Monday, 31 January 2011

First attempt at a zippered purse

It's a sad day but my beloved Ness purse has almost given up on this life, it will be sadly missed. In the spirit of thrift and saving money, I thought I'd have a go at making my own little purse to replace it.

I used this tutorial from Make it Perfect and it was really clear and easy to follow, two thumbs up there! Unfortunately I made a bit of an error of judgement when it came to choosing the fabric and chose 2 rather thick stiff pieces, meaning my purse has come out a bit odd and wonky-looking. Also, the only zips I had were either miles too big or just a tad too small, so I went for the too-small variety. I can get cards in and out...just, but I foresee many embarrassing moments in the future where I'm holding up a large queue of angry people whilst digging around trying to find that last 5p or struggling to find my bank card amidst the clutter of my Debenhams beauty card (used once), WH Smiths stationary card (last used approximately 6 years ago), various coffee shop loyalty cards that I can't afford any more, my blood donor card (what if I get hit by a car and they give me the WRONG BLOOD TRANSFUSION!?), my Matalan card, my Ikea family get the picture.


The fabric is upholstery fabric that used to be on the seats of my folks dining chairs. The chairs eventually succumbed to old age and were burned but I managed to rescue the material from the funeral pyre. The velvet is some stuff I bought from a charity shop, I'm pretty much in love with velvet at the moment.


Other than all these obvious flaws, I'm pretty pleased with the outcome! I plan to use it until I find a tutorial that'll show me how to make one with different pockets, ideally I'd like a pocket for change and notes, a pocket for important useful cards and a pocket for less-important-but-still-annoying-if-you-go-out-without-them-then-need-them cards.

They'd make sweet gifts as well!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Housewarming cards

I made some more cards! Following on from the success of the button card, I've tried my hand at hot glue and fabric. A fun but potentially lethal combination (well, mildly painful maybe...not lethal in the strictest sense of the word...), I think I've left a reasonable amount of the skin on my fingers attached to the coffee table and the 3 week old copy of the Guardian that I was leaning on.

Ah well, it's worth it when the results are so cute! Even if I do say so myself :)


You may recognise some of the fabric as being off cuts from Danica's tote bag. I think this is only going to fuel my craze for paper crafts, it's cheaper than buying cards and it uses up all those little scraps of fabric that are just too cute to throw out!


These two are going to Frances and Mark, who moved into their new house months ago (I'm a terrible friend) and my friend Dicker who moved into his new flat over Christmas. Frances' one will have to wait even longer as I said I'd make them a bath mat as a housewarming present. They'll have moved house again by the time I get myself organised!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Thrifted teacosies

Following on from yesterday's post about my car boot finds, here are the teacosies I was telling you about!


I love this little house, I wasn't too sure when I bought it but it was such a bargain (50p!) that I had to have it anyway and since then it's just grown and grown on me! It's so bright and cheery, plus I love the idea of my teapot living inside it. Andrew hates it of course, but luckily is pretty tolerant of the stuff I bring home from thrift trips!

Look, lace curtains! So my teapot can twitch them at the neighbours!


This is the one I mentioned yesterday that I got for free, how cute is it?! It perfectly fits my little teapot that I use to make herbal tea for myself, it's a little bit big but I figure it'll grow into it.


I had a really hard time this morning taking photos, nothing was coming out right, everything was fuzzy or grainy or too dark or too light. I listed some things in my Etsy shop and it took me ages to get even half-decent photos. In the end with some of them I just had to go with the best I could get, though I'm very aware that they're not half as professional looking as I'd like them to be. Going through my shop as well, there are a lot of items that are from back when I first opened the shop and didn't know so much about Etsy, so didn't use all 5 of the photo slots or some of them are a bit out of focus or too dark and they look super amateur. It's frustrating, I'd love to go through and rephotograph everything but it would take so long and with my crappy camera, probably come out just the same. Ideally I would like to take all my items somewhere to have someone take the photos professionally for me, at least until I have money to buy a new decent camera and time and space to set up a proper photography area in my house. There's a girl in my class who takes amazing photos and is really into it so I reckon she would do them for me but I couldn't afford to pay her anything near enough to make it worth her while and I don't want to take advantage of her. It's just so hard, looking at other people's shops who obviously have Etsy as their day job, they look so smart and professional, it makes my shop look pretty rubbish in comparison. I guess I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm training to be a vet not a shop owner and this is just a hobby to me, so if it's not perfect, it doesn't matter too much. I think it's because I'm struggling at uni at the moment that the shop being sub-par bothers me so much, it would be nice to feel that there was at least one area of my life that wasn't failing!

At some point this weekend I'm going to have a blitz clean of the flat, that never fails to make me feel better!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Thrifted coasters

Here are those thrifted French coasters I mentioned in yesterday's post. Aren't they sweet? I want to gradually replace the American flag coasters we were given by Andrew's folks, it's a nice gesture but they're so tacky! I want to eventually cover them in some other photos and varnish them like these ones over on Craftster (I especially like that idea since she used ceramic tiles as well, what an awesome idea!).


The blue and white one is a ceramic coaster I bought from Whittard's when I first went to uni, I love it so much, I wish I'd bought more than one!


Also, check out these amazing felt coasters I won in a giveaway from Bugs and Fishes! Laura runs a lovely site called Lupin Handmade selling adorable felt goodies, I love the bird brooches especially, my Mum would love this goldfinch:


I hope everyone has nice plans for the weekend! I have lots of work and chores to catch up on but I'm looking forward to a weekend in the flat to get organised and relax. Tonight's plan is Country Living in the bath with a glass of red wine...bliss...

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Etsy shop preview...

After the amazing crafting and thrifting trip to Glasgow with Vicky on Saturday, we followed it up with an epic car boot adventure on the Sunday. What a haul I landed! As well as the below items soon to appear in my Etsy shop I also bought a handmade pink tea cosy shaped like a house (photos to follow obviously!), a blue stripy knitted tea cosy (the lady gave it to me for free!), Delia's complete how to cook for £1, a gardening encyclopedia for 50p, 3 coasters with vintage French adverts printed on them for £1, a noticeboard I plan to cover in fabric and diagonal ribbon for £1 and a set of 6 egg cups with 3 matching plates and bowels in this lovely blue and white Scandinavian design for £3.50. Photos of my personal finds to follow but here's a sneak preview of the things I discovered for the shop...



I ♥ thrifting. I do not ♥ spilling tea on my keyboard and mouse, the scroll wheel seems to have broken and the arrow keys are all sticky, sad day.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sushi amigurumi

I knitted these adorable amigurumi sushi for my friend Danica's birthday, she's a big fan of sushi. I used an Amy Polcyn knitting pattern off Ravelry for free and I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. I presented them in a sushi box so sadly I had to buy and eat some sushi as part of the project, it was a noble sacrifice.

Apologies for the rubbish photo, it's been one of those weeks where I seem to be constantly running around 10 minutes behind myself so I finished these off about 5 minutes before I had to leave to get to her party. I took a quick, slightly fuzzy, orange photo and wrapped them straight up. In case you're not sure, there's 2 tekka maki, 2 california rolls, 2 tamago nigiri, some pickled ginger and wasabi.


I also gave her one of my homemade tote bags, she seemed pretty pleased with them both. I like making totes for folks (ha, rhymes!), they're so simple but so pretty and I can make them look quite professional now. I want to experiment with zips and inside pockets and whatnot in the future.


We ate tapas and drank wine, it was a good night!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Crafting and thrifting in Glasgow

It's been almost a week since my last post, apologies fellow craftsters! I've been busy with my friend Vicky (designer of my lovely banner) to stay and a crafty, thrifty weekend was had by all!

On Saturday we took the train through to Glasgow to meet Vicky's friend Ruth, who was billed by Vicky as being "just like you but a foot taller!" How true this was! Ruth did Zoology at uni (just like me!), is into knitting (just like me!) and thrifting (just like me!) and is an all-round awesome person (obviously, just like me).

We did some hard-core charity shopping which ended with my awesome haul of 1 Phillippa Gregory book, 1 Penguin copy of Moby Dick, 3 vintage knitting patterns for Aran jumpers and 1 ENORMOUS brushed cotton floral nightie in properly old lady style that I plan to cut up and make into pyjamas. I will definitely be sharing a photo of the latter with you all, it is hilarious.

On the way we also checked out a range of Glasgow's mighty fine vintage shops, my favourite being Starry Starry Night. I've linked you to the lady's blog who provided the photo, since the shop itself doesn't have a website. It was so pretty from the outside, down a little cobbled lane strung with fairy lights, painted green with window boxes that in summer I can imagine will be filled with flowers and ivy. There were loads of amazing little tucked-away corners like this, I'd love to go back when I have some money and do some proper vintage shopping.


We eventually stopped for a cup of tea at The Life Craft, a crafting space and shop with a tea room. It is amazing and has only been open a short while, so I can only imagine how amazing it will be in the future. Bizarrely, it's the same place I'm going in February with some friends for a craft day, I had no idea what the name of the place was until we pitched up and I recognised it! Looking at the classes available, I'm hoping to do 'Basic alterations' and 'Introduction to crochet' on the day. We just had tea this time round though.


Apologies for the lack of actual crafting posts, I have several things to share but haven't had a chance to take photos! It gets dark so early still and I don't want to post rubbish photos with the flash on so watch this space. In sad knitting news, I'm going to have to take out the work in progress cardigan, having knitted a good few inches of it now, I'm realising that it's going to be too big :-( I want to do it properly so it fits when its done, it's just so frustrating. Still, a good opportunity to practice my provisional cast on again I guess!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

W. Armstrongs review

It's review time again folks! You can see my first post in this series over here, it was a review of Bohemia, an adorable little 'lifestyle boutique' (their words, not mine) selling lovely clothes and homewares in the Morningside and Marchmont areas of Edinburgh.

Today it's the turn of the vintage emporium, W. Armstrongs. If you live in Edinburgh or visit at any time, you must must MUST stop in Armstrongs for a browse. For a start it has the largest selection of vintage cashmere I think I've ever seen and that's comparing it to vintage shopping in London! The clothes go from floor to ceiling, literally, and the ceiling is tall, you need a ladder to reach the stuff on the top rails. There are 3 shops, one in Grassmarket (the largest), one in Teviot and one on Clerk St. They also have an Ebay shop.


Taken from their website Armstrongs Vintage Emporium is a tardis like store overflowing with antique uniforms, vintage handbags, hats and clothes from every decade dating back to Victorian costume. Est 1840 Armstrongs has metamorphosed into a cornucopia of vintage and retro delights. Tardis-like is true fo'sho, the Grassmarket shop goes on and on, with twists and turns that make you feel like Alice down the rabbit hole.


Last time I was in there was with my brother and he bought a pair of vintage Levis for £7. £7!! That's the other great thing about Armstrongs, besides the amazing array of stuff, it's very reasonably priced, with a lot of things working out far cheaper than to buy them new. I'm planning a trip there tomorrow to see if I can find either a Harris Tweed jacket or an aran jumper for my Grandad who turns 80 in a month. The jackets I've seen so far have ranged from £18-50 depending on the condition, which is pretty bloody great for something tweed.


The down side, well, the only downside to this shop is the staff. Every time I've been shopping in Armstrongs the staff have been a range from indifferent to downright rude. The only time this hasn't been the case was one time I was served by a lovely girl in the Clerk St store, who gave me some very useful tips for selling my vintage Thumbelina curtains. Other than that, the staff seem to be mainly young 20-something trendies, who are too busy standing around looking far cooler than you dahling, to offer you any real help or advice. I went in before Christmas to try and get a jacket for Danny and they only had ones 2 inches too large round the chest. I asked the lady at the counter if she thought it would make a big difference to the fit, having never bought a man's jacket before (and not being a man myself) and she treated me as though I was the world's largest idiot for asking. In the end I bought him a funky Christmas sweater off the market instead so she fair snooted herself out of that sale.

Overall though I would say 8 out of 10 for this marvelous vintage emporium, be sure to stop by if you get the chance!

Monday, 17 January 2011

And the winner is...

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my 100 etsy hearts giveaway!. So many new blogs to browse!

Without further ado, here are the 3 lucky winners.

The winner of the tote is number 6, the lovely author of Knitting it all.


The winner of the vintage knitting patterns is Cat of Wrap your troubles in dreams.


And, last but not least, the winner of the vintage postcards is Carolyn.


I'll be getting in touch shortly to arrange posting your prizes to you all!

In other crafty news, I finally got round to trying out my new glue gun, a present from my brother for Christmas. It. is. AWESOME!! I wanted to run around the house glueing stuff to other stuff but managed to keep myself under control long enough to make this thank you card, for Mr and Mrs Pearson who gave me the buttons.



This is the first of many thank you cards I have to make, I still haven't done my Christmas thank yous, oops. I bought the card stock and envelopes off ebay, a pack of 25 for £4.30 including postage, should save me a stack o' cash this year not having to buy ready made, beautiful but eye-wateringly expensive cards. Yay for thrift!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Power off!

This lovely print popped up on my Etsy homepage yesterday and I instantly hearted it because the words spoke right to me.

Power off by Laura George just sums up exactly how I was feeling yesterday. I'm trying to get caught up with the lectures I couldn't study last week because of my exam, but instead of taking proper breaks and coming back feeling refreshed, I just kept wasting time on the internet. "I'll just quickly check my email"..."I wonder if anyone's written anything new on my google reader"..."I'll just check my blog"..."I'll just check my facebook"...the list goes on and on until it was suddenly 9pm, I'd only got through 1 and a half lectures and not done anything worth mentioning with my breaks.


I mentioned on my first post back after the holidays that it was really refreshing to have spent 2 weeks barely looking at a computer. I need to try and keep this going into the new year I think, it's so easy to just sit and waste time looking at the pretty things other people are doing and making, when in fact I need to get up off my arse and go do those things myself!

Turn off your computer and go outside is my new mantra. And if that doesn't work then I'm going to remind myself of this little gem:


Stress: Release by Laura George. Totally hearted.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Buttons, buttons, buttons

Remember I mentioned a few days ago about 2 tins full of buttons my friend Karen had given me? Well, I finally got round to sorting them!

Is there anything more fun than sorting through craft stuff? I sat for a good few hours on the floor in the lounge watching The Truman Show (definitely one of my favourite films) and sifting through piles of buttons, imagining all the projects I'm going to make with them.


The first official project I'm going to use them for is a thank you card to Karen's parents, who gave them to me in the first place. Karen's gran recently passed away and it was in clearing her house that they found this amazing stash. There's something both morbid and rejuvenating about using craft materials that have come to you in this way, it's a bit strange going through the possessions of someone who's died, you feel almost like you're stealing from them, even though you know logically they have no use for them any more. On the other hand though, I think there's something nice about using craft materials that have been given to you when someone died, it allows their memory to live on everytime you use those things. A lot of my material stash came to me from Andrew's gran and I think of her everytime I use a piece. It's rejuvenating in that it gives those items a new lease of life, allowing the memory of that person to be bound up in whatever project they become a part of.


I'm planning a day of making cards so hopefully tomorrow I'll have photos to show you! Also, remember to enter my 100 etsy hearts giveaway!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Hedgehog hot pocket

Ahh, they grow up so fast...*wipes away tear*...

Remember when Hobbes AKA The Tronasaurus ( see how we got there) was just a tiddly wee thing?


Well he grew up, into a grumpy huffy hedgehog and in the process, he burst out of his original hot pocket like a tiny prickly version of The Hulk.

Since then, Andrew's been badgering me to make him another hot pocket and in my frustration at not being able to finish my jacket last night, I figured a simple, easy sewing project would help me feel a bit less rubbish.

Since there's a Transformer called Megatron, coupled with the fact that Andrew is a giant Transformers dork, it seemed the perfect opportunity to use up the Transformers fat quarter I've had lurking in my stash for so long. I would have preferred a FQ that had the original cartoons on, instead of the Hollywood versions but then equally I would have preferred a boyfriend who wasn't far too old to be still watching children's television so c'est la vie.



Andrew's favourite Transformer from the film was Bumblebee, who could turn into a super fast car. Mine was Perceptor, who could turn into a microscope. I'm that cool.


I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out though and Tron seems to like it too so that's the main thing. It's lined with black fleece and has a layer of batting in between the lining and cotton outer layer, for added warmth. Tron is also now a famous hedgepig, with a film, a church, a theatre and a pub named after him. True story.

I'm pleased, you may feed me now


We're done here, you may leave now


Only 48 hours left to enter my 100 Etsy hearts giveaway!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Attempts to reline a jacket

Avid readers (I flatter myself) might remember that a while back I mentioned that I was planning on relining my favourite jacket, a vintage Jaeger tweed jacket that I picked up for a snip from a thrift store. The lining was in pretty bad shape but I wore it for about 3 years before getting round to doing anything about it.

The jacket in action:


The jacket, plus mangy lining:


Made in Britain!


This Christmas, in an alcohol-fuelled over-confident moment of madness, I decided the time had come to do something about this shoddy lining. I set about carefully (as careful as one can be when one is three sheets to the wind) taking the lining out, then took it to pieces to serve as a pattern. At this point caution went out of the window and I completely forgot to follow the very clear, very useful tutorial over on, instead opting for a DIY approach. Sigh.

Jacket sans lining:


The dress, donated by my Grandmother, that will be hacked up for new lining material:


I cut out the new pieces of lining, using the old pieces as a template, but not bothering to make proper pattern pieces out of paper first. As a result, using slippery material as a template to cut out slippery material, the new lining pieces are looking decidedly wonky. Also, having not looked at them since Christmas, I just got them out to start sewing them together and realised that I cut one of the pieces backwards, meaning I have to cut another piece but the only material I have left now will involve going over an existing seam, leaving a seam line halfway up one piece of lining. I keep telling myself no one but me will notice.

The kitchen floor situation, as of this evening:


The new piece that needs cutting out, plus seamline. Sigh.


On top of that, when I laid everything out on the kitchen floor earlier this evening, I put one piece down in what I hope was a puddle of water (where it came from, I have no idea since no one has been in the flat all day) so it now has a dark stain that I hope will vanish when it dries. I'm on the borderline of giving up and starting again (or just shelling out the £60 to get it relined professionally, luckily this isn't a financial option) so have retreated to my study to drink some wine and read other people's much better, more professional blogs about their much better, more professional forays into the world of crafting.

I feel a bit of a failure right now.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

2011 project plans

I'd like to stress that these aren't resolutions, since I might not get round to doing them, but they're definitely plans that I'm excited about trying!

Amy Butler is nice enough to offer some free patterns on her website. I've been planning on trying the fabric necklace for ages so when I saw the perfect necklace to salvage the beads, I jumped on it! £1 from a charity shop, bargain. Now to prettify it...


I have a pair of mustard coloured velvet curtains that for some reason I feel the need to turn into an item of clothing. Will this be super chic or properly granny? You'll have to tune in to find out! I'll be using Suzannah from Adventures in Dressmaking's tutorial for a gathered to waistband skirt.


I loved Grosgrain's Embellish Knits Month. I'm definitely having a go at day 8!


Hopefully these tutorials will help me get off my backside and stop reading about sewing, instead actually doing it!

Remember to enter my 100 heart giveaway!

Monday, 10 January 2011

100 heart giveaway!

It's been a long time coming but Second Fiddle has finally hit 100 hearts! I know this is slow progress given that I've had the shop for 2 years now but juggling a degree and Etsy is no mean feat! You wait until I graduate, there'll be no stopping me then!

Ahem, anyway, back to the point in hand...celebratory giveaway! But what are the prizes? I hear you cry. Check out these beauts to choose from:

Prize number 1:

Paisley print cotton tote lined with purple velvet

Perfect fit to pop over your shoulder for browsing a farmer's market or carrying your books to school!


Prize number 2:

Set of 2 vintage postcards.

Perfect for scrapbooking or collage!



Prize number 3:

Set of 3 vintage 1960s and 1970s knitting patterns.

Knit yourself a vintage wardrobe in 2011!




But of course, there's a catch. There's always a catch. The rules are as follows:

1. You must be a follower of this blog or 'like' Second Fiddle on facebook. For two entries, you can do both!

2. Once you've done part 1, leave a comment stating which of the 3 prizes you'd like to be entered for, along with a contact email or blog link in case you're the lucky winner! If you do both (i.e. 'like' and 'follow'), be sure to comment twice so I know to count you twice.

3. For a bonus entry (so 3 possible entries available!) you can link back to me on your blog/facebook/twitter etc, just leave me another comment with a link to show me.

3. You have until midnight British time on Sunday 16th January to enter.

Good luck everybody! ♥

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Dad's cycling headband

I knitted this for my Dad over Christmas using a kids pattern off Ravelry. Dad cycles to and from the station to get the train to work and since it's been so chilly recently, he's been complaining of cold ears. He also has sinus problems on and off so I figure anything that can help keep him snuggly warm while he's cycling in the snow should help! The bonus of this headband is you can wear a cycle helmet over the top of it so you're warm AND safe.


I used the left over New Lanark wool from the aran afghan so the headband is really thick and warm, though a tad itchy. If he complains about that then I was thinking I could hand stitch a fleece band round the inside so we'll see how he gets on.


I was really pleased with this so I made myself one too! I would take a photo of me modelling mine but sadly it's 3pm and I have yet to get out of my pyjamas so there will be no photos until I'm clean. What? I'm studying alright!