Last week’s weakness

My weakness is shopping. Actually, not just shopping. My weakness is shopping, thrifting, collecting….I can’t drive past a car boot sale without dropping in, I can’t visit a new town without thrifting through the charity shops, I can’t ignore a sign saying “Garage Sale”..to be honest I can’t even drive past a skip without meer-catting my neck up to see if there’s any bounty inside.

So maybe I should share with you my weakness..in fact here is last week’s weakness.

Well we had quite a weekend of thrifting. As we were driving to a local car boot, Mr YVL slammed on the brakes and shouted “SKIP!” I then had to go skip diving…something I usually leave to him. There was an old suitcase in the skip but alas it had a hole in it. So today I won’t be revealing this item to you.

Then at the car boot Herbie spotted some Power Ranger toys and basically whined the whole way round….”Muuuuuummmmmmmy! Can I have a Power Ranger toy pleeeeeeeeeeeeease!”. In the end I relented and told him if he paid for it then yes he could.

So he did and 4 new toys still in its packet were  purchased. We got it home, cut up the packaging to get into it…and all their arms fell off! Yes, don’t ever feel you are getting a bargain if it sounds too good to be true. So now I have 4 multi coloured plastic men and 8 arms to trip over in my hall. Turns out to be a great buy as Herbie has played with them non stop since, and even slept with them last night.

So, now on to the real gem. We went to a local antique, collectables emporium that specialises in 1940s clothing. It’s a real treasure trove. I tried on loads of hats which none fitted. My YVL tried on some 50s shoes.

Then I peered through the rail of fur to see if there were any bargains that I could sell on. Then I noticed this gem. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Turns out I had not brought out any money and they didn’t take credit cards (sort this out please!)…so Mr YVL had to buy it for me. Bingo!

I love it so much. The faux fur is in great condition. The colour is a rich mink…really unusual and looks beautiful with the black.

I love the buttons the most….they are so eye-catching. Elastic folds over the buttons meaning there are no button holes. It’s a classic 60s shape, slightly A line which looks grate with long black boots.

The neckline has a hook and eye fastening to create a black round neckline.

It is beautifully made by Lister Minquilla which sounds foreign. It is in fact made in England. The label says “This elegant garment should be treated with care and worn as a luxury coat”. Is the nursery run classed as a luxury pastime?

Let me know what you think? Am I now the smartest girl in town?

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My favourite vintage era

Today sees the launch of a new series of blogs from some of my fellow friends and colleagues within the vintage business. The topic of conversation is  “My favourite vintage era“.

Today we have Louise from Catwalk Creative Vintage sharing with us why she loves the late 60s/early 70s.

Hi Louise, Can you let our readers know a little more about you and what you do?

My name is Louise Sleigh and I’m the owner of Catwalk Creative Vintage, an exclusively online business based in South Manchester. My range includes predominantly ladies vintage and designer clothing, accessories, costume jewellery and a small range of retro homewares. I began selling online in 2003 and then went on to develop my own website in 2006.

Louise styling a photo shoot

I personally source all the merchandise, clean and refurbish it, photograph it then write about it. I’m editor of the vintage fashion blog, Catwalk Threads, and am an active member of the Vintage Fashion Guild and The Best In Vintage. You’d be right in thinking that “vintage” is my full-time career!

So, you are clearly very experienced in the world of vintage. Which is your favourite era and why?

As my business entails dealing with vintage clothing, it’s quite difficult choosing one era since every decade has something unique to offer. My personal collection includes everything from a late 1930s day dress to a Nicole Farhi dress from the 1980s.

Louise in the 1980s: she says she thought she would always have a flat top hairstyle….just showing how things change through the decades

However, I’d say that the mid 1960s to mid 1970s was a fascinating time for fashion, especially in Britain. New easy-care fabrics were being developed in bright and bold colours, which provided crease-resistant, permanently pleated material, with little or no ironing required and in perfect time for the sexual revolution! Women were rejecting the corseted waist and opting for a fresh, young outlook.

Is there a certain fashion piece or style that you have and love?

There was such a wide range of styles available during this time. Everything from the mini dress to luxurious flowing maxi gowns and streamlined, well cut trouser suits. I think this fashion era, especially the 1970s, is often overlooked. However, I love the versatility of styles around at this time. I have several pieces in my collection from this period including a classic black crepe dress by Jean Lanvin  c. 1965. I love the sheer simplicity of the design, with interest in the form of the crystal buttons at the front. It’s a real collectors piece which I can pass onto my daughter once she’s old enough to appreciate it.

Truly stunning and I so want!

Then  moving onto something completely different; a blue midi-dress with faux cape dating c. 1973. The lines of this dress are so flattering and I love the fabric patterned with large exotic flowers. It’s a really fun piece to wear. I’ve actually worn this to a night club and received lots of compliments. It makes a refreshing change from all the boring sleeveless cocktail dresses that I see everywhere. Dare to be different!

Dare to be different!

And what about homewares? Do you like interiors from this period too?

Like fashion, home interiors were changing radically at this time. I love British studio pottery or basically anything with a fun bold design. My favourite piece is my Aztec coffee set, given to me by my mum a few years ago. It’s by J&G Meakin Studios and was designed c. 1965/66. I’ve added some dinner plates to the collection but only have 3 so far. If anyone knows where I can get my hands on more, I’m all ears! Once I have all the plates, including side plates, I’ll definitely be using them. I love to entertain friends and family and these will look wonderful on the dining table. However, for now they are stored carefully in my kitchen display unit.

How would you describe the role of women from this era?

There were significant cultural and social changes during the 1960s/70s. Women’s roles changed forever with the availability of the contraceptive pill and life was never going to be the same again. Moral codes that had prevailed in previous decades began to break down and there were many changes in our legal system concerning everything from divorce to the legislations of abortions. Measures were also taken during this time to improve the position of women, so I think it must have been an incredible time to be around as a young person.

However, these radical changes in society must have been quite confusing too. Women certainly had more choice and freedom but then had to learn to balance family life with a career- has this much changed I wonder? I guess if you could find a man in the sixties, who was willing to do his share of household chores, then you’d be laughing. It probably took men quite a bit longer to catch up to this new way of thinking! Some are still catching up!

And finally, is there something we could learn today from those in the late 60s/early 70s?

Society went through a lot of change, but despite this, I think generally there was still much more respect to be found. By that I mean respect for the police, for teachers and the elderly- to name but three. It’s a difficult one to answer really but if there was one value I would bring back, it would be probably be that one.

Thanks Louise, it’s great to hear about this time as so often us vintage folk focus on the 1950s. For me, what I love about the late 60s was the great optimism for the future. Yes, we had more freedom with new jobs, better education and healthcare but we also had space travel….people probably felt they could achieve absolutely anything! Biba brought us fast fashion at affordable prices for the first time,  meaning that young women could experiment with the new fabrics and colours you spoke of. Habitat was showing us that we could experiment with our homes too. And with the package holidays booming, young people could escape their parents and Britain for the first time. It must have been so fun to be a teenager back then!

Check out Catwalk Creative Vintage’s website, blog and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Herbie goes bananas!

Firstly, let me recap. We bought a huge renovation project back in February, in a lovely village called Cranfield. It took an age to find the right house as our demanding list exasperated all the estate agents. We wanted:

  1. Somewhere we could renovate not wanting to spend a premium for someone elses work (and as Mr YVL is a carpenter this obviously made sense)
  2. Somewhere we could add value too
  3. Somewhere in a village
  4. Somewhere near good schools (there were only 3 upper schools in the whole county I wanted to live near)
  5. Somewhere with a large garden as we grow our veg and have chickens
  6. Somewhere with a double garage for our camper van
  7. Somewhere where I could work from home and keep a lot of my stock
  8. Somewhere detached
  9. Somewhere with 4 bedrooms
  10. Somewhere where we could live with 4 adults in the future as we want to be here for a long time.

Phew, you can see why it took a while to find it! But we did, and last February we moved in.

It’s a 1920s house which hasn’t seen work since the 60s. It is our Patterned Palace (check out the blog here) with an array of swirls and patterns. It even came with it’s own starburst clock, lights, and phones that were thankfully left for us!

So slowly we have started to renovate. First job was to stabilise the chimney breast which had been removed and not supported. Mr YVL did that quickly himself. He then mended the holes in the roof and insulated the loft. Good job!

Next we did our bedroom. We were not planning on doing this as we had decided to start the garden first. We needed to dig the veg beds, plant all the fruit plants we divided from our last home and most importantly, give the chickens their new home.

One day I was feeling down about waking up in all the mess so I started to strip the wallpaper. Mr YVL came home from work, saw the wallpaper half down, got a little excited and took over! 2 weeks later the room was done with the lovely FiFi wallpaper from Sanderson. It’s an old 50s print which was found in someones loft! Read all about it here.

Next up was the playroom. Giving up one of the reception rooms was an excellent idea. No more CBeebies for me in the adults lounge! There was a horrid old gas fire which we couldn’t remove as it was integral to the boiler, so we built a cover. This is now a huge shelf for the vintage Fisher Price toys!! This room isn’t as bare as it looks here…it is now full of toys and pictures!!!

Next was the lounge. A white and teal retro affair all based around a Mucha print. Read all about it here.

Now to the present. This Christmas, Santa brought Herbie a bedroom! Anyone that has followed this journey will know that his room was by far the worst. The previous owners had removed the chimney breast from the room and left it unsupported. They then added french doors to an upstairs room with no balcony. On top of this was a wooden lintel which had rotted. This meant that the wall had dropped slightly. To add to this they hadn’t bothered to install a radiator so the room was damp from condensation. It was smelly from this so they locked the door and forgot about it. I remember when we looked round the house it was the room I didn’t fancy going in to even look at!

So, all that has been repaired by Mr YVL of course (clever man). A window has been added and of course, heating!

When we were moving we asked Herbie (only 2 years old at the time) what he wanted his room to look like. He thought long and hard putting his finger to his mouth in a comic thinking type way! He then announced “I’ve had a good idea!”. “Go on” we said.

“I would like a camper van room”. So a camper van room he has!

It’s full of modern stuff of course (the only room so far!) but there are some lovely handmade touches. Our friend Kim made 3 canvas paintings for him.

Caroline from Dotty’s Heart (read all about her here) made him a picture for his door.


I had made a canvas of photos of our camper van, Florence!

There is even a great photo of us a few years back in a Herbie beetle!

His campers are all out on display including his 1970s Fisher Price one.

And of course, no room can get away without a 60s light, a retro mirror and a bin!

So, on Christmas Day Herbie got his room and yes, he went bananas!

Remember, remember the 5th of November

I have had such a great day today.

Thrifting for stock, eating great food with my lovely family, finished off with fireworks in the garden.

Today was auction day…I went to the auction and Mr YVL went thrifting elsewhere (where? I’m not telling!). We have the Furniture Flea next weekend so we wanted to stock up with retro loveliness…and boy did we!

We bought this gorgeous teak and vinyl chair. It goes perfectly with the lounge but will be for sale. I have already cleaned it up and it looks great.

Then we bought this vintage chair..it will be lovely in a little girls bedroom I think.

We also found this Kartell style unit with added orange tray. Now Mr YVL can’t resist anything orange but this one will be for sale! We havent cleaned it up yet..it will be positively gleaming when I’ve finished.

We found some fab accessories too. This pink 60s plastic light shade is brilliant. We’ve found white and orange ones before but never this shocking pink (it’s a lot brighter in real life)!

We have an orange bubble light too. Again, only ever had clear ones before and this colour is so vibrant. I broke the last one at Brighton’s Furniture Flea so must be more careful!

Mr YVL found this 1960s atomic coat stand. Isn’t he good!

Then we also bought a 1950s settee and chair and lots of coffee tables including a 1950s red cocktail topped one! And for us…we got a tiny childs Windsor elm chair for Kitty to sit on. Can’t show you any pics as they are still in the van!

Then we went and ate with the kids, then went shopping for Christmas presents in a  gorgeous independent toy shop…then home for fireworks. Wrapped up warm the kids sat on a vintage hand knit throw and ooohed and ahhhed at the display. Herbie only liked the ones that went BANG!

A really great day.. one to remember!

Last week’s weakness

My weakness is shopping. Actually, not just shopping. My weakness is shopping, thrifting, collecting….I can’t drive past a car boot sale without dropping in, I can’t visit a new town without thrifting through the charity shops, I can’t ignore a sign saying “Garage Sale”..to be honest I can’t even drive past a skip without meer-catting my neck up to see if there’s any bounty inside.

So maybe I should share with you my weakness..in fact here is last week’s weakness.

I was on my usual Thursday buying trip when I decided to go to a reuse shop full of old furniture. I was browsing round, quite unexcited when I looked up and saw Tina. I have been searching for Tina for about a year. I have seen many out and about but they have always been too expensive. I have not given in to the large spend, sure that one day I will find her.

Last week I did! I texted Mr YVL “OMG,  OMG, OMG, I have found a Tina”. I, of course bought her immediately. The lady serving said they nearly didn’t accept the picture from the customer thinking it was worthless. They then went on eBay and found out they were selling for up to to £80!

So who is Tina I hear you say? She is an iconic print from the 1960s by JH Lynch.

We already have one by him called The Nymph which featured in our blog “Lounging around”.

He painted sexy women looking seductively at the viewer….dark hair, dark sultry eyes and dark skin.

Not much is known about the artist. Tina was painted in 1964 and was mass produced for stores such as Boots. Joseph Henry Lynch was born in 1911 and died in 1989.

He wasn’t recognised in his life for his work although they sold in the thousands and were hung in many, many homes. No one even knew his real name just his signature JH Lynch.

Who are these women..no one seems to know. He painted in his Gloucestershire lounge so I’m presuming these women were in his mind. Maybe the women are all one of the same….a dark forbidden woman whom  he loved?

We don’t know much more than this. But for now I’m just so happy to finally have my Tina for a bargain price! She is hanging above our fireplace looking down over me while I work.

Treasured

I have spoken earlier in the week about visiting my late Great Aunty Joan’s home to collect some treasures for us to keep and remember her life by. It was not an easy day by any means but I wanted to share some of her things.

You will see that both her and my Great Uncle Jack had great taste. They kept everything, valuing its function and it’s worth rather than spending loads of money on new un-needed things. I suppose they were frugal, but what they had was of great quality and probably not cheap. Their house was full of mid-century furniture in immaculate condition. They looked after their things which for me is fantastic….as I have some real treasures that can continue to live in my home and be appreciated by my family going forward.

My Aunty Joan was very intelligent, she had a degree in Horticultural Studies…which back then was rare for women to be educated. She worked for ICI using her studies as well as enjoying her garden in her spare time. She was a private lady, enjoying reading and her cats. What was interesting in her home was the lack of flamboyant “stuff”. There was not hoards of handbags and shoes, makeup and jewellery..which means the items that were there were treasured and used.

I have her dark green leather Ackery handbag with matching leather gloves and purse. It would have been a non showy piece back in the late 40s/early 50s. I love the colour (how rare is it to find dark green?) and grey silk lining. It oozes quality yet simple elegance.

I saved some soft toys for the children. The home-made elephant is so Cath Kidston isn’t it with its ditsy flowers on a soft needle cord. Paddington bear stands tall above the simple rag doll. I love things like this for our children: traditional and non plastic.

I have 2 pairs of curtains from their home. My Uncle Jack’s bedroom had these 1950s curtains hanging..they will go so well with our kitchen and Ercol day bed which will be in there too. I may hang them or make cushions.

I had ordered brown curtains for our new lounge from Next. But these high quality teal silk curtains are amazing in our new room. They don’t totally match the colour of the room but I think they are perfect.

This patchwork rug/throw is hand knitted and backed on to a quilted base. It was in her bedroom over a table…I think it will be lovely in my little girls room.

Then there was so much retro there too. I wrote about the 1960s bubble vase earlier, which now sits on our Arkana table. I work here so its fabulous to see in the morning when I start work. It has no chips and even its original sticker on.

The 1960s yellow glass mushroom light will hang on the landing.

And the cat, Peach, seems to have laid claim on the red vinyl footstool.

The Ercol chairs will be added to our collection (check out in our blog Ercol-lection).

She had lots of books but I was drawn to this one…what amazing reference material for my writing. I look forward to reading it.

Finally, I brought home my uncles shoe cleaning kit for My YVL. I love this old-fashioned styling.

And here are is a photo of my family. This is my Great Grandma and Granddad, my Grandma, my Great Uncle Jim and Aunty Lily and my mum aged about 10??? On the right is my Great Uncle Jack and Aunty Joan..she is the one holding the dog. My whole family. Minus my Granddad who I presume is taking the photo.

I am so glad that we took the time on Monday, however hard it was. The 3 generations of girls that are left…my mum, me and Kitty…went to see the house one last time.

I’m also so glad I am the person I am…who values possessions for their history, their style and their beauty. These treasures will live on in our home and our hearts.

Treasured things, treasured lives, treasured memories.

Lounging around

We have finally finished our 3rd room in our house renovation. The lounge has taken a while as there was so much to do and its a double room too.

So lets cast our minds back to how it used to look.


Red swirled carpet with contrasting walls. The woodwork was all painted dark brown.

An office suspended ceiling with horrid tiles was above the whole room. Why anyone would do that throughout the ground floor of your home is beyond me. It didn’t even mask a bad ceiling.

A hatch and awful huge built-in display cupboard with brick surround was a feature. An old-fashioned gas fire and brick surround took over one half of the room. Overall it was dark and gloomy.

The plus points were the retro wall lights and starburst clock that the previous owner left for us. Check out all the original house in our blog “Our Patterned Palace”


So we ripped it all out (except the hatch). Firstly the display cabinet has become a storage cupboard that doubles up as our filing office space! We have some 70s retro filing cabinets for all our bits and bobs here too.

The walls are white except a large teal wall. We based the colour scheme around 2 Mucha prints. Mucha designed art nouveau advertising posters which became popular in the early 70s when the art nouveau look made a comeback. Homes were filled with his swirls teamed with William Morris prints. We also have one cushion with these 2 colours in, so slowly we planned the scheme.

The floors are painted cream the same as all our rooms so far. Add our G Plan teak furniture, 70s rugs and Italian glass and the rooms almost done.

Our 1960s cream vinyl and teak bar is in between the 2 halves of the room with our modern record player behind. The vintage record player is in a teak box beside it.

The swivel chairs were Mr YVLs grandmas, which she bought in 1968. The footstool goes so well which I picked up earlier this year from an antiques fair.

Some of our 1960s medicine bottles have come out of storage (there’s loads more but we havent got to them all yet!). The amber ones were also Mr YVLs grandmas. The large orange West German pot was a moving in present from me to him back in February. And yes, there’s a modern TV…one of the few modern things in the room!

Our 1950s drinks cabinet houses  my glass collection. Luckily we only had one casualty in the move..I love my collection and wouldn’t be without it! The cocktail shakers are gorgeous!

All our William Morris cushions adorn the sofa next to another Mucha print and our orange rocket lamp. We had a sofa in one of these designs back in my family home in the early 70s.

It is 150 years this year since Morris was born!

The new Arkana table and chairs looks great and take pride of place in the other half of the room. This is the adult lounge so this space is now for me to sit at my laptop in peace away from the kids. It sits under our 3 bulb white space age light and our J.H. Lynch print.

It’s called The Nymph: Herbie asked if it was me the other day!

The fireplace isn’t finished yet..it will have a wood burning stove there soon. The curtains are on order.

We have new bookshelves designed and built by Mr YVL.

I love it. It’s still a little bare but give us time it will look lived in and homely.

This week’s weakness

My weakness is shopping. Actually, not just shopping. My weakness is shopping, thrifting, collecting….I can’t drive past a car boot sale without dropping in, I can’t visit a new town without thrifting through the charity shops, I can’t ignore a sign saying “Garage Sale”..to be honest I can’t even drive past a skip without meer-catting my neck up to see if there’s any bounty inside.

So maybe I should share with you my weakness..in fact here is this week’s weakness.

Well this one has to top all others and will probably top all future purchases too! This week the long anticipated arrival of our table and chairs happened. Now this isn’t just any old table and chairs…it is a gorgeous 1960s Arkana table and chairs.

I have wanted one for so long……and now they are here. I love the tulip shaped base..so iconic of the 1960s and their love of all things space age (Check out a recent blog all about it called  “One small step for mankind, one giant leap for our homes”)

It has 4 swivel chairs with red seat pads which match our room perfectly. The table is aluminium with a melamine coated top. The chairs are fibre glass with aluminium legs. Gorgeous! As you can see there is slight chipping to the tulip base…but hey they are 50-60 years old!

Overall it needed a good clean up, but nothing a bit of cream cleaner couldn’t handle. I think the previous owner kept them in the garden (OUTRAGEOUS) so we had to scrub hard.I’m so very happy to have them! They are timelesss yet totally sum up the look and feel of the 1960s. And they are English!

Another thing ticked off my vintage wish list!

Another Patterned Palace

Any regular readers of our blog will know we have bought a Patterned Palace which we are totally renovating. Every wall and floor was covered in retro patterns..some good and some darn ugly! Slowly we are ripping it out and replacing it with, to be fair, not that much pattern.

I love wallpaper and prints but I find it hard to mix them together with all our treasures to make a calm, stylish finish. There is definitely a fine art to it.

Which this couple, in my opinion, have nailed. Heather from Eclectic Chair (remember those gorgeous cushions featured some time back in Beat the Monday Blues, Part 1) has shared her home with us today.

Her and her partner have successfully mixed patterned walls with patterned furniture, cushions and prints. The result is fantastic.

I personally love their style and our lounge which is nearly complete, has similar objects in it to theirs. I love the prints on the wall, especially the Tretchikoff Green Lady (which I have been after for years). I love the medicine bottle (I have literally hundreds of these..well about 15!).

She describes her home,  “It is a joint effort, my partner spends just as much time scouring Ebay and charity shops as me! It’s a compromise between both our different styles, I try to reign in his masculineness, and he reigns in my girlyness, and the result is pretty good”

I agree! What they have done well is choosing one base colour which is in the pattern as well as the furniture or floor. Then  add accent colours: I love the orange in the office area and the blues in the lounge. See for yourselves and let me know what you think!

For more information on Eclectic Chair visit their website and Facebook page

Welcome to my wardrobe

Some vintage ladies have embraced an era, often the 1950s or 40s. They have fallen in love with its style and taken it to their hearts (and their wardrobe, their hair and makeup, even their home). While I totally applaude this (and am a tad envious of their committment) I am not one of these ladies.

I havent embraced one era over another. The truth be told, I just wear what I like. One day it can be a 1950s day dress, the next a 70s maxi. My hair doesn’t match the era…it generally is the same with a matching  hair clip in.

The only rules I follow (as I don’t really follow rules) are:

1. I must LOVE it. If I don’t LOVE it then I don’t wear it. This applies to my home too…..not one era wins, only rule is we must LOVE it.

2. It must all match. Shoes, bag, hair clip, jacket…even my brolly, must co-ordinate.

I love the simplicity of a 1940s day dress. I love the full skirt, nipped in waist of the 1950s. I love the A line shift of the 1960s. I love the boho, carefree style of the 1970s. I also (don’t shoot me) love the secretary look of the 1980s.

Basically I love dresses, good dresses….. that no one else has!

I also love the social history of all eras and how this impacted what we wore. The rationing of the 1940s with less material and make do and mend ethos. The housewife look of the 1950s when women returned to the kitchen, donned a pinny to look after her man. The baby boomers in the 1960s with their huge optimism and tiny skirts. The hippy vibe of the 1970s with CND and floaty dresses. The empowerment of women in the 1980s with their business dress and shoulder pads.

So here are some of my favourite dresses…welcome to my wardrobe!

My absolute favourite dress: 1950s orange prom dress with clear lucite rhinestone clutch

Early 80s Monsoon dress with humming bird clip from Now, Voyager

1970s blue and gold dress with chain mail rose belt

1970s pink frill dress and Top Shop matchy shoes

1960s beaded mini with my fave Enid Collins box bag

Another 60s mini with patent box bag

Floaty 70s tropical maxi with classic leather cartridge bag

Bright pink 60s mini with handbag that was my mums in the 60s!

Early 50s silk dress with peplum and my gorgeous 40s corde bag

1980s Grecian drape dress with Abilu Creations head band

Late 40s leaf dress with structured brass top bag

Chiffon and lace 50s/60s dress with brooch Mr YVL bought for me when we first met

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This Weeks Giveaway: A crochet throw worth £25.

Simply: 1. Sign up to the blog 2. Leave us a comment about the blog 3. Tell your friends through Facebook, Twitter etc so they can join in the vintage fun!

Winner will be drawn on Thursday 6th October x