Saturday, 31 August 2013

Vintage Style Chair: An Upcycling Project

We're in the slow process of redecorating and furnishing our new home.  As it is a period flat I've been trying to find some suitable furniture.  My love of vintage extends from clothing to furniture.  If it was totally up to me, the starry eyed Australian who romanticises anything older than this century (because we just aren't surrounded by it in spades back home), then I would stuff it to the brim with antique furniture.  As any vintage and second hand loving blogger pals will attest, going the vintage or second hand route in our wardrobes helps to recycle and reuse.  Well so too with furniture!

Mr V. however, having grown up in a period property stuffed with antiques, doesn't relish the idea of living in a museum of Victoriana. So we've settled on going for a mix of modern and old as a compromise.

So far though I've scored several items of furniture for free. You'd be amazed at what people throw out here.  I found four Ikea dining chairs down the road the week we moved in that are now as good as new after getting a clean and new seat covers. Then I found this vintage style balloon back chair outside a house we were driving by. It was stacked amongst other items of furniture on the pavement with a note saying that anything there was free to anyone who wanted it.  So this chair came home with me.

Mr V. was a bit dubious.  It was pretty grimy and in need of doing up but the shape and the condition of the wood was pretty good.  I'm not proud and I could instantly see the potential in my freebie street find.  Inspired by transformational upcycling DIY projects by blogging pals I was itching to see what I could make out of someone else's cast off.  So here's how I upcycled this chair from this...


...to this!  All for the cost of £3.95 and using where possible, things I had lying around at home to do it.


Firstly I painted the wooden base of the chair with paint primer that was left in the shed from the previous owners.  Cost - zilch.

 

The seat cushion which just sat in the frame was easy to remove. It was covered in a stained and dirty cream satin brocade that had clearly seen better days.


The fabric had just been folded over the cushion and MDF base and stapled in place with a staple gun.


Nothing a staple remover and a pair of pliers couldn't deal with!


Dreadful hoarder that I am, I realised I had a length of old period style curtain fabric in a bold yet feminine stripey pattern of scarlet red and a floral embossed cream.  I'd bought it over fifteen years ago at a curtain shop in Sydney.  Originally bought to be turned into an item of clothing and deemed too pretty to get rid of every time I had a clear out, it has been waiting for a suitable project ever since.  Cost - whatever I paid for this fifteen years ago in Australian dollars adjusted for inflation - i.e. next to nothing.


I used the old seat cover as a template to cut the shape of a new one by just laying it on the new fabric, lining up the stripes and cutting around it.


Once that was done I placed the cushion seat with the side I wanted to cover facing the wrong side of the fabric and flipped it over.  I didn't have a staple gun but I have plenty of old fabric glue lying around.  Cost - nada!


Using a plastic knife I spread glue around the perimeter of the seat.  Then working my way around and taking care to keep the fabric taut, I folded over the fabric at the edge and pressed it into the glue, forming pleats to follow the shape of the cushion.


The corners were a bit fiddly and a bit of origami folding skills were needed to tuck the corners in so that they sat neatly.  I trimmed off any excess with pinking shears so the ends wouldn't fray and glued down any bits that were sticking up to finish it off.


Voila!  One cushion seat cover as good as new.  The only cost of transformation being my time, some old bits and bobs and my imagination.


As we are redecorating we had some sample pots of some very nice Farrow and Ball paint in shades of white lying about. It seemed a shame to waste them so I took a sample pot of creamy white called Dimity that was deemed too dark for the walls, but it was just the shade to go with the creamy stripes in the cushion fabric. A small sample pot costing £3.95 was enough to get two coats on the entire chair frame.


Waste not want not! I'm very pleased with the final result and even Mr V. was amazed at the transformation.  Quite excited to find the next project!

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Friday, 23 August 2013

How to Do Floral Prints and Colour Blocking


I was asked by a friend how I would do colour blocking and florals together.  Said friend is a minimalist who is more of a colour blocking gal at heart, loves the concept of florals, but is slightly allergic in a fashion hay feverish kind of way to the fussiness of floral prints.  So how do you work a floral in a not so OTT way?  Well here is an outfit I wore to work that might do the trick for the floral shy, who would like to dip a toe into the floral trend without looking like a summer in Kew Gardens on acid (see my last post for an example of the latter!).


I think a floral print can be used with block colour to great effect.  Firstly, choose a floral print that has flowers that you love.  My personal opinion is that it's no use trying to wear crystanthemums in a print if the actual flower doesn't do anything for you!  Secondly, try a print that has more solid colour between the floral motifs.  This one from Zara has a good amount of a strong blue in between the flowers.  This is a great jacket, and beloved of other bloggers I follow - Deja Pseu, and Madison to name but two!

This jacket's print is a good middle ground to slot into a colour blocking look.  For the more minimalist minded, the larger the colour to motif ratio on the print, the closer to your colour blocking comfort zone you are.  If you are this way inclined you could also try an oversize floral print as there will be more concentrated patches of colour than in a busy ditsy print.  Move in the other direction on the floral scale towards the full on busy and ditsy prints if you want more of a contrast against a block colour.


Secondly choose the base colour for your colour blocking.  These could be pastels or brights.  Here I have done my colour blocking in the form of a basic sleeveless shift dress in a pale soft pink.  As there is pink in the jacket's floral print there is a linking colour to my dress that ties the two together.  I've accessorised with pink ballet flats and a green belt in the same tone as the green in the print to further pull the colour scheme together.  On other times I have worn this outfit I have also worn a tan brown leather belt and tan brown croc print courts for a more neutral rather than pastels look.


Here's another tip to get some fashion mileage out of your floral print with your block colours - choose a print with a selection of colours you could wear with the colour blocking pieces you already have in your wardrobe.  As there is green, blue, pink, white and even red in this print, I could swap any of these as my contrasting block colour under this jacket and make the colour in the print pop.

And for those still nervous of florals, you can rest assured that by pairing with a plain block colour, the floral print is already being toned down several notches as the eye of the observer will probably be drawn to the block of colour first before the print.

Finally, be brave!  Both florals and strong use of colour will remain a big story not just this season, but throughout Autumn and Winter too.  It would be a shame not to take the opportunity to experiment and enjoy them worn together!

Linking up this week to Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style and DCinStyle's Monday Bloom.

Dress: Zara; Jacket: Zara; Ballet flats: Zara; Belt: taken from another dress, Bag: Michael by Michael Kors

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Clashy Clashy


Having done the matching florals this season I thought I would do clashing ones this time.  I've realised I did something similar last year in posts contrasting matching floral prints with clashing ones.  And then I began to realise with a sense of rising panic how quickly the year seems to have raced by since then!  Arghhh!

And yet, comfortingly, floral prints, either as matching or clashing sets, have prevailed as a fashion idea.  Maybe time went by so quickly that all the fashion designers just had to whip out the same old idea for yet another season.  I for one am quite happy they did!  I'm proud to say I've actually avoided wearing all black for some time now and the florals craze is allowing me to dress like a kind of mad Frankenstein botanical experiment all summer.


I have to say it is quite mood changing to dress like this, there is no safety net of blending in with black on black or neutrals.  You expect people to look, sometimes twice and sometimes not very approvingly.  But sometimes they do actually smile.  I would not, repeat NOT, try a look like this at work (unless you work for an über creative industry), but it sure is lots of fun for the weekends.


The trousers are from the Mary Katrantzou for Topshop collection and I do love wearing them, the swirly blue, black and white reminds me of the patterning on those Chinese ceramic vases from the Ming dynasty.  I usually wear a plain tee and jacket with them to allow the print to stand out on its own, but this time I decided to provide some stiff competition in the form of a psychedelic, floral print, neoprene biker jacket.


Oh yes! Neoprene! The only other time I've donned neoprene is to go deep water snorkeling.  So wearing it as fashion item is a bit of novelty.  Boy is this thing the best to cut out the wind chill factor.  I've seen a few interesting uses of neoprene as a material in fashion collections over the last couple of years that piqued my curiosity about its wearability out of water and I must say, it's very comfortable on a cool day when you need the warmth of a jacket and it looks fabulous printed.


As I'm probably visible from outer space in this outfit I shall be joining the ladies over at Not Yet Dead Style for Visible Monday, and I'll also be linking up to Monday Bloom at DC's.

Have a great week all!

Trousers: Mary Katrantzou for Topshop; White Tee: Cos; Printed neoprene biker: Clover Canyon; Ballet flats: Dune; Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mint and Vanilla


It's been raining in London again and feeling positively autumnal.  The September issues of the fash mags are out declaring the end of summer, ringing the death knell on summer fashion and hailing the arriving of transitional dressing.  I personally wish this noise would stop.  I'm tired of hearing this when it is barely mid August and I know others are too - see Jan's witty exploration of the late summer fashion blues over at Fort Smith Stylista.

I don't want the summer to end!  Like Jan I am shopped out after the sales, am vowing not to buy any more summer clothes and desperately want to wear my new summer gear for just a little bit longer.  I want to play around with all the exciting combinations in my wardrobe these new additions could bring without the limitation of not having enough warm days to do so.  Hold off please autumn!  I want another heat wave - an Indian summer.  I want more picnics, more barbeques, more lying out in the garden soaking up the sun.  Not least because I would like to wear these mint green leather shorts again before the weather turns truly inhospitable.


Have you noticed that even though the Pantene colour of the year was emerald, the shade of green to be seen in this season seems to be mint? Mint seems to be everywhere and not just in clothing, it has infiltrated the world of interiors and homeware as well.  Recently we've been shopping for furniture and I've noted mint tinted outdoor furniture sets, minty green anglepoise lamps, trendy industrial pendant lampshades in mint enamel, bed linen in pale mint and mint washed walls in interior inspiration magazines. There have been a plethora of ceramics on sale in, you guessed it, mint - milky glass vases, dinner sets and tea sets. What happened? Who white washed the emerald?


Not that I'm complaining.  I do love a deliciously cool and icy shade of mint.  So enamoured am I that of late I have been known to sport almost head to toe mint combinations.  Mint blazer, mint shorts, mint top (exception being shoes - still looking for a pair of mint shoes).  I needed to stop this mint madness and de-mint - but then with what colour?


I find the fancifulness of colour names are a good starting point to get your creative juices flowing for outfit combinations.  If a colour is named after something edible than it is fun to think of edible colour combinations, two ingredients to go into the mix if you like rather than thinking of just "pale green" and "white".  Thinking of two ice cream flavours together inspired this outfit choice of mint leather and vanilla lace (because if anything goes well with mint ice-cream it is vanilla.)


Lemon and lavender coming up in a future post!  Maybe I should start a series of food inspired outfits...  What ingredients would you mix together when getting dressed?

Mint leather shorts: Theskyns' Theory; Lace top: Zara; Espardrilles: Spain

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Matchy Matchy


This weekend Mr V and I have been in the historic town of Bath.  This was where Mr V was born and grew up so we visit fairly regularly and I now know the town very well. We are antique furniture hunting this time and I have already picked up a lovely vintage carved spinning chair for our hallway from a lady living here which I won on Ebay last week. These photos were actually taken earlier this summer when we were down visiting. The weather was glorious and we went for a walk by the canals.


This summer I made a pact to pull out some of last year's florals which still feel quite fresh. I quite like the head to toe print that came in last year and which is still kicking around this year as an idea from designers. I'm not a jumpsuit sort of person having never found one that has suited my pear shaped body, but have often admired the style on other women both in the street and in fashion blogs. The continuity of line and pattern can lend the wearer an elongated elegance when worn well. I also love the idea of a floral jumpsuit for summer and still remember a lovely halter neck maxi length one in a ditsy floral print of muted pastels I used to borrow from my sisters wardrobe in my early twenties.  These days I find they don't suit me anymore so a matching print top and trouser is my alternative.  I added a rose print cardigan for a bit of a floral mash up in the spirit of pattern mixing.


I've realised that the times I featured the top and trousers on separate occasions in the blog here and here were the last times I wore them!  A complete travesty as I really like both pieces.  Blogging has really highlighted the lack of wear some of my clothes get!  In the case of these items this has been in part due to the summer last year being so awful that barely any of my summer gear made an outing.  So this summer I had promised myself I'd wear last year's summer clothes come rain or shine.  As well I remember a couple of people asking in the comments on those old posts to see the top and trousers worn together - well I finally got around to it!


Now looking at these photos I realise that, when worn together, the little sleeveless top and cropped trouser their chinoiserie print has more than just a little of an East Asian vibe.  I am reminded of those old vintage Chinese postcards with the coiffed, red lipped Chinese ladies with their floral embroidered Chinese pyjamas, as well as of the little Chinese grandmothers I used to see out shopping in Penang, dressed in their matching tops and trousers and little slippers.  Ladies, I am turning into my grandmother!


Here is Mr V in his favourite shark print tee shirt and weekend uniform of tee shirt and jeans.  We took a stroll by the jaunty, colourful house boats all lined up along the canal.


There is something of a vintage feel about an outfit like this that speaks of an earlier age without quite being able to put a finger on what era that might have been.  Matchy matchy anything has historically got a bad rap in fashion as being somewhat of a style anachronism, but it tends to come back periodically into favour when a more ladylike style is the look of the season.

With the Queen being touted as a major style icon these days this is one of those phases in fashion where you can have fun being a lady.  I've actually just found the matching top and trousers to be a fun look to wear and didn't feel prissy or stuffy wearing it at all.  In fact when I went for afternoon tea later at the Holburne Museum I even got an enthusiastic compliment on my outfit from the young girl serving at the counter!

Will be linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style.

Floral and bird print trousers and top: Oasis; Wool knit floral motif cardigan: Marilyn Moore; Bag: Michael by Michael Kors; Red espardrilles: bought in a shop in Spain

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Red Bata de Cola

 

With the lack of good weather to air dry clothes most of the year round, it is quite common to find people in the UK hanging their wet laundry on the radiators in their homes.


Laundry day at chez Veshoevius is a little, shall we say, unconventional!  Even flamenco costumes need laundering.  Don't even get me started on how long it takes to iron the damn thing!

Red Bata de Cola: bought second hand and altered in Spain

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Golden Brown


Excuse the bed hair!  This is me early on a Saturday morning trying to make an effort be more dressed up on the weekends.  The first thing I did this morning was pick out this floaty, silk chiffon, mid-length Sass and Bide skirt from the wardrobe which I bought for a song on Ebay a few years ago.  At the time I was completely taken by the devore pattern of bright gold chrysanthemums festooning the multiple layers of gauzy brown silk.  The floatiness of the fabric and the handkerchief hem also reminded me of those chiffon wrap ballet skirts I recall well from my ballet years.


I remember seeing this skirt some years ago at some exorbitant price on Net-A-Porter and thinking I would never own such a gorgeous thing.  A good time later it turned up on Ebay for less than thirty quid and I won it.  After it arrived I admired it for a while, then threw it into the back of wardrobe and never wore it - for years!  Out of sight, out of mind.  When I pulled it out this morning it still had the tag on!  Given its unusual colour and cut, I think it was a combination of just not knowing how or having the courage to wear it.  Criminal really because it is a very pretty skirt and deserves to be worn more.  Despite the dark brown of the silk it has a translucence that means it really glows in the sunlight.


I've been trying to heed the shopping from the wardrobe mantra and recently I've been thinking frequently of  Patti of Not Yet Dead Style's "Rule of Instead" - a great post for those in a wardrobe rut and stellar advice that has remained with me for some time.  Instead of wearing same old, same old, reach for something extraordinary, or just different, or in my case what still hasn't been worn yet.  It's about not letting the "wow" factor of a piece scare you and about allowing yourself to wear something for the pure joy of it, because you love it.  So today ended the humming and hawing with this skirt and I just wore it.

I think I previously had a fear of never doing enough justice to this skirt to be able to wear it, always feeling that I didn't have the right kind of top or shoes to go with it.  That's the perilous part of buying a piece just because it's beautiful rather than because it works with everything else in your wardrobe!  Today I decided that it didn't need an all singing and dancing top to go with it after all.  Such a gorgeous pattern and fabric should be allowed to speak for itself.  I thought a better companion for such frivolity would be pure simplicity - a ghost of a tee shirt with raw edged sleeves in barely there, whisper thin cotton.


Later I extended the golden brown theme of the skirt and wore this out to dinner with my brown leather gladiators with gold studs and a buttercup yellow ballet wrap cardigan.  Yes I'm wearing yellow these days!  It was an outfit I felt really great in as well as at ease.  Sorry no photo - maybe I'll recreate it for another post.

If you are a regular reader you'll know Mr V and I have recently moved.  In doing so we have also taken on the task of renovating and restoring an old Victorian flat.  When we were trying to decide on a new home we both knew that we wanted a place with character but that we could put our own stamp on.  We loved the idea of doing up a period property so we were fortunate to find a large two storey Victorian flat which was liveable in but still needed some TLC to restore it to its former glory.


When we arrived there was a cream wool carpet laid on the stairs and in some of the rooms which had seen better days and was hiding the antique wooden floorboards.  The carpet was very soiled in some areas and was showing signs of moth infestation.  In fact the moth problem was really bad - the damn things were flitting about everywhere and any moth traps that we laid down were soon encrusted!  I was really panicking about my clothes getting munched - oh my God all that wool and silk!  So it forced our hand in getting the carpets up as quickly as possible and since it went we've noticed the moths have pretty much gone too.


Strangely, since I've moved into this new flat, I now feel like getting dressed up more at home.  Not something I used to do very much of.  I was one of those who was brought up to believe you shouldn't wear your "good" clothes at home lest you spoil them and that you should always save your best for special occasions.  Who has that many special occasions these days?  I've realised I'm still trying to shake off the guilt of wanting to look nice all the time and hearing my mother in my head nagging me to take that off and stop wearing my nice clothes at home.  Here reading other blogs has provided suitable therapy.  I always enjoy seeing what ladies like Vintage Vix, Helga and Curtise wear to knock around at home.  There is never a slobby tee or track suit in sight, just frocking vintage fabulousness!

Maybe it is also because design and aesthetics around renovating and redecorating our new home is on my mind a lot lately, but I often now find myself rummaging in the wardrobe for something pretty to swan around at home in.  This weekend it's all about the aesthetics of wooden floorboards.  Do we keep them golden brown?  Do we tint them darker or lighter?  Or do we paint them white?  Here is what the floors looked like just after we took the carpets up.  While the dark brown patina of age on the floorboards added character to them there was an unsightly black pitch border on the edge (something they liked doing in the Victorian era apparently).  They were unfortunately also paint splattered, broken, chipped and uneven in several areas.


In the end we decided to fill the gaps and sand the boards down and they came up a lovely pale gold that positively glows in the morning sun.  We're still undecided where to go next with them...


I fished out a video of The Stranglers "Golden Brown" because it seems apt.  It is one of my favourite songs although until today I'd never seen the video clip!  I was surprised to see it was filmed in Egypt.  I also hadn't appreciated until now what a complicated rhythm this song has.  It's three-four timing for three bars then four-four for the fourth.  Pretty sophisticated for a seventies punk rock band.

There's a ballet connection here too with this song and the colour combination it refers to.  I associate this song with arriving one warm golden afternoon at the ballet studio for my class many, many years ago back in Australia.  The sunlight was streaming in from the windows to bathe the studio in a warm late afternoon glow and I had stumbled in on one of the young professional students from the school practising a solo she had choreographed for this Strangler's track.  Watching her rehearse is something I will never forget.  I watched, completely mesmerised by her skill and agility while she pranced and leapt about as effortlessly and freely as a gazelle.  I was in awe at her ability to make jumps and pirouettes look light, airy and carefree.

She was a very pretty girl, with tawny golden brown skin much like the imaginary Mediterranean girl the track was apparently written about.  She had dark chocolate brown eyes, brown hair with blonde highlights and she always wore chunky gold hoop earrings that glittered when she danced.  I remember thinking at the time that for someone her age "Golden Brown" was a particularly sophisticated track to have chosen to dance to.  It was the early nineties and she was all of seventeen, so she couldn't have been more than seven years old when that track had come out.  But then and there it was as if the track had been written just for her.  It was one of those perfect moments that stick in your memory and every time I hear this track I think of her, that bright young thing, dancing her heart out in that gold lit studio.  In fact, in some subconscious way, she may well have been the very reason I ended up buying this golden brown skirt.


Silk chiffon devore skirt: Sass and Bide; Cotton tissue-weight tee shirt: Cos;

Linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style and Monday Bloom at DC Style.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Macaroon Me


Ahhh the great English summer! We've finally been having enough of one that I managed to pull out all my pastel pieces again to layer up in a sugar fest of macaroon shades - pale mint, soft lilac and duck egg blue with pretty pleats, frills and cosy knitwear thrown into the dessert mix for good measure.  More sugar with my sugar please!


Long live the London heat wave!  Yesterday was 33 degrees C!!  And intermittently we've been having the most amazing thunderstorms where the air still manages to stay warm afterwards. 

One of the loveliest things about summer is being able to indulge in this pretty pallet of colours, when long days and glorious sunlight allows them to flatter you rather than wash you out.  I wish the weather was like this all the time. Then I'd live in saccharine fabulousness every day.

 

How about a macaroon tinted selfie! Don't I look good enough to eat with a strong cup of afternoon tea?  Bonne weekend all!

Lilac Cardigan and pale mint shell top with frilled collar: Cue; Pale blue pleated chiffon skirt: Whistles; Mint peplum jacket on ground: H&M

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