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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My ‘new’ vintage dress ~ the repairs

It’s taken a little longer than I’d hoped, but my vintage dress is finally fixed!

It was mostly down to my laziness over the summer holidays that delayed the repairs but I spent an evening at my sewing machine this week and cracked on with it. My second excuse for the delay is that there was actually more to do to the dress than I’d initially thought. I knew that the sides needed to be repaired – both were split under the arms – but the length and the front of the dress were an altogether more difficult project that I’d imagined. Here are my photos of the ‘easy’ repair, when I ran a simple straight stitch up the sides of the dress and along the arms to rejoin the split seams:

The front of the dress was slightly harder to manage: I didn’t like how the fabric rolled over at the front and no amount of pressing would make it lie flat, so I thought that a little bit of understitching would solve the problem. Unfortunately, the fabric continued to roll outwards even after I’d understitched it, so I tried to re-hem the edge altogether. Again, the fabric rolled out and looked untidy, so I decided that there was only one thing for it: stitch the wrap front to the internal vest so that it became one piece. Thankfully, this worked and now the wrap front lies flat and looks tidy!

Changing the length of the dress was really rather straightforward, once I’d got my head around it! I liked the pattern along the existing hem and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to made a nice job of taking it up and re-hemming the skirt. So I decided to take it up at the waistband instead. I bravely (or stupidly?!) chopped the skirt off the dress at the waistband and shortened the top of the skirt by 3 inches all round. I then pinned the skirt inside the top section, with right sides together, and stitched all the way around the skirt to reattach it.

Thankfully the elasticated waistband helped to ease the skirt into the top and it is now a knee-length dress on me and looks much nicer! Here’s a photo of before the chop and the length afterwards:

So my bargain buy at the Americana Day might have taken me a bit of time and a lot of head-scratching to repair, but now that it’s finished I m delighted! I’m sure I will get a lot of use out of this dress, and because of the dark colour, I think it will be a year-round outfit so I look forward to wearing it with tights and boots this winter too!

 I still can’t believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!


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Americana day

I went to an Americana day at Horham airfield recently and had a wonderful time. You may have heard me mention the event last week in my vintage dress blog post: I picked up a lovely dress from one of the vintage stalls and although it needs a lot of sewing repairs, I thought I would take a chance on it and try to fix it. But that wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye during the day and I wanted to share some photos of the event with you.

The airfield was the home to the 95th Bomb Group during WW2 and the Horham base has been restored by the heritage association and is now open as a museum throughout the summer. I’d discovered the museum thanks to a visit earlier in the year to Parham, to attend the opening of a new extension to the airfield museum there. I picked up a leaflet for Horham’s museum and, luckily, I visited the website only days before their Americana event.

I was very pleased that I went along to the event because it was packed full of all my favourite things; classic vehicles, vintage fashion stalls, American food, gramophone music, retro homewares and, of course, militaria. The museum comprises of a series of hangars and the layout of an old bunker, plus it even has a ‘prison’ building and ‘beer shed’. My husband and I spent a full day at the event; shopping in the old hangar, studying the museum exhibition, munching on hotdogs, looking at all the classic vehicles and chilling out with a beer. I thought that we might be able to show off our new swing dance-moves (read about my new hobby here) but even though 1940s music was playing all around the site, no-one else was up and dancing and I certainly didn’t want to be the only one, seeing as I’m such a novice! Maybe I’ll feel more confident about dancing next time, after a few more lessons!

The museum is open on the last Sunday of every month from April to October and runs a series of special events throughout the year so check their website for details.


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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!