The Washerwoman

Thursday 27 November 2008

Jolly Girls Outing

Yesterday was a great day, like minded girlies together at the wonderful Textile fair in Ilminster.
From left to right Donna of
Sue from
and me... no website address as I am the mad one who prefers to drive all over the country selling my textiles, costume & other fripperies... talking of which.....
A small sample of goodies I will be taking to The Oxford Vintage fashion fair on Saturday. The fair is being held in St Michael & All Angels Hall, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7EZ.
The fair is open from 10 am to 4 pm Admission £2.00/£1.00 conc.
If that isn't enough excitement for one day, on Sunday I will being selling at The Vintage fashion Fair in Cardiff City Hall, CF10 3ND. fair opens at 10 am (9.30 trade). See the Blind Lemon Vintage website for further details.

Monday 24 November 2008

Another week, another town.........

Monday morning already, and trying to recover from the excitements of the weekend. On Saturday was the amazing Vintage & Handmade fair in Rangeworthy Village hall. This charming building was transformed into a fantastic & alternative shopping experience for the day. Those who missed it must put it on the calendar for next year (Saturday 30th May in Chipping Sodbury Town hall). I did take plenty of photos at the fair, but after seeing that everyone elses were better than mine I will keep them for another day! It was lovely to meet so many new people, my only regret was that there wasn't more time to chat (as we were busy selling). So, look forward to seeing you all again next year.
Sunday was another very busy day....Here is a piccie of my stall at the Fair in Bath. The fair in the Assembly rooms is fast becoming well known for its selection of top quality stalls & is a great hunting ground for collectors, designers and anyone who is passionate about Vintage clothes and textiles. The next fair is February 22nd, so another important date for the 2009 calendar.

So, onto this week.... it is all systems go to prepare for the Textile Fair in Ilminster on Wednesday the 26th November. It takes place in the meeting house at the top of the high street & you can park right outside. Open from 10 am to 4 pm.
As always there will be a wonderful selection of textiles, trimmings, buttons, quilts, lace and of course.......................................

No visit to Ilminster is complete unless you visit the wonderful time capsule that is Dyers (shown at the top of this post). This shop has to be seen to be believed, it really is just like stepping back in time. It is not a museum, but a working commercial outlet, selling ladies & gents clothing.. also haberdashery & much more.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Vintage clothes & the mysteries they hide....

I recently purchased this gorgeous jacket & at first believed it to date from the 1940's. Imagine my surprise to find a handwritten note in the pocket which gave a lovely insight into the previous owner. Here are a few lines from the note.
"This Irish tweed Hebe sports jacket was bought in a "posh" small shop in Keynsham on the Bristol to Bath road in about 1952. I liked it because it reminded me of a field of buttercups & daisies!!! (But I was young and silly then!)
I saw many of these suits in Bath, but few in Bristol, but i have heard that the money is made in Bristol and spent in Bath!"

However, this dress (shown below) does date from the 1940's as it has a Utility label and came with its very own "make do & mend" wartime brooch made from plastic covered wire. It came complete in the bag (above) with its price label & shop bill. The mystery is why it remained in the bag for over 60 years and was obviously never worn.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Cullompton Textile Fair

This fantastic plasterwork can be found above a fireplace in Walronds, a beautiful crumbling old house in the centre of the town of Cullompton in Devon. This wonderful building will be hosting a special Textile & Decorative fair next Wednesday (November 5th) from 10 to 4 pm.
Today I have been gathering together some items for my stall there.... as you can see there will be an eclectic selection of pictures, cushions, shoes, bags, ribbons, textiles, buttons & some fantastic vintage millinery flowers that have just arrived from France.

Admission is free to the fair, and customers can enjoy wandering through the labyrinth of downstairs rooms where the stallholders will be displaying their goods against a backdrop of oak panelling & mullioned windows.
To discover more about the house, there is a website
The house is in desperate need of repairs and financial help.

Saturday 25 October 2008

A true "cottage industry"

This week I went for a little drive in to deepest Somerset to see a lady about some gloves......or fingerless mittens (their correct name according to a lady at the Honiton fair last week).
It was an eventful journey, the lane was blocked by horses.....

Then by some sheep...........................

Then at last the open road! I was able to complete my journey to see a lovely lady who has been knitting these little beauties. I purchased all that she had and now she is going to make a start on some knitted pullovers (or tank-tops to those of us who were teenagers in the 1970's!)
The gloves are proving to be a bit of a "best seller" on my stalls at various fairs this Autumn, and you can be sure I will bring a good supply to the Vintage & Handmade Fair on the 22nd November. Hope to see you there!
For those who cannot wait until next month, I have listed a couple of pairs of these gloves on ebay, search under seller name sunshed.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Night at the Opera

Yesterday was a very special day in the Washerwoman's calendar. We went to London to see the English National Opera at The Coliseum. The performance was Cavalleria rusticana & Paglliacci. I am the first to admit that Opera is not really my type of music, but this was a special performance as I have spent a lot of time this year sourcing costume for them. The first performance was set in Sicily in the 1930's. The cast were dressed in rural costume, and we enjoyed spotting who was wearing the patched french jacket, darned checked shirt or the black wraparound apron that we had sourced in France this summer. It was a powerful love story and the pure sound of the singing and huge orchestra was spellbinding.
The second performance was a very unusual interpretation as it was set in the very early 70's in the North of England. The sets were fabulous and extremely true to that era. However, the great fun for us was seeing the brown jumpers, dowdy woollen coats & patterned flared trousers that we had hunted for in every charity shop in a 50 mile radius! It was a huge cast, so we had certainly had our work cut out.
Sadly (but understandably) photography was not allowed in the building, so all I have to show you is the exterior of the Theatre at the end of a magical evening.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Harvest produce auction

Wonderful arrangement of dried Hydrangea in the church (another of my favourite flowers).

I promised "rural ramblings" when I started this blog, and so far it seems to be all work & no play. However last night was the annual auction of Harvest Festival goodies at the village church in aid of Water Aid. This longstanding tradition always provides great entertainment as the women of the village squabble and bid hard for the jars of infamous delicious runner bean chutney or the gooiest chocolate cake! This year the proceedings were livened further by complimentary glasses of wine which certainly got everyone bidding & providing some very funny banter from the auctioneer (don't even ask what one does with certain vegetables!)
The produce is all donated by the local school, and in days gone by when my boys were little the fare usually was all homemade or homegrown, or the most basic groceries (tins of baked beans, pineapple rings or tinned peaches). As the years went by and the larger more affluent cars crunched their way along the lane to the village school, the produce changed to more sophisticated items ( chesnut puree from Harrods, exotic tinned fruits & jars of ginger) now I am pleased to report that we seem to be back to basics once again, and the produce was mostly homegrown, organic and a lot of thought was put into the beautiful little shoeboxes lined with straw & decorated with childrens pictures.
As the evening progressed, we filled our bags & baskets with produce, the laughter got louder and there was a gasp from the crowd as a jar of local honey went for £5. The last lot of the day was grasped by my friend Wendy.... only to discover it was a jar of Italian sauce past its sell-by date!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

A few more of my favourite things.....

Thought I would add a few more of my favourite things to cheer up the day! First up is a fabulous green painted Dolls house bedroom set which I bought many years ago in an auction. It came with the original bedcover & cushions.... if only it were fullsize, It would look great in my bedroom! Next is my collection of flowery china, the plates are very special as they belonged to my Grandmother.
Now I really do have a "thing" about 1930's and 1940's mannequin heads. This one is awaiting some small cosmetic repairs to her nose. I will get around to it sometime!

Another thing I enjoy are red geraniums, they remind me of France where every window ledge & garden wall are covered in them. At the end of the summer I cannot throw them away, so they all come inside & crowd onto the bathroom window ledge until the spring....

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Rain & more rain!

Hi everybody, thank you so much for your interest and comments. After a busy Flea market on Sunday it was time to repack the car for a 2-day antiques fair in Ardingly, East Sussex.

We set off at 4 am on Tuesday morning in driving rain, and boy did it rain! It took us 4 hours to get to the showground where the fair is held. Our stall is in one of the large marquee tents so sheltered from the rain (sort of).. of course being a tent structure the rain drives in at any opening, and the sides need to be open to unload!

It was quite a struggle to get everything from the car, luckily only one piece of 30's fabric fell into the mud (the grass was quickly turning into a muddy mess.. which was being walked into the marquee on each journey.)

Here is a picture of Maud who has a pitch next to mine, she is endeavouring to get her lovely linen out of her van.....

Eventually we got everything unloaded and were able to set up the stand. Despite the dreadful torrential downpours there were plenty of brave customers and we had a pretty successful day!
One lovely lady I met was Miranda (aka Tatty Brown @ Hope you got home OK and dried out eventually!

Thursday 28 August 2008

At last we have the technology! With the assistance of my son Tim I have finally set up the long awaited (and much discussed) blog. The washerwoman idea started with a set of fun photographs taken by my great mate Mary (of As I buy and sell vintage clothing and textiles, a lot of my time is spent washing, ironing & mending old clothes.I am potty about the designs from the 1930's and 40's, and probably just as enthusiastic about the 1950's, 60's & 70's.... sorry Emma, I still cannot get excited about the 80's yet...

I sell vintage clothing regularly at the wonderful fairs organised by Edwin of but before the Autumn run begins I have the exciting Bath Vintage Fashion and Textiles fair on September 14th to prepare for. See for further details.

As well as buying & selling vintage clothes I also can be found selling at Antiques fairs where my stall can only be described as eclectic. Niki (of has said many a kind word about my displays & efforts!

As you can see, my enthusiasm expands to handknit items, vintage toys, bags, buckles, shoes, hats and a bit of old French enamelware for good measure!

At the moment I am keeping busy planning for the run of forthcoming fairs in the Autumn, the most exciting and original of course being the Handmade and Vintage fair on November 22nd being organised by Jayne and Michele

This looks to be a fantastic event, and it will be great fun meeting up with other bloggers and of course eating cake! Thank you to Jayne and Michele for inviting me to join in the fun!