Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A Month of Thrifting

My month long stay in Lancaster finished at the weekend and I thought I'd share with you all the bargains I found in charity shops across the Northern city for the imminent Baby Boy Biddle.

A stack of almost 40 books in brilliant condition - a mixture of classics (such as We're Going on a Bear Hunt and The Velveteen Rabbit) and ones I loved as a child (such as Postman Pat who I wanted marry age 3 and the illustrations of Richard Scarry). There are books by Dick Bruna and the Ahlbergs, Ladybird Books and Thomas the Tank Engine, and nursery rhymes to remind me and Mr B how they all go! And on average I don't think I spent more than a pound on any of them.

A small selection of toys including a beautiful vintage metal spinning top and Corgi double decker bus, none costing more than £1.50.

A veritable feast of baby clothes. This lot cost about £15 in total and features hand knitted cardigans, cute dungarees and items by Gap. Babies grow so fast that I've bought the bulk of Baby Biddle's wardrobe from charity shops so they are cheap at the same time as donating to a good cause and being environmentally friendly. (the hangers are from Ikea)

I was delighted to find a tub full of vintage alphabet blocks for the grand sum of £2.49. I'd been searching online for some of these at ridiculous prices so my face lit up when I uncovered these.

A selection of vintage disney books plus a Noddy one. I plan to use these to make Storybook Bunting from. They were less than a fiver for all four.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Happy Families

During my recent time up North, I took myself off for a lovely quiet potter around the town of Todmorden. On the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, next door to the more popular Hebden Bridge, Todmorden is well worth a stop for some great organic tea shops, a proper Northern outdoor & indoor market, a good number of charity shops and a couple of fab antique shops. Whilst in the latter I came across this complete set of vintage Happy Families cards.

I'd been searching for some vintage Happy Families cards for a while now and these were like a little ray of sunshine on a quite bleak and blustery day in the Calderdale valley. I love their description - "A diverting game for juveniles". 

The illustrations are so wonderfully grotesque - they could easily inspire a theatre design or children's book. I plan to frame them, perhaps in family groups, or they'd make great greetings cards too.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Vintage Fabric Baby Balls

I'm about to enter my fourth and final week of working in Lancaster and I thought I'd share with you a little craft project I've been working on during my spare evenings, creating soft toys for Baby Biddle.

I'd seen a number of different ideas and tutorials online for making fabric baby balls using pentagon patchwork so I decided to have a go using a selection of vintage and contemporary fabrics. Here's how my first two attempts worked out.

The blue, small one, features my Paddington Bear vintage fabric, mixed in with spots and stripes, and a lovely Alice in Wonderland print from Kokka. The brown & red, medium one features retro camping fabric, a Wild West print found in a bargain bin at Abakhans, and the red house print I had in my nursery as a baby. I get my labels printed by Woven Labels UK.

I'm planning to make a large sized one soon too so perhaps I'll create some instructions to go with the photos so you too can make a set for little ones you know too. But if you're already familiar with piecing over paper, the basic jist is that you sew together two lots of 6 pentagons, which create two bowl shapes. Then sew these together leaving a small gap through which to stuff them before finishing off.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Papier Mache Magazine

Recently I told you about the wonders of Babiekins Magazine, and here's another publication for you to feast your trendy parent eyes on. Like Babiekins, Papier Mache features beautifully styled fashion spreads, tips of where to buy the most stylish products for little ones across the globe, and lots of activities, ideas and inspirations.

All images from www.papier-mache.com.au

Until now, Papier Mache been an online publication but they've just published their first print copy. This means their online content is now a little reduced - boo. Unfortunately as they are based in Australia, I'm not sure where I'll be able to get a print copy from so I'll just have to make do with the online content they've made available.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Vintage Children's Furniture

I'm still in Lancaster. Mr B is 200 miles away at home watching Rugby and eating roast pork (sob sob) so I've been enjoying a very quiet Sunday all by myself and making the most of it - once Baby Biddle arrives there won't be too many of these left in my life. 

I popped down to GB Antiques Centre which is in Lancaster Leisure Park. If you're in the area, this place is well worth spending an hour. It is a giant warehouse filled with the wares of 140 different antique and furniture dealers, and all at really decent prices. Entry is £1.50 and it's open every single day apart from Christmas day from 10am until 5pm.

On this occasion I had my mummy brain in gear so was on the look out for vintage juvenile goodies. I found a large number of antique metal rocking horses, as well as vintage toys, furniture, books and clothes. 

If you do find yourself making a trip via Lancaster to GB Antiques, I also highly recommend a walk around Williamson Park which is practically next door and is really beautiful, with stunning views across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District. Also, the centre is at the very start of the road which goes through the Trough of Bowland - one of the most stunning parts of the UK but because it's in Pennine Lancashire, people think the whole place must be filled with mills so it's quite undiscovered. Have a lovely lunch at The Inn at Whitewell and visit the untouched Downham Village where Whistle Down the Wind was filmed.

I might have to go back for this little children's deck chair from the 1950s. The fabric on it is really worn and faded, but the frame was in great condition and with new fabric, it would look really cute in our back garden.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Ducks, Apples and Tiny Boys

I'm working for a month in Lancaster and one thing Lancaster has is a fantastic array of second hand charity book shops. I've been spending my lunch breaks hunting round for vintage literary treasures and have already bought around 30 books for Baby Biddle's library.

I was particularly delighted with these three finds from (in order of pictures) the 50s, 60s and 70s, with incredible illustrations. 

Ducks Don't Get Wet will be for when Master Biddle is a little older. It's actually a science book, but using a palate of browns, greens, blacks and whites. A far cry from the primary colours of modern children's books.

The Thumble Boy is a sweet little tale of a tiny boy, no bigger than one's thumb, who gets captured by a crow and made to live in a nest until he is rescued by a real sized boy who becomes his friend. It's a German book and the illustrations are rather dark and disturbing at times, but always exquisite to look at.

Just One Apple is a Swiss story from the 70s with the old adage of 'be careful what you wish for'. I just love the bright colours of the red, blues and greens in the beautiful paintings about a little old man wishing for a single apple to grow on his one apple tree.

Friday, 4 March 2011

oliver + s: Little Things to Sew

I am so excited about this book ...

I ordered my copy from Amazon yesterday and I can't wait for it to arrive (although I think lots of fellow crafty types out there were also mega excited and had the same idea so it might take a little while).

oliver + s produce gorgeous patterns to make clothes for little people - they are some of the most beautifully packaged, vintage feel patterns you could buy. And now they've written a book filled with patterns and instructions to make fabulous things for the tiny people in you life.

Here's a sneak preview of some of the projects ... I look forward to getting cracking on some for Baby Biddle.

All photos by Laurie Frankel on www.oliverands.com