8. Baby Bonnet Purse

Time: 30 minutes
Cost: Under $5

Just because my days of parenting small babies are over it doesn't mean I don't get the occasional hankering for some beautiful newborn knits.  I think it's fortunate that I don't have a large house because I'd probably fill it with all sorts of things I no longer need - like baby clothes! I was lying in bed the other night during one of my frequent bouts of insomnia when I started thinking about my beautiful Nana back in New Zealand and the wonderful knitting she made for our kids when they were babies.  I've been teaching myself to knit recently and like all things, it's only when you try something yourself that you realise just how darn hard it really is.  As I toiled over a winter hat for my 3 year old son, I thought about Nana's delicate scalloped edges and row upon row of perfect little stitches.  I'll keep practicing my knitting but I've come to the realisation that if I want to play around with beautiful knits it's going to be quicker for me to buy vintage than knit it myself.  That's how this little purse came to life.


2 pure wool newborn baby bonnets with ribbons. Try and get two that are a similar shape and that have long ribbons.  Mine were $2 each from Cabramatta Vinnie's.

Needle and thread.

Here we go...

Position your bonnets so that the large openings face each other and pin them into place.

Stitch the two bonnets together with a needle and thread.  You an do this with wrong sides together, or just lay one edge over the over and stitch as I have done.

With one set of ribbons tie a bow.

Using a large darning needle thread one of the other sets of ribbons (opposite side of the purse to the bow) in and out of the bonnet. Repeat with the other ribbon on that side.

This creates a drawstring which you can use to pull the purse closed tight.  Tie a bow with the ends of your drawstring to create the handle of the bag.

This little purse is the perfect size for a wee girl to wear.  I've put some lavender wrapped in muslin inside mine and have hung it on my bed. Perhaps this little project will cure the insomnia that inspired it in the first place.

Things I loved but didn't buy....

The kids are back at school and preschool this week so today I took advantage of some time to myself and headed out to a charity shop I discovered late last year. If you're thinking small and pokey when you hear the words "Op Shop" think again. This branch of Vinnies in Cabramatta is more like a warehouse. It's full to the brim with vintage treasures!  Even better are their impromptu sales. As I was browsing this morning someone printed off a pile of '50% off Furniture" signs and was sticking them up all over the place.

If I wasn't currently living in a tiny 2 bedroom cottage with literally one single cupboard in the whole place I  definitely would have come home with some of these:

Retro hand painted plate

Candle holder with red drops

Jewish beaten plate

Retro dinner set

Silver anyone?

LOVE this retro formica table and bright orange chairs set.
Wish I had a spot for it!

I know a certain little girl who would have loved to fill this up with period dolls furniture.
Which is why it stayed in the shop.

Gorgeous retro sideboard

Vintage "Last Supper' print. We collect these old religious prints and if this one was perfect
(it had watermarks) I would have snuck it home.

Great big old chest that has lots of stories to tell.

There are crochet and woollen blankets galore in this shop.
Unfortunately my husband has an aversion to nana rugs and doilies so these had to stay behind.

So many pure wool blankets. I could make hot water bottle covers, retro cushions
with applique designs, and patchwork throws from these.

I did find some goodies today that I couldn't resist. Among them is a retro linen tablecloth, an old wooden lamp, and two vintage baby bonnets. Watch this space in the next couple of weeks to see how I transform them!

Autumn Leaf Easter Basket

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
- Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

I feel more fortunate to live in the Blue Mountains in autumn than at any other time of year.  If I ever ponder the thought of living somewhere else autumn inevitably lures me back with its showy red and gold leaves and sunshine that glistens and bounces off every surface. Cool mornings; cold nights; warm, warm days romping through fallen leaves; meeting friends for picnics; the children spending all hours in the garden. After sizzling and sweating our way through summer, these days in cool comfort feel luxurious indeed.

Autumn is inspirational. It's colours are too good to leave outside so for this post I've designed an Autumn project to bring the season indoors. I hope you'll have as much fun making this seasonal project as I did.

We're surrounded by gorgeous maple trees here in the mountains and at this time of year they're at their best. I found a website showing how to make rose buds from the leaves and since Easter is coming up this weekend I thought I'd incorporate them into an Easter basket.

Collection of Autumn leaves
Raffia, shredded paper, or straw
Florists foam
Chocolate eggs

Here we go...

Making the rosebuds involves folding and rolling the first leaf for the centre and then folding the second and third leaves around the outside before securing it with thread.  Full step by step photos are available here. After making a posy of maple leaf roses I put them into some florists foam and then into a basket with some more leaves around the edges and in between the rose buds. Some raffia hides the florists foam and bulks up the arrangement.  Once you have your rosebuds. leaves, and raffia in place pop some Easter eggs in amongst the raffia and you're done.  Now all that's left is figuring out a way to keep little fingers from rummaging through it!

7. Vintage Doily and Embroidery Pillows

Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.
- Author Unknown

Time: Under 30 minutes
Cost: Under $5

I think I first fell inlove with vintage linens when I was a young girl. My cousin and I frequently stayed the night at our Nana and Poppa's house on the weekends and one of my favourite parts of this Saturday night treat was slipping into the bed my grandmother had made for me.  The sheets were thick white cotton - heavy, smooth, and icy cold.  If it was winter she'd pull the apricot coloured feather eiderdown over me before giving me 'butterfly kisses" on my cheek.  In the morning her breakfast table would be set with a pressed tablecloth and our own linen napkins carefully rolled and placed into silver napkin holders by our plates.  She laid the table for her family with care, an offering for those she loved most of all.

Years later I sat down to read Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun and as I read her descriptions of the tables at Arezzo Market, piled high with linens and lace and snow white sheets with thick monograms looped through the fabric, my desire for old linens was reignited. I'm building my collection slowly. One day I'll have a grand old chest at the end of my bed full to the brim with antique quilts, delicate doilies, and towers of intricate needlework.

I'm always on the look out whenever I'm bargain hunting and the other weekend at a garage sale in Faulconbridge I spotted some embroidered place mats and blue doilies on a table. I decided to make them into some pillows. Here's how to do it:


Collection of doilies, embroidery scraps, old napkins.. anything you see at a vintage store that you love the look of.
Fabric recycled from another project or from a charity shop.
Embellishments - fabric rosebuds for 99c at Lincraft.

Here we go....

For this pink pillow I recycled the fabric from a pink cotton waffle blanket. I made a basic pillow case  or "housewife" pillow case - don't you love the name! There are loads of patterns on the Internet, I followed this method: basic pillow slip.

Once the pillow slip was finished I hand sewed a pale pink embroidered place mat onto the front of the pillow.  I love hand sewing. Sitting in the sun with a needle and thread in my hand makes me feel like I'm in Mrs Bennett's parlour in Pride & Prejudice.
I found a packet of little fabric rosebuds for 99c so I used those in each corner to make it pretty.
This pillow is made from a vintage Irish linen tablecloth that I found at a charity shop for $1.50 and some crochet doilies that I bought at a garage sale for $1.

The pillow case is made using the same envelope method as above and the crochet is hand stitched in place.

Smaller square cushions or long rectangle ones would work just as well.

I hope I've inspired you to take a second look at vintage linens next time you visit a market or garage sale.

6. Mixing it up: Giving vintage finds a new job description

I thought I'd share with you some of the ways I've reinvented the bits and pieces I've found over the years at markets and garage sales.  I love giving something old and unwanted a new job to do, and when it works you can end up with something really original and fun.

Sometimes it can be hard to think beyond the obvious use for an object so this post will give you some tips on what to look out for on your next bargain hunting trip.

Tip #1 is to look for something that can be used as a creative frame for photos or art

It doesn't have to be a traditional frame, or even a square or rectangle.  We rescued this old hymn number board from a church that was being pulled down near our house. The horizontal slots were used to tell the congregation what hymns to sing by placing numbers on the board that corresponded to those in a hymn book.

The places for the numbers made the perfect space for photos cut down to size.

We can change the photos easily or mix up the order. At Christmas time this year we're planning on putting up some holiday themed shots. Being able to view photos around the house is something I really miss with today's digital photography.

Tip #2 is to look for things you can hang items on

My husband found this metal monkey key hook on trademe and I decided to use it to display my necklaces.

We attached ours to a piece of wood before using a removable velcro sticker to put it on the wall but you could screw it straight in as well.

There are so many wonderful antique key and coat hooks out there and they usually sell for almost nothing.
You could hang anything on them - scarves, ties, belts, ornaments, photos clipped onto nylon with pegs...

Tip # 3 - Look for something you can put objects in

My mum found this little wooden house and thought our daughter would like to keep her collections in it (oh yes, collecting does run in the family!).

Wall space is at a premium in our daughters room so we've taken this house for our own treasures. It's on the wall on the way to my bedroom so that every time I pass by it I glance at what's inside.
In ours we have a slide of me as a baby taken by my Poppa, little things collected from our travels, a cork from the champagne we had at our wedding, and the shell my husband gave me when we were 16.

The key to displaying your special things is to make it simple and surprising.  The wooden house above is painted white and sits on a white wall so the the objects stand out and tell their story.  Just about anything can be used to display things, and it's so much nicer than having them lined up on a dusty shelf.

I'm off to our local markets tomorrow. On my shopping list are Blue Mountains honey and some organic apples. I want to stop by the antique table as always, and each time I go I'm drawn to the man who has a tablecloth laid out on the grass crowded with rusty old farm tools.  Happy treasure hunting this weekend!!

We love Autumn!

The weather is wonderful at the moment. Cool mornings and evenings and warm throughout the day. The light has changed too and afternoons in our backyard can only be described as "golden".  We're eagerly waiting for the trees to change to orange and red. Autumn, the Blue Mountains prettiest time of year.

It's the last week of term 1 at school this week and I have been given the task of making a rabbit costume for the Easter Parade. This seems to be an Australian school tradition and one I don't really understand the point of!  Last year J made a leopard print fur top hat and mask and marched around a courtyard with a hundred other dressed up kids all chanting "Aussie Aussie Aussie - Oi Oi Oi!!" What this has to do with Easter I'll never know. Anyway, this was this years final result:

Pretty easy really, all I had to do was sew some felt onto her top and attach a pompom to her pants for a tail.

Ben started preschool in February and he's loving playing with the other kids and making use of all of the cool things they have set up there.  He's really taken an interest in painting and drawing over the last 3 or 4 months and has come home from preschool with some beautiful creations.

This is his Easter egg. The teachers at preschool were amazed by his painting because they deliberately gave the kids really fine brushes to test their fine motor skills and Ben stayed at his easel for over an hour making sure it was all coloured in.

Benny's painting of a Cockatoo

A Triceratops

Jemima has had one full term of tennis and she's absolutely loving it. We've been lucky to have one on one coaching all term because no other kids joined her session. In Feb she couldn't hit a ball and now she's really good!  Here's a video of her playing, I hope it comes out OK on here. It was taken with a phone so the quality isn't too good.

As for us, we're still waiting for the letter from J's work with the list of locations on offer. We're both fairly relaxed about it though. After all of the dramas that 2011 has brought us already we're ready to take things as they come.

5. Recycled Woolly Jumper Throw

Time: An afternoon
Cost: Under $20

I borrowed every crafty girls bible from the library last week. Yes people, I'm talking about Kelly Doust's  The Crafty Minx.  I was really inspired by her woollen throw made from vintage jumpers so I thought I'd give it a go myself.

I decided to make a slightly smaller version of the one in the book. Mine is just big enough to drape over my yellow velvet bedroom chair or over my knees for a Sunday morning reading session. I encourage you to give this one a go, it would make a wonderful gift and they're so unique. An even more special idea would be to make your patchwork out of those baby blankets you've saved or some woollen jumpers discarded by someone you love.


 4 Large men's or 5 - 6 women's 100% wool jumpers. Avoid acrylic!

Bias tape wide and long enough to go around the outside edge all the way around.

Some nice wool wash, I used some with eucalyptus scent.

Thread, paper, pencil, scissors.

Here we go...

Wash your jumpers in the wool wash in warm water and leave to dry. It works better if you lay out the jumpers to dry and pull them into shape rather than hang them on the line.

Measure out a square 25cm x 25cm on paper and cut it out.

Lay your square on the first jumper and cut out. My throw is 3 squares x 5 squares, in the book Kelly suggests 5 squares x 7 squares.  You can make a pattern of colours if you wish, I just cut mine out from wherever the pattern and wool was nicest on the jumpers. 

Lay out your squares and have a play with the placement of the squares. 

Sew your squares together (right sides together). I did the horizontal 3 squares first and then when I had 5 rows and sewed them all together.

To finish sew your bias tape right around the outer edge. The easiest way to do this is to iron the tape in half then slip it over the edge of the throw then sew.

Don't worry about the joins on the back, because you've pre-washed the wool they shouldn't fray.

If the bias tape sounds too tricky you can sew a back onto the throw with a soft jersey or flannelette fabric - just cut out the right size and sew it (right sides together) leaving a gap to turn the throw the right way out. You can then sew up the gap by hand.

More detailed instructions are in Kelly Doust's book The Crafty Minx.  Enjoy!

4. Side Table in 1950s Stripe

Time: Under 30 minutes

Cost: Under $20

 We found this outdoor table on the side of the road last year and I decided to make a bedside table for our room out of it. Outdoor tables often have slats of wood on the tops which are perfect for painting in a multi coloured stripe design. The timber is usually quite weathered which I love the look of.

This table took me all of 10 minutes to paint and I love the soft pastel colours on the top.


An old table, size and height to suit your space

Paints. I used Taubmans Paint tubes which are fantastic. They have a sponge applicator on the end of the tube so all you have to do is squeeze and run the sponge along your surface. So easy and no brushes to wash up! Mine were $5 each from Bunnings Warehouse.

Here we go....

Clean your table with a brush or soapy water if it's very dirty. Leave to dry completely before painting.

Set up your painting spot and begin by painting your first slat at one of the outer edges. Keep painting using a pattern of colours. I suggest no more than 3 colours, and try to stick to a similar colour palette. I used three soft pastel colours in lemon, aqua, and mauve that I chose after doing some googling on 1950s homewares.

Easy peasy and loads of fun!

Bullaburra Community Market

Midway up the long highway that reaches Katoomba and the Three Sisters is the tinsy village of Bullaburra. On the first Saturday of the month the locals gather at the Community Centre for the monthly market and art show.  On offer is locally grown produce, Blue Mountains honey, antiques, gemstones, books, and toys. A small cafe stall selling lamingtons (lamo's!) and tea provides sustenance while shoppers wander along the tables looking for treasures.

We headed up the mountain this morning and spent a lovely hour at the Bullaburra Market chatting to the locals and enjoying a cup of coffee in the sunshine. Prices were pretty good. We spotted some Parker side tables for $35 each which would have easily demanded a few hundred in a retro store in Sydney. I loved the vintage art prints and old china teacups, and of course it's always great to buy your fruit and veg straight from a local grower.  The Royal Gala apples must have been good because my children have had 2 each this afternoon!

One of the best things about this little market is that it's still possible to find some real antiques for reasonable prices.  It had more of a garage sale feel to it compared to the polished markets you'll find in Balmain or Paddington.

Bullaburra markets may be small but it's definitely worth a nosy on your way up the mountain. 


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