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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My little vintage caravan ~ Weekend breakfast

Ever since I finished making the new table top for the caravan, the space has become my go-to place to eat meals. It’s especially lovely in the summer because the interior is warm and I can pop the window open to get a lovely breeze flowing through the caravan. I love taking meals outside because it feels like summery al fresco dining but without the risk of sunburn or, at the other end of the scale, getting rained on!

As you may remember, we only have a small dining table in our retro living room (and it was free – read about it here!) and although it folds out to give extra room, it’s still really only a two-person dining table. So when I have guests for dinner, I prefer to serve it in the caravan, because 4 of us can easily eat at the table and with the addition of a second fold-out table, we can even fit up to 9 people in for a meal. It’s definitely my favourite place to have lazy lunches with my husband and this weekend we made the most of our time off by having a chilled-out breakfast in the caravan.

My lovely crockery & melamine plates are from The Caravan Trail

We had such a lovely calm Sunday morning sitting in the sunny caravan with the radio on and a big pot of tea on the go. To make it more of a special breakfast, I laid the table with my new Riviera crockery, sliced up some fruit and put the jam and butter in little ramekins (I should have bought the matching butter dish!). I love bran flakes with banana, grapes, sultanas and a drizzle of honey and lingered over my favourite breakfast before popping indoors to put some toast on. It was lovely to spend a good hour over our breakfast, listening to the birds and munching on steaming-hot toast. It’s something that we never get time to do during the week and sometimes we don’t even eat breakfast at the same time, because hubby leaves for work and eats before 7am and I’m not always hungry at that time of morning. So it felt especially luxurious to spend time together without rushing, with nowhere to be and nothing to do.

I hope you had an enjoyable weekend and had the chance to linger over a special meal too!


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My little vintage caravan project ~ DIY display cabinet makeover

Storage is very important in a small space and after having to remove most of my caravan’s interior due to damp, it is in very short supply. I have precious little of the original storage left in the caravan – only the seats remain with their under-bench storage space and I have easily filled this up with fabric already! So it is time to work my magic on a pretty storage display cabinet.

My mum bought this unit for me from a charity shop because it looked exactly like one that her nan owned when she was a child – even down to the rose mirror pattern on the glass. The display cabinet was destined for the caravan and when we put it inside it fit perfectly over the top of the wheel-arch on the back wall – it was meant to be! But the dark wood looked too much like the old caravan interior and the wood was in such bad condition that it would have needed sanding and re-varnishing to get it back to it’s former beauty. I decided that I wanted to make a complete change so I bought a couple of tins of spray paint from the carboot sale and set to work on a sunny Saturday.

The first task was to give it a good clean and mask off the glass before sanding lightly all over. I then sprayed a thin coat of cream paint all over the unit (using around one whole can) and allowed it to dry before setting to work on the second coat of paint. Building up the thin layers of spray paint gave a gorgeous smooth finish and looked considerably better than I’d imagined. And much better than I ever could have achieved with my usual slap-it-on paint brush technique!

I thought about recovering the back panel but once the unit has been painted it somehow gave the impression that the existing diamond pattern fabric was cleaner and new so I decided to stick with it and reinsert the glass shelves. Minutes later the display cabinet was full of my pretty crockery and nick-nacks so I’ll share the photos of this with you soon.

See more of my caravan project posts by clicking here and please send me details of your own camper makeovers to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or tweet me @Cassiefairy - I’d love to see what you’ve been up to! And you really should check out Lisa Mora’s book Vintage Caravan Style for inspiration and gorgeous caravan photos! Read my review of the book on my blog here and read about my own renovation project so far here.


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My day out at the Vintage Festival & D-Day Celebration

Last weekend I had one of the best days out ever: I visited the Mid-Suffolk Vintage Festival on Sunday so I thought I’d share my photos of the event this Sunday. Hubby, mum and I headed to the Mid-Suffolk Showground unsure of what we’d find at this brand new event and was pleasantly surprised. It was a fantasic event with vintage cars, military trucks, family-friendly war re-enactments (no loud bangs or gore!), vintage shopping, platoon softball games and displays of original militaria.

The marquee played host to an authentic fashion show, demonstrating the uniforms and outfits that would have been worn at the time – from Land Girls to Naval Officers and American Squaddies. But the vintage fashion didn’t stop there: everyone we met was wearing stunning 40s and 50s outfits, military uniform and original dresses. It made me wish I’d dressed up a little more and worn my vintage handbag and tea dress – so that’s a must for next time!

Taking place just after the 70th anniversary of D-Day and buoyed up by the celebratory nature of the event we all threw ourselves into celebrating D-Day and enjoyed watching the gorgeous singing, dancing and tap group My Favourite Things. The girls looked like true war-time pin-ups and we found ourselves transported back to that very day 70 years ago as they sang all the original hits in perfect harmony. After watching lots of the crowd swinging and jiving on the dance floor, hubby and I decided to go to the afternoon dance class to learn a few moves so that we could join in with bopping along to the vintage tunes that the DJ was spinning.

After stumbling our way through a dance class and discovering an extra left-foot that I didn’t know I had (!) more treats arrived in the form of afternoon tea and a big slice of Victoria sponge: my favourite. We watched the softball game and cheered along with the crowd and the military wives cheerleaders, before taking a stroll around the stalls and viewing an amazing Women’s Land Army collection from Cherry Betty Vintage – check out her Facebook page.

The lovely sunny day and hazy afternoon certainly added to the jubilation of the event, and everyone I saw had a massive smile on their face. I certainly felt the same way and had aching cheeks by the end of the day from all the smiling I’d been doing :D I left the event with an invitation to a local dance class and hubby has been conscripted into the nearby softball team, the Mustangs, so it looks like our vintage festival experiences won’t be over anytime soon!