Monday, 31. May 2010

How to thrift a Saturday away

Last Saturday I went thrifting with C, probably my only friend in Switzerland that is as vintage-obsessed as me. He's from Basel and apparently their charity shops are not so great and dirty and not cheap either. So I showed him a couple of my favourites here in Berne.

First we went to the Salvation Army Charity Shop and it was a bit of a let down. Normally I like it, even though it is a bit shabby and you really have to dig through crap, much more than in other shops, but I most often end up with one or two gems and their prices are great. Or they used to be. I noticed that they quite went up with them since I last shopped there and the sales assistant was a bit rude too, but maybe that was due to the fact that it was Saturday, sunny and she had to work the till on her own. Nonetheless I managed to get two books on sewing, one from the 60s and one from the 70s with many helpful illustrations, a handful of buttons, a bunch of ties to upcycle and some trousers patterns. They are from the 80s, but with the right material and outfit to go with them, I will make them look 50s and I have been looking for highwaisted men's trousers in vain for ages, so I will just have to make my own!

I really liked this picture from the 60s sewing book and C suggested I should make these pillbox-headscarves and sell them. If the burka ban goes through in Switzerland, they might sell quite well, don't you think?

We went back to the city and into the charity shop I have a real love-and-hate relationship with. First of all, it is insanely stuffed and disorganized and comparisons with the Room of Requirement are more than legit. Also the guy that runs it usually makes up prices according to his mood. At the same time, I love the chaotic too, because you turn corners and get lost and then you look up and see something you love, so it is like a treasure hunt. Or playing in a stuffed attic. The shop doesn't have a website, but it's here and you really can't miss it, there is always furniture piled up outside. I know I probably just painted a bad picture, but do go by and you will love it, just because it is a little treasure cave! I only got five buttons and two bakelite belt buckles (for dresses, not for me), but it only cost me one franc, so that's a bargain. Oh on a note: this shop doesn't accept cards, so you will have to carry cash.

The last charity shop we hit is my absolute favourite, the staff is friendly, they have a good eye for choosing and displaying special pieces, often play Sinatra on vinyl and have great prices too. It's the HIOB Charity Shop in Breitenrain and just round the corner from the Room of Requirement. So naturally I always combine the two.

When we walked in, I spotted a lovely coat on a mannequin, but I didn't even dare to try it on in fear it might not fit. Luckily C insisted, because it fit like a glove! I put it back though, to have a look around first and we went upstairs, where C found three blazers in his size (probably belonged to the same person...) for three francs each! Bargain! There was also a big box with vintage sewing patterns from the sixties (loads of dresses in different sizes), but I finally managed to stop myself from buying something I don't need. So if you live in Bern and like the 60s, go have a look!

This lovely lady was probably photographed by her fiancé („engagement party at Sternen Muri on Easter Sunday 26th of April, 1951“ is written on the back) and sadly belongs to C now, because he found her first. Isn't her dress beautiful? And the hat and the little flower brooch she is wearing, how darling!

I also found a stack of these tiny colour pictures from the 60s, they're all just 4,5x4,5 cm each and will be made into brooches, I have decided. They feature a couple and their baby and you even get a glimpse at them in their bathing suits... will look forward to seeing people with those pinned to their coats. Hehe...

There was also a big box of letters that I could have spent hours reading, but the shop was about to close, so we went back downstairs. C carried all his stuff over to the till, while I went ahead and asked for the price of the coat. It was lower than I expected, but I still put on a little pout, so she said: „Put it on and if it fits you well enough, I will give you a discount.“ So I went, I put on and she approved! What a lucky guy I am indeed! So I paid for my coat that I will not be able to wear for another 5 months and she even threw in the tiny pictures for free! Told you it was my favourite shop!

At home I had another look at the coat and noticed that the pattern adds up at the seams, which is a sign for a well made, expensive garment, because they waste more material to do so. (You can kinda see it in this picture, it's one of the pocket flaps and it fits perfectly with the rest. Also, the colours are much truer to the original than in the other picture.) One draw back is the front, which I noticed used to be double-breasted... Now I am missing three buttons to make it so again. Will have to consider replacing all the buttons, but they are dark blue leather buttons... I probably won't be able to bring myself to take them off. Darn me and my good taste!

Wednesday, 12. May 2010

Major haul!

So yesterday I went into one of my favourite junk shops in Berne (I hope I am not insulting owners here, but the store is actually called "Art & Kitsch", so I am guessing not.) Their store will be sadly closing at the end of July, economy is tough on all of us, isn't it?

So this store is amazing, especially since you have to reallyreallyreallyreally dig to find stuff. But you will. Sometimes you are met with dissapointments, such as when you stumble over a vintage transportable record player in it's case along with a whole bunch of singles and it has a tag on it saying: sold. Also the beautiful art déco lamp near the window: not for sale. But then you turn a corner and there are gems of your vintage bargain hunting career. For the first time ever I have found shellac records with something else on them than Swiss or German folk music. (Shellac predated vinyl and has two major disadvantages to it: one, it easily breaks, so handle them with care and don't ever drop them, two, they require 75 rpm so there is a lot of turning and starting over involved in playing these.) One of them is by Hazel Scott and whoever first owned it actually cut out picture from the newspaper and glued it on, how adorable is that?

There were also some old photographs which I collect. I was very proud of myself this time, because I managed to guess right from which decade they were, just by the clothes and hairstyles. (They had the dates written on the back.) I am getting quite good at that.

I like the vintage suit the woman wears in this one, I am guessing it is more late 40s (the picture is dated 1953) though, anyone disagreeing? I normally don't like assymetrical clothes that much, but the cut of this jacket I adore! Also the guy's suit on the left? I want one like that! And I the fact that the guy in the middle has his tie tucked into his pants made me smile :)

I also got these little things, by far the most expensive things in the bunch... I have always wanted a cut-throat razor, because you know, who doesn't. I found this on youtube and find it strangely appealing... don't ask me why. The little tin box originally held plasters and I am considering making it my little mobile first aid kit. Not sure yet, in any case it was too cute and I had to buy it. The brooch I adore and it is real silver too, I don't have that much 'real' jewelry. I just checked the web and the '800' on the back means an 80% silver content. Bargain!

I also got some things for my sewing, these fringe trims were marked down to 1 CHF per metre and will make excellent flapper dresses for my dolls! The vintage army badges I don't know what to do with yet, but I should make myself a fake boy scout shirt. I am embarrassed to admit I don't have one yet...

I also got some buttons which I have already cut from the cards and put in my button jars.... There were some small yellow flower buttons that I thought were cute, but only after I cut them from the card I realized what a gem they were. At the back you could see that they were actually shell! I have NEVER seen dyed mother-of-pearl buttons in my life before, so this made me very happy.

Sadly I can't find the store online, not even an adress, but if you live in Berne just walk down Rathausgasse and you will see it about halfway down on the left-hand side. The owners are very sweet, we had a long chat about crafting, thrifting and the economy and they even offered me a cup of coffee, which I sadly had to decline for some prior engagement I already had.

Mr Buttons

fabric magics and vintage finds

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