Monday, 28 May 2012

Serendipity and being in the right place at the right time...

It was indeed a happy accident when I went to my local flea market a few weeks ago.  I always meet my daughter for coffee and shopping on a Saturday morning and then sometimes visit the market in the afternoon.   Em had to work so I decided to visit early morning.  The moment I arrived at my favourite stall the owner Steve was placing a box of linens on the table.  We chatted about the contents and then he suggested I buy the whole box!  Two Morrisons' carrier bags stuffed to the gunnels later, I was the proud owner of lots and lots of vintage linens, lace and what appeared to be garments.  They were in a very sorry state, presumably stored for a long period of time.  I knew a lot of t.l.c. would be required to bring them back to life.  Some were not too bad although the fabric condition was poor.  One such item was a delicate pink silk jacket modelled by the lovely Betty ...

 Betty wearing lace trimmed silk under-garment with a delicate ribbon

It took a long time to bring some of the pieces back to a usable condition.  Soaking, washing, soaking again using many types of detergents, vingegar, lemon juice, I tried them all!  The downside of this is you lose some of the fabrics especially the silk.  I often think it is the dirt that is holding it together!  However,  I am the very delighted owner of 32 vintage garments including bloomers (yes!) very well worn and patched (I know too much information!), camisoles, under-skirts, modesty panels, jackets - most incredibly small, one or two pieces very large.  I estimate half of them will be usable as they are, the rest are so damaged I will use all the lace, fabric and trims.

Betty modelling what I think is a modesty panel - perfect condition

There were some lovely undergarments with beautiful hook and eye fastenings.  One particular camisole although very badly worn has some exquisite pieces I can incorporate into my work, not one thing will be wasted!

Betty showing her midriff sporting the gorgeous camisole

One of my favourite pieces is this tiny tiny waistcoat, a very unusual colour, not sure if it is the original one.  It is sooo gorgeous close up, such fine detail.

It fits where it touches!

Just had to show another photograph of the waistcoat as it is so lovely close up - it has to be seen to appreciate the beauty.

The little circles at the top are like tiny buttons

and last, but not least, a brassiere made of cotton, it has the initials W. R. and Whalonia reg'd on a label.  It looks like it has had whalebones in but they have been taken out and the slits hand sewn down.

think Betty a bit lacking in the bosom department!

six lovely pockets for the whalebones

Oh, nearly forgot to show you the bloomers, very well worn, patched and darned, a lovely shade of dirty white!  Lovely deep broderie anglaise trim with slotted ribbon redeem them somewhat.

Bottom only view to protect Betty's modesty! 

embroidery detail white on white

Today my friend Gill and I have had another of our making days.  The sun was shining, we sat in the garden, me with my dye pot on the patio, Gill making lovely woollen heart hangings and leaf brooches.  We chatted in the sunshine, eating home-made egg and tomato sandwiches, grapes and lots of cups of tea.  The bloomers, brassiere and modesty panel have been dyed and then re-dipped as I didn't like the colour (too purple) and have been hanging on the line drying in the afternoon sun.
I am pleased with the result a sort of greyish purple/pinky colour.  I am intending to deconstruct and reconstruct some of the garments, to create contemporary wearable pieces.  I will leave you with a couple of photographs I took this morning as I saw that my Himalayan blue poppy was about to lift its little head up to the sun....

nearly there!

just about, but not quite!

Hope the sun shines on you this week!  Jayne xx


  1. what an amazing story Jayne of breathing new life into old linens, many of them now looking exquisite after lots of tender loving care, you must be delighted with the results. And this is just the beginning as you now have plans to completely re- define these garments, the process of putting your creative ideas into practice began today with the dyeing of some pieces. Finding these garments may have been serendipitous but there will be nothing accidental about their transformation, that will be down to your obvious affinity with, and respect for the materials you have chosen to work with and your ability to manipulate them into relevant pieces for today while still retaining their character and history. You are very talented (and no, I am not biased!!)and I can't wait to see the results. xx

  2. Thank you so much for your heartfelt comments, they made me have a few tears. You put into words perfectly what I am unable to! It is about the history and character and retaining every element of that, missing ribbons, hooks and eyes, tiny torn fragments etc, all evidence of days gone by when hand rendered garments were treasured, worn and repaired with love. As you know that is the whole ethos of my work with antique and vintage garments. Thank you again I am deeply touched by your words. Jayne x

  3. I've just founf your lovely blog so I'm going to make a cuppa and read through your posts, Lucey x PS I live in the North east on the coast too.

  4. Beautiful linens Jayne...I am sure you will deconstruct and reconstruct them into something fabulous.
    As for the Himalayan poppy...I am so jealous that you can even grow them. I have tried for years and they just don't like our woodland environment.
    Have a lovely weekend too,
    Julie x

    1. Thanks for lovely comments. I only have two poppies, they are so beautiful but don't last long either. Have a good weekend. jayne x

  5. I love them all!! you can do so much with these pieces, and i know you will enjoy every minute. P.S I want sandwiches and cake with you and Gill! lol! x


Thank you for your lovely comments, I really do appreciate them.