How To: shop for clothes at a car boot

When I challenged myself to buy no ‘shop new’ clothes until next August, I didn’t realise how good the pickings of second-hand clobber at car boots could be!

Car boot sales and selling your stuff quickly is actually quite attractive to a lot of people ranging in size and styles, and there is a lot of great stuff to be had. For me it beats eBay every time as you can touch and feel what you are buying (I’m a  feely toucher ok?!) and you can also avoid paying postage and gauge if it would fit you by eye, also it’s generally cheaper than charity shops.

Mums of Britain…there is a PLETHORA of fancy baby and children’s clothes and goodies being sold for 50p an item (and sometimes much less!!!) so get down there and have a rummage and save yourself a fortune! I cannot stress enough that any children I have in the future are going to barely have ANYTHING shop new, as the secondhand children’s market is blooming marvellous. I mean do people actually buy Moses baskets in the shops? I saw 8 last weekend….8 gorgeous Moses baskets for sale…. all for under £15 and in beautiful condition.

But what about adult clothing?….. I can already feel a few of you wincing at the thought of rummaging on a clothes rail in the middle of a field at 7am on a Sunday morning… but it really is painless…. and actually finding that bargain is one of my most favouritest feelings in the world…parrelled to eating something I have grown myself.

So here are my top five tips to shopping for clothing at car boot sales.

1 – Eye up the seller

The lady that looks like Wurzel Gummidge is very unlikely to by selling a sequin dress from Topshop, so cast your eye across the seller before you get on your knees and rummage to the bottom of the box of old dishcloths. This is also a good way to gauge the sizing of the clothing that the seller are trying to shift. This isn’t the be all and end all I might add, as there are a lot of bargains and lovely vintage to be had by people who are clearing out their wardrobes after 20 or so years. If you are after trendy stuff though, you want to aim for the 20 somethings who are doing the fairs with a friend or with their mums to make a bit of cash for the night out the following weekend.

2- Have a rummage

I once saw a girl literally dump a boot load of clothing onto a sheet on the ground and let people rummage through. £1 a piece she said, and oh lordy did I rummage. I came out with 5 gorgeous pieces, all from Topshop and River Island, all from the very bottom of the pile, threw my money at her and ran before I ended up buying too much (I was there selling at the time!). Rummaging is the fun of a boot fair. Rummaging doesn’t have to be hands on, I do a pretty good eye rummage now, but if something catches your gaze, be it a pattern or a fabric, pull it out and have a look, you can always fold it back up or hang it back up if it isn’t your sort of thing, people won’t be offended….honest!

Car boot finds floral

3 – What do you already own?

Now before you buy that black jacket…how many do you already own? Or will those zany neon hotpants go with anything else you already have? (Yeah… I know…they’ll go great with that rainbow sequinned boob tube you bought at the last table!)

There is no point wasting your money and clogging up your wardrobe with things you aren’t going to wear or that you have 4 of already (cough cough…grey cardigans…I have 3).

Car boot finds leopard print

I’m not saying go with a list, that’s the opposite of what you should do, but go with an open mind and a rough idea of what you DON’T need.

4- Know what it is worth

A Balmain inspired cropped Per Una lined jacket at £4 is an utter bargain. Yes…I know…to some of you I just put loads of words together and threw them in a sentence… but if you are really looking for the bargains, you need to know what you are looking at.

I have a basic working knowledge of fashion and clothing design, no more than the next girl who has watched Devil wears Prada. I do have the benefit of knowing about stitching from my time at my sewing machine and I have a good idea about fabric quality from my love of vintage fabrics and clothing, but most of it is about common sense and looking at labels.

Before you ask how much, think of the number that you would sell it for and think about what you’d be willing to pay for it.

When you ask how much, consider the answer and then have another look at what is in your hand. Before you hand over your money, is it worth what they are asking for it. Has it got any holes in the lining? Has it got any stains? Is the fabric all bobbley? My friends have seen me throw money and run as the item is well under what I feel its worth, and they have also seen me put it down and walk away to think about it as I walk around.

5 – Feel the fear and buy it anyway

I never never try ANYTHING on at the boot fair. I put things up against myself. I have even been known to take a tape measure with me. I have also just bought things because I think the fabric is beautiful despite it being several sizes too small….those things get made into home decor so I can look at the beautiful fabric forever!

Not sure a massive faux fur leopard print coat would suit you? They are selling it for £3…..feel the fear and buy that sucker…because you would look fabulous in faux fur…I mean who doesn’t!

I felt the fear and bought this frock anyway.

mint green lace dress £1 car boot sale

It cost me a £1 (from the bottom of the heap from the £1 an item lady) and it is like NOTHING I normally wear or I own. I wore it out last Saturday night and got so many compliments (in real life and via instagram!) and I felt great in it…. after an initial freak out before I left the house (“I look like an ice cream at a wedding!!”)…. and added more eyeliner and bracelets to rock it up a bit.

I would never have bought a dress like this from River Island at full price (£30 +), I wouldn’t have risked the colour (I like black…a lot) and I wouldn’t have risked the length (it’s a little on the short side…but as long as I don’t bend over I’m decent), but for £1 I had nothing to lose…expect maybe my dignity if it had been gusty out!

It’s the perfect opportunity to play with colours and styles that noramlly you’d be a bit frightened of.

Happy hunting!

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The jumper that bought the farm…

Regular readers will know that I LOVE an outlandish novelty jumper.

So imagine how extremely happy I was when Mama Pigeon presented me with this beauty this weekend, that had been languishing in a drawer of hers since late 1990’s. Oh god I love it.

Farm jumper

That’s right…there is a flipping FARM ON MY JUMPER…. A FARM!

Farm jumper back

And the back is just as cute!

This, my friends is why fashion sucks and clothes rule. Another disgusting jumper saved from landfill, another item added to my wardrobe for FREE. YES!

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Don’t Throwaway Threads

Fashion has become so fickle. And it’s boring the pants off me. Quite literally.

It’s looping and looping around,  and age-old ‘staples’ that I claim as fashion have slid back into the ‘popular’ stream, meaning that all the lumberjack shirts and leggings I’ve been wearing since…well since I pinched a couple of Papa Pigeon’s old shirts aged 14… are finally back ‘in’. I’m not saying the most fashionable bird around…far from it…I know that some of my clothing choices are down right ridiculous, but I like how they make me feel…and that my friends is what clothes are for. They are meant to work for you…not the other way round.

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I’m not saying that fashion is a bad thing, but we need to see this beast for what it is. A money-making churning machine. I am appreciative that disco pants came back in…I’ve been aching for a pair of skin tights shinys since I saw Sandy in that last scene from Grease as a little girl….I know…issues…but I’m not willing to buy plastic ‘futuristic’ see through high heels, when we all know that tweed and english heritage will be back in this winter… just you mark my words (EVERY YEAR!).

So to help myself step away from this big churny machine and to save pennies…I’m not buying any new clothes for 365 days. Don’t fret clothing hoarders… I will get some new-to-me clobber, but you’ll find me making it a mission this WHOLE year to only buy from carboot sales, charity shops, clothing swaps and to upcycle things I already have lurking in the back of my wardrobe. Women on average have over 3,000 items in their wardrobe (I think mine is about that…glup) and 60% of us whine about having nothing to wear for a night out…. that is insanity.

We also throw out soooo much fabric in this country and it drives me batty. NO fabric leaves this house in a binbag. All my old clothes are either shredded and used as stuffing for a multiple of things or the fabric picked apart at the seams and turned into housewares or items for my shop. I don’t actually think we have even thrown out so much as an old dishcloth… (they get boil washed multiple times and reused before I shred them and put them in the composter)… since we moved here….

So I’ll also be trying to show you what I do with all my old stuff that is honestly long past dead.

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My biggest fear is basics and jeans. I already know that my black ballet pumps have had it and that I need another white vest, so they are going to be hard to find second-hand. Jeans for me are my holy grail. They have to be long enough and fit me both around the waist and the bottom…a seriously tall order that only Uniqlo has been able to fill recently…argh! My biggest weakness is going to be when all the jumpers come back into the high street….oh gawd I love a jumper. I’m however excited about trying out new shapes and things out of my comfort zone as I will have less choice.

Wish me luck!

wpid-signoff2013.pngI will be instagramming and tweeting with the hashtag #dontthrowawaythreads if you want to follow or join in! :D

 

Cranleigh Show with Lucy Made Me

If you follow The Pigeon’s Nest on Facebook….which you TOTALLY should by the way…not only am I witty and do I upload pictures of my latest makes in super quick time…. it is also where my lovely buyers get to see all the backstage action from the fairs I do with the gorgeous Lucy from Lucy Made Me.

I have officially stopped booking fairs and shows that require me to go solo as spending the day selling with Lucy is honestly the only way I want to sell face-to-face from now on. FACT.

I thought I’d just share some of the photos that Lucy took of our grand day out that started at 4am and ended at 6pm, which included playing shops, a very helpful and dishy platter man, our next door neighbour playing JAZZ music ALL DAY, us planning world domination, a large box of sausage rolls, free wine from a nice lady, being asked where our brick and mortar shop is….(eeeeeek we wish!) and stuffing our faces…a lot.

Enjoy!

Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show Lucy Made ME & The PIgeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show

The day ended with me sitting in a Kaboodle Bag that I will be reviewing VERY soon as I think it is flipping aces!

I mean HOW ELSE do loooong days like that end?

Lucy Made Me & The Pigeon's Nest at Cranleigh Show

If you want to come and have a giggle with me and Lucy in the flesh we will be at Godstone Village Fete on August Bank Holiday Monday. We will also be doing 3 DAYS (don’t get me started – I’m flipping terrified!) on the first weekend in December at the lovely big Christmas show at Caverley Grounds in Tunbridge Wells….we have a chalet and EVERYTHING….

We love having visitors and we promise not to be too over excited…. ok….that last bit is a fib…

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How To: DIY a Laundry Bag

Laundry is a bone of contention at our house at the moment…I mean…how can one task take up SOOOO much of my life?

To ease my headache of ‘the dreaded sort’ we purchased two new bins and labelled them whites and darks….I know… how where we living like heathens before only having ONE bin? That simple addition of two bins has shaved at least 15 minutes off sorting time per load…hooray.

What I needed next was a laundry bag for the bathroom (I use a clean flannel daily and I use reuseable cotton pads that need hot washing) and a delicate bag for the bedroom for undies and whatnot.

Using two 12″ embroidery hoop (yeah…I actually had these lying around), some ribbon and two pillowcases I created two matching laundry bags by trapping the pillowcases in the hoops and attaching a hanging ribbon. These actually lay really flat against the wall so are great for small spaces.

embroidery hoop laundry bag how to pillowcase

This is looped over a hook on the interior of the door so it doesn’t fall down every time we open the airing cupboard.

I tend to take them out of the hoops and whack the whole bag in the wash. It helps keep away nasty pongs…especially from the bathroom one…boys seem to be able to make everything reek….including flannels! How is that possible?

So yeah, we have more laundry bags than people in our house…I’m the same with rubbish bins though…. got to have one in every room! There is probably a name for that right?

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Lasting Til Payday: Why Basics aren’t boring…

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Is your purse heavy with cash? Can you barely shut the zip around the pound coins spilling out of your purse? Nope…. me neither.

I make it my aim in life to spend as little at the supermarket as possible…not for buying from the high street reasons…although I really should frequent our local butcher more often…but for ‘I’m so tight I squeak’ reasons.

I know a lot of people turn their noses up at the supermarkets ‘basic brand’ on the shelves, but we buy them on a regular basis and it keeps our food costs down. Yes, yes, I can already hear you harking that you aren’t poor and you deserve to buy nice honey roast ham….yes you do, so buy it. I’m just saying that there are some basics out there that are just as good as some products you are already buying for less money. We always try them once to test them out, if they are truly rubbish and taste like socks we go up to the next expensive, but if they are alright we stick with it, driving down our bills so we can afford more fun things.

If you cook from scratch there is really no need to buy fancy schamncy peppers when good old basic peppers are STILL peppers…THEY TASTE THE SAME. Come on…let’s not be cuckoo about this.

We shop at Sainsbury’s as it is the  local supermarket to us…and yes, I hear it’s one of the more expensive…but we manage our weekly shop at between £20 – £30 a week for two, which includes treats, and down to £15 a week during the late summer/early autumn when the garden veg kicks in to overdrive!

Here are a few of the Basics that  we buy over and over again.

Basics Chopped Tomatoes – 35p for 400g

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Now come on…. who is really THAT fussy about tinned toms? I love the fact these come in a square carton (much better for cupboard and pantry stacking). Combine with a smidge of garlic found at the back of the cupboard and some pasta for a quick and cheap dish when you are reaching payday. We also buy the basic kidney beans…because they TASTE THE SAME as every other kidney beans…yes…even thouse bought tinned from Waitrose.

Basics Peanut Butter – 65p for 340g

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Oh I DIE! I am a bit of a Peanut Butter fiend and I have tried every jar I can lay my hands on and nothing…nothing is as good for my mass consumption as the Basics Peanut Butter. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s the right combo of smooth and crunchy, it comes in plastic jars that I reuse all over the place and we buy it 5 jars at a time.

Basics Milk/White/Dark Chocolate – 35p for 100g

Best basics to buy (4)I bought this one Christmas as I was in a hurry to make a million christmassy present treats and have never looked back. We don’t buy chocolate bars and whatnot in our house as we would just gorge ourselves on them so these double up as cooking chocolate and as ‘oh my life I may die if I don’t have chocolate’ chocolate. Perfect to dunk in Peanut Butter when I am feeling low and need a Reese’s style hit without the price tag.

Basics Dishwasher Tablets – £1.75 for 30

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I know, I know what you are thinking…. your Finish tablets do an amazing job….well… these get my dishes clean and that is all I’m asking for….and you don’t have to pay a ridiculous price for the privilege….like £9 for 30…that’s crazy. We also buy the cheapest rinse aid and salt…our machine works fine!

Basics Low Fat Fruit Yoghurts – 35p for 4

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We went through a stage of just buying those Wildlife Fromage Frais because they were cute and cheap, but then I thought we’d try these bad boys, and at under 9p a yoghurt, they are actually pretty damn tasty. We load these up and freeze them too….mmmmm…frozen yoghurt…..

Basics Tortilla Chips – 50p for 200g

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We don’t do Doritos…we do tortilla chips. These are nice and salty but can be a bit plain on their own, so we always whack out some sweet chilli sauce or home-made (read flung together) garlic & herb mayonnaise out with them so you can dip….or we make nachos. They are always devoured at every gathering we have.

 

When it coms to buying basics, be brave. Leave your inner snob* at the door and have a try, you might find something worth stocking your cupboards with!

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*Mr Pigeon’s inner snob demands nice toilet paper. My inner snob can’t buy fresh tomatoes from supermarkets as they don’t taste as good as homegrown.

 

 

How To: Make a Tea Towel

For all my hand stitched makes and crochet creations, I am still a bit nervy around my sewing machine. The only lessons I have had on it are from my GCSE Textiles (where I scraped a C….silly girl…I think not embracing my GCSE Textiles is deffo one of my biggest regrets). I feel a lot more confident stitching by hand as I feel I can predict how it is going to come out, and I am still to find and follow a simple dress pattern to make myself something pretty to wear.

What I can do however is whack together simple shapes and make owls and whatnot, so when our friends bought a beautiful new house, I thought I’d make them a housewarming gift….tea towels.

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Isn’t this fabric bloody gorge? I TOTALLY need to lady up and make a 50’s style frock from the remaining fabric….le sigh….

Firstly I measured up using one of my tea towels from the kitchen, ensuring I cut it large enough to be able to fold the seam allowance on itself to ensure a nice clean finish.

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I then ironed…this is the only action my iron ever sees by the way… a sharp crease about 1 cm into the fabric.

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I then folded the seams over on themselves again and ironed again, pinning them together ready for stitching.

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Using a small straight stitch I ran these bad boys swiftly through the machine.

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Ending up with two lovely tea towels with a nice straight edge which took about 15 minutes to make.

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I folded them together and wrapped them with a pretty ribbon, because when fabric looks this fab, why cover it in paper?!

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I’m tempted to make a dozen more…despite the fact we collect tea towels from our holidays rather than souvenirs, so we have about a million!

Have you ever made tea towels?

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