Street Style Wales

Knitting, stitching, thrifting, crocheting


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Vintage hunting: Ebay

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Recently, I’ve been madly searching Ebay for new fabric. I do this quite often, I’ll admit, but there are times when finding the perfect vintage fabric is all I can think about.

A couple of days ago, I found this lovely fabric, which was originally a sheet from Liberty.

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Though this fabric was ideal, I wasn’t prepared to pay this price for it

I literally dreamt up an outfit I could make with this (a 50s style short-sleeved summer dress) and the amount of fabric was perfect for what I needed. However, being on a budget, I knew I had to let this one go, as I simply couldn’t afford to pay the £62 it ended up going for. Sometimes, auctions go your way and sometimes you end up losing out. But that’s life and, conveniently, it made me think of a new blog feature, where I’ll share my tips on vintage hunting. This time, I’m focusing on searching Ebay for fabric and what you should look out for.

1. Make sure the fabric is exactly what you want

Check the measurements of the fabric carefully, as you don’t want to buy two metres when you really need three. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than running out of fabric when you’re making a garment and, with vintage, you might not be able to buy more of the same. So, it’s always better to buy bigger quantities in the first place and then you can always use the scraps to make some bunting or to go towards a quilt.

2. Check for any marks

Obviously, this is hard when you’re looking at a computer screen, but sellers should always disclose marks or damages in the description. If you’re not happy with your purchases, and you don’t feel that a mark or stain has been disclosed properly, then you’re well within your rights to contact the seller for a full refund. Be careful though, as some sellers clearly state that they don’t accept refunds and by buying the item, you may have agreed to these terms.

3. Do your research

Is what you want to buy worth it? Don’t ever pay over the odds for something that you could have bought cheaper elsewhere. Obviously, if it’s a one-off, limited edition, then it’s different, as you will be paying a lot for the product but make sure you search Ebay (and other websites) before you part with any money. When I recently bought a Laura Ashley dress, I did my research and found that the prices of dresses on Ebay varied from £10 to £150. I got mine for £30 in the end, which was about average.

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The vintage Laura Ashley dress I bought on Ebay

5. Be prepared

That’s not to say that you can pick up something for next to nothing on Ebay. Sellers have to make their money too and some branded vintage fabric can go for about £30 for a metre or two. I’m not that surprised that the above Liberty fabric went for £62, but I just couldn’t afford to pay that much for it, which brings me to my next point.

6. Know your price (and your limits)

Ebay can be addictive and it can be hard to let go of something that you’ve set your heart on (same goes for real life auction houses by the way). But, it is important that you stick to your limits and are happy with what you’re buying for the price. Yes, you might not get the fabric that you really wanted, but you could also spend too much on something that you only wanted because of the name, then get it home and never use it because you wanted something a little brighter in colour. In the past, I’ve spent money on fabric or clothing that has just sat in my room, unused. Isn’t it better to make sure you really want the product before buying it?

7. Search the ‘buy it nows’

Relating to the above points, make sure you don’t get carried away with the initially cheaper bidding prices when the ‘buy it now’ section (although it can seem more expensive) actually offers a better deal. I’ve been guilty of this and was getting excited by the Liberty sheet when it was going for a mere £12. When you’ve researched how much you should be paying for a product, have a look at the ‘buy it now’ fabrics and see if there’s anything around the same price or cheaper there.

Of course, Ebay isn’t the only place to search for fabric and you can often pick up bargains elsewhere, in vintage fairs or jumble sales. The key is, though, to know what you’re looking for. I’m hoping to continue this ongoing feature, with some other vintage hunting tips. If there is anything in particular that you’d like to see, or something you feel I’ve forgotten to mention, then let me know in the comments.


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Easy DIYs: Turn a pillowcase into a wearable skirt

An elastic skirt can be fun and easy to make. We show you how to transform that old pillowcase into a new skirt to wear to brighten up those cold, autumnal days

What you’ll need:

You will need a pillowcase, a length of elastic, a safety pin, a sewing machine and a pair of scissors

-A pillowcase

-A length of elastic the size of your waist

-A safety pin

-A pair of scissors

-A sewing machine

How to make:

1. Turn pillowcase inside out and cut at the seams

2. You should now have two pieces of fabric. Put these aside for a minute

3. Measure your waist with the elastic. Subtract two inches from this length and cut

4. Return to your fabric. Fold the longest side (width) of one piece over by 1 1/2 inches to make a casing for the elastic. Pin and sew, but leave the edges free as your elastic will go through this. Repeat with the second piece

Pin about an inch away from the edge to create a casing for the elastic

Sewing the casing for my elastic

Sew a casing for your elastic about an inch into your fabric

5. Attach the safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread through the casing of the first piece, bunching the fabric as you go. Repeat this for the second piece and then pin the two together, so that the skirt is inside out

Once you’re done sewing your casing, thread the safety pin through and bunch up the fabric as you go along. This creates the waistband of the skirt

6. Sew the front and back of the skirt together. Take the safety pin out and sew in the edges of the elastic

7. Hem the skirt and you’re done


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A trip to London

I spent last weekend in London, welcoming my brother back from a 12 week trip to Tanzania.

One place I always, always go to when I visit London is Liberty’s. The thing about Liberty’s is that I feel at home there and it’s so timeless inside that I can always imagine it through the ages.

Liberty’s always makes me feel at home

Some pretty plates on show at Liberty’s

Getting some crafting inspiration

Obviously, being the crafter that I am, I went straight to the fabric department. Unfortunately, I always find that you need a mortgage to shop there and, in the past, I’ve only bought small things like fabric covered buttons. But this time I was lucky enough to find a lovely piece of fabric, in the offcuts section.

This fabric offcut will make a lovely scarf

The fabric is a nice, long length and I think it’ll make a nice scarf. Plus, it only cost me about £6, so it’s really not an expensive project. Expect a DIY in the days to come, as I make this beauty into a wearable scarf.


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Thrifting

I’ve mentioned before about how useful charity shops are for sourcing fabric and cheap clothing. Today I went on a fashion binge in one of my local shops. I hadn’t been for ages, so it was a nice treat for my meagre budget and I ended up buying quite a lot for a small amount of money.

Firstly, I bought two vintage floral pillowcases, in different patterns. Together, these were only £1 and I’m planning to make elastic skirts out of them. Once I’ve made one, I’ll put the DIY on the blog.

The pillowcases that I picked up for £1

I also bought a very nice purple stripy top, originally from H&M, a yellow floral Dorothy Perkins skirt that I’ve been wanting for ages and a Peter Pan collared polka dot dress.

This stripy top was originally from H&M

The Dorothy Perkins skirt

The Peter Pan collared dress I bought from a charity shop

Unfortunately, as is often the case when buying things from charity shops, the skirt is too big. But you have to take the bad with the good and I’ll probably just sell it on eBay or use the fabric to make something small.


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Easy DIYs: How to customise a pair of shorts

Have you ever bought something that isn’t quite to your taste but you haven’t wanted to waste it? So have I. A few months ago I bought a pair of shorts from a jumble sale, but when I brought them home, they weren’t exactly flattering.

This is how they used to look

Although they only cost me £1 and I could have used the fabric, as it was Laura Ashley, I really didn’t want to waste them. The shorts were so easy to customise that you could potentially do it while you’re asleep, so instead of giving you a tutorial, I’m just going to tell you what I did. I folded the shorts up, pinned them in place at the sides and sewed. That’s it! The only thing I’d advise you though, if you do this, is to try on the shorts when you fold or roll them up and pin them while you’re wearing them (but watch out for your legs), as it’ll help you to judge whether the sides are equal in length and how short you want to make them. I folded mine three times, but they are a long pair of shorts and I wanted them short, so it really depends on what your taste is.

An unflattering pair of shorts can be made into something wearable with a little craftiness

And here is the finished product

So, you see, it is as easy as pie and the shorts can be customised in a matter of minutes. I actually made mine this morning and wore them straightaway, spending the day relaxing in the sun and drinking copious amounts of ice cream soda.


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Easy DIYs: iPhone/iPod cover

Making a cover for your iPhone or iPod couldn’t be easier and can be done with any leftover remnants of fabric. The only thing you’ll need to make sure of is that it fits around your iPhone/iPod with enough room to allow for seams (it’s better to work with too much fabric rather than too little- if you’ve left too much fabric at the end you can always trim it). And, the great thing is that you can make as many of these as you like, so you can customise your iPhone/iPod to however you’re feeling.

What you’ll need:

-A fair amount of your chosen fabric (enough to cover and wrap around your iPhone/iPod, with at least an extra 2cm for seam allowance)

For the best results, measure the fabric against your iPhone or iPod. My fabric was 18.5cm by 14cm

-Sewing machine and thread (or thread and a needle if you want to make it by hand)

-Fabric scissors

-Ordinary scissors

-Pins

How to make:

1. Cut fabric to desired amount (I’d suggest you follow the above guidelines and measure against your iPhone/iPod. It’s also a good idea to keep measuring so that you know where you’re going with it)

It is easier to cut the fabric in half in order to sew

2. With the right sides of the fabric together, pin it in place and hem the tops of the fabric. Hemming can be done either by hand or by machine

Pinning fabric in place will help you keep the cover’s shape, but don’t pin too close to the top of the cover as it will need to be folded over and hemmed

3. Sew the sides and bottom of the cover in a straight stitch

Once you’ve sewn the rest of the cover, cut off any extra fabric and turn the right way around

4. Turn cover the right way around and voila, it’s made!

Voila, your iPhone/iPod cover is complete

When it’s finished you can decorate it how you like, perhaps by adding a strip of contrasting fabric

Additionally, you can add an envelope style opening to it if you want, by adding an extra two inches of fabric to the back of the cover at step one, folding it in and sewing. To fasten it you could sew a button to the front of your cover, create a buttonhole on the opening (I’d always recommend you do this by hand), or loop a piece of fabric to attach around the button. If that’s not your style, you could attach a clasp. There are many different kinds available at craft shops. Personally, I like mine the way it is, sans envelope style opening, as it makes it easier to reach in a hurry.


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Crafting ideas: Where to buy fabric

Any newbie crafters out there might be surprised when they find out that the price of fabric from department stores can often be quite pricey. I know I once was. But there are cheaper ways to source your fabric, so for anyone looking for a bargain, here’s my pick of the best places to buy fabric.

1. Number one: Jumble sales/vintage fairs

I’ve often found a great bargain at one of these fairs and, if you look hard enough, so will you. The key is not to go to a fair specifically to buy fabric, but when going along anyway, have a look and you might just be surprised. They may not be a great length, but these kinds of fabrics (offcuts, usually) will do for making homemade bunting and to jazz up existing clothes. Once I even managed to pick up enough fabric offcuts to make a skirt.

The offcuts of a fabric I once found at a vintage fair

2. Number two: Charity shops

Fabric from charity shops isn’t usually dressed up as fabric, so here’s where you can get creative. Any charity shop will do, as most of them sell some ok-ish stuff in the forms of old curtains, bedsheets and pillowcases. Don’t look at them like curtains, sheets or pillowcases, but as potential fabric. For example, an old curtain will make an ideal winter skirt or dress (the extra weight will keep you warm in winter), a sheet gives you enough fabric to make a summer dress and a pillowcase can easily make an A-line skirt.

Incidentally, charity shops are also an ideal place to pick up extras, such as buttons, either on their own (just ask if you don’t see any), or on old, affordable granny cardigans and the like. Seriously, £1.49 for a cardi with some amazing buttons is a bargain!

3. Number three: Ebay

This was where I first ventured when looking for cheaper fabrics and I still manage to find some great bargains now. When I first discovered Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley fabrics, for example, I scoured Ebay for them and found some older stuff for a lot less than in the shops. Ebay shops offer the best selection and one of my absolute favourites (and one I’ve been using for years) is this one. One thing to remember is that if you’re planning on using a lot of fabric, then it might be worthwhile buying a roll. Although it can be expensive, in the long run it actually works out a lot cheaper per metre and you can get some great quality fabric if you look in the right places. For example, I once bought a roll of old Liberty fabric for a steal!

A roll of Liberty fabric I once bought on Ebay


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Easy DIYs: A simple book bag

A book bag I made quite a while ago

Book bags are handy, versatile and easy to carry. They can be used in any circumstance and even stuffed into the bottom of another bag for any spontaneous shopping activities.

They are very easy to make as well. In fact, I don’t think making one requires any real skill or technical aptitude, so they’re the perfect DIY for any new crafters.

What you’ll need:

-Enough fabric to cover and wrap around a large magazine in a pattern of your choice, plus extra to make straps (It really doesn’t matter how large you want the bag. It can be tailored exactly to your preferences. Mine was 30cm in width and 36cm in length, so I started with a piece of fabric 64cm wide and 40cm long. Straps can also be as long or as short as you want, but I’d suggest they are at least 4cm wide)

-Sewing machine and thread (or thread and a needle if you want to make it by hand)

-Fabric scissors

-Ordinary scissors

-Pins

How to make:

1. Cut fabric to desired amount (you may want to measure against a magazine for the perfect length and width)

2. With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the bag in place around the edges, but leave the top of the bag open. When that is done, fold over the tops of the two sides of fabric and pin in place, ready to hem

3. Hem the top of the bag. This can be done either by hand or by machine

4. Sew the sides and bottom of the bag in a straight stitch

5. Take the fabric you’ve set aside for the straps. Fold in and pin each side by about a cm so that they will not fray. Sew to hold in place

6. Sew straps onto bag a couple of inches away from the edges of the bag. The straps need to be quite sturdy, so sew diagonally and make a cross pattern

7. Turn bag the right way around and admire your handiwork

Book bags are easy to make and can be made with a variety of fabrics


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New projects

Since moving home at the end of June, I’ve had a long list of things that I’m planning to make. This is what I do when I have no other plans. I form lists of things to make and store them in my head.

Right now I’m dreaming of summer dresses, elastic skirts, book bags and bunting. So I thought I’d change this blog’s direction a bit. Although I want it to keep its fashion and vintage elements, it’ll now focus on craft a bit more and making things yourself. Hopefully, I’ll be able to include some easy DIYs to get you, the readers, started on your crafty journeys.

Street Style Wales has always been a slightly crafty blog- remember this, this and this– though I didn’t intend it to be when I started it. But I suppose that’s what happens when a little part of you seeps into your blog and, to be honest, I like it this way. It feels more like me.

So, here’s to new beginnings and the first of many DIYs starting tomorrow- the easy to make book bag.


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Crafty books: A good place to start

Having been to Stitch and Bitch for the past two weeks now, I am continuing to learn the new skill of knitting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much a beginner, but over Christmas, I hope that I am able to build my skills so that I am capable of making more than this:

Knitting has, however, reignited my love of crafting in general and one important part of street style fashion (i.e. creating your own style) is the concept of crafting as a whole.  Giving crafters the chance to create something so unique and the opportunity to then wear it and have it complimented upon is a wonderful way to boost someone’s confidence. There are so many crafty people out there, on lookbook and in fashion blogs, that the average person can’t help but feel left out. However, all crafters started somewhere and there are ways to give you that much needed starting point.

When I first became interested in machine sewing, this book helped me out a lot. I think I found it via an article in a newspaper and it sits at home lovingly on my shelf. I remember where I was when I bought it, that’s how big a part of my sewing it once was. Though it pains me to say (and it is still a good book), it’s probably just that slight bit dated now.

However, not to worry, because Eithne Farry has another book out. I checked it out (in Boots no less!) and it seems to contain plenty of new sewing inspiration. In fact, I’ll be going back to buy it in the next few days.

When I was on an adventure to Bath in September, I discovered this beauty. This is a book for a niche group of people. But it looks like a very interesting book, one I’d like to read.

For fabric fiends like me, Liberty has got to be one of my favourite shops for selling fabric. It’s just too bad that I can’t afford it. This book, however, is just a guilty pleasure!

And finally, once you develop a crafting addiction, then Mollie Makes magazine is going to be one you’ll love. Trust me! Three issues in and I already want a subscription for Christmas.