Archive for the 'vintage' Category



Last week, Jacqueline, Chris and I made our second annual road trip down to Brimfield, Massachusetts for the big Brimfield Antique & Collectibles Show. If you haven’t heard of this fair, it’s a week long, outdoor event with over 5000 vendors. The sheer scale of the show is incredible and I have yet to make it around to explore all of the fields on the mile-long stretch. If you like antiques or vintage things, even just a little bit, it is pure heaven.

Since this was our second year, I felt much more prepared in terms of what to expect, how to properly dress (two pairs of socks for the 6am start in morning, a winter hat & gloves) and which fields had vendors that I really liked. Last year we only spent a half day walking the fields, this year we planned for a day and a half and I thought it was the perfect amount of time.

Each of us had our mental list of things we were looking for. I was really just looking for some new stools for the shop. Jacqueline wanted a new patio set for her balcony and Chris is always on the lookout for jewelry and shoes. With so many incredible things to choose from and so much ground to cover, it’s good to have a strategy. When I first arrive, I like to spend a few hours by myself quickly skimming though as much of the show as possible. I focus on looking only the bigger items because I’d rather buy a few bigger pieces than lots of little bits and pieces. This is not easy! There are so many awesome tins, trinkets, accessories, and curiosities to spend your money on. By early afternoon, I had settled on a couple new desk chairs and three industrial stools. Jacqueline found her balcony set and a six foot wooden screen. Chris bought a huge glass liquor bottle for a friend. We basically filled the back of the van on the first day, so we knew that the second day would have to be focused on smaller items to fit in the cracks.

One of the things about Brimfield is that it is a week long show and and not all the fields open on the first day. Also, while most fields are free, some fields cost $5 to get into. Last year we had wondered what the difference was between the awesome stuff on the free fields and what might be behind the price of admission. On our second day, Jacqueline and I ventured into the New England Motel & Antique Market fields and were impressed right away. Most of the vendors had really great merchandising, turning their stalls and tents into cute little shops with enticing displays and vignettes. Plus all the stuff was pretty excellent too. I spent much more time on the second day looking through each booth, checking out all the interesting vintage what-nots. One of my strategies for not spending too much money is ‘shopping with my camera’. Somehow having photos of all the pretty things satisfies part of my need to own them. Weird, but true!

Next year, I hope to work up the nerve to do some people photos. There’s some great Brimfield fashion and in particular, I was loving everyone’s massive tote bags to carry all their goodies in.

You can see all my Brimfield photos here. There were some great vintage quilts and cross stitch samplers that we saw that gave me some great ideas for future projects. Last year’s post on Brimfield is here. Also, Grace has been posting her Brimfield trends here, here and here.

Can’t wait til next year!

Marshmallow Tins

Mercury Glass

Arrow Sign


Star Quilt




Hanging Lights


Flower Frogs

Police Records



morning frost starts to melt

Back in October when I went to Quilt Market with Jacqueline and Chris of Soak, we were told about an awesome antique show with a textile show happening at the same time in Massachusetts. We decided right then and there that a road trip was in order to check it all out. Somehow, it all came together and last week we piled into Chris’ car and drove stateside. It’s about an eight hour drive to Sturbridge, MA where we were staying. Of course, as soon as we crossed the border we made a beeline for Target which added about two hours to our travel time.

The Sturbridge Vintage Fashion & Textile Show is a one day event that precedes the Brimfield extravaganza. Photography is discouraged during this show, so I don’t have any photos. Anyone into vintage clothing, accessories and textiles would love this show. I tended to gravitate towards the utilitarian and military items. I found a lot of inspiration in the army bags, old newspaper carrier bags and super vintage workers denim (some pairs were $3900!). I truly wish I had photos of those things, but I made some sketches for future reference. What we noticed right away was that the show was crawling with fashion and textile designers looking for inspiration for upcoming collections. These teams of designers worked their way through the show, expertly snatching up bags full of items as they went along. After all that looking I picked up a small piece of vintage navy lace for a future dress. I was saving myself for the big event the next day.

Brimfield is a week-long outdoor antique show that is fields and fields long. You have to see it to believe it. The show is so large, that you really need more than one day to go through it all properly. It opens very early in the morning. When we arrived just after 6am, some of the field parking lots were almost full! It was a really frosty morning. For the first couple hours walking around, I wore my gloves and worried about my toes. (Next year: two pairs of socks) The sheer volume of stuff was incredible. Anything you might collect, there was tons of it. Again, the place was crawling with design teams, set designers, and interior designers snapping up the good stuff in bulk. Everywhere you went, there were piles of stuff with SOLD signs on it being held for Anthropologie, Polo, Urban Outfitters, etc by 7am in the morning.

It was kind of heavenly to walk around outdoors and just look at all that amazing old stuff and the people watching was just as good. Apparently at least one of the Olsen twins was there. Brimfield is a huge production. There are outdoor ATMs installed all over the place (How convenient!), young boys walking around with dolly’s that will porter your purchases to your car, and stands that will handle the shipping of your goods home for you. Not to mention the food. Good food too! We had a Pilgrim sandwich (roast turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce) and kettle corn. Delicious. Next year I’m making a stop at the pizza fried dough vendor.

I tried to be very wise about my purchases. I opted to not buy lots of little things – wooden vintage spools, old tins, kitchenware – they were all so tempting. I focused on making a substantial purchase. Keeping in mind that we only had a car eliminated a lot of larger items. In the end I found these huge industrial cast iron table legs that come apart to transport flat. I’ve been shopping around for a large table for the backyard at the workroom, so these were absolutely perfect. I’m going to look into making a huge table top with old grey barn board for it. (hello outdoor classes!) I also picked up ten wooden parts boxes for displaying/storing things around the shop. Jacqueline and Chris picked up some really great vintage quilts, hats, and side tables. I think we all could have bought much much more.

In lieu of buying everything I wanted to, I took lots of photos and posted them all here.

We have decided this should definitely be a yearly tradition. Next year we’re doing two days at Brimfield and driving a van! CAN’T. WAIT.

crack of dawn


& boxes

boxes & boxes

hello rooster


vintage tins



365 : 60

365 : 60

March 1, 2010 of 365 : andrew’s vintage jean beliveau hockey game.

This photo seemed quite appropriate the day after Canada won gold in hockey (again) at the Olympics.



Doing the 365 project has got me thinking a lot more about photography. I’ve also been reminiscing about my days at Ryerson in the Media Arts program. My major was photography, so I spent a lot of time taking photos and even more time working in the darkroom developing prints. The red light bulbs, the vinegary smell, and making test strips to determine proper exposure… things have changed so much since then.

One of my courses in school was a computer graphics class, where we spent the entire semester writing code to create a program that would literally do what a Photoshop filter can do in 3 seconds. Seriously! I’ll confess, I never wrote that program but ‘borrowed’ a friend’s. I must have known at the time what a ridiculous exercise that was.

I don’t often spend much time doing post production on my photographs, mostly just adjusting the colour balance and exposure. Surfing around in the last few weeks I’ve been hearing more and more about Photoshop Action Sets that you can download and use to create fun effects on your images. My favourite find so far is Pioneer Woman. I downloaded her free action sets and used the ‘Seventies’ action to create these vintage photos of the workroom. Another blog with great free actions is Coffee Shop. It’s very easy to get carried away with these, but it’s pretty fun in moderation.

While I’ve discovered lots of random tidbits here and there, I haven’t found any solid photography blogs to subscribe to. Do you have any that you read?

I’ve been following Adele’s 365 and am excited by her new interview series based on photography.

Lead Glass




Leah's Vintage Dresses

I just might be close to catching up on all my posts from the last few weeks. Last week was our first ever trunk show that was rummage only. We weren’t too sure what would happen, but it was such a fun event!

It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day and so many people dropped by to check out all the rummage and snap up great deals. I had one piece of rummage that day, a pair of vintage boots that didn’t fit me properly. Sweet Anabela kindly hosted my boots in her trunk and they sold!

Claire gifted me a super cool vintage tin as a birthday present (Thanks Claire!) and I picked out several black & white photos from Grant’s suitcase. A crazy bargain at $.10 each!

Thanks so much to everyone who brought out their awesome rummage and all the shoppers who came and took it away!

Dana's Trunk

Claire's Trunk

Vintage Tin from Claire

Vintage Black & White Photos from Grant


Introducing : Aprile Elcich

I love collage. Moving bits of paper and imagery around on a page until the magical moment when they make sense. I used to daydream that one day someone would hire me to make collages in my visual diary all day long. I still think that would be a pretty awesome job.

Local artist, Aprile Elcich, moves bits of paper and imagery to create dreamy pieces of art. Many of them are small and affordable, especially considering the joy they are bound to bring every time you look at them. I have yet to see Aprile’s work in person, so I can’t wait for Sunday’s Kids Trunk Show. I predict one of her pieces will be going home with me.

Why collage? What is it about paper that gets you so excited?

Aprile : Well, I have always loved books and been completely surrounded by them, and I was—wait, still am!—a packrat with them. But I think where actual technique is concerned, I’m a bit impatient. I used to love drawing and painting but they take so long! Collage is something I can enjoy in my spare time (what little I have of it) and I don’t have to worry about anything but glue to dry…

What are your favourite places to scout for materials for your work?

Aprile : I used to use magazines, but now I use all vintage materials. I love shopping for things at old bookstores (particularly Ten Editions on Spadina, which has a 50 cent ephemera section hiding at the back), antique markets, and libraries for their discards.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Aprile : An entrepreneur (really!) or a teacher. I used to always pretend I was in charge of things, haha. I was an only child so I spent a lot of time day dreaming about restaurants, cafes, bookstores, and art galleries I would open.

What is the best art-related advice anyone ever gave you?

Aprile : Umm, is “never give up” a cliché answer? Haha. Of course I’m drawing a blank now, even though there have been many supportive people in my life regarding my artwork, with plenty of helpful things to say. I can give a piece of advice that I certainly learned, which is to always feel good about what you’re doing. Art is so subjective that there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you do. The only important thing is that YOU like what you do. Then you will be happy forever : )

What is your earliest crafting memory as a child?

Aprile : My Nana and Papa (grandmother and grandfather) were hugely impactful on my creativity. My Papa did carpentry and fancy woodwork as a hobby, and my Nana was into all kinds of crafts. I spent a lot of time there learning all there was to learn (and making all there was to make!)

Aprile Elcich : blog / etsy / another blog

Introducing : Aprile Elcich

Introducing : Aprile Elcich


Simplicity 3062

There’s nothing more fun than looking through patterns and picking out possible ‘future projects’. I spent a couple hours today looking through hundreds of vintage sewing patterns. I set a few aside for myself and have already started picking out fabrics in my mind. Even though I have so many projects on the go right now, I can’t help but dream of some new clothes for fall. These are all possible contenders that might be making a second appearance here in fabric form.

the workroom has acquired a large collection of vintage sewing patterns very similar to these from 1940s to 1980s. We’ll be putting out a few boxes full of them at the Kids Trunk Show this coming Sunday. They are worth a look, if only for the lovely illustrations/hilarious photos.

p.s. I marked down over sixty bolts of fabric on our shelves to help make room for the new fall collections, so it’s a good time for you to dream up some fall projects, too!

Simplicity 8260

Simplicity ESP 8183

Butterick 5297

Vogue 6121 & Vogue 7917

Very Easy Vogue 8768

Simplicity 8793


Karyn's Leather Clutch

Liberty of London Summer Challenge : Project 3
Leather Clutch with ‘Mirabelle’ Tana Lawn Cotton Lining

I’m not exactly sure how many snap coin purses have been made at the workroom, but besides the ‘Sewing Machine Essentials‘ class, it’s definitely been our most popular one. The next logical version was to do a clutch purse. To make it even more exciting, Reva thought to make it out of re-purposed leather. It’s a great use for all those thrift store leather jackets out there. One jacket can go a very long way.

I haven’t done a lot of sewing with leather, but I did make myself a simple leather wallet a couple years ago. There are a few tricks to learn to do it right. I used a simple black leather taken from a jacket that has really nice texture. For the lining, you need less than a fat quarter, so this is the perfect place to splurge on a really nice fabric. I chose the Liberty of London Mirabelle print, which we have finally received a replacement bolt of (the first bolt arrived damaged). This print is so pretty! I’ll definitely be making a dress or blouse from it as well. Just as soon as I can find the right pattern for it.

I’m also going to use this pattern to make some non-leather clutches, as well. This is the perfect size for an evening out and we’ve got a wedding to go to in August, that I’m contemplating creating a fancy dress for. (Liberty of London with matching clutch?)

I discovered a place in San Fransisco called ReMade USA that makes all their bags out of old jackets and leather scraps. This gives me great inspiration for some other re-purposed leather projects.


This is the last time I’m going to mention pickpocketing, I promise. Since Les Puces flea market was the scene of my pickpocketing experience many years ago, I have to talk about it one last time. I had just emerged from the Metro with my friend, Elise, into the crowded street when a guy brushed past us and ashed his cigarette onto my coat. He proceeded to apologize in french (Je suis désolé) over and over while brushing the ‘ash’ away. Needless to say when I turned around, my bag was open and my wallet was gone. I did not get to see the flea market that day, instead I visited a Paris police station.

I was nervous to visit again, but definitely felt very prepared with my impenetrable Paris tote and a ‘don’t mess with me’ face. Once we got through the crowded section of discount running shoes and knock off handbags and into the antique section, the atmosphere was instantly less tense and very charming. The market is almost like a shanty town in some parts with eccentric vendors selling all sorts of bric-a-brack and collectibles. Interestingly, we didn’t buy anything but just enjoyed all the eye candy. Besides, our favourite things seemed to be anything large, metal and over 100 pounds.

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen – Porte de Clignancourt Metro station


My wishing powers have come through in spades once again! I’ve really been wanting some vintage embroidery hoops to hang on my wall at home. I was also kicking myself for not picking up the hoops Anabela had at the trunk show, but Celine was quicker than me.

Every once in a while someone will stop by the workroom and give me sewing related things – patterns, fabric, tools that they no longer want. Yesterday a lady dropped off a huge bundle of embroidery hoops, including some awesome metal ones! Happy day. I love it when the universe delivers to my door!