After visiting the Didsbury Festival which had a few precious hours of parade and fair fun until the heavens opened, the mother and my self decided to visit Quarry Bank Mill in Styal Cheshire.
I've been a member of the National Trust for a few years now and love pottering around all the beautiful properties and gardens, and Quarry Bank Mill has been high on my list for a while now. So mother in tow we wandered round all the old mill rooms, with demonstrations of cotton weaving on the still functioning looms.
We saw the amazing machine that spins the cotton onto hundreds of spools at any one time. And as I have enough trouble keeping the bobbin on my sewing machine tangle free, this piece of machinery was fascinating to me. Mum was more interested in asking the tour guide where he got his clogs from.
Then down to the engine room where the immense water wheel constantly turns powering the whole mill. This was like a giant hamster wheel which would have comfortably fit a couple of elephants.
After our tours and a cream tea in the cafe we headed to the gift shop where I always go to get my National Trust Passport stamped. I use this little book not only as a record of which properties I've visited but also as a mini diary of each visit, decorated with pressed flowers and doodles.
While in there I noticed the sales assistants folding fabric, and found out that after years of being held in storage the mill was finally selling the vinatage 1960's - 1970's fabrics off. I bought one of fabric bundles and found out that I was the first customer to buy any of these fabrics in over 30years.
I literally can't wait to start using it. I'm going to be making a range of retro inspired traditional toys, all made using vintage fabrics, and what better fabric to start this range off than locally produced cotton?
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and the traditional British weather!
Well first off happy Jubilee weekend, I hope it's slightly sunnier near you than it is here, where it's currently bucketing down with rain!
Though I really mustn't complain as the rain kindly held off until just after 4pm yesterday when we had finished our craft stall at the Wythenshawe Park Jubilee Fair. Which despite the constant threat of rain and occasional roll of thunder was our most successful stall to date.
Everyone was in great spirits and all seemed to be planning Jubilee celebrations. We sold out of bunting and our new screen printed stamp vests with people wanting to dress to match the jubilee theme.
And I must give a little shout out to my lovely husband who came along to help and worked wonders with his market stall banter, chatting to customers all the while holding one of our toy poodles Loki... Possibly not one of his manliest of moments but I was very grateful!
So thank you to everyone who made the day such a success both for reconsidered Retro and Wythenshawe Park who are now planning more craft fairs due to the turn out yesterday.
Wherever you are and whatever your doing I hope you all have a lovely long weekend!
Hello Again Readers,
Two posts in as many days, and based on my track record recently I'm as surprised as the next person. However, thanks to a new (well very old but new to me) computer and a very shiny new iPhone I now have the correct equipment to be able to update my blog! And this particular post is dedicated to a little project I have been working on - A Retro Toy A Day...
This project looks at some of our favourite retro toys, from their beginnings to their successes, and due to my inability to sit in front of the TV without something to do it is accompanied by my rough doodles, and notes. So here are the first six toys... And if there are any you would like to see just leave a comment and I will draw it for next week!
Hope you enjoyed the first six and let me know if you have a favorite you'd like to see on here next week.
Until next time!
After finally settling into the new house (though there are still boxes to unpack I’m ashamed to say!) I got round to the daunting task of setting up my new little studio. Being a costume designer and running reconsidered Retro I have a lot of stuff so trying to organise it into a relatively small space was a challenge, and the room started off full of boxes.
I spent the first few days simply moving things round like a game of Tetris rather than tidying anything away. But it gradually began to clear and after endless cups of tea and moral support from the dogs who kept sitting in the most awkward places I got it sorted!
And as I love seeing what other peoples studio spaces look like I thought I’d share mine with you so that, if you are like me you can have a little nosy round my space before it gets messed up with work again!
I have a lovely long list of projects and things that I can’t wait to blog about, but before getting onto these posts I feel I should massively apologise for my blogging absence the past few months. They have been a hectic few (though this is no excuse I know)! Since my last blog at the end of January we have moved from London back home to Manchester, which has been lovely after a very stressful move. Involving donating a shed load (literally, and it wasn’t a small shed) to a VERY grumpy charity then spending weeks packing up only to have the removal man declare half of my belongings were too heavy to go in his van and drive off, but not before asking for the nearest off license that sold 'decent' drink!
On a sadder note just before the move our rat Charles died. I realise rats are not everyone’s cup of tea – there was a time when I even found their tails a little creepy, but both he and his brother Reggie became much loved pets and we were surprised by how attached we grew to them and very upset when they went.
However, two more brothers were due to join our little family and as soon as we arrived in Manchester I hopped back on a train to Scotland to collect our two toy poodle puppies, Thor and Loki, and after a perfect Easter weekend with my friends I travelled back home to settle everyone; both human and canine into our new house. Ever since I have been on 'doggy maternity leave' while the puppies are trained, which they have picked up amazingly quickly, their only stumbling block seems to be other dogs who they find very scary at the moment!
As for reconsidered Retro with everything this has been delayed, though orders online remained steady so I was glad to have made enough stock to cover the break in production. I’m nearly back to normal now though and with no excuses remaining the only thing left to do is unpack my little studio, which is still a mountain of boxes and get back to work!
Good bye for now.
I promise that next time the space between blogs will be CONSIDERABLY less!
After blogging for a little while now I have just realised that I have never actually introduced myself! Perhaps from previous posts you know that I am setting up a small business called reconsidered Retro, and that I have a husband called Ryan and a rat called Charles - but apart from that and my general crafty exploits I have been rather vague!
My name is Rebecca and I am in the process of setting up my little business - reconsidered Retro - selling jewellery, crafts and home wear all based around the retro themes of 80’s/90’s childhood toys and shows. I currently have several products selling online and at craft fairs ranging from pin badges and mirrors to necklaces and keyrings made from old toys. I am also in the process of designing my own hand screen printed cushions featuring some memorable 80’s/90’s toys, as well as drafting a pattern for my own toy (based on the bunny I made at Christmas – mentioned in my previous post) which I will be making in various fabulously retro fabrics!
So that’s me now... but in a previous life (and still slightly current) I am a costume designer and maker by trade. I studied at the Edinburgh College of Art and have been working in the TV and film industry since 2009 – on a variety of projects from horror films to the Foxy Bingo and Nintendo commercials. As well as making my wedding dress, three bridesmaids and two flower girl dresses for my wedding last year. Images of costumes I have made and projects I have worked on can be seen on my other website www.rhjcostumedesigns.com if you are bored one day and would like to have a nosy!!
And that leads me nicely onto one of my current projects which is making a costume for a Disney themed fancy dress party. The costume I’m making at the moment is based on the Princess from the recent Disney film ‘The Princess and The Frog’, including a gangly legged frog to kiss on the night ( I could convince the husband to attend in a frog suit for some reason!) I am having so much fun making this costume – it is quite different to some of the costumes I have recently worked on which have mainly been for horror films and it’s nice to go from fake blood all over my studio to sequins!
I made the frog first – with a machine embroidered face and long floppy legs. And though I think he could be improved I do love his slightly arrogantly raised eyebrow and fabulously green colour.
Onto the Princess dress next and I started with the crown and bodice slowly layering up the leaves and petals to mimic the original Disney drawings and throwing a few sequins in along the way for fun. I’m moving onto the skirt next and then to tie the whole costume together with trimmings and accessories. I will add photos of the finished product in my next blog and you can see what you think of it! For now I’m off to sew a few more leaves – I keep thinking I have enough but then get proven wrong!!
Toodle-pip for now
I mentioned in my last post that over Christmas I was kept nice and busy sorting out my Mum’s attic. She had recently read an article in the paper about a man who had collected yachting magazines all his life; carefully storing them in his attic only to have them fall through the ceiling and squash him (she said that he had died as a result, though I have a feeling this was slightly embellished in order to give me further incentive). So in good dutiful daughter style I plodded up to the attic – which was no mean feat considering my ingrained fear of heights – and proceeded to sort through everything that was up there. Most of what I found was old paper work and school books, and not seeing the point in keeping 16 years worth of my Maths homework (no one needs to see that disaster) that all went. There were a lot of toys that went to the charity shop and year upon year of Christmas decorations that went out of fashion as soon as the millennium was over. After this I was left with loads of boxes of sentimental items like photos, books and... finally getting to my point... childhood clothes and school uniforms.
I was thrilled to find these as after making the husband a patchwork quilt out of his favourite old t-shirts for Christmas I decided in true spoilt child style that I wanted one too! So on boxing day arms full of old tops, uniforms, book bags and scarves I tromped downstairs – unceremoniously dumped them on the living room floor (much to mums horror) and began chopping them up. This took a little mental prompting on my part as I was very attached to them and a little reticent to cut them up – but I was never going to wear them again and at least this way they would have a new life which, after all is what reconsidered Retro is all about!
So, many hours of sewing later I had a lovely double duvet sized patchwork quilt full of patches and fabric scraps that all held brilliant memories for me...
From my first book bag complete with my name and class carefully written on by my mum.
To my garish gymnastics leotard (which I considered omitting due to how awful I was!)
And the Ghostbusters t-shirt I painted Ryan for his 16th birthday.
To more recent years with my university hoody and lace from my wedding dress.
I had so much fun making it that I then got my friend round for a sewing weekend and we made one for her too. We had started making a traditional patchwork quilt over 2 years ago – but due to inaccurate cutting the patches were wrongly sized and it all went downhill from there! So I tempted her back with the promise of a completed quilt and she arrived with a suitcase of old clothes. This time around the quilt got made!
The beauty of these quilts isn’t just their obvious sentimental value but the fact that they are much simpler to make than traditional patchwork quilts. So we in fact ended up making a double sized quilt, 2 embroidered patchwork cushions and a bolster cushion too, and she left happy with a case full of pieces for her new flat.
A brilliant way to reuse old sentimental clothes or fabric and if you aren’t keen on the sewing part drop me a line and I’d be more than happy to make you one too!
Well it has been some time since my last blog – and this has been through no motivational issues but rather down to the Christmas break and the fact that I spent it at my mothers who is yet to join the wide world of internet access.
So upon returning to my little flat I ashamedly fell upon my husbands iphone (the laptop my uncle accused me of swatting flies with has finally died) and hurriedly checked my emails and various social media sites, fully expecting to have been inundated over the week I had been away only to find, as is often the case that my inbox was cluttered with spam and not vitally important emails.
My last blog mentioned some Christmas gifts that I had been busy making for family and friends which, now that they have received them I’ll add photos of!
The first was for a friend’s daughter, who I made a bunny rabbit for. I had limited instructions for making him so it was a bit of trial and error but he started life as several components and long strip of mohair fabric, which slowly got cut down and sewn together until he began to look a little like a bunny and not a lump of material!
I finished putting him together on Christmas day whilst watching films and nursing a sick husband, with a small amount of resentment. He had eaten a dubious looking cheese and pate selection against my advice and subsequently ended up with food poisoning over Christmas. This resulted in us cancelling our Christmas reservations at Cafe Rouge and me eating Pringles and chocolates for my Christmas dinner while he sat with a large bowl on the sofa looking very green! We got our Christmas dinner eventually though as Cafe Rouge were lovely and cooked us a special lunch a few days later.
Anyway back to the bunny... he was finished on Christmas day (I wasn’t seeing my friend and her daughter until New Years – I wasn’t just being really late!)And I had so much fun making this little guy that I’m now planning on introducing him to my online shop range possibly in some fun retro cotton fabrics, which I can’t wait to get started on!
I then – whilst clearing out my mum’s attic (and laying flooring and installing a ladder which I was very proud of) found this adorable knitted coat which whilst being a little big looked very cosy once I had put it on him. So off he went to my friends daughter with some trepidation and a slight wish that I could have kept him for myself, but she loved him and was thrilled that he had been made especially for her which made the whole process not only enjoyable but worthwhile too!
The second gift that I gave was for my mum which was this little cushion with vintage button embellishments. I love, love, love this paper doll fabric – it reminds me of the Mabel Lucy Atwell illustrations which my mum also loves so she was thrilled by this little cushion.
The other present I made this year was for my husband. We had decided to make each other presents this year – something that I have suggested before but due to Ryan’s lack of crafting skills we have never done. So I was more than a little surprised this year when he suggested the idea. I found out why when a week before Christmas he gave me a lovely poem titled ‘The Little Mouse’. Ryan has never been able to keep presents secret for long and this even extended to my engagement ring which was produced, not on the romantic holiday he had booked but rather a few days before in the kitchen while I was putting the washing on the radiators! So while I loved my present the fact that I got it a week early while I was at work meant that I had to stop myself blubbing in front of colleagues!
So this left me worrying that my now seemingly trivial gift was slightly lacking in relation to Ryan’s rather heartfelt poem. Nevertheless I produced it on Christmas day and despite looking slightly green he seemed to really like it. Ryan isn’t a hoarder by nature, but the one thing he will never get rid of are his t-shirts, which leave us with drawers and drawers of t-shirts that he has either outgrown or over worn but that I am forbidden from sorting through! So I sneaked a few of his favourite ones from the drawer and cutting them into large squares sewed them together into a large patchwork quilt, with a matching cushion. He was a little surprised to see his beloved t-shirts made into something else, but the shock wore off and he was soon tucked up with his ‘blankey’ and cushion which made him feel much better!
Christmas and New Year went by ridiculously quickly as usual and as is becoming more typical the older I get it wasn’t as Christmassy as I would have liked. I spent a lot of it being designated driver to various tipsy relatives and decorating my mum’s spare room, so by the time New Years Eve came around I was wrapped up in my dressing gown and ready for bed by midnight – though Charles the Rat had fun when he found his way into a closed tin (not even sure how he managed that) of shortbread. So at 12.30am I toddled off to bed after tucking a slightly fatter Charles in for the night!
Till next time!
Well it’s nearly Christmas now and unlike me I still have presents to buy…
Not good, and not at all organised which I usually am (honest). I have however finished making all the presents I planned to. Including teddies, cushions and a large bedspread – all of which I will put photos of up in the new year. I would put them up now but…
a. someone might inadvertently spy their gift and
b. my laptop (the one my uncle so earnestly asked if I used to swat flies with) has succumbed to a rather loud popping and final death.
Resulting in me currently uploading this on my husband’s iphone.
So, short and sweet – have a lovely Christmas everyone and a boozy new year and I will be back in January 2012 with lots of pretty photos and hopefully a fully functioning laptop!
The plan today was to hit the shops and do some long overdue Christmas shopping. I am usually so organised about these things but Christmas seems to have snuck up on me like Santa down the chimney this year – leaving me with a week to go and not a single Christmas present under the tree!
I mentioned this lack of purchasing to the husband last week who suggested that to save money ‘we’ make presents for family and friends. Now I love him but Ryan is not a creative soul... As a last minute resort I once set him the task of sticking plastic strips together to make honeycombs for my first year costume. He lasted less than 4 minutes before jumping up, scattering plastic all over the floor and proclaiming ‘it was too fiddly’.
After this I decided he was best left out of the studio when it came to making things and we’ve managed fine since. So I have a feeling that this royal ‘we’ he mentioned meant that I would make gifts for the family while he occasionally pointed out that so-and-so wouldn’t like that fabric or that if he was doing it, he’d do it this or that way. And so today began...
My mum was up first.
Mum is a nightmare to buy for, being one of those annoying people who when asked what she would like says – ‘I don’t know... but I don’t need any ornaments, clothes, smellies or mugs. Oh and I’m not eating chocolate either’. Great, thanks mum you’ve basically ruled out every go to present in the book there! The only thing she did finally admit to wanting was the Penguin Book postcard set. So I bought her these, as well as some smellies (I’ve decided you can never have too many) and some Thornton’s toffee (she said she wasn’t eating chocolate – never said anything about toffee).
Anyway wanting to add to the gift – I love giving people presents and the more the merrier is my usual thought process – I decided to make her something too. Now she said no ornaments, so again bending the rules only slightly I decided to make a frame to display some of her Penguin postcards in as well as some badges that she picked out from my retro range.
I covered the frame in some delicate floral fabric and lined up the badges and postcards of her favourite books and voila; a handmade gift that wasn’t banned from her Christmas list!
Perfect – my mum sorted I moved onto Ryan’s mum and made one of her presents – a compact mirror with a photo of the family at the Coca Cola Christmas stand in Manchester. I also made two more of these personalised mirrors at the request of a friend for her daughters. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do add a nice personal touch – especially for special occasions like weddings and births.
After that I got slightly distracted adding more products to the website... badges, buttons and journals are now all available. It’s so exciting to finally see the things I’ve been making on sale!
And now I’m back to planning more Christmas present making...
I was given this fantastic book by a work colleague and fully intend to use some of the brilliant ideas as gifts this year. Including the simple eye masks, cosy slippers, fun fruit bowl pears and adorable doggy teddies.
A slightly tall order at this late stage so best get cracking! Time to unearth Ryan from his sofa – find a suitably Christmassy film to watch and continue making my presents.
Til next time guys!
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