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Category Archives: Home and Leisure

Circus Themed Baby Bedroom


It didn’t actually start off with this theme! We had a seaside idea in mind, but I got over excited in Ikea after spotting the bed canopy and everything else seemed to fall in place! You may recognise the awesome metal suitcase shelves that we used to have in the bathroom of our previous house. They are perfect in Betsy’s room and are now adorned with vintage Ladybird books and toys! The bedding set is from Asda Living and came with a quilt, bumper and a couple of sheets. I adore the retro lion and tiger cushions, mini suitcases and melamine plates! They are from Dotcomgiftshop and tie everything in together! The elephant cushion was a recent buy from Sass & Belle. It is so funny and they do a zebra wearing a cowboy hat too!

After scouring the internet for a hot air balloon light, I decided to make my own. The ones I found were either too expensive or had teddy bears, bows and pearls everywhere. I am so pleased with how it turned out that I am now taking commissions! I even made little peg people of Richard, Betsy and I! If you would like one with your choice of theme (Imagine a steampunk version!), then message me for details.

So here it is, I hope you like it! Her room is very small, but I tried to fill it with lots of cheery things and sensory objects!

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Christmas 2015


Well I hope you all had a wonderful Yule! I was lucky enough to perform at a Masonic event in Birmingham again, singing Christmas crooners and vintage numbers. They put on a lavish banquet and we had a marvelous time!

Christmas Eve was spent in our favourite cafe The Forteas in Stratford upon Avon! I serenaded them with some more yuletide numbers and 40’s classics as people sat and enjoyed their afternoon tea. It was hard not to turn all my attention to Betsy as she was wearing an adorable Christmas dress and would light up whenever I turned to her. Her smile really does cut through the dullest day.

On Christmas Day, we spent time with the family and my sister flew back from the USA to be with us all. Betsy is still too young to appreciate the festive season, but she was still spoiled with some amazing gifts from family and friends. It will be fantastic next year (and years to come), when she can get excited over the twinkly lights and wrapping paper. I wonder what she will think of her first snowfall?

So here are a few pictures, I hope you enjoy them and forgive me for not posting anything for a while. Babies sure do take up all your time and energy and it is a rare thing to have the opportunity to sit at a computer nowadays!

 

Betsy Rose got this adorable deer hat from Aunty Siss!

Betsy Rose got this adorable deer hat from Aunty Siss!

 

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Just before my performance at the Masonic Christmas event

Just before my performance at the Masonic Christmas event

 

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Our wonderful day at The Forteas

Our wonderful day at The Forteas

 

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Aunty Siss! She also bought Betsy that toadstool rattle!

 

 

 

A fantastic gift from Lil' Siss! Star Wars Christmas jumpers!!!

A fantastic gift from Lil’ Siss! Star Wars Christmas jumpers!!!

WW2 Doll Pattern




I found this fantastic doll pattern on Etsy, which is a copy of an original American WW2 doll pattern. It is very basic and that suits me down to the ground! I wanted something I could alter without too much hassle!

I decided to change the WAC uniform to British ATS and a red head (of course!). This was the first time I have tried embroidering a doll face, so was a new challenge for me! The eyebrows are Marino wool to match the hair but the eyes and lips are just formal sewing thread that I tripled in the needle before using.

The pattern includes 3 types of uniform (skirt, jacket, hat and blouse), but because I didn’t want the jacket to open, I just made the front of the blouse, collar and tie out if a scrap of one of Richard’s old USO shirts! I had used the other half of it for an act, so glad I kept the scraps!

The wool fabric was bought at a local haberdashers and although expensive by the metre, I only bought a 30cm width so wasn’t too bad and I have enough left for a matching boy doll and more. I also bought a sample swatch of leather as the pattern used more embroidering to depict shoes (literally just shoe laces). After some playing around I came up wit a basic pixie design and matching belt.

Here is my first attempt…

So, I was quite pleased apart from the head. The doll ends up with no neck, so I tried creating one which wrinkled the face and my stupid permanent pen guides I had drawn for the facial embroidery ended up spreading, making her look like an old lady!

I ended up doing a Marie Antoinette job on her head, which I had made all the more complicated as I had inconveniently sewn the blouse collar and jacket to the body. I drew around the head template again onto the plain cotton, but this time I added a neck! I sewed the new head on as best I could and tidied the wound with a strip of leather. Lucky it just neatens the area and doesn’t make her look like a 40’s themed dominatrix. 

So here you go! The finished doll and, for my first attempt, I think she is pretty good! I want to add some buttons on her jacket using thread, but just have to figure out a way to do this.

I am planning to use the pattern for different themes, not just military, but will re-draw the body so that she has more of a neck before trying another one.





Bournemouth Photos!


I had a wonderful time in Bournemouth when I went there to perform at a Blitz Ball! I have never really walked around the town before, but once you look passed the chain stores, there are some real treasures! It is a relatively new town, born in 1810, so the architecture is a gorgeous mix with some fabulous 1920’s bits thrown in (and the obligatory modern catastrophes!). There is one place we found just outside the town with a whole street of vintage and antique shops, so for a whole day we staggered open-mouthed around a treasure trove of curiosities.

The Blitz Ball went really well and was held at the Bournemouth Flying Club at the airport. Unfortunately due to the weather, the daytime event was postponed, making the dance less popular. It was a shame as the DJ was fantastic and the hosts a delight. I have experience myself of hosting Blitz Balls and know what hard work they are and how much money can be lost through the expense and hard work it takes. ST Events did a grand job, but obviously couldn’t help the weather that had scuppered its big day. Ah well, other people’s loss is my gain as there was more room to dance!

The people that were there were dressed up to the nines, whether they were 1940’s enthusiasts or not! I did a singing set early in the evening before donning my bomber girl corset for a fan dance at 10.30. Low and behold one of the staves snapped just as I was finishing my last spin! The feathery swine!!!

For the rest of the evening I wore a gorgeous original 1940’s gown with red and white stripes that I bought at Stoneleigh Militaria and a pair of pale blue Johnson’s Originals shoes, with a hair bow to match.

I hope you enjoy the photos below, I will do a separate post about Russell Cotes House as it was too incredible not to warrant its own article…

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Wartime Novelty Gifts for Morale and Funds


As Britain pokes its meerkat head out of another recession hole, it got me thinking about how things like this effect people’s buying habits. As some people may know, I am a creative writer at a gift company in the week (no, I don’t know how I fit it all in either!!!) and in the recession’s lowest period, people didn’t stop buying, they just bought cheap novelty gifts which were affordable for the occasion and morale boosting too.

I love collecting WWII novelties and took some photos of a few of my favourite bits and bobs. I started collecting music sheets and brooches, but thanks to my friend’s in America sending me some fantastically tacky specimens, this has now taken off! Fundraising was a huge part of the homefront. From homeless families to wounded soldiers, cheap and often fun items were made to aid the war effort and people’s dwindling spirits. We often put rose tinted glasses on when looking back at this awful time and although there was a lot of comradery, we cannot forget what a horrendously dire time this was for all involved. A novelty compact mirror in the shape of an officers cap may not be able to raise the opposition’s white flag, but I am sure it raised a smile! Whether bought by a soldier to send to his girl, or bought by a lady supporting her man’s efforts in the service, such things were a little light heartedness in a dark time.

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I have some fabulous 1940’s jewellery and am a lover of brooches. I have chosen some that are specifically of this era, but it can be difficult to tell when it comes to lucite jewellery as people were carving them well into the 60’s! In the war, these were generally made from the windscreens of crashed German aircraft and sold for the war effort or given to sweethearts. Reverse carving them, the shapes would be painted to give a real 3D effect to the flowers or objects. I have a lovely Spitfire one, of which I wear often! You will also see a wonderful Bundles for Britain charm bracelet which is a real stunner. Bundles for Britain was an American charity, raising money for us. You may come across the emblem, which is usually a rearing lion in a white shield with a red and blue striped ribbon. Another fantastic piece is my silver bomb set! A necklace and earrings in the shape of torpedos, they are subtle with a cheeky twist.

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Men’s jewellery was also a great novelty. You could get tin versions of the service rings for children and even some of the men’s sweetheart rings had lockets or secret compartments in them. We have a lovely one from America and you can see a V for Victory tie bar behind! As men were not often in civvies, there was no real need to produce ties and other novelty gifts for men as they could not be worn anyway, so hankerchiefs or other items that could be kept in a pocket were sent over, along with funny greeting cards or a letter record. These are like a vinyl record made of cardboard with a thin layer on the top. A message to a soldier or from a soldier to a family could be recorded at a shop and sent to the recipient in an envelope). I have a few of these and have played them, but as they were made to only be played a few times, they can be very difficult to hear depending on how worn they are.

Now to tableware. The flame that sparked my love of these vintage novelties was a set of Victory Bomb salt and pepper shakers. Made out of chalkware or plaster, they are crudely painted in cheerful red, white and blue! How can you not love these? Well…back then, they may have been thought of as tacky and vulgar, but just like Christmas cracker gifts, they were loved for a short period of time, which is what they are all about. I am also now the proud owner of a War Against Hitlerism teapot! I have wanted one of these for as long as I can remember. They were produced for Dyson and Horsfall who surrendered their aluminium teapots to be recycled as allied armaments. It is covered in allied flags and of course the inspiring slogan ‘Liberty and Freedom’ on the other side. The Victory vase (also a favourite bought by our friends!) is another great example and a strong symbol of the time. Everyone recognises a V with …- as the victory sign and it has become a very iconic image. Doesn’t it just fill you with strength and pride just looking at it?

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So keep looking around those vintage stalls and take a gander at some of those museum quality pieces. There are some fantastic money boxes (oh for the love of a bottomless bank account…) and some very funny propaganda items such as chamber pots with Hitler’s face in them and even pincushions of Hitler bending over looking rather uncomfortable with a the cushion being is rear…

Helen & Dai’s Medieval Wedding


My gorgeous friends H P Saucy and Dai got married at St Mawes Castle in Cornwall, late September. The theme was a Merlin/ Game of Thrones/ Medieval affair! I helped Helen with her styling, did her hair and makeup and also made Dai’s doublet! It was my first time making anything medieval and managed to make my own dress and matching bag AND Mr Moo’s Richard the Lionheart outfit too. Here are a few photos of the beautiful day… I know, don’t I look different?!

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Helen and Dai!

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St. Mawes Castle in Cornwall – The wedding venue!

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Our outfits. I made my gown from crushed velvet and stiff silk with a woven pattern.
I made Richard’s ‘chainmail’ cowel, which I knitted, rolled with silver paint and then finished by painting an antique gold line around the rim. The tunic is hand painted crushed velvet.

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Game of Thrones inspired wedding outfits. You can just see the doublet I made from heavy duty cotton velvet with hand sewn brass findings and purple velvet ribbon. I also applied embroidered appliques to Helen’s gold and a gold belt with matching arm ribbon.
Dai’s cloak is a 1930’s opera cloak (velvet) with a vintage fox fur.
This is reminiscent of a Merlin character’s cloak.

 

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I know, too adorable right?

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My stone! Helen’s Ma collected heart shaped stones from Cornwall beaches and then Dai painted them all with people’s names. What a wonderful token of their day!

 

 

 

Festival of Quilts 2013


On 10th August I went to the Festival of Quilts with my family at the NEC in Birmingham. I have a fondness of quilts, purely through the fascination of memory quilts and for sentimental reasons; one that used to be on my bed at Grandad’s house. This is one craft I would not be any good at. Following a strict pattern and everything needing to be just-so, my techniques are more organic and I prefer to just dabble and go with the flow as opposed to be regimental with my methods.

The amount of work that went into these gorgeous pieces was astounding and the creativity truly brilliant. It wasn’t all hexagons and bowties either. People experimented greatly with different mediums, painting, embroidering words and taking modern approaches to a traditional craft.

I imagined a chocolate box image of women working at their little Singer sewing machines on an evening, listening to the radio and nibbling on biscuits whilst muttering distastefully at the sex scenes on The Archers…but oh how times have changed! I was gobsmacked to see huge embroidery machines that could work on a king size quilt and embroider swirls and feather designs with ease. This somehow put a dampener on my view of the quilts as I expected them all to be worked on differently to this, but I supposed with the size of these things it would have taken many more years to complete without such tools.

Here are some photos I snapped on my phone before the battery died. Impressive works indeed!

hexagonal quilt

Swirl quilt made from tiny hexagonal pieces

bee quilt

Bee quilt!

flower circle quilt

One of my favourites. Beautiful flower like circles with beading, buttons and great colours!

poppy quilt

Poppy quilt with a wonderful burst of sunshine.

swirl quilt

How incredible is this? Can you imagine drafting this as a pattern?!

sea life quilt

Great use of patterned fabrics in this sea life quilt.

man quilt

A modern interpretation of quilting and a very effective one too!

necktie quilt

A quilt made entirely of neckties!

landscape quilt

A stunning landscape, I cannot stop looking at this one

Disguising Modern Items in your Vintage Home


There is nothing worse than creating a wonderfully authentic living room, only to plonk your big TV and computer on top of all your fine work. From bank statements to makeup, here are a few handy tips to discretely store your modern items in a sympathetic way to your vintage style!

The first is your television. Unless you have a tiny one in the wooden cabinet of a 40’s or 50’s model, this is usually out and proud; playing fisty-cuffs with your antique furnishings and snarling at your original lace doillies. Why not stash it away in a sideboard! It took me a while to find the right size admittedly. My first idea was to use a Tall Boy so that I had storage for the DVD player also, but it was far too small and now houses part of my DVD collection instead!

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Kitten von Mew’s Art Deco sideboard housing a TV

This Art Deco sideboard was bought at a carboot fair for £15 and as the inside wasn’t in a great condition, I had no worries in making a hole in the back board for the plugs and wires. I actually do not have a stand on this 28″ television set, it is resting on an old wooden drawer with no movement at all. The great thing is that you can shut it away when not in use and you wouldn’t know it was there at all! We also use it to play CD’s through the speakers, which is great when you don’t want the blue screen of the TV glaring at you! I stripped some of the dark varnish from the doors as it looked very dull and picked out the odd detail with gold paint. I recently painted the sunburst on the inside of the doors, which gives it more of a cinema feel when you are watching a film! We also store some of our more frequently watched DVD’s in a big vintage suitcase underneath the sideboard for easy access.

The second (and our favourite!) is the fishtank! Having aquired a 50’s wooden television cabinet, there were no gubbins and whatsits to tear out, which was fabulous. Our fishtank is actually larger than it looks in the set and sits on bricks so that we can pull away the cabinet easily for feeding and changing the water. By placing in WWII themed ornaments, it almost looks like you are watching a movie and keeps us transfixed for hours. Fish are wonderful pets for reenactors as they don’t need quite as much looking after as any other!

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Our 1952 television fish tank!

So what about paperwork, bills and unsorted mail? Well I am a huge fan of Manor Bindery who have everything from false book doors to lever arch files that look like antiquarian books! All handmade in the UK with amazing workmanship, you can just imagine a set of them on a bookshelf. Visit them at www.manorbindery.co.uk!

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Old book style lever arch files

And finally makeup and hair products. Before becoming a vintage model I had a brush and a black eyeliner pencil to my name. Now I could set up my own shop! I have found that a great way of storing such items is a sewing table with lift up lid or these Cream Metal Office Boxes from Dotcomgiftshop! Another great idea is a small vintage suitcase of which you could always stick a mirror inside. The brilliant thing about any of these is that you can have your suitcase, tin boxes or sewing table in your livingroom or bedroom and they wouldn’t look out of place!

vintage storage tins dotcomgiftshop

Vintage style storage tins from Dotcomgiftshop

Vintage Knitting for Knit Wits


1940s pixie hat

1940’s Pixie Hat by Kitten von Mew

So I have started to knit. I tried doing this as a child and did ok on a standard knit and changing colours for stripes, but got bored as every one does and went back to playing pirates. Pirates don’t knit.

So now I have started again and with baby steps have become confident at basic knitting and purling, knitting together and casting on an off. I can see those talented people finishing off their Fairisle masterpieces with 5 needles, rolling their eyes at me as they cast off their sweater using their toes and start crocheting a matching beret just using their eyelashes… but this is a huge challenge for me. Anything that needs a precise pattern is a complete nightmare for this Kitten. I enjoy my crafts and yes have made some dresses, but alot of that is following a basic pattern and then botch jobbing it to suit me.  You cannot do this with knitting! If you drop a stitch it screams as you with its big gaping mouth, whilst its brothers and sister mock me until I have to pull them all off and start over. I have also tried cable knit and have resorted to the fact that I am ‘Knitslexic’ with some things. I know how it should look and find it perfectly logical to follow the pattern…until my blasted hands get in the way and my brain starts singing ‘I Wish I Was in Dixie.’ I suddenly look down to find that my twisted rope pattern resembles mores of a half eaten bread pudding.

I did however manage to make a 1940’s adult sized pixie hat! Although the pattern was for beginners, I found it a little complicated to follow, so have created a basic pattern that any beginner can follow and knit themselves a wonderful little hat for the chilly seasons and windy WWII event fields! It will go great with your Heyday Coat or Gab Jacket and why not knit a matching pouch bag using the same basic pattern?

40s knitted hat

1940’s knitted pixie Hat

What you will need:

  • 7 1/2 Needles
  • Thick to Chunky Wool
  • Large needle

Cast on 44 stitches and knit 4 purl 4 to the end of the line. Do this for the next 9 lines to create a rib effect

After this, garter stitch (that is just regular knitting to me and other beginners) until the whole thing is about 8″ long. You can obviously do this longer if your head is larger. I measured from behind my front curls (I like some of my hair to halo my face and soften the lines, but you can always knit one that comes right to the front of the head if you wish) to where I wanted the point at the back.

Cast off and fold it in half. The ribbing pattern will be the front of your hat.

Take your needle and spend the rest of the weekend cursing as you try and thread your wool into it’s eye. Once you have succeeded, grab a cup of tea as a reward and blanket stitch the back of your hat together, making sure it is inside-out as you do so.

Next you need to make the chin strap. If you have more patience, you can do 2 long knitted ribbons to tie in a bow. I had no patience left, hence I did a short strap and button. Simply cast on 6 stitches and knit 2, purl 2, knit 2 for every line until it is 7 inches long.

Change to standard garter stitch for the last inch. I just dropped a stitch to make the button hole on the second row of garter stitches. Im sure advanced knitters would have a heart attack at this, but it works for me. Cast off when your work measures 8 inches or more for larger heads.

After you have finished the strap, turn your hat the right way and sew it onto one of the pointed corners at the front of your hat. Sew a button one the opposite side for the strap to attach to.

Turn the hat around and tug the back point a little so it is more accentuated.

You can either leave it plain or adorn it with little pom poms as I have done! 3 on each side grouped together at the ears and 2 dangling from the point.

If you want to make a matching pouch bag simply copy the instructions for the basis of the hat, but sew up each side, leaving the ribbed top open. Thread your needle with wool and then sew in and out all around the ribbing to create a drawstring top. Adorn with pom poms and lie down in front of reruns of The House of Elliot, exhausted and surprised at your own talents.

Halloween 2012


With so much preparation, I can hardly believe it is all over (although slightly glad that I can have a vaguely clean house before the Christmas decorations go up!).

This year was so much fun thanks to visiting friends AND trying pumpkin engraving for the first time and loving the effect. We went mad decorating the cottage and it looked amazing. Here are some photos of our best bits, costumes and decorations!

 

Bex and Trampy Halloween 2012

Bex and Trampy with AMAZING makeup and costumes on Saturday! Taken by KvM

 

Corpse Bride Costume by Kitten von Mew

My Corpse Bride Costume Completed!

Finally a picture of my Corpse Bride outfit! The makeup was very uncomfortable, but Im trying a lighter finish for Dr Sketchy’s in late November!

Halloween Decor in the Bathroom

Halloween Decorations in our Bathroom!

Haunted House Halloween Decorations

Our spooky cobwebs and dead flowers really gave the place a chilling touch!

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Spooky cobwebs covered the living room

Corpse Bride Halloween Decor

Our Corpse Bride sitting at the buffet table on Halloween night 2012

Halloween Fish Tank

Even the fish got a Halloween theme!

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Our engagement photo was transformed thanks to a couple of Frankenweenie characters

Frankenstein Engraved Pumpkin

My 1st attempt at pumpkin engraving! You need stronger candles for the light to shine through, but WOW! Amazing effect!

 

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HP Saucy and Dai on Wednesday

 

Bride of Frankenstein Kitten von Mew

My Bride of Frankenstein special FX makeup that I wore to work and on Wednesday evening! And yes, apart from the white streak that is all my real hair!

 

Pumpking Carving Competition

Pumpking Carving Competition with Anna, Ollie, Bex and Trampy. Trampy won!

 

Richard and Kitten Halloween 2012

Corpse Bride Kitten and ‘James Boned’ Mr Moo on Saturday

Stay Puft and Ghostbuster

Hilarious Ghostbuster and Stay Puft on Wednesday. Most hilarious thing I have seen in ages!!!!

 

Kitten and Richard, Halloween 2012

Having a giggle with our brilliant gingerbread bat lolly! How cool is that?!