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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Interior design inspiration ~ photowalls

When I wrote about the interior décor of Hollister stores last week it was pretty clear that I was really inspired by the design. Ever since my visit to the Cambridge shop, I’ve been trying to work out a way that I could inject a bit of Californian holiday atmosphere into my own home and I think I’ve come up with a plan…

The design element that most impressed me was the ocean view windows above. The ‘windows’ were made from screens which projected a wrap-around view of the ocean and coastline, giving the impression that you really were shopping in a tropical hut, possibly on a pier out in the sea. I loved the immersive atmosphere this created and I want to do something similar at home. Okay, I’m not considering installing a TV wall but I AM researching the possibility of including a photowall in my bathroom design.

I’ve gathered design inspiration and have researched companies that can print large-scale posters and I’ve decided to order from StressFreePrint. They are able to take a photo and divide it into posters which can over-lap and be pasted together to create an image the size of any wall up to 8m high! So my little 1.8m x 1.4m space above the bath should be no trouble at all ;) It’s basically like having wallpaper custom-made but without a hefty price tag.

There are different grades of paper quality available and the photos are printed with dry toner inks which are waterproof and UV stable so the image won’t run or fade - pretty good, huh? I’m still planning to varnish the wall after the posters have been hung, just to be certain that the moist bathroom environment won’t damage the image. Here are some interior spaces that have used a photo-wall effect to add a false window or to change the atmosphere of the room:

poster wall art ideas

So now all I need to do is choose an image. I want to use a photo of my favourite coastline, with beach huts and a gorgeous blue sky – but I’ll have to be there on the right day and at the right time to get the perfect weather conditions. I’d rather spend a bit of time creating an image that I’ll enjoy looking at, because it’ll be pretty hard to ignore once it’s pasted onto the bathroom wall! I’m hoping to create the illusion of looking into the distance so that the wall adds depth to the bathroom, rather than over-powering it. It’s a tough decision to make but I’ll share my chosen photos with you as soon as I send it to print!

 


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How to keep track of creative ideas

I forget things easily and I need to do something about it. I’m great at having lots of ideas for content for my thrifty little blog and I get all excited when I see something interesting while I’m out and about. I think to myself, ‘I’ll definitely remember that‘, but by the time I’m sat at my computer, ready to write, the idea will have gone completely out of my head, never to return. Which is why you’re getting a blog post today about me forgetting what awesome blog content was going to be here and a bit of a self-rant instead.

I sometimes make notes on my phone, especially when someone gives me some info while I’m at an event; “You really must check out this online radio station…”, “There’s this great magazine website…”, “This is a fabulous shop…”; but once I’ve written it down on the phone, I tend to never check the list of notes ever again. That is, until the next time that I need to write something down and I open the app… I also feel a little bit rude typing on my phone while I’m in the company of other people and always feel the need to explain that I’m writing down the tip or web address they’ve just given me, not texting and ignoring them! It’s just not the best method for me to record my ideas so I’ve decided to do something about it.

tips for keeping track of creative ideas for bloggers crafters artists and writers

Yes, I have got myself a teeny tiny notebook and even a pencil case from BHS. I’ve decided that the only way to keep track of my ideas, plans, things to do and websites to investigate is by actually physically writing them down. I only have a small satchel handbag but there is plenty of room in there for this notebook and it will make my life considerably easier. I liked the pretty floral Sass and Belle design so much that I even got the vintage-inspired pencil case to store my pen, pencil and lipstick!

So now that I have the means to make notes with me at all times, I can jot down my creative ideas as and when inspiration hits and refer back to it whenever I’m ready to do some research or writing. I also feel like it’s more acceptable to get a notebook out and write down some information rather than typing on a phone so I’m more likely to make a note of things at the time, rather than struggling to recall it afterwards.

Here are my tips for using your notebook:

  • Carry your notebook and pen always! Inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time.
  • Write down your idea at the time, not afterwards because you’re likely to forget by the time you get round to it ;)
  • Keep note of important details such as web addresses and phone numbers as this will help with future research
  • If you have already thought of ways to tie an idea into a blog post or article, make a note of this too – one idea often leads into another.
  • Pick up business cards or postcards of businesses that interest you and stick them in your notebook for reference
  • If you promise to send details to someone, get their details, write it down and actually do it!
  • Don’t just write things down – draw, doodle and sketch too.
  • Refer back to your notebook every time you sit down to work.

Let me know if you already use a notebook or whether you find it easier to record information on your phone – tweet me a photo of your sketchbook or note pad if you have one!

 


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My renovation sensation project

When I first heard about the Renovation Sensation project my mind went into overdrive - so many ideas went whizzing around my mind and I was super-excited to get started. The challenge was set by Direct Blinds and I knew straightaway that it was right up my street: 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. I headed to the car boot sale and kept my beady eye open for a suitable project to get started on.

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