Tag Archives: thrifting

oh no she didn’t

Buy yet another sewing machine? I sure did :)
To quote my boyfriend “Don’t you have three sewing machines already? What do you need another one for?”. The answer to that could only be: “But look at her, she’s so preeetty!”

Meet number 4, a tiny Elna Lotus tsp. She looks terribly cute next to my massive 1930′s Phoenix treadle and she’s just small enough to not take up too much space and to be set up quickly if I need a zig-zag stitch. And very handy too, clapping up the sides and she’s ready to go, needing no case.

She was a bargain at the thrift store for 10€ and I just had to have her. She’s also reasonably clean and seems to be in good working order (I haven’t yet tested her thoroughly though…spending nearly a whole day thrifting yesterday while still fighting that nasty cough has ensured that I’ve spent almost all of today on the couch with a book and a cup of tea). With a glass for size comparison. She really is tiny:

And not the only lucky find yesterday! I’m in love with this pea green tea pot and the pretty pyrex dish.

I already have a teapot and dishes of course…minimalism definitely didn’t win yesterday. My friend and I really did go a bit wild, cheering us on for every newfound treasure (“Ah, go on, it costs next to nothing”). I also bought three sweaters (one handmade crocheted 1980′s sweater with dolman sleeves pictured below), two winter hats (one pictured below), a small handbag, some old records with fairytales from my childhood, a couple of storage jars and glass candle holders and so on.

Thrifting weekends are the best! Since starting these regular trips, I’ve become very bored with store shopping…endless supplies of mass produced stuff just don’t do it for me anymore. I need the thrill of the treasure hunt.

focus 2011: thrifting

In January I posted some New Year’s resolutions and a couple of months on I think we haven’t done too badly. I’ll be addressing some things related to these resolutions in a couple of posts.
One of my resolutions for the year was simplifying the way we live. Part of that for me is to buy only things that are of real value to me. I love buying and having new things but I am trying to restrict shopping in everyday life. I love having one-of-a-kind and unique items in my home and be reminded of where they came from.
And there are so many sources for these! I’ll be talking about thrift stores in this post and tackle handmade items in another one to keep this post from getting enormous ;)
I go thrifting regularly with a friend. The stores we go to accept donations from everyone, so there is often tons of stuff there. Finding the treasures among it can be time consuming, but we love our treasure hunts!
In thrift stores you can often find wellmade and sturdy items for very little money.
Throughout this year I’ve replaced our chipped Ikea plates with lovely vintage plates, our generic glasses with printed 1970s glasses and fruit bowls with painted china bowls.
I especially love finding these pretty glass canning jars and using them to store flour, sugar, pasta and other stuff:

Painted china bowls and a silver fruit bowl:

A glass pitcher and some pretty glasses on a thrifted tray:

Less exciting, but sturdy and practical:

I sometimes find nice textiles as well, like bedsheets with a pretty pattern. I wouldn’t normally buy bathroom towels, but this cheerful towel with hearts all over it totally wanted to be my guest bathroom towel (not that we have a guest bathroom. But we are apartment hunting after all). Also, the kitty wouldn’t let me have a post without him of course.

And last but not least, these boxes will be holding tea and cookies. The stoneware in the background was also thrifted and holds loose tea.

I have this dream kitchen in my head where all of these mismatched but lovely items will be displayed on open wood shelves and look cool together. We’ll see :)

wiksten tank with sleeves

I’m back from a 2-day trip to Belgium, where a friend and I spent a day at the beach and visited the beautiful city of Bruges.
I will have the pictures up in a big travel post soon, but first a little sewing to show off as promised (the first of a few posts, I hope to get the other stuff photographed this week).
I’ve been dabbling with quite a few patterns lately but I keep coming back to the Wiksten Tova and Tank Top patterns. The tank pattern especially fits me really well and is so simple and yet versatile. I decided to add cap sleeves to make it suitable to wear at work as well.

I did raise the neckline a bit (only 1/2″ I think). The fabric is a super soft cotton and psst, don’t tell anyone, but it’s a thrifted vintage bed sheet! I love the big plaids and the cheery colors but I am already planning to make at least two more of these tops in some solid voiles.

I know I keep repeating myself, but this pattern really is a joy to work with, it’s simple and quick, has super nice french seams and fits great without any adjustments. I predict many more tank tops to follow :)

thrift store finds

I keep forgetting to post these, but here’s catching up now. I posted one of these vintage bedsheets before but there’s more:

The one on the right turned into a quilt back and a table cloth, but I’m not sure what the other two will be used for yet. I really love the orange one though.
I loved finding these vintage storing jars for tea. We bought new loose tea this weekend and filled these up.

And finally, jackpot: I found a beautiful china set from the 1950′s/1960′s and I love the simple, scandinavian design. They had set of about 6 small, 6 large and 6 deep plates along with a bowl and some other stuff. At 30€ for the whole set I didn’t have to think about it long. It is now replacing our chipped Ikea dishes and is just soo much nicer and prettier.

I am slowly replacing all of our old kitchen stuff with new, nice things to help us keep our resolution of cooking more food from scratch and eating healthier. It’s working a treat I have to say!
Cookie recipe here (used chopped dark chocolate instead of cocoa and only 1 1/2 cups of sugar and added 1/2 cups of oats).

basting and baking

This quilt will probably take me months to complete, so I might as well document every step along the way!

The backing is a thrifted vintage bed sheet. I’ve still got half of it left after cutting it apart and I love it so much, I might just hem the rest and use it as a table cloth.

A little side note on that: we use only environmentally friendly washing powder that leaves little to no scent on our laundry…it smells clean but not much else. I found that makes me very sensitive to strong scents in other people’s laundry, they give me headaches. This bedsheet was clean when I bought it but I washed it again of course and had it lying around a couple of weeks. It still smells strongly of perfumed washing powder and I hope to get rid of that eventually when washing the finished quilt. It only reminds me how long those chemical perfumes linger and lets face it, we wear those clothes and get that stuff on our skin!
Ok, enough moralizing for one morning :)
We also finally baked some fresh bread again from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

Baking bread on a weekly basis is part of our plan to eat healthier and with such an easy method about there really is no excuse not to! Lynda did a great post on that book and its successor, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.
On weekdays we are often too tired to cook in the evenings so we made a white sandwich bread for breakfast and the european peasant bread (with whole wheat and rye flour) to eat with cheese and salads in the evening. I find that when using whole wheat and rye flour I need to use more yeast than the recipe calls for or the crumb will be too dense. Either the yeast is weaker or the flour is heavier over here!

The bread is only flour, yeast, water and salt, no sugar, no additives to make it last longer or taste better.
We don’t eat masses of bread between the two of us, so what we do is we let the loaves cool down completely, cut them up and freeze them. That way we can toast only as many slices as we’ll actually eat at a time and this amount of bread will last us anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks.

thrift store finds

The latest thrift store visit was a great success again.
My friend and I drove by two different stores and in the first one I got this green glass jar/vase, which I love. I filled it with collected shells and drift wood for lack of a better idea for now.
Our apartment at the moment is crowded and jumbled and mismatched but we’re dreaming of bigger and better things (and will continue dreaming for a while yet) and I definitely see this vase getting a nice place that shows off its beauty.

We got to the second store and I hit the jackpot 5 minutes in: A metal green singer 337 sewing machine. It looked like the sturdy steel/metal workhorse I have been looking for for a while, but let’s face it: At the asking price of 10€ (that’s right!) I would have taken it anyway. Isn’t she so pretty?

Turns out the shop even had a tailor look it over to see if it works all right! It came without the manual or extra feet and bobbins but I have been doing some research. It was manufactured in Scotland in 1965 and is indeed all metal parts (score!). I have been trying out all functions (that I could see) and it works perfectly! Looks like I finally got my zig-zag stitch that I have been missing and I plan on using both this baby and my beloved treadle equally :)

Once I’ve cleaned it up that is, because it doesn’t look like anyone’s ever bothered in the last 45 years. It sews beautifully even now, so it will be a dream to use once it’s all cleaned up!

weekend trips

Now that I am working full time as well (I was pretty much the last one of my friends to join the club), weekends are all the more important and valued and anticipated.
How are there never enough hours to the day to do all the things jumbled together in my head?

Trips to the thrift store are becoming a regular weekend feature and while our boyfriends/husbands are still asleep, my friend and I set out early for a day of shopping and visiting and discovering.

This weekend’s trip was a great success again but that deserves its own post and so I’ll keep you waiting a little longer to show off my purchases.
We went by some friends who I’ve photographed before and who have recently gotten an adorable and tiny little kitty. Meet Lilli:

I couldn’t believe how much their puppy had grown in a few short weeks! But dog and kitty get on extremely well, even sharing a basket to sleep in!

fleamarket finds part 2

I did a photo shoot in another city last weekend and while there my friend and I stopped by a charity store. It’s actually a store for people who can’t afford to buy furniture and clothing in normal stores but they always have some real gems there.
We had the greatest time browsing old books and furniture, cooking equipment and cameras. I fell in love with this vintage typewriter:

We played with it a while, enjoying the pling pling of the keys.

This is, by label, a table washing machine with a hand crank. I love how they labeled it “Energy class A+++”, that’s what I call true sales spirit:

Our apartment is already cluttered beyond hope, so I didn’t buy those lovely but useless vintage goodies. But then I found these beautiful vintage jars and I could not pass them up:

They’re local glass and must be quite old. I remember my mom having a whole basement full of jars like these when I was a kid. She used to preserve pears from the garden with cinnamon…yum!
For me they are too big to use for preserving foods, but they are perfect as candle holders for inside as well as for the balcony.

Especially with animals in the house it is important to be extra careful with fire. I never have an open candle in the room, not even a tealight, for fear of my cat’s tails catching fire. With these jars it’ll be safe for my cats (with tealights, not those big candles in the picture).
The lids will protect the jars and candles from being rained into (outside) and will prevent dust collecting in them (inside).

Now I only wish I had bought more than those 4 :)

the pretty pretty thing…a vintage locket

Ok, so I promised a post on the one other thing I bought at the flea market and here it is. It was the first thing I saw that day, in the very first row. I didn’t buy it right away, cause I thought it would be ridiculous to spend all my money on the very first pretty thing I laid eyes on. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the time and was just dying to get back to it the whole time! It’s a beautiful vintage silver locket:

It opens to reveal pictures or notes. I added a photo of my boyfriend on the right and a collage of my mom and dad and my two cats on the left (it’s a little hard to see).


I’m in love with it and wear it whenever I leave the house (which sadly is not too often, since I work from home most of the time).

fleamarket finds

Thrifting is not as big in Germany as in, for example, the States. I don’t know any thrift stores which I could visit regularly. There is however a huge fleamarket every month in my city where you can find lots and, importantly, only vintage stuff. Usually markets around here are flooded with cheap plastic stuff, so I don’t bother visiting them.
Yesterday I went to visit that market for the first time and boy, am I coming back next month!! It was cold and chaotic and disorienting because of the location but it was also so exciting and they had such lovely, lovely things! I am in love with the things I bought and also with a couple of things I didn’t buy.
First of all, I got these 1970′s records:

I paid half the marked price by the way! I love records and can’t believe everyone is throwing them out. I love setting the needle down on one and I love the scratchy, warm sound that is so different from cd players. Now I just need to get my record player fixed, it’s been broken ever since my cat jumped on it and sent it crashing to the floor, doing a backflip in between (the player, not the cat)… as are my VCR (does anyone else actually use that word any more?) and the dvd player. Being a student and having to go by priority lists of things to repair sucks sometimes (the car is at the top, in case anyone was wondering).
Ok, back to the things that do work and make me happy right now!

Seriously, how adorable is this little sewing basket? And how perfectly does it match my treadle table? And what a great deal was 5€ for it! I am so in love with it and I’ll keep a look out for a little brass lock to cover the patch.
My stuff is finally organized and looking so nice and neat in it. Up to now I kept most of it in old glass jars.

On the left there’s my handsewing thread, pins and markers and on the right I keep buttons and ribbons. Speaking of buttons, these were 1€ a card (buttons are ridiculously expensive here normally!):

And then, almost by accident, my boyfriend’s mom stumbled across a plastic bag full of thread in all colours imaginable. Will you believe me that I paid all of 2€ for it? I think I’m good for the next decade at least!

I also bought one other very very pretty thing which I will show very soon. It’s so pretty it deserves it’s own post!