Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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This old thing ~ My ‘new’ vintage dress

I’ve been massively inspired by watching Dawn O’Porter’s This Old Thing show on channel 4 for the past few weeks. I know thrifting is nothing new to this blog and I’m sure you all know that I was huge fan of vintage long before this programme was launched, but it’s just given me an extra bit of inspiration where my ideas had begun to dry up. You may remember that I wrote about my ‘sewing block’ a couple of weeks ago and how I forced myself to sit down and start sewing something, anything, to pull myself out of the slump. Well this TV show has also given me a bit of a kick up the behind to take another look at vintage and see what’s out there that I can made-do-and-mend for myself.

Coincidentally, I also went to an Americana day at Horham and loved the experience of visiting the WW2 airfield, seeing all the militaria on display and taking photos of all the gorgeous old vehicles. Again, you probably know by now that this kind of event is right up my street and the more often I visit a nostalgia show or vintage car rally, the more passionate I become about decades passed and I want to wear the fashion of the era even more than ever. So this week my love of all things vintage, my passion for fashion and my eye for a bargain have all conspired to lead me to buy this dress.

I spotted a clothing stall at the Americana day called ‘Inside Cassie’s Closet’ so how could I not have a browse?? And it would be rude not to buy something beautiful from my namesake. I did have a good ol’ rummage through the rails and this one dress leapt out at me. It’s an old Melissa Lane wrap dress from the 70s – a little newer than I usually go for because I prefer 40s and 50s shapes on me – but I really loved the floral print and the style of the dress. It’s also longer than I’m used to, needs a lot of repairs and not long ago I swore off wearing black altogether, but even though everything seemed to be against this dress, I really really liked it.

The fact that the dress had been split under the arms on both side seams actually worked in my favour because I was able to get the dress at a reduced price and I knew that I could repair it myself, it was simply the case of finding the time! The neckline was also rolling outwards so that the seam was visible, so I thought I’d have a go at top-stitching this to see if I could get it to lie flat.

I’m still not sure about the length of the dress because it is calf-length and I know that I look better when a dress falls on my knees – anything longer swamps my small height! But again, I kind of like it being this length because it seems to go with the 70s style. I might take it up if I really can’t live with it, but wouldn’t hem it shorter and loose the pattern around the bottom of the dress – instead I would take the excess length off at the waistband.

So I’ll be doing a bit of sewing this week and I’ll let you know how I get on with my dress repairs!


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My little vintage caravan ~ A mini desk makeover

I love the thrifty nature of a makeover project to ‘get the look for less’ and I’m always keen to recycle and renovate old or unwanted items to keep them out of landfill. So when I needed a little extra storage space for my little vintage caravan, I headed to the car boot sale and kept my beady eye open for a suitable project to get started on.

Many of the furniture items at the boot fair had rather hefty price-tags and I quickly excluded anything that had already been painted or renovated in the past. I also didn’t want to buy a gorgeous piece of wooden furniture in good condition just to paint over it, so I kept hunting for the perfect piece. At a particularly ‘junky’ stall, I spotted a mini-desk/shelving unit tucked away at the back. The wood on the top of the unit was peeling off and the entire unit was crying out to be sanded down and painted. It would be the perfect desk for my small caravan space and in my mind’s eye I was already imagining all the things I could do to improve it. I tentatively asked about the price (worrying that it would be outside my budget) and was delighted when it was being sold for a ‘secondhand’ rather than ‘antique’ price! I snapped it up for less than a tenner and enlisted my husband to help me carry it back to the car.

As we loaded it into the car I noticed that a butterfly was sleeping beneath the shelf, so the cabinet would forever more be known as ‘the butterfly unit’ and it inspired my choice of colour and designs for decorating the desk. I picked up a couple of cans of pink spray paint from the car boot sale too and stopped off at the local hardware shop to find a new drawer knob. The butterfly fluttered off during the journey home, presumably to find somewhere more suitable to sleep!

That same afternoon, I sanded down the old varnish and wiped it over with a damp cloth to clean off the dust. After the cabinet had dried in the sun, I began spray painting in earnest and covered the unit it a couple of light coats. I left it to dry and came back to the project the following day to spray another fine coat of pink paint to get a smooth finish. I didn’t worry about spraying the back of the cabinet too much, because I knew that I wanted to decorate the inside with paper and fabric.

My tips for renovating a piece of furniture:

  • Clean thoroughly before you begin work on your furniture - inside and out!
  • Sand down wooden furniture to create a surface that paint will adhere to
  • If you’re keeping the wood-grain visible only sand in one direction with the grain
  • Use a vacuum with brush attachment to suck up the dust and wipe over with a damp cloth to get the last of it
  • Make any repairs before you start to paint
  • Make sure the unit if fully dry before painting
  • Spray in long strokes and about 30cm away from the wood to get a smooth finish
  • Build up layers of paint – it’s better to do three or four fine layers because the paint is more likely to run with one thick layer

Here’s how the desk looks at this stage of the ‘renovation’ and I’ll be sure to add some more photos of my progress and (hopefully) the finished cabinet next week:

 


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Pieday Friday ~ A simple white loaf

A staple of every picnic, a simple loaf of white bread is essential for making rounds of sandwiches for all the family so why not try baking your own ready for your next summer trip? I’ve been using this recipe for a standard white loaf for years and it’s just so simple – the thing that takes the most time is waiting for the dough to rise, so I’ve found that baking bread more about patience than skill!

Ingredients: 500g strong white flour, 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast, 1 tsp salt. up to 350ml lukewarm water, a little sunflower oil, for greasing

  1. Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in most of the water and mix the flour and water together until combined to a slightly wet dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for at least 10 mins until elastic and smooth. Put the dough in a clean oiled bowl and cover with cling film before leaving to rise until doubled in size.
  2. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Knead the dough again to push the air out, on a floured surface. Mould the dough into a rugby ball shape that will fit a 900g loaf tin (like my silicone tin from Wholeport). Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 30 mins. Bake the bread for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and continue to bake for 30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when removed from the loaf tin and tapped on the base. Enjoy!

I’ve been inspired by all the wonderful cakes and bakes over at the Stuck In The Tree blog and I’m getting involved with their Bakespiration Challenge with this easy peasy bread recipe. I hope you have a go at making it too and let me know how it turns out! Tweet me @Cassiefairy or leave me a comment below :)


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How does your garden grow? Green fingers…

Well, my garden makeover is ploughing on (excuse that pun) but this week I’ve done something that had left me in pain. Last week I shared my plans for making a big change to my garden over the Summer but now I can barely walk because my legs are so sore. Was it from digging? I hear your ask… Did you hit your leg with a hammer while building? Nope. I hurt my legs from painting the fence. And I have no idea how!

Garden makeover - new fence -1

I think it might have had something to do with bending down, squatting and moving along, repeated 100 times while painting all the planks of wood on the thrifted back fence. It certainly felt like I’d done a ‘buns-and-thighs’ workout afterwards and I actually suffered for a few days! But at least the reddish fence has become a greenish fence after 2 coats of paint. Ideally I’d like to paint another layer of ‘forest green’ treatment on but I was rather fed up with it by the time this run of fencing was finished so it’ll have to wait! Plus, I was covered in green paint. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I didn’t think I was being messy but it’s in my hair, on my face, all over my (ok, hubby’s) boiler suit and my floral wellies are now sporting additional foliage in the form of green splotches. Green fingered is an understatement!

Other improvements: we’ve flattened part of the lawn by moving some turf off the bump at the top of the lawn, and we’ve moved excess soil onto the lower part of the grass. It’s definitely not flat, but it’s less of a tripping hazard now! We’ve also laid some weed-resistant fabric over the area that I’m planning to move the caravan to (you can see it in the photo above). I’m planning to cover the area with wood-chippings to save us from needing to move the caravan to weed or mow beneath it. That’s the plan anyway!

More updates to come soon… How’s your summer gardening going? :)

Garden makeover - new fence -4


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How does your garden grow? Making a start…

At the weekend I told you all about my plans for growing a garden that ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’ would be proud of and this week I wanted to share the first step in making our garden into the ‘outdoor room’ that I’d love for it to become. Essentially, we are overlooked by two neighbours, and an access path runs all the way around the outside of our garden, so anyone can walk-by our garden at any time and see what we are up to. Aside from neighbours wheeling their bins and bikes around the path, it hardly gets used, but even so there is a massive lack of definition in where our garden ends and the neighbour’s garden starts. In fact, when we first moved in the neighbours behind told us that they had no idea that there was even a back door on the house, because they had never seen anyone going into the garden, but could see us very clearly now that we had started to use it! So privacy is an issue – not least because the little girl seems scared to play out in the neighbour’s garden when we are outside too – and we’d like to enclose the space a little to make it safer for our cats to play outside and not get attacked by the neighbour’s “cat killer” dog.

Garden makeover - new fence -2

Garden makeover - new fence -3

So we have put up a thrifted fence. I say thrifted because we spotted it after driving home from the carboot sale. The fence was being taken down from someone else’s garden by a builder, so we stopped for a chat and he explained that the fence had been hit by a car and half of it was damaged so it was being replaced by the insurance company. The old fence was going to be scrapped and a lot of it was smashed up, but some planks were still sturdy enough to use so we politely asked if we could give them a new home. So it took a few journeys to move all the fencing to our house but we got it here in the end and measured it out in the garden.

Garden makeover - new fence -4

Luckily, there was enough of a useable run of wood to fence all the way across the back of the garden. So with the help of my father-in-law, my husband put up the frame and nailed the fence planks to it, and within a day the fence was in place. I’m not too keen on the reddish colour and the planks need treating again, so I’m going to buy some ‘forest green’ treatment and will paint it on myself.

Garden makeover - new fence -5

To celebrate the new fence, mum bought us some fruit trees that had been discounted from QD – pear trees, couple of apple trees and a cherry tree. They are small but sturdy so we have dug them into the corner of the garden, which we intend to become a ‘wildlife’ area of the garden. We may well choose to move the centre tree as it grows, but at the moment it was better to get them into the ground and growing rather than dying in their pots! So after one busy day, we have a back fence up and 5 trees planted and it makes quite a difference to the garden; we can really see what space we have now that a boundary is up! More updates to come next week so watch this space!