or more...
3: 'The Wells Emporium' - soon to be 'Somerset Antiques & Interiors' will be opening for business early in June. Hopefully this will give a boost to the town. (I mentioned the shop that they have taken at the very end of this post.)
4: At work I am surrounded by merchandise that I love, get to meet many wonderful people, and can sit and sew to my hearts content. (If I manage to make a 'living' from it, then that will be the icing on the cake.)
That's more than enough to be going on with for now...
Keep happy thoughts and enjoy the rest of your weekend,
Niki x

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Curtain Call

Well, those curtains I mentioned weren't going to make themselves, were they(?), so I knuckled down yesterday afternoon to get them done...
The spare single bedroom is half-way through being reworked, but as we need the room for a guest next week, I had to get on with making it usable just for now.
I bought a wonderful unused bolt of old Sanderson fabric back in 2007. I loved it at the time and knew I would one day find a use for it. It was such a fantastic discovery, to have so much unused vintage fabric of a good usable quantity to create something with. (It came from a Talent for Textiles Fair at Claverton Manor, which will be the fair I shall be attending in September.)
The colours are gloriously vibrant, as if they were printed yesterday...not some 70+ years ago! You may remember that I have a soft spot for these old Sanderson cottons, as seen when I did a bit of 'grannyfying' back in 2009!
The only problem with these old fabrics is that the looms that they were produced on, were very narrow, when compared with today's. This fabric was just 30" (approx 75cm) wide. To give my curtains some fullness, I was going to have to make each curtain at least two widths...and I wasn't sure if I had enough...particularly when I discovered half way through the bolt that the fabric was cut across its width! I also had to allow for matching up the pattern at the seams...But as you can see, I just about had enough and was able to get four lengths out of it. (I have enough to make a cushion too, which will be perfect for the little bed.)
So, quite a few straight lines of stitching later, and the addition of a narrow heading tape, the curtains were made. No lining - I just kept things simple.
I've hung them this evening on the existing curtain pole, ready to receive our guest.
The iron bed is the one I used for display in my shop, when I first opened.
I'll show more of this room when its complete, but finishing-off will have to wait. At least our guests can enjoy the space for now...
The light in this room is lovely in the mornings, as it faces the sunrise...So there's definitely a need for curtains!
Phew, job done!
Niki x

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vintage Violets


Just sitting here procrastinating really...I should be making a pair of curtains for our spare single bedroom, but sewing all those straight lines is not my idea of fun today...So instead I snapped a few photos of some of my favourite things in our smallest room...I know I've shown these before, but occasionally a new little treasure finds its way in amongst the piles of violety goodness, and I forget to show you.
OK, we have several guests coming to stay over the next fortnight, so those curtains really must be done...I'll show them on my blog if I do complete them and don't get side tracked again...The fabric I shall be using is gorgeous, really colourful, summery and vintagey, so hopefully that will spur me on...
Have a lovely afternoon,
Niki x

Monday, May 23, 2011

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Thank you for all your kind messages left on my previous post...I am beginning to feel a lot better today - Hopefully it was just a virus that laid me low for a few days. It did mean that I spent most of yesterday snuggled beneath a quilt on our sofa in front of the television, and so I was able to catch the first programme on the BBC, live from the 2011 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
I was very excited to hear that this year they have introduced a new garden category, to join the 15 small gardens. It is an Artisan garden category, where designers are asked to be innovative with recycled materials for a sustainable garden to showcase their creativity. Having personally been a little disappointed with last years show (mainly because of the lack of traditional/cottage garden styles), I hope that this new set of small gardens will reignite my interest.
I'm looking forward to dipping in to the TV coverage now and then over this week and hope to be inspired.
I needed a little fresh air this afternoon, so grabbed my camera to take a few quick shots of my own humble garden - Don't know if the high winds are affecting you in your area of the country, but things are a bit wild here...so I had to be quick!
I thought I'd include a few photos of some of the junk (recycled materials!) that we have used around our plot...An old oak post for its sculptural presence. The now disused chicken house is used as a log and kindling store for our fires. An old wardrobe mirror on the back wall reflects another view...can you spot it?...
Can you now?
A lovely weathered chair makes an inviting perch...
mostly for our resident collared doves!
The wire work mannequin has almost been swallowed up by the dog rose this year...
More junk! Nothing to rival Chelsea though - I know!
A half-barrel pond.
One of my favourite roses. St. Swithun.
A rust smothered gate supports another yummy rose - This one is Blush Noisette.
Chimney pot planters feature heavily in our garden. I love the extra height they bring to a border.
A lidless bread bin is another pretty planter (sitting on a decrepit French chair!)
The 'push-me-pull-you' lawn mower supports some tall perennials.
This wilder corner of our garden, that I don't show on my blog too often, has three apple trees growing there.
A ladder (a permanent fixture here) makes apple picking easy.
Back towards the house again now...as you see...the washing is drying well on the line with these high winds...
The old sink from our cellar (now my workroom) holds my selection of culinary herb plants below..
Just for fun...
The rusty bed head on the house wall holds a collection of rusty metal pieces, weathered terracotta and beach finds.
A rainwater hopper for a sedum.
Every year the French table and chairs on our balcony have a re-coat of paint...On my 'to-do' list!
Out the front now, where there's more rubbish! I'd far rather re-use a damaged enamelware bowl as a lovely pot for pinks though, than to throw it away as no longer useful.
The crumbling wheelbarrow with punctured tyre is ideal as a plant container too.
Hopefully Chelsea will offer inspiration this year...I have a lot to learn when it comes to garden design, I know...but I do know what I like...and its not modern styles with expensive manufactured finishes.

Its always nice to bring a little of the outside in, as well.
Have a great week,
Niki x