Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Stevie Nicks

Our lovely model and helpful Minimum Mouse assistant Alex said she felt like Stevie Nicks when she modeled this dress for us, and she later sent me this image to show me exactly why! And she does indeed look every inch the ethereal beauty like Stevie herself. I just love the way vintage clothes can bring back amazing memories and spark inspiration, and who wouldn't want to channel their inner Stevie Nicks from time to time!? The dress is up for sale in our eBay shop now if you do.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Feeling Thrifty: Recent Charity Shop Bargains

I don't get to take a look around the charity shops as often as I would like these days, but a couple of weekends ago we found ourselves at a loose end and decided to head to Shirley high street (our local shopping centre, just outside Birmingham) to have a good old browse. The charity shops in Shirley are usually pretty good, it's a nice area with seemingly quite a high number of retired people, and I find that these factors tend to lead to a good amount of nice vintage stuff in the charity shops! If you live in the Birmingham area I would certainly recommend checking out the charity shops in Shirley.

I picked up these fruity glasses in Cancer Research, who were having a clear out ahead of a shop refit, which meant I got these babies for a bargainous 10p each! As soon as I spotted them in the bargain bin I had to sweep in and make them mine!

A few doors down at Age Concern I found this adorable little Thermos cool bag. I love the shades of blue and the pretty floral print. We took it away with us to the Retro Festival and it actually did a very nice job of keeping things cool. It looks super cute in our little caravan too.

Another Cancer Research 10p bargain, this kitsch little Spanish souvenir is perfect for storing our keys in the hallway. And we've both been to Salou in our younger days so it brings back nice memories too.

I'm a sucker for a good handbag, and even though I have a perfectly good selection already, I couldn't resist this lovely chocolate brown delight. I love the 1970's satchel style shape, and it is the perfect size. It was £15, which is quite a bit for a charity shop bag, but I would have paid that without thinking in a vintage shop and the condition is great. It's making me excited for autumn outfit planning!

This cocktail tray from PDSA was quite a find, again at £4.99 it wasn't cheap, but as soon as we saw it we wanted it. At first I thought it was modern but in a fifties style, but looking at the mark on the back on the sticker confirmed that it is actually pretty old. Perhaps we need to throw a cocktail party now?

I have a bit of a thing for kitschy little animal ornaments and coloured glass, so I am always finding ways to feed my habit. This cake tray is so pretty in this vivid pink and the little cat and dog (who do look a bit grumpy, I'll admit!) were only £1.50 each and are just so cute. The little deer came from the Sheffield Vintage Fair a while back and makes me smile each time I walk past him on the hallway windowsill.

So that's it. I could easily fill my house five times over with charity shop bits and bobs so it is probably for the best that I don't get the chance to go too often! Do you have any favourite charity shop finds?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Fun Weekend At The Retro Festival 2013

We spent the weekend trading at The Retro Festival in Berkshire. The festival is in its fifth year but it was our first time attending it. It was very different to the usual type of festivals we trade at, but it was nice to take some of our older vintage stock out to this event and experience something a little different. It was certainly a lot more civilised - with very family friendly feel and all the entertainment wrapping up at eleven, it was quite a pleasant change to be tucked up in bed by midnight in a field so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I must be getting old!

The festival featured air displays, military vehicles, a very extensive display of folding caravans (yes, such a thing exists) and classic cars. There were also music stages with the focus mainly on rock n roll, and dance workshops for those wishing to brush up their jiving skills. There were also a lot of stalls, with plenty of vintage clothing, records, homewares and furniture from all eras available. There was even an onsite tattoo artist! We had lots of fun trading alongside our buddies from Second Hand Rose again, our best selling items of the weekend were dresses, bright patterned shirts, retro cat's eyes sunglasses and lots of hats.

Excitingly, they were filming an episode of Midsomer Murders at the festival. They had a special area of the festival set up as a film set and I managed to spot Barnaby getting ready for a scene. Gosh, I really am getting old!

Here are some pictures from this very retro weekend-
A busy morning on our stall

Dream car!

Pretending to be the perfect 1950's housewife, but the flip flops rather ruin the effect!
Cutest spot of the weekend!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Tutorial - Customising Denim Shorts with Rips, Tears and Distressing

Rihanna, Cara and Rita show us how to wear ripped denim shorts in style.
Here at Minimum Mouse not a scrap of fabric ever goes to waste if we can help it, so we do a fair bit of customising on pieces that are either damaged or just plain dull, to give them a new lease of life and freshen them up. So I thought it might be interesting (or it might not, I'll let you be the judge!) to do some tutorials on customising techniques so you can have a go on your own clothes. It's so satisfying to take a garment that you don't really wear anymore and turn it into something much more lovable. It's also great if you like charity shopping and car booting - you find so much more great stuff when you have a few tricks up your sleeve to tweak them to perfection!

As you can see, celebrities such as Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora love their distressed looking denim, it's perfect for festivals or daytime wear, but also looks great for nights out. A pair of worn in denim shorts can toughen up an otherwise girly look and a pair of slashed denim jeans is always going to be a classic look.

First up I thought I would go back to basics. I'm assuming you all know how to turn a pair of jeans into shorts (clue- you take a pair of scissors and lob the legs off, job done) but why stop there? Every one is wearing denim shorts these days, so it's fun to mix things up a little. In the coming weeks I'm hoping to look at techniques like dying, bleaching, studding and applique, but to begin I'm going to look at good old distressing. That's taking a neat and tidy pair of denims and making them look like they've just survived the apocalypse... in a good way. Cos nothing says rock n roll, devil may care, effortless cool like a pair of beaten up denim shorts or jeans.

1. Attacking your shorts with a knife.

 You will need a craft knife and a chopping board. As common sense would dictate, you need to do this with care, you may want to wear a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands while you attack your denim - no one wants to slash up their hand instead of their shorts!

Place the denim on the chopping board and choose the spot you want to work on. Then, hold the fabric in place with one hand, while taking the knife and slicing across the fabric with your other hand. Don't feel the need to press to hard, it is better to go over the fabric repeatedly to gradually break it up. After a few minutes the fabric should be looking pretty shredded, as you can see below.

And that's it. Doesn't look much now, but once these babies have taken a spin in the washing machine they will look superb.

2. Hacking at your shorts with scissors.

This gives a less subtle effect than the knife, with actual full on tears rather than frayed sections, so you need to be mindful of where you do this unless you want your knickers on show when wearing your shorts!

The benefit of this technique is that it is super quick and easy. Just take your scissors and cut in a straight line across a section of the fabric. Then, to boost the fraying effect, take the scissors and gently cut little nicks along the edge of the cut. And that's it! Pop them in the machine and when they come out they will have frayed in a similar way to the hems of the shorts.

3. Wearing down your shorts with sandpaper.

For a more subtle effect to give your denim a softened, worn in look rather than full on holes and rips, you can use sandpaper. Simply take some sandpaper and rub it on the denim. The coarser the sandpaper the more pronounced the effect. Here I have used quite a fine sandpaper and the effect isn't that visible (sorry) but did make the fabric feel beautifully soft, like that favourite pair of jeans you've been wearing for about ten years!

And there you have it. A few simple ways to roughen up a dull pair of denims. I rather stupidly forgot to take pictures of the finished results and have now sold this pair, but once they came out of the washing machine they looked really frayed, and the more you wash them the greater the effect becomes.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that it comes in handy, I'm planning to do some more posts on customising and reworking old clothes, so if you have any requests please let me know and I'll see what I can do!

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