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Jubilee Tea Party

30 May

If you haven’t made your plans for the long bank holiday yet why not have a jubilee tea party and take tea like the Queen in proper china cups.

Millie Wilkins China Hire is doing a special hire offer of a tea set for six – one teapot, six cups and saucers, six side plates, sugar bowl and milk jug – for just £15. Collect yourself for free (central London) or have it delivered on Saturday (within M25 only) for £20.

Contact milliewilkinschina@gmail.com for more details or visit their page on Facebook Millie-Wilkins-Vintage-China-Hire.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair – The Vintage Furniture Flea

30 Mar

Upcycling projects

Katie visited Judy’s Affordable Vintage fair a few months ago and so I thought I’d go have a rummage. This event was particularly up my street as it was all about furniture and home accessories. It was great for inspiration but a lot of the items for sale were ready to go straight into your home and I was looking for an upcycling project. The most scary thing about the fair was that I recognised many of the things from my childhood. My mum still uses crockery in the pattern below! Does this mean I am vintage now too?

There were lots of sewing boxes around the fair that I particularly liked.

Upcycling projects Upcycling projects

I also really love this French glass.

Upcycling projects

And although I’m not quite come round to the idea of this style yet I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

I did really want these two storage jars but the woman on the stand wasn’t very friendly so I didn’t bother.

But I did buy a fabulous basket blanket box. I’ve wanted one for ages but don’t really have the room. However this one is really compact and it needs striping and respraying and reupholstering so I have my project and thing the trip to the fair was well worth it just for that.

Stands particularly worth a mention are Your Vintage Life., Retro Bazaar, Rare and Racy, Oh So Retro and the lovely girl I bought my blanket box from. I seem to have had a very forgetful weekend (see my post about The Crafty Fox Market) and I can’t find her details so any help appreciated!

Making a cake stand

8 Feb

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a large china collection that I hire out for tea parties. My hire sets include a tea cup, saucer and side plate per person and one teapot, sugar bowl, milk jug and cake stand between six. I don’t have enough cake stands but I do have some large cake plates and some spare smaller plates. So I found that you can get the pieces to make your own and bought a set from The Cake Stand store on eBay. (They are closed at the moment until 15th Feb)

There’s a lot of careful measuring and extremely careful drilling. I practiced on a plate that I was throwing away and discovered the most difficult thing is starting the hole and making sure you are central on the plate. The instructions explain how to do it by putting masking tape over the plate where you’re going to drill to stop it chipping, as you would with wall tiles in a kitchen or bathroom. On top of that there’s no tips I can give you for this except if you don’t have a steady hand and nerve then don’t try it!

Choosing which plates look best together is the most fun part and I have sorted out five sets to put together. If you haven’t got the time or steady hand to make one but would be interested in buying one drop me a line at milliewilkinschina@gmail.com and I can tell you what I have available or I can source to your colour/pattern requirements.

The New Vintage Event, Brixton

21 Nov

Last Saturday saw an event from The New Vintage. Held in the Living Bar in Brixton it was an afternoon of designer and crafters stalls, in a bar with a band, a book swap and some dancing. It was pretty crowded when I arrived and I must have timed it well because the dancing started just after I’d done the rounds of the stalls. Sadly the dancers moved too fast for my camera but here are a few of the designers stalls I particularly liked.

Lucy Loves This is a designer whose text based designs are becoming hugely popular on her Etsy site. At the market she had a range of Christmas cards and her signature letter designs. I bought a cool snowman card and when I got home I ordered a name print for my cousin’s daughter’s first birthday which I framed for her first birthday.

I loved this decoupage range by Nova and Lorsten, especially the Mills and Boon coasters and old romance magazine place mats. Apparently it’s incredibly easy to make your own with the right decoupage lacquer and a bit of imagination. These bottle tops are cool too.

And finally, because everyone’s starting to think about Christmas I loved these felt decorations by Rachel Clowes. All are made from recycled materials so they’re not only pretty but environmentally friendly too!

Collecting Vintage China

6 Nov

Last year I started collecting vintage china to hire out for weddings, hen parties, christenings or just to make a tea party a bit special. The idea came from seeing the explosion of vintage interior styling in magazines and the new trend of having afternoon teas at weddings.

It started as a business idea but it’s become a passion. From trawling car boot sales, charity shops and vintage fairs (see our visit to The Vintage Event) to scouring ebay and having friends all over the country looking out for pieces it’s on my mind all the time. (I must be driving them mad because I have had numerous birthday cards I’ve had with a teacup and saucer on since I started!) Other kind friends have given me china given to them by grandparents that they haven’t used.

It’s also taken over my home. Where I used to have candles and other ornaments there is now china. A cluster of sugar bowls next to the television, cake stands on the living room shelves, a gravy boat holds keys, buttons and other bits and bobs in my bedroom. I have favourite cups and saucers on a display shelf and others dotted around. As my collection grows I’m having to operate a rotation system otherwise the flat will start to look like it’s owned by a mad old lady.

If you’d like to start your own collection I recommend a few rules. Firstly, set a maximum price on every piece you buy. Teapots in particular are hard to come by, I guess a lot of spouts get broken. You could pay £40, £50 or more but I have set a limit of £15 on every one I buy. Secondly, only buy what you like. At first I snapped up everything I saw but now I’m more discerning as I know I wouldn’t be comfortable hiring out pieces I didn’t like myself. But that takes me on to my third point – if you are planning to hire your collection out, don’t get too attached! Breakages do happen.

I named my vintage china hire company Millie Wilkins China Hire after my grandmother who was a tour de force when it came to catering family parties, including my parents wedding. I hope my china is used to serve many more happy family events in the future.

If you’d like more information about hiring my collection please visit my facebook page.

Vintage Magazines

21 Oct

Last weekend, at The Vintage Event in Balham, I came away with three vintage magazines (from the Hostess Hotties). Two issues of My Home and the inaugural first ever issue of Woman’s Illustrated (from 1936!). I bought them just out of curiosity, but also perhaps to get some inspiration.

And they were SO interesting! The Woman’s Illustrated was a particular favourite. The front cover features Princess Elizabeth (ie: the now about to have her jubilee celebration Queen) and inside is full of interesting articles, including one about how a woman and her husband had divorced because no one had ever explained ‘what love really meant’ (ie: sex) and that she had never been able to get over the shock of it.

There were also dress plans (for people who clearly knew what they were doing, unlike me, because they were just very small illustrations that you were supposed to know how to scale up to fit yourself), short stories, agony aunts, and lots of fascinating adverts.

The two My Home issues in particular were interesting for adverts – they are both from 1949, so rationing is still in place and lots of the advertising relates to how to use rationing effectively or how a particular product is BACK after being temporarily stalled during the war.I also loved this gas ad:

And this from the Ministry of Food:

Anyway, all in all, browsing these was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I would like to use them in some kind of craft project soon, but I’m not sure I could bear to cut them up!

The Vintage Event at Balham Bowls Club

16 Oct

The Vintage Event run vintage fairs around London gathering together a handpicked selection of vintage traders selling vintage fashion, accessories and ‘objects of desire’. We visited them at the Balham Bowls Club yesterday, an amazing venue which is full of loads of amazing furniture, decor and ornaments even before the traders set up. During the day it was all about shopping but from 8pm it turned into a dance with music from the 40s – 80s

I was really impressed with the range and quality of items for sale. I’m not into vintage fashion myself because I’m the wrong proportions to wear it but these hats definitely caught my eye.

Katie always keeps an eye out for potential wedding dresses and found this amazing 70s one at Pippa and Me but it wasn’t quite her style.

But she did buy some of these fabulous original magazines from The Hostess Hotties which will no doubt become part of a project soon.

I was tempted to a couple of items to add to my collection for Millie Willkins Vintage China Hire. I already have one of these Sadler teapots so was really pleased to find one in a different pattern at Simply Vintage Designs. And I was really pleased with this sugar bowl with built in sugar tongs from Tea-licious.

After all the shopping and chatting to the stall holders we were in need of refreshment, thankfully Mother’s Ruin were on hand to proved cake and cream teas.

All in all it was a brilliant event and one I’m sure we’ll be visiting again. Hopefully next time we’ll be able to stay for the evening too.

The Vintage Wedding Dress Company: Trunk Sale

13 Oct

On Saturday my mum and I went along to the Vintage Wedding Dress Company in central London to try on a range of their dresses in their trunk sale.

I went along to the sale because I fell in love with one of their dresses online, booked an appointment and then realised that their dresses were crazy out of my price range. The dress I loved so much costs £1850 retail with some of their others costing even more. Then I saw that they were having a trunk sale and I thought maybe that would be my way in.

When we arrived at the venue, we had to check our coat and bags so that we didn’t take any photographs, so I’m afraid the above is the only picture I managed to take! Discreet, isn’t it? The trunk sale itself consisted of loads of dresses on rails in a big open room, with lots of brides-to-be changing. I have to say I thought it would be uncomfortable, changing in front of so many people, but that feeling lasted about five minutes – about as long as it took to get the dress on..

The staff were really friendly, helping me in and out of dresses, attaching sleeves, tying sashes – one of them even put a veil on me! I told her I had no intention of wearing one, but she said I should put my hair up and put it on ‘just to see what it looked like’ – it looked a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I’ve thought for ages that I didn’t really like wedding dresses, but then I saw all the wedding dresses on offer there and I have to say, my opinion has shifted a little bit!

In the end, the dress I loved so much from the website didn’t suit me at all. But there was another dress (this one, with lace sleeves and a silk sash) which looked absolutely beautiful. I tried it on in a gold-y white colour, as opposed to stark white and it was so gorgeous. I think my mum teared up a little bit. She tried very hard to get me to buy it, but I just couldn’t do it.

The dresses are significantly cheaper (it worked out to be around 40% off on the dress I loved), and because they are samples, I think the sales team would be open to bargaining. However, it was still £1200. I know that this is a very reasonable price for some people to spend – especially when the quality of cut is so high and the dresess are so flattering (really – the dress made me look RADIANT) (I am clearly not over my decision yet). But it was the first wedding shop I tried anything on in, and knowing I would have to buy it then and there to get the discount, without trying anything else on, and spending such a lot more than I had planned on spending, made me eventually (it took some deliberation) decide that it wasn’t for me.

However. If you do have £1200  to spend on your dress, I would highly recommend going along.  There were a lot of real vintage dresses (as opposed to the ‘Decades’ collection which are new, but inspired by vintage looks), which tended to be less expensive, and the Decades dresses, which were lovely.  The next trunk sale is in 6 months and, you never know, if I haven’t found another dress by then, I might be there with you pulling on one dress after another!

The Vintage Wedding Dress Company – website // Twitter

Birthday china

7 Sep

Lovely Katie bought me a present for my birthday on Saturday and I just had to write a quick post about it. Firstly the wrapping, which was a pretty piece of material instead of expensive and throwaway paper. This is a great idea especially if you have a scrap fabric drawer like we do. You can even use old clothes that you no longer wear. Perhaps not old bobbled jersey but a bit of cotton, cord or even denim would be nice. After you’ve opened it, recycle by gifting it on to someone else or use it in a sewing project, a patchwork or to make lavender bags etc.

Secondly, the gift itself was two gorgeous china trios that Katie bought during her recent trip to Tynemouth Market. I just saw a similar pattern to the one on the left on J’Adore Vintage. These are to add to my ever expanding collection of Millie Wilkins China which I hire out for weddings, hen parties, baby showers, parties and as set props. More on collecting your own china coming soon.

The only thing I can’t decide is which one is my favourite? Thanks Katie! x

    

Book review: The Vintage Tea Party

2 Sep

The Vintage Tea Party Book

Full disclosure first up – I used to live with the commissioning editor of this book and so have known about this book since its conception. I remember her excitement when she had approached Angel “drunk in a bar” (from the acknowlegements in the book!) and saw early page spreads of the book as it came together.

So I might be a little bit biased, but I will try to be as impartial as I can in my review of the book…

First of all, it is an absolutely beautiful book. And I’m really not just saying that because of my ex-flatmate. The illustrations are wonderful – really quirky images of foxes dressed in evening wear, magpies, badgers – all with such personality and done with such a fun spirit – I really love them.  What I especially love about the design is that it is completely un-twee. There is bunting, but no pastel shades, apart from on the china.  I’m not 100% sure about the cover – I think it is a bit difficult to make out what the illustrations are actually of – but the insides are lovely.

The photography also has a real sense of fun to it – there are photos of things like a crab crawling on top of a cake stand to get to the Crab Choux alongside that recipe, which I loved.  Using the recipes an some of the design ideas from this book, I think you could really put on a fabulous tea party.

There are a lot of recipes I would like to try. Basically the entire ‘Brunch’ section is a cut out and keep for me. I want to taste all of the recipes – from Courgette Frittatas to Baked Brie in Puffed Pastry and Potato and Bacon Pancakes. Yum! My ex-flatmate bought me some egg coddlers for my birthday (while she was working on the book), so I have long been convinced in the joys of egg coddling, but there are some slightly more interesting coddling recipes in here that look very tasty (rather than ‘bung an egg with some butter in an egg coddler, which I usually do), which I would also like to try.

Brunch: my favourite meal

I also think that several people on my Christmas list might be getting Engraved Earl Grey Truffle Hearts from me this year – what a lovely gift idea (and not expensive either)!

Engraved Earl Grey Truffle Hearts

Overall, this is a lovely book to read through and the recipes look amazing.

However, I was disappointed with the projects. I thought that there would be more interesting craft projects, and more of a ‘make do and mend’ angle (which I expected at least a little of as her look seems so based on the post-war period).

They also look like they could be quite complicated to follow. There is a project to create fabric butterflies, for example, where I genuinely cannot see how the instructions (stick fabric on to interfacing or cardboard and then cut out your butterfly shape) could ever generate the pictured result (which look like individually cross-stitched butterflies). I haven’t tried out any of the craft projects, but if you have, let me know what results you had.

As a recipe book, though, this is full of really inspiring ideas, which I will definitely be cooking from next time I have people round for  brunch. There are also some yummy sounding cocktails which I will be trying out soon. It is also a gorgeous coffee table book.

Thanks very much to Octopus for sending through this review copy.

Buy the Vintage Tea Party Book on Amazon

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