Last month when I was on vacation in Belgium and visiting my favourite second hand shop (remember the lovely doilies?) I found some other amazing treasures. I actually could have easily filled a moving truck with things like kitchen cupboards from the 50′s, old wooden wardrobes that were in desperate need of a face lift, vintage coffee tables and antique desks. It was torture to be there and have so little space in the car to bring anything back to Italy.
But I did find a few little objects besides the doiles that did indeed fit in the trunk of the car and made it back home to Italy. Some of my favorites are these three little porcelain elephants from probably the 50′s or the 60′s. They are in perfect condition, not even a chip or scratch on any of them.
There was even a sticker on the middle sized elephant that says they are handmade in Holland by Fico Art. I’ve googled the company but didn’t find anything about them or these little elephants. In any case, I’m very smitten with these little creatures and they will proudly grace one of my shelves or bookcases. Oh and did I mention that I paid less than 5 euro for the three pieces?! And in case you’re wondering, the background in these photos is a vintage wallpaper that I purchased from an old wallpaper shop in Gent. A pair of 80 year old sisters own the little shop called Behangpapier Priem and they have a huge selection of wallpapers from the 60′s and 70′s at really amazing prices (I think this one cost 9 euro a roll).
We papered a small wall at the top of our stairs with it and I love how happy and bright it is (although I’ve seen a few confused reactions from other people). I must admit that using vintage wallpaper is a very trying experience due to it being fairly brittle and the fact that walls in Italy seem to be completely crooked and lumpy. But the husband and I made it through alive and we’re still married.
A few weeks ago my mother-in-law and I were browsing through our favorite second hand shop and I came across a basket full of old vintage Belgian doilies (most were handmade lace and a few were crocheted) for anywhere from 10 cents to 50 cents a piece. I grabbed a handful, paid less than 3 euro for them and took them home.
There were lots of questions as to what I was going to do with them (and the look on my husband’s face when I enthusiastically showed them was a mix of surprise and terror). And to tell you the truth, at that point I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with them. I just knew there was a project using doilies just waiting for me and I had to give it time to be become clear what it exactly was. Yeah I know, I’m a nerd.
And sure enough a few weeks later I was rummaging through an old drawer and found a set of “naked” fairy lights. I knew then and there what that pile of doilies was going to be made into.
I decided that I wanted the doilies to be slightly stiff so they wouldn’t hang so limply from the lights. I didn’t have any starch of any kind so I made a mixture of normal white glue and water. I then dipped the doilies in the mixture, squeezed out any excess and placed them on a wine glass to dry in a nice lampshade shape (this was all trial and error…I had no idea if it was going to work or not).
To my surprise (and joy) the next morning the doilies were all completely dry and stiff enough to hold the shape that I was looking for.I then had to snip the centres of the doilies in order to fit the little fairy lights through (some had holes big enough but most needed a little snip). Once I had the fairy lights throught centre hole I hand sewed the doilies around the centre so that the light wouldn’t slip back through.
I find the final result really beautiful with all the different shades of white and cream, the different sizes of doilies and the various lace patterns. In the evening it makes the most beautifully romantic shadows on all the surrounding walls.
I even included one that was made by my great grandmother.
A few weeks ago my mother gave me some old vintage apron patterns that used to belong to my grandmother. I finally chose a model I wanted to sew and this is the result.
I was going for a little folkabilly look (cross between happy homemaker from the 50′s, a folksy peasant lady and rockabilly).
The pattern was really easy to follow and I love the fact that all the pieces were already cut out and ready to use. Which means my grandmother probably made this exact same apron about 50 years ago.
I’m going through an apron phase at the moment and I’m really looking forward to going apron shopping in Japan next month. Maybe I’ll even find an easy to follow pattern such as this.
I had to pass by the mercatino usato to pick up my prized table that I purchased the other day and it just so happened that there was a pile of never-used, linen grembiule (aprons) from the 60′s. They are so beautiful and so well made. And the patterns and colours are so gorgeous. I fell in love with all of them so I ended up buying….all of them. They will make perfect aprons for all my baking (and my new goal to look prettier in the kitchen) and I’m sure more than a few will be gifted to fellow bakers who I know will appreciate them.
I’d like some of these as pretty little dresses for the summer. Hmmm…is it possible to turn an apron into a dress? Maybe with a few material insert pieces in the back? Or maybe I can sew two together? Ideas ideas…
The cut of the aprons is so flattering and the palette of colours so reminiscent of the 60′s and 70′s.
Flowers and apples! Is there anything cheery-er?
Not long ago I was rummaging through my mansarda (attic) and I came across an old frame with a portrait of an elderly woman in it. It must have been taken in the 1920′s or 1930′s. I wanted the frame for another project so I took out the old portrait and in between the portrait and the wooden backing I found this really bizarre photo of a couple of oxen (I love oxen!). It’s old and the paper is really faded and brittle but I really love this photo. It’s now hanging above my sewing machine and I find myself gazing at it often. Maybe these cows used to live in what is now my garden. Or maybe those cows that live at the cheese farm down the street are the great-great-great-great grandcows of these ones here in the photo. Yeah…my kids like that story.
A few days ago my mom arrived in Italy with a suitcase full of beautiful materials and a stack of vintage apron patterns that used to belong to my grandmother. I’ve fallen in love with almost all of them and I will be definitely making some of them in the coming months. It’s fun to see how beautiful women used to look in the kitchen with all those fancy aprons. No yoga pants and sweatshirts to be seen in those days. Look how dainty they all are! Ruffled apron skirts, scalloped edges, embroidered pockets, quilted panels, lace edging and miniature pleats. I just love all the little details. You can also see the prices on all of them…they ranged from 25 cents to 40 cents. What a bargain!
Some vintage toys found at the Sagra delle Zucca.