Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thrifty Thursday Vol. 70: Planters, Owls, and Cloisonne

Hi everyone and welcome to this week's edition of Thrifty Thursday, where I share my weekly thrift store/swap meet/estate sale finds.
The last couple of weeks have been somewhat hit-or-miss on the thrifting front. We found only a few items at the estate sales the weekend before last and we skipped them altogether last weekend  (yard sale) and the weekend before since we had to take Ruby to the vet bright and early on Saturday. She's had a cough the last few weeks and we're hoping it will clear up with some antibiotics they gave us. I'm hoping it clears up not only so she'll get better, but also so I can forgo having to squirt medicine into the mouth of a squirmy, unwilling cat twice a day!

I've decided to try something new with the Thrifty Thursdays: I've gotten emails from time to time from people interested in purchasing some of the items I post. I decided that, from now on, if something is for sale (and not way too big/heavy to ship), I'll give blog readers first dibs to purchase it before we send it off to the antique space. I'll post a price (not including shipping) with each item that's available, and if you're interested, just email me and I can calculate the shipping and send you a PayPal invoice.

This trio of brass owls was a recent find from one of our local thrifts. I think they'd look adorable arranged on a shelf- with some plants, perhaps? They're for sale for $15 plus shipping.

I lucked out and found this 1950s navy and ivory hat during the same thrifting trip. It's very cute, though it does have some rust staining near the bottom. If any of you vintage hat lovers are interested it's for sale for $10.

Phillip found me these two cool vintage planters at the swap meet. The first one reminds me of a banana split. I want to plant something in it but I'm afraid it would be impossible to see the cool yellow inside!

A french-inspired martini shaker, which is headed to the space.

A set of "Siesta-Ware" mugs in amazingly good condition. They're also headed to the space.

A piece of Spring Blossom Pyrex. It's not one of the most popular colors, but it was only $2 so I bought it just the same. I'll be putting this one in the space as well.

These two bowls were the only thing worth buying at a recent, rather disappointing estate sale. We already have a green one, so we might try all three as a set on Ebay or the antique space.

We got this bread box ages ago at one of the local thrifts and gave it a little makeover. The outside, which was originally a pretty uninspiring fake wood, is now a vibrant bubblegum pink. It's also bound for our space at the Depot.

This mug is pretty interesting and unusual. I love the graphics on the font and the mysterious "Tulsa, 1970" written in the back. What was this made for, exactly? It's up for grabs for $5 plus shipping if you're interested.

I was excited to find this Franciscan Ware Starburst coffee creamer. This pattern is so cool! Unfortunately, it has a big chip on the spout, but I couldn't leave it behind. I'll probably just keep it since it's unlikely to sell in the space.

Another cool mid-century find is this little copper dish. The tag on the back is still intact and says "California Cloisonne." It's got a bit of damage near the rim (see top of photo) but it's up for grabs for just $16 plus shipping.

We'll that concludes this week's Thrifty Thursday. I'll be linking up at A Living Space, Sir Thrift A Lot, and Joyful Treasure Hunting, so head on over and check out everyone's treasures! By the way, does anyone have suggestions for some other fun thrifty link ups?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

8 Lessons I Learned from Our Latest Yard Sale

We held our long-awaited yard sale this past weekend and it was a great success! We got rid of TONS of stuff that was filling up our garage as well as lots of our vintage items that hadn't sold in the antique space or online. The best part was that, at the end of the two days, we had a little over $1300 to put into our house fund! We were totally blown away by how well it all went and I'm thinking we should do this once a year to clear out our excess stock. Here are some tips based on what I learned from this and past yard sales:

1. Do it on Friday.

My mom advised me to start our yard sale on Friday rather than Saturday and she was soooo right!  We decided to do Friday and Saturday and just forget about Sunday altogether (in my experience, it's always dead anyway). So we both took the day off of work and started it up Friday morning at 8. We had lots of people show up early on Friday, especially the people looking for vintage stuff, and we had steady traffic the rest of the day. It seems a bit counter-intuitive but here are a surprising number of people who have time to yard-sale on Fridays! Saturday was also really busy, with people showing up a little later in the day but with a steady stream all the way up until we packed up at 2:00.

2. Post pictures!

I think this is key, especially for big items like furniture or if you have vintage/antiques to sell. Make sure you take lots of clear pictures of what you'll be selling. We took the time a couple of days before to set out all of our best and biggest stuff and took lots of pictures of everything, especially the vintage items. I have to admit it was kind of a pain to take it all out and then pack it back up, but it was totally worth it! I posted about 10 pictures on the ad and Craigslist lets you put up to 24! I had lots of people mention that they really liked our ad because of all of the photos, and several people asked about specific items they had seen. The best part is that it's totally free, and we didn't even bother with an ad in the local paper at all!

3. Post not only in your local Craigslist site, but in nearby areas as well.

We posted our ad in both the Santa Maria Craigslist and the San Luis Obispo Craigslist.  The areas are close enough that it makes sense to advertise on both, and we did have several people mention that they drove in from another town after seeing our ad. It takes a little extra time but it's worth it!

4. Embrace the "Early Birds"

We had a lady show up a full day before the sale and a guy show up at 5:30 AM on Friday as we had just started putting tables out (it was still dark!). It was a little weird, but guess what? We sold things to both of them that I'm not sure we would have been able to sell to anyone else. I think that if someone is rifling through your stuff and being totally annoying, you have every right to ask them to leave you alone, but if they're pretty unobtrusive, why not? A sale's a sale!


 5. Have it in town (if you can).

I remember when I lived at home and we would have yard sales at my parent's house, who live a little ways out of town in a more rural area. We would have tons of great stuff, but we never got nearly as many people as we had at this yard sale last weekend (Phillip and I live in a neighborhood right in the middle of town). It really did make a huge difference in terms of traffic, so if you live in a rural/inaccessible area it might be worth hauling everything to a friend or relative's house in a more yard sale-friendly area.

6. Post clear signs on major streets.

 Make your signs clearly readable with the address and an arrow pointing in the direction of your sale and post them on intersections with larger major streets nearby. Many people mentioned that they had come by after seeing our signs. (Make sure you make them visible to both lanes of traffic). We went down to WalMart the night before our sale and picked up a pack of bright-colored poster board and a jumbo-sized sharpie, which I think cost about $5 altogether.

7. Post your ad twice.

We put our ad up on Wednesday night to make sure people had a chance to see it before Friday, and then I posted another one early Saturday morning to make sure all of the weekend yard-salers would see it too. Remember, it's free!

8. Don't haggle over stuff you're going to donate anyway.

It's amazing how cheap people can get at yard sales! I used to get really irritated by everyone trying to get things ever cheaper ("seriously? it's 50 cents!") and I would refuse to budge out of principle, but then I thought about it: I'm going to donate most of these things after the yard sale anyway, so why not just take the little money they offer? At least you get a little money for it, and more importantly and it's one less thing you have to pack up and haul to the thrift store. There were some things we knew we could try again to sell online or in our antique space, so we wouldn't go below a certain price on those, but for the things we were going to donate anyway, we pretty much took any price offered and we got rid of SO MUCH STUFF!

Weird Yard Sale Story: On a side note, we had a really strange experience with some people a few streets over. Apparently they were having their own yard sale the same day and they felt like we were competing (as if we had any idea that they were having a sale that weekend!). We found that on Saturday morning they had torn down one of our signs and put their own up. We just put up a new sign and went on with our work setting up. Later in the day, a woman drove by our house and yelled to people walking around that "this garage sale sucks! Go to the better one down the street!" and even later a man came to our sale, was really rude and combative, and then said "I'm going to the better yard sale they're having down the street!" How bizarre is that? I always thought it was good to have multiple sales in the same area so that you can benefit from the traffic the other ones bring in. That's why people do neighborhood and city-wide yard sales, right? Have you ever had someone get angry at you for having a yard sale the same day as them? 

I hope this post was helpful! Is anyone planning a yard sale soon? Any more tips to add?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sewing Project: Pattern Testing for the Afternoon Blouse

I was so tickled when Jen of Jennifer Lauren Vintage contacted me and asked if I would be a tester for her very first pattern release! I love Jen and her style and I knew it was going to be a great pattern, so I happily agreed.

The Afternoon blouse is a very simple top that can be sewn in just a few hours, yet it has a pretty, vintage-inspired neckline detail (in two versions) that really takes it up a notch. I made two different versions- one in a simple cotton and one in a more drapey fabric with an added piping detail. They both sewed up nicely with very little fitting- all I did was take my measurements and make that size, which is rare for me- usually I have to adjust blouses for my curvy hips! In fact, it went together so well I was struggling to think of anything to give constructive feedback on as a tester!

Afternoon Blouse #1:
I decided to try out my first muslin version in a floral cotton sheet fabric I had on hand, just to make sure I got the fit right before I made a final version. Much to my delight, the blouse fit great without any alterations, and so my muslin became a wearable muslin! It has a fun, 1950's-ish vibe and I love how it looks tucked into a skirt.

I finished it off with a pretty pink button I've had floating around in my stash forever:

Afternoon Blouse #2:
I used a very different fabric for my next version- a silky, drapey teal and pink fabric which I picked up at an estate sale and am pretty sure is rayon. It was one of those serendipitous moments when I had exactly enough fabric for this pattern and no more to spare-it was meant to be! I really like the way the fancier fabric choice dresses up the pattern in this version. I also decided to add some piping to this one for a little added detail at the sleeves and neckline. This is something I could wear out to a nice dinner or drinks.

It also looks great un-tucked with my jeans, which are what I wear to work most of the time. Just add a black cardigan and flats and you're ready to go!

I used another vintage button for this version- it's such a great project to use a cool statement button and/or those "orphan" buttons that don't have any matches but are too pretty to get rid of! (Hope you don't mind an extreme boob closeup!)

The Afternoon Blouse pattern is great because it's simplicity makes it really versatile. You can sew it up in a cute cotton for a casual summer top, or make it in a silky fabric for a more formal look. It looks great tucked into a skirt when you want a little waist definition and also just with jeans for everyday wear. It's a great pattern for beginners, though I think as an intermediate or advanced sewer you could have fun playing with fabrics and details, like the piping. I still need to try the other neckline version with the triangular neckline detail. I'm also contemplating trying out my own version with darts and adding a side zipper- so many possibilities!

Have any of you made the Afternoon Blouse yet? What did you think?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sewing Project: Mad Men Challenge Dress (Simplicity 1191)

I'm so excited to finally share my dress for Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge! This is the third year she has hosted this challenge but the first time that I've participated. I don't actually watch the show (I tried once, but I hated the characters so much after the first episode that I had no desire to watch more, even despite the fabulous clothes- maybe I'm just weird!).  I still couldn't resist the idea of making an outfit from my favorite style era, so I decided to participate anyway. From what I can tell, my dress most closely resembles the style of Betty Draper:

I had to get out a vintage scarf, pin, and sunglasses!

I decided that I would make myself use one of the many vintage patterns I've been stashing away, and I chose this one, Simplicity 1191. I thought it was from the late fifities or early sixties, but a quick look-up on the Vintage Patterns Wiki showed it was actually earlier- from 1955.
I had to grade my pattern up a few sizes, which made me a bit nervous. I used the technique which Casey of Elegant Musings explains in these posts (One, Two, and Three) and I'm happy to report that it worked very well despite an initial miscalculation that resulted in a way-too-big muslin! My only issue came in trying to match the grading on the skirt. The pleats ended up being totally different from the original pattern but I think they managed to look alright anyway. Just don't look too closely, ok?

I bought my fabric at Birch Fabrics on a fun fabric shopping trip with my friend Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy. I was so happy to find a good fabric on sale for only $5 a yard! I think that it really fits with the 50s/60s style. (It's sold out, but you might be able to find some on another site if you're interested!). I'm also proud to say that I used buttons from my stash and didn't have to go out and buy more! (If you saw how many buttons I have you'd understand why I love de-stashing).

Erin and I got together last weekend so we could snap some pictures of our Mad Men Challenge creations:

I lined the bodice with a white cotton-poly blend. I was going to line the skirt too, but it ended up way too heavy and bulky. The pleats greatly reduce the see-through factor anyway! I gave it a wide (3-inch) hem and hand-stitched it with a catch stitch.

Just in case you might want to know: belt: Target, shoes: Old Navy, cardigan: Target, pin: vintage, scarf: vintage, sunglasses: Anthropologie, earrings: a Renegade SF vendor, leather bow: my shop.

Here's to fun sewing challenges and for having great sewing friends to share them with! Thanks Erin!

In the spirit of getting into the 1960s theme, I couldn't resist making Phillip take some pictures of me with "props" around the house:

This cake-carrier picture is my favorite, even though I look pretty cheesy. It's fun to dress up like my kitchen!

Hope you enjoyed this post! Did you participate in this challenge too? I can't wait to see what everyone came up with!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DIY: Make a Pretty Covered Cork Board

Hi guys! I wanted to share a little easy project with you today. As you know, I'm working on selling at my Hello Camellia wares at some craft fairs this year and I'm trying to get my booth looking great. Cork boards are a great way to display items and I was really stoked to find a large one for free in a musty corner of our garage. I knew it would be a great addition to my booth with just a little tlc.

Here it was, in all of it's spiderwebby glory:
And here it is after I gave it a makeover. Much nicer, right?
Go ahead and read on if you'd like to know how to make your own. I think this would be a great project for an office or bedroom as well and you could get so many different looks depending on the fabric you use.

Cork board
Fabric (I used muslin)
Craft paint
Spray adhesive
Tacky Glue
Rick-rack or ribbon
Step 1: Clean and (possibly) sand your board.
Since our board was in such rough shape, we decided to sand the goopy old paint off of the frame. If you get a newer, unpainted board, you could probably skip this step.

Step 2: Paint the frame.
I used inexpensive acrylic craft paint for my frame and it worked great. Don't worry about getting a little paint on the board- it'll get covered later on by the fabric. I also gave my frame a coat of clear acrylic sealant over the paint to make it a little more resistant to scratching (I figure I'll be hauling it around a lot for craft fair purposes) but that's totally optional.

Step 3: Lay out the fabric and cut to size.
Here's my board on my living room floor. I then draped my fabric on it and cut it to roughly the size of the board. Make sure to leave at least an inch of extra fabric around the edges initially- you can always trim it down after you apply the adhesive.

Step 4: Glue fabric to board with spray adhesive.
Press your fabric well with your iron to get it as smooth as possible, and then, starting on one side, spray the adhesive on the board and then smooth the fabric over it. I went slowly, spraying about 6 inch strips of board at a time and then smoothing the fabric over it. You might also consider taping off your frame to keep the adhesive off (I didn't and it was hard to scrub off in spots!).
Smoothing the fabric down after each spray.

Step 5: Tuck the fabric edges under the frame.
At this point, you can trim your fabric a bit more, until you have about 1/2 to 1 inch of extra fabric along the edges. Use a butter knife to tuck these edges under the frame, as shown below:

Step 6: Add your embellishment.
Decide where you want to put your rick-rack (or ribbon or whatever else you want to use). Move it aside, draw a line with the tacky glue, and then carefully place your trim on top of the glue. I just eyeballed it, but you could also use a ruler if you want to make sure it's perfect. Let the glue dry completely, and trim the ends to about 1/2 inch extra, as shown in the photo below:

When the glue is completely dry, use the butter knife again to tuck your ends under the frame.

Step 7: Enjoy your pretty new cork board!
Isn't it beautiful? I'm going to use it to hang up my hoop art pieces in my booth.

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

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