A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
Last week we had a small shindig (at home, of course) to celebrate the launch of the new book. This was really so I could thank everyone involved for all their hard work and for being so supportive.
It was truly special working with the team we had on The Crafty Minx at Home. Here’s some of my favourite images – more to follow soon.
Australian Women’s Weekly recently published their excellent annual Health Magazine, and I’ve contributed a feature about habits and the way they affect our health. I got such a kick out of researching this piece, based on new science about the way our brains work and The Power of Habit by New York Times journalist, Charles Duhigg.
Basically, what I learned is this:
a) changing your routine every day makes it harder for bad habits to form, and
b) good habits beget even better ones (read the feature/book to find out why, but that’s the need-to-know)
So I’ve been learning new crafts (you’ll see some of these in the new book), trying different sports, and changing my diet to cut down on my shameful chocolate consumption. Yes, the block-a-day habit has to go. My hips and stomach can’t take it anymore. Besides, it’s making me cranky (seriously, I could have thrown a brick through the window of my local convenience store when it shut early not long ago… I was hankering for some Lindt).
Now I’m making an effort to do things differently every day, it’s making me feel more energetic and enthusiastic. I’m even starting classes at Sydney Dance Company, believe it or not. I was kind-of horrified to realise that – despite spending most of my twenties in and out of clubs because I loved dancing to bits – I haven’t actually done it in years. I might be totally un-co, but there’s a joy in dance you simply can’t replicate with other sports. Don’t laugh, but this white girl’s giving hip-hop a go.
What else? Last month I had an essay in Australian Vogue about de-cluttering and materialism, which appeared in the issue below. It’s a kick doing these journalism features, because it opens up my world a bit to be interviewing and spending time on fairly in-depth research.
What are your new years’ resolutions for 2013, and have you tried doing anything differently lately? I’m interested to know.
Yet another sneak peek at the next book with this quilt, similar to one appearing in The Crafty Minx at Home, which will be out early next year with HarperCollins (more to follow soon).
If you can’t wait till then, grab a copy of this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly for instructions. This took all of a day to create with vintage fabrics and beautiful new linen, Liberty print etc. from Calico & Ivy and Publisher Textiles. It’s my third quilt ever, and definitely my favourite.
It’s done. All the photographs for book 5, out next year, and most of the hard work behind me for this one. I’ve loved every minute of the shoot and can’t state enough how excellent the team is. Everything just clicked and had a really charged, special energy about it. I’m already plotting a way we can work together again in future – I’m sure we will.
My focus started to shift this week back to my wee girl and how little time we’ve been spending together lately. At the moment she’s in pre-school 3 days a week but we had to step it up to 4 over the past few weeks, and the balance tipped towards too much for me. It’s all work and no play with her gone, and when she has been here I’ve been preoccupied and distracted. But it’s only temporary. We had the best day together last week.
There were errands to run – a visit to the shops and my patient optometrist, with Olive fanning out textas and art paper all over his office floor and asking a thousand questions about the eye-test machine – and of course some work to wedge in, but there was a leisurely 2 hours spent playing at the park and treats at Bourke St Bakery, a play date with friends and yes, there was craft. By 10am we’d made several beaded necklaces for guests to her upcoming 4th birthday party, and decorated paper and old egg cartons with these fab neon pompoms I found at Spotlight. Then, in the afternoon, invitations and collage, and I let her use the sharp scissors for about 7 seconds before she helped me make a baked dinner. A truly full day.
I’m so happy Olive has finally reached an age where we can make things together and she’s absorbed by it for a good few hours. It just gets better and better. And the attention span has expanded enough to include trips to the zoo and even Cirque de Soleil – hooray. My girl is coming into her own.
Feels like yesterday we were having a ball at the last Love Vintage, and yet the next one’s on in less than a month. The new venue means more stalls, more events, more fantastic people-watching opportunities and more vintage thrills. Plus I’m doing workshops again on Saturday and Sunday. Can’t. Wait.
Check out these pics from last year’s festivities, and pop March 23-25 in the diary – hope to see you at one of the workshops below.
Vintage clothing restoration with Kelly Doust
Saturday 24 March @ 11am, Sunday 25 March @ 12pm
The bestselling author of Minxy Vintage, A Life in Frocks and The Crafty Minx will be sharing her hints, tips and creative ideas for restoring all vintage clothing at this free workshop. Come along to hear Kelly’s advice on how to fix or customise preloved and damaged pieces, giving them a new lease of life for many years to come. These are fun, easy and environmentally friendly skills for even the least crafty. Feel free to bring along an item or two for specific advice on restoration – after this workshop you’ll never look at those less-than-perfect finds the same way again.
My top five tips for revitalising vintage pieces:
- Shattered silk and holes can be almost invisibly repaired with iron-on bonding – available from Spotlight and most haberdasheries – paired with fabric sneakily borrowed from a generous seam or hem (this works best on printed fabrics rather than block colours).
- Expel musty odours by dipping your vintage piece in a warm bath and adding ½-full cup of white vinegar. Dry in the shade before dipping in a second bath, this time with a few drops of sweet-scented lavender or grapefruit oil, to eradicate the smell of vinegar.
- Eucalyptus and tea tree oil remove stubborn oil stains and chewing gum. Simply apply directly to fabric, before finishing with a handwash or popping hardier items in the washing machine.
- Most other stains can be faded or disappear with Napisan. Dip item in dissolved solution and dry in full sunlight without rinsing. The enzymes react with the sun to bleach stains (be aware this may also fade bright colours or delicate fabrics – try a test patch first).
- Badly stained items are easily revitalised by dyeing to a new hue. Some shades are harder to achieve when added to the original fabric colour but when in doubt, black covers almost everything and is eternally chic.
Signed copies of Kelly’s books will be available at Love Vintage from Coco Repose (stall no.C02) and at both workshops.
We have a sort of alcove in the hallway which, up until recently, was decorated with mismatched frames portraying family photographs, illustrations, artwork and favourite postcards, but I took them all down in readiness for a change. I know the entire hallway would look striking and gorgeous wallpapered on both sides, but I’m loathe to make such a big commitment (have you seen what a faff it is to remove? Scary). So my new thought is creating a stencil to repeat in the alcove, then try out down one wall and then the other, depending on how it looks. At the very worst, I can paint over the lot.
Here’s a few motifs I’m considering – fleur de lys, crowns, tropical birds or orchids – but perhaps we’ll steer away from the traditional with a Banksy-inspired graffiti print, which could work a treat. Decisions, decisions.
I’ve always been an eary morning person of sorts, but lately I have taken an almost perverse pleasure in rising with the sun. There’s something subversive about greeting the dawn. It’s like sucking a few more hours from the day. Never mind that I’m toast by 9pm, it’s worth it for the colours alone. Today’s task: find dye to match sun-orange, salmon pink and grey slate water before dawn. I’m staring at a batch of old white silks and linens, done with neutrals, envisioning India in a basket.
The Sydney Antique Centre hosted a small soiree for us last Thursday night to celebrate the opening of Coco Repose’s 1900s-1980s clothing retrospective, and launch of Minxy Vintage over truffles, tea and champagne. To see more pictures taken by The Sunday Telegraph, click here.
The setting perfectly demonstrated how a little vintage goes a long way, and if there was a theme at all, it was feathers. I’ve always been intrigued by the use of feathers in vintage hairpieces and clothing, and as a design motif. Indeed, it was the shimmery emerald sheen of the feathers shown above which inspired the entire design of Minxy Vintage, keeping it rich and jewel-toned instead of illustrated with the pretty pastels seen in many other gorgeous vintage titles.
A feathery headpiece or strip of feathers added to a jacket or coat (as I’ve done with the 1960s-era black lace bed jacket shown above) is just the ticket for understated glam.
Feathered friends = instant party plumage.
1. Pair a favoured vintage item with neutral separates or accessories. This adds vintage flavour and depth to an outfit, without going the whole shebang. It also works a treat for toning down way-out pieces.
2. Reference earlier eras in line with current fashion trends. For example, forgo current bold shoulder styles and Peter Pan-collared frocks in favour of real-deal forties items. In good condition, these look infinitely better than the chainstore rip-offs.
3. ‘Undo’ items from more prim, less-permissive eras with loose and easy tresses or accessories, and vice versa by dressing up more casual styles for modern glam.
4. Vintage shoes are the hardest accessories to make appear current. Only wear them if you have complete confidence rocking a vintage vibe.
5. It’s very modern to clash masculine and feminine, conservative and flamboyant – don’t wear a look head to toe, but rather mix up your references and highlight a mood with what you’re wearing.
Whatever you do, own it.