Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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How to restore leather furniture + I’m in issue 38 of Reloved magazine!

I have some wonderful news to kick start the new year – I’m in Reloved magazine this month! My “How to restore a leather chair” project has been given a full four-page spread in the magazine AND it even made the front cover; look carefully and you can see it in the thumbnail images at the bottom of the cover! Not only that, but I’m also their Take 10 interview on the last page – wow!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1I said once before that ‘you know you’ve made it when…’ you’re in the same magazine as Max McMurdo and Annie Sloan but this is the second time it’s happened now, so I’m beginning to settle into my role of upcycler/writer. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting to find my work in a magazine on the shelves of our local newsagents! The eagle-eyed of you might have spotted an Instagram snap of me grinning from ear-to-ear holding a copy of Reloved in WH Smith. I’m super-cheesy, I know, but it was an incredibly proud moment for me nonetheless.reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The project I shared in Issue 38 of Reloved was how to repair crumbling cracked leather. My husband bought this chair from the carboot sale but it was in awful condition and needed a lot of TLC to bring it back to life. And that’s exactly what we did – by the end of the makeover the leather was supple and shining once more, the colour was richer than ever and the cracks and splits were gone. I’ve included the full project pages below so that you can read the step-by-step guide yourself, just in case you too have some beyond-help leather furniture that needs fixing up. reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-3As you can probably tell I’m REALLY chuffed to be featured in my favourite magazine and I’m over the moon that the editor wants me to come up with more projects for the publication in the future. In fact, I’ve already sent over another DIY project for Valentine’s Day and I spotted a photo of it in the preview of the next issue so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to share another project with you again next month too!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4Below are my project pages from inside the magazine but be sure to pick up a copy of Reloved for yourself this month because it’s packed full of sewing, craft, diy and upcycling projects including some step-by-step guides by Max McMurdo, Sewing Bee winner Matt Chapple, printer Joy Jolliffe, ‘salvage sister’ Charis Williams and author Kate Beavis.

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Norman Foster’s Willis Building in Ipswich – 1970s architecture & interiors

Today’s blog post is rather photo-heavy, but I wanted to share some snaps I took while touring Norman Foster’s famous Willis Building. My husband and I went into Ipswich as part of the Heritage Open Weekend and visited half-a-dozen or so historical buildings that are not usually open to the public. Among them was the derelict art deco style Broomhill lido (currently campaigning to be renovated and reopened) and Freston Tower overlooking the Orwell river.willis-building-norman-foster 20150529-willis-building-40y-anniv-02448Only when I got home did I realise that I hadn’t taken any photos outside the building, so here’s a photo of the Willis Building from the Huffington Post and a stunning long-exposure image by photographer Claudia Gannon of the building lit in red lights to celebrate the Ruby anniversary of the building.

Up on the roof and inside the lobby

The most exciting place for me was the Willis Building. I studied architecture and spatial design in college and the utopian movement was my specialism. I’d been bursting to see inside the iconic Willis Building ever since but, as it’s a fully functioning office building, there was no way to get inside. So when I heard that it was opening its shiny glass doors for two days over the Heritage Open Weekend, I charged up my camera and headed along.

The ‘Green Mile’ corridor and first floor office

Having studied the building in the past, I kind of knew what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the building. Blimey, it’s big inside! With space for 1,300 workers I guess it has to be. And it’s exceptionally colourful too. Visitors are greeted with grass green floors and sunshine yellow walls – replicating a sunny day in utopia. Or the colours of Ipswich’s rival football club. I like to think that Norman Foster was creating an indoor/outdoor office design rather than just goading the locals!

Escalators to the top floor and (just for scale) here’s me popping out half way along the ‘Green Mile’

The colours are including in the building’s Grade I listing so cannot be changed, but why would you want to? The fun colours put a big smile on my face as soon as I walked in. Oddly enough, it’s not overpowering to have such a brightly coloured interior. The usual office furniture, dark vertical blinds and shimmering metal ceilings calm things down somewhat. Would I replicate the interior décor at home? Probably not. But it has certainly reignited my love of all things yellow and I will include more bright accent colours next time I decorate.

On top of the Willis Building and the view of Ipswich town centre

The most exciting part of the tour for me was stepping out onto the roof garden. I’d heard all kinds of rumours about the roof garden (including a kind of half-truth that there was a swimming pool up there for employees to use) when I studied the building as a teen but it still didn’t prepare me for the vastness of the roof garden. There’s space for hundreds of office workers to enjoy a picnic lunch up there. It’s enclosed by a neat hedge (more green) and outside the hedge there’s a track which runs around the exterior of the oddly-shaped curved building. By the way, the glass building was designed in such a curvy shape in order to maximise the use of the whole plot of land available for the build.

The manicured roof garden and the track that runs around the building beyond the hedge

I guessed that the track was used for cleaning the windows (perhaps hanging a platform over the edge?) but I couldn’t be sure. We decided to walk around the perimeter and take some photos of the Ipswich skyline while we were there. In fact, if this wasn’t a rail-track it would make a perfectly good running track for jogging workers at break time, though I can’t be sure that Norman Foster had that utopian ideal in his mind when he designed it.norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-9norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-3 norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-15

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50s Summer Party Dresses

Does a stack of wedding and party invites leave you with a ‘what to wear’ headache this summer? Why not look to the era of gin cocktails and elegant summer soirees for your party vibe this year? The 50’s is providing us with some serious party wear inspiration right now and what’s more there is a 50’s look for every occasion. From the infamous wiggle dress to flattering circle shapes and cotton summer dresses Mela Mela have you covered. Swoon over some of our favourite 50’s pieces now in store to get your summer party look nailed.1950s-vintage-dress-cotton-striped-orange-yellow-black-gold-detail-front2_1Sunshine Prints

50’s designers weren’t afraid of some seriously bold prints and this sunshine coloured dress is no exception. The striped cotton design with classic flared skirt reminds us of holiday sunsets. We think it is just crying out for some Hollywood sized sunglasses and a glass of Pimms!1950s-vintage-dress-cotton-blue-green-abstract-design-frontClub Tropicana

Hot summer nights call for acid brights and wild prints. The 50’s love for the colourful and for exotic Hawaiian inspired prints has left us with some amazing items. This strapless cotton dress combines an abstract pattern with a tropical colour palette for a fun and fresh finish. Perfect for cocktails and dancing at a summer beach party.1950s-vintage-dress-california-cottons-blue-pink-floral-nylon-frontFlower Power

A garden party is just the thing for a fabulous floral. The 50’s showcases everything from delicate pastel floral designs to bold graphic designs. We love this delicate pink and blue example with its gorgeous velvet waist belt. The scooped neck gives it real impact combined with the classic 50’s circle shape. Pair with sandals for an easy, breezy finish.

1950s-vintage-wiggle-dress-jacket-blue-trimmed-with-spots-front

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Picquot Ware – The Coffee Percolator

Ever since I first wrote about my ‘lucky find’ of a Picquot Ware tea set last year I’ve been inundated with comments, emails and information about the brand. It’s been amazing to learn more about this British company and to read everyone’s stories about their own Picquot Ware collections. Who knew that so many people were fans? The comments section on the original post is packed full of information from knowledgeable readers and I’ve since posted a second article about the Picquot Ware guarantee and instructions, after Lesley kindly emailed me a copy of the original documents. Be sure to check that out as it shows the complete collection of Picquot Ware designs available.Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-2After publishing this second article, another Picquot Ware collector got in touch with me to share photos of their rare find – a coffee percolator. In the original tea set there is a tall pot that many people mistake for a coffee pot. This pot was more likely to be used for extra hot water to add to the teapot – it is a tea set after all! But on this occasion the pot in question actually IS a coffee pot, and is a particularly rare example. Robyn kindly sent over some snaps of the coffee percolator and told me the story behind it:Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-5“I bought it as a set about four years ago, on the Gold Coast in Australia. I thought it was from the 70s because of the coffee percolator so I did some research and realized the coffee pot was quite rare. I have not been able to find a picture of another one so thought it would be nice to share these photos. Picquot Ware is still quite affordable and available here in New Zealand so I’ve since bought another set, which I use regularly at our holiday house, and a few of my friends have also bought sets too.” Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-6Sounds like I need to go on a Picquot Ware hunting trip to New Zealand then, eh?! It’s so kind of Robyn to email these photos of the percolator so that we can all see it and admire the design. A regular contributor to the original blog post, Peter, tells us that only 300 percolators were made before production was discontinued. Picquot Ware discovered that manufacturing them was a “production nightmare” and put a stop to this design. So if you find one, hang on to it!Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-3 Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnaliumIf anyone else has further information on Picquot Ware or would like to send in photos of their collection please do email me cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or leave a comment below. Thanks!


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Tuesday Shoesday – Shoes fit for an awards ceremony

In case you didn’t already hear me bleating on about it on Twitter – I’m going to the UK Blog Awards! So basically, you’ll be treated to lots of preparation posts on the blog this week, showing you exactly what dress and accessories I’m going to wear, the make-up and skincare I’m using and, today, you’re going to see which shoes I’ve chosen to wear for the big event. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to hear about other people’s preparations for special occasions (yes, I am a nosy gal) PLUS it’s handy to have an idea of what my favourite bloggers will be wearing so that I can spot them in a crowd at the awards ceremony! So I figured, if I’M interested in this, maybe you’ll be interested to hear about what I’ve been getting up to in preparation for the UK Blog Awards…comfortable classy stylish shoes fashion trend for blog awards ceremony from hotter-2 comfortable classy stylish shoes fashion trend for blog awards ceremony from hotter-14 comfortable classy stylish shoes fashion trend for blog awards ceremony from hotter-4So, lets start at the bottom and focus on the shoes. Well, it IS Tuesday Shoesday after all. When it comes to choosing heels for any occasion I always head straight to Hotter. It’s literally the only place I can find beautiful heels that don’t hurt my feet. So when all your friends are hobbling home shoe-less after a night of wearing too-high shoes and you’re skipping along without a pinch in your comfy heels, you’ll be pleased that you chose Hotter shoes too! I can wear them all day at weddings, I can dance lindy-hop all night, and I’ve even worn a pair while waltzing on the dancefloor of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. Love them for all occasions and events so, of course I’ve chosen a new pair for the UK Blog Awards too. comfortable classy stylish shoes fashion trend for blog awards ceremony from hotter-7 Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Shoes fit for an awards ceremony” »


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York Castle Museum – Shaping the Body exhibition

The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I was away on holiday in Yorkshire last week. So this week I wanted to tell you all about my trip to York and share some photos of a fantastic exhibition that I went to. It was in York Castle Museum and I was temped to visit the exhibition after spotting a rather eye-catching image online last month.kim kardashian bustle photo york castle museum vintage retro shaping the body exhibitionRemember Kim Kardashian’s infamous champagne bottle photo that ‘broke the internet’ recently? Well, the York Castle Museum has recreated that image to coincide with their Shaping the Body exhibition, which launched on 25th March this year. Pretty cool, huh? It just goes to show that displaying a rounded rump has been a fashion staple for centuries!york castle museum shaping the body exhibition exhibit school holidays day out tripyork castle museum shaping the body exhibition exhibit school holidays day out trip-2york castle museum shaping the body exhibition exhibit school holidays day out trip-9 york castle museum shaping the body exhibition exhibit school holidays day out trip-14I was expecting a very corsetry-focussed, undergarment-based exhibition for adults but, in fact, the Shaping the Body exhibit was also about outer-garments throughout the years, clothing trends and construction methods. As I wandered through the halls, two further parts of the exhibition were revealed to me; learning about how food and lifestyle shapes the body too. These sections included kitchen scenes of the past century (including a very 80s-looking kitchen that I swear could have been my own childhood home at some point!) and the foods that we eat, plus an exhibit on professions and how work has shaped people over the years too. Very interesting indeed.

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Picquot Ware – Instructions & guarantee information

A while ago I shared a blog post about Picquot Ware. In my original post I discussed the ‘lucky find’ my husband and I had when we bought some pieces of Picquot Ware at a carboot sale last summer. I also shared some progress on polishing up the pots and how I planned to keep them in tip-top condition. Well, since this blog post was published, I’ve been lucky enough receive countless comments on the article from people who still own and use their Picquot Ware.midcentury modern picquot ware teapot coffee setIt seems like my little blog post sparked an outpouring of stories, memories, cleaning tips and advice from fans of the brand and I’m delighted with every single comment I read. It’s wonderful to learn about the origins of the company, the people who worked there, the cost of the products ‘back in the day’ and to hear that pieces of Picquot Ware are still going strong in households up and down the country. I look forward to opening up my comments section and seeing what new information has been shared – there’s quite a little ‘community’ of us Picquot Ware fans over on the original post now!

My own Picquot Ware set – before and after polishing

Last week, one of the people I’d been talking to via the Picquot Ware blog post comments section, Lesley, got in touch with me via email with some amazing news. A Picquot Ware instruction leaflet and guarantee had been discovered amongst the teaset that Lesley had inherited. I fired an email back and asked if it would be possible to share this information on the blog so that the whole ‘community’ could benefit from it. Lesley very kindly scanned the documents and forwarded them to me, with permission to share it with you all today. So here’s what we’ve all been waiting for – the original Picquot Ware guarantee, teaset information and cleaning instructions.Picquot Ware Guarantee Continue reading “Picquot Ware – Instructions & guarantee information” »


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The Christmas Book

Did you ever read ‘The Christmas Book’ as a child? I am reading it right now! I’ve been treated to a couple of pre-Christmas gifts so that I could enjoy them before the big day, and this vintage book was one of my Christmas eve presents. I’ve taken some quick snaps to show you just how quaint and traditional this retro publication is!the christmas book vintage retro antique book g highamthe christmas book vintage retro antique book g higham-3I’ve tried to research the book and have come up with the following information; It’s published by Juvenile Productions Ltd in London, designed and printed in England and dates back to the 1950s. I’ve found it listed on The Enid Blyton Society website, and one of the festive tales in the book is by Enid Blyton herself – ‘The Christmas Bicycle. The book is a collection of festive short stories for children and other authors include; Michael Lisle with ‘The Christmas Chicken’ story, Helen J. Wright with ‘ The Old Lantern’,  John Hornby with ‘The Secret Camp’ and David A. Vick with ‘The Christmas Rescue’.the christmas book vintage retro antique book g higham-5the christmas book vintage retro antique book g higham-2There are also adorable activities suggested in the book, such as tracing around an illustration of Father Christmas to make a ‘Santa Claus on Snowshoes’ decoration, Christmas card idea, a silver chain project and crafting ‘The Snowman’s Cottage’. I’d love to experience Christmas eve just like a 1950s child and have a go at making some skiing Santa decorations myself!the christmas book vintage retro antique book g higham-9 the christmas book vintage retro antique book g higham-7The Christmas Book is littered with gorgeous illustrations by G. Higham. Each story is illustrated, small comic strips entertain young readers and puzzle pictures offer brain-teasing fun. The illustrations alone were enough to get me flicking through the book and I’d love to scan them to recreate the images in my future festive decorating. Legends and stories of Christmas are told throughout the book and children can learn about festive events in other countries too – this book must have been quite an education in the 50s!

While reading this gorgeous vintage book, I’ve been snacking on a lovely gift of mini Lindt Christmas figures including Father Christmas, a cute snowman and, of course, the Lindt bear! I love to enjoy a cheeky chocolate or two on Christmas eve to get me in the mood for the big day tomorrow! I’ve also been treated to a gorgeous new jumper from Damart. I ‘needed’ to have this Christmas gift a little early because it’s ideal for me to wear to my Christmas eve gathering with family. It’s super-soft and the rich ruby red colour is perfect for the holidays. Add a little sparkle to the mix and you’ve got a winning Christmas jumper! I’m going to pop it on right now, and probably won’t take it off for the whole season 😉christmas jumper sparkly redHave you opened any early pre-Christmas gifts today? What treats did you enjoy? And did you ever read The Christmas Book as a child? Let me know what you’re getting up to today and what you think of my early gifts by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.

 


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My favourite reads + ‘Swing Dance’ book review

November is here and you know what that means. Not only is the countryside is looking particularly glorious with golden leaves and harvest fruits on the trees, but it also means that Christmas is on its way! Which you can probably guess from my festive blog posts last month is something I’m already particularly excited about. November is a great month; the days are bright and fresh, bonfire night is coming soon, and it the slightly cooler weather makes me want to snuggle up in the evenings with something good to read. That’s the reason I’ve compiled this blog post about my favourite publications and am launching a lovely giveaway to win a copy of the newly published ‘Swing Dance’ vintage culture book – so please read on!book magazine review landlust the simple things swing dance-3I was lucky enough to get my hands on the new issue of LandLust magazine at the weekend. If you’ve not yet heard about LandLust I’m not surprised; I hadn’t either when I first started researching the publication last month, but I’m so pleased that I’ve discovered it now. The magazine first launched in Germany 10 years ago and now has over a million readers there. Building on this success the magazine is about to launch in the UK too.book magazine review landlust the simple things swing danceMuch like my regular favourite mag (which I’ll tell you a little more about in a minute!) this publication focuses on country life, cooking, crafts, gardening and much more. With thrifty articles on making homemade piping bags, low-cost Christmas decorations and DIY ‘scrap-wood’ shelf projects it’s no wonder that I’ve been intently pouring over every page since it arrived. It’s hitting the shops on 5th of November so be sure to pick one up or visit  www.landlust.co.uk for more information on this new title.book magazine review landlust the simple things swing dance-4I’ve been excited about checking out the newly published ‘Swing Dance’ book since it hit the shelves back in mid-September. Last week I finally got my hands on a copy and couldn’t wait to sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy browsing the vintage-inspired pages. Written by Scott Cupit, founder of the world’s largest swing dance school ‘Swing Patrol’, the book is an insight into the world of contemporary swing dance and, as you may have noticed from my various blog posts on the subject, this is something I am really keen on learning more about.book magazine review landlust the simple things swing dance-7The book explores the most popular swing dance styles including the Charleston, Lindy Hop, Collegiate Shag and Balboa and offers a step-by-step guide to perfecting the dances. It also focuses on the associated vintage culture of each style including the music, hairstyles, fashion, make-up and history of each dance, so it’s not just about learning the steps!book magazine review landlust the simple things swing dance-5Seeing as its Tuesday Shoesday I couldn’t resist sharing some photos of the gorgeous vintage footwear page within the book. I’d love a pair of gold dancing shoes like these – they look so comfortable and glamorous! Both Hubby and I have a few pairs of brogues in our wardrobe and I love wearing them for dancing lindy hop; they make jumping and kicking so much easier than when I’m tottering around in heels!book magazine review landlust the simple things swing dance-6If you would like to win a copy of this gorgeous new book – great for anyone interested in vintage culture, fashion, beauty or dance – I have two to give away to my wonderful blog readers. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this blog post for your chance to win a copy of this brand new publication.book magazine review landlust the simple things swing dance-2 Continue reading “My favourite reads + ‘Swing Dance’ book review” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – Why buying vintage is the eco-friendly option

Happy Tuesday Shoesday everyone! How’s your week going so far? Got though Monday okay? Did you head back to college yesterday? Are you making the big move to uni this week? Let me know what you’ve been up to – I’d love to hear from you while I’m sat here blogging away at my computer. Anyway, enough chat from me for the moment, I’m here to write something important; why buying vintage is the environmentally friendly option, I’m sure you all have something to say on the matter to please do get in touch in the comments section at the end of my blog post, it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts on this subject.vintage-shoes-footwer-fashion-trend-retro-designer-prada-gucci-dior-heels

Not only are vintage finds eco-friendly, but these retro designer shoes from Prada, Gucci & are purse-friendly too at a fraction of the original price.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of reasons why it’s a great idea to buy vintage clothing, shoes and accessories – not least because vintage items are often totally unique, super-cool pieces from the era and will make your autumn/winter 2015 look even more individual and on-trend – but that’s not the only reason to start browsing the vintage shops. Oh no. There are lots of ecological issues to consider when you head out to the shops (the excessive use of water in denim production, the polluting nature of modern fabric processes, and the carbon footprint of importing goods to name but a few) and many of these can be minimised by simply choosing vintage over new.black-vintage-wellies-michael-kors-hunter-retro-winter-autumn-waterproof-boots-fashion-tuesday-shoesday

My thoughts have turned to wellies thanks to this wet September and I’ve found these secondhand Hunter & Michael Kors beauties at Rokit.

For a start, many items of vintage clothing will have been made in the UK. Back in the day, Britain was covered in factories; weaving cotton and silk, cutting patterns and constructing perfectly-stitched clothing. The fashion industry in this country has gradually died out with more and more factories closing their doors in favour of cheaper production costs abroad. Vintage shopping can often turn up a whole host of ‘Made in England’ labels and help to target that dreaded carbon-footprint of air-and-road-miles to bring imports into high street stores.

Secondly,  by buying vintage, you are saving something from the rubbish. Without a whole legion on vintage fans, retro treasures would be consigned to the bin and could clog up over-stuffed landfill sites all over the country. Okay, a fair amount of rag-recycling is done but it relies on people taking old clothing to a local waste recycling centre so, unfortunately, a lot of old clothing does end up getting dumped just to save time and effort. Now that vintage clothing is in such demand, more and more ‘closet clear-outs’ are being passed on, donated to charity or sold in kilo-sales. These items will live to see another day and will be kept out of landfill for good – now there’s a reason to buy vintage, if ever I heard one.70s-80s-vintage-dress-retro-floral-pattern-dresses-autumn-winter-outfit

These 70s & 80s dresses are exactly what I want to be wearing this autumn/winter

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