Flashback and other news…

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It’s been nearly a month since my last post and so many exciting things have developed since then!  Among them is my decision to move back to my home town of Nottingham.  I’ve been hanging out in the West Midlands for a while, but with a change of job and a desire to bring Spinster’s Emporium back to its birth place, it seemed like it was the right time to move.

I hope that after a few months of settling in I will be able to have an open studio again and perhaps a space to do workshops! Fingers crossed!

Now it just so happens that my return to Nottingham coincides with a rather fantastic event which I have been asked to take part in.  Flashback II is set to be a marvelous evening of vintage goodness taking place in Nottingham’s Lace Market.  There will be live music, a fashion show, a dance class and vintage market presenting the talents of some of Nottingham’s finest creatives!

I’m excited to announce I will be running a vintage customising workshop from 7pm.  Bring an item of clothing and learn a few simple techniques to give it a new life.  All materials and equipment are provided at no extra cost!

If you want to take part but don’t have an item of clothing to bring, then you can learn to make a simple drawstring toiletry bag which you can decorate with buttons and trims from the Spinsters stash.


The best customiser will receive a Spinster’s Emporium goody bag filled with lovely vintage materials to customise at home.

You can buy tickets from the Lacehouse website or pop into Oxfam Goosegate or Sue Ryder Hockley

Click here to see all the other amazing collaborators on the Flashback blog and like the Facebook page to keep up to date.

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Sew and Tell: Lily and the Lamplight

Meet the super talented Steph Cunningham of Lily and the Lamplight.  Dressmaker extraordinaire! She makes beautiful vintage style clothes in hand picked fabrics perfect for retro lovers and fashion fanatics alike.  If individual and quirky is your style then Steph’s your gal. (A little bird told me she also does the odd commission!) Read on to find out the inspirations and aspirations of Lily and the Lamplight…

Name: Steph Cunningham

Occupation: Designer/Dressmaker

Current Location: In my studio in Lancashire, currently sorting through my new Spring/Summer fabrics!


Sweet or savoury? Definitely sweet, can’t resist sweet treats!

Knit or crochet? I’d have to say knitting. My Grandma taught me how to knit when I was younger.

Hero or villain? Hero, all the way! Always root for the good guy!

Favourite decade? The 1960s, I love the style of this time! Mini skirts, shift dresses and floral prints, make up the majority of my wardrobe.


Favourite film? Recently I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby.  I love the stylized style of the film and the clothes by Prada were amazing!

Describe Lily and the Lamplight in five words: Handmade, quirky, vintage, classic and one-of-a-kind! Maybe pushing it a little bit with the last word!


How did Lily and the Lamplight start? After completing a degree in fashion design at UCLAN University and interning at various fashion brands, I decided I would like to start my own brand designing vintage style clothing.

What does your studio look like? Full of printed fabrics, rolls of pattern paper and rails full of Lily and the Lamplight clothes ready for upcoming fairs!

Making, designing, photographing, branding! Do you do everything yourself or do you have a team? No, just me!


Where do you get your inspiration? I’m always on the look out for inspiration, from vintage fairs to fabric shops, to books and magazines.  Or anything quirky or individual that catches my eye!

What tool could you not live without and why? My pattern master.  It allows me to turn my designs into actual garments!


If you could meet any other designer or artist who would they be and why? Mary Katrantzou, ever since I saw her first collection in 2008 I’ve been obsessed with everything she does.  I love her use of print!

And finally… Any events or products to look forward to from Lily and the Lamplight? One of my new styles for Spring/Summer are my matching two piece sets.  Perfect for Summer and the festival season!


As for fairs, I will be at The Vintage Fair at 53 Degrees in Preston on the 1st February.  I will also be at Crafty Vintage Brockholes events starting May 10th-11th, and Crafty Vintage at Houghton Towers on the 25th and 26th May.

Please check out my Facebook for updates.

Thanks Steph! I definitely know who I will be calling when I need a new party dress!

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2014: The year of the Spinster!

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Happy New Year!

Ok, so I know that new year was so sixteen days ago but there are still eleven months and fifteen days left of 2014 and I am going to try my hardest to make the most of them!  I’ve got several plans, a few relocations and some crazy ideas in the pipe line for this year.  Some of them might even work so I’m keeping positive during this rather grey month and thinking about all the good stuff.

If you follow Spinster’s Emporium on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram you may have already seen my rather delightful custom made dress from Lily and the Lamplight.  To cut a long story short I cheekily said “I’ll send you some fabric and you can make me a dress ;-) ” and Lily and the Lamplight said yes! It’s amazing what can happen when you just ask!

So on Christmas day I was prancing around my parents garden having my photo taken (hence the wellies) in this beautiful 1950s print fabric dress.

Steph of Lily and the Lamplight was even kind enough to take some photos of the dress being made…

I couldn’t resist a little interview with the maker of my favourite new outfit so pop back this way on Saturday to find out more about Lily and the Lamplight.

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p.s. I’m on Tumblr now too!

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Betty is Spinster’s Emporium’s new best friend!

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Check out the Spinster’s Emporium Bow project in the beautiful Betty magazine! This simple project can be adapted so you can have bows on your clothes, bows on your shoes, bows in your hair, bows everywhere! (Even on your Christmas tree!)

Betty is an independent magazine dedicated to “Empowering and unifying women with a youthful state of mind and a nostalgic heart.”
“You won’t find any weight loss or diet tips here, we don’t play on people’s insecurities: our philosophy is for people to embrace who they are and celebrate it. When you enter the world of Betty you will find fashion, music, culture and lifestyle content plus everything in between, with how to guides, our own fashion styling and many a tip shared, Betty magazine is your new best friend.”

If you like beautiful photography, unique styling and pages full of loveliness then Betty is for you.  Order a copy from their website or find it in your nearest magazine retailer.

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Last Orders!

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Sew and Tell: Pretty Dandy

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Meet Becky the creator Pretty Dandy, an online homewares shop selling loads of vintage, handcrafted and beautifully designed goods.  She also organises the Pretty Dandy Flea which will be on this weekend in Nottingham.  Find out how she runs her business all the way from Barcelona with a cup of tea and cake on stand by…

Name:

Becky Morris Knight

Occupation:

Owner of Pretty Dandy

Current location:

At my desk, listening to the rain in Barcelona

Sweet or Savoury:

Sweet. Every time. I’m a sucker for sugary treats!

Knit or Crochet:

Knit. I can’t do either, but I used to be able to knit when I was little and it’s something I often think about taking up again. I love the feel of the needles, the clackety-clack noise, that moment when you slip into a rhythm. Plus you can buy wool in really lovely colours!

Hero or Villian

Oooh. That’s a tough one! I think I’ll have to go hero because even though I love a villain, I also do want them to lose in the end. I’d like a flawed hero though please, preferably with a great outfit. Like Wonder Woman!

Favourite animal:

Can I choose more than one? I love really silly kittens, with big heads and tiny bodies. I’m also a sucker for a little curly haired white dog. Lambs, llamas, alpacas, bunnies. Basically anything kinda fuzzy. Oh and octopi are pretty cool too!

Favourite film:

I change my mind about this all the time, but two really magnificent films are O Brother Where Art Thou? by the Coen Brothers and Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson. They are two of my favourites alongside Bugsy Malone, It’s a Wonderful Life and anything with Bill Murray.

Favourite decade:

1950′s for style (fashion & home), right now because life is good and 2060 because I’ll be retired and there will probably be flying cars and stuff by then, right?

What is your favourite vintage find and why?

My favourite find is some vintage wallpaper which I bought on a whim an awfully long time ago, for a couple of pounds on Ebay. At the time we were living in rented accommodation where we weren’t even allowed to put up pictures, never mind redecorate. I hung onto it for about 5 years, shifting these funny old rolls of wallpaper from cupboard to cupboard. Eventually we bought our own place and I was so excited to use this paper. I brought it out and proudly displayed it to my husband who took one look and declared he didn’t like it. We struck a deal where I could use it on one wall and if he didn’t like it we’d change it fairly soon. Luckily, he loved it and I still think it’s just beautiful, interesting and unusual. It’s stylish, bold and yet not too ‘in your face’.  I love it!


Describe Pretty Dandy in five words:

Eclectic, curious, open, colourful and fun!

How did Pretty Dandy start?

I was working for my father, living in Nottingham but driving up to Doncaster every day to work in the family business. It was lovely to work with my Dad and see my family a lot, but the work I was doing just wasn’t fulfilling for me… our family business sells car parts! As I’m sure you can imagine, as a girl with a head full of art prints, bows and vintage china, it just wasn’t a good fit. I’d always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and set up my own business, so it was just a matter of deciding what and how and taking that leap!


Making, designing, photographing, branding! Do you do everything yourself or do you have a team?

I’d love to say I have a fabulous team, but actually it’s just me. I am lucky to have a lot of fabulous friends who have helped me out in so many ways – from my good friend Angi Fletcher who did our beautiful branding to my husband Anders who helps out on photo shoots, writing press releases, setting up for events and much more! I also source products from lots of different places – vintage things, stuff I make myself and also goodies from other crafters and designer-makers. Sadly the thing I usually run out of time for is my own making, so that’s something I hope to do more of in the future.

The Pretty Dandy Flea focuses on homewares and interiors rather than fashion.  Was this a conscious decision or did it just develop that way?

It was definitely a conscious decision. While I like fashion in an abstract way I’ve never really followed trends or have been a part of that world. Interiors however is my passion. I recently remembered that when I was about 13 or 14 I went through a phase of refinishing old bits of furniture. Not necessarily with a great deal of skill or taste, but I guess even then I was drawn to it. I just think our homes are so important, it’s where we go when we want to rest, to rejuvenate, to take care of ourselves and to enjoy ourselves. I can’t think of anything better than making that place just perfect!


Managing the Pretty Dandy shop and markets seems like a huge task!  How do you keep it together when things get stressful?

I’d love to claim that I never get stressed out or fazed by these things, but there’s been more than one occasion where I’ve had to be sat down with a big piece of cake and a cup of tea. Those are my two main coping mechanisms. I’m also learning to ask for help more. I’m a bit of a perfectionist (for that read: control freak) and am used to just being able to get things done by myself. However, as the shop & the events grow I realise I need to reach out more and ask the lovely people around me to help out. Luckily my husband is super supportive and is always happy to throw himself into the fray and back me up. Oh, and the other thing? Lists. A million long lists. I love a list!

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the next flea?

Can I say my sisters? I live in Barcelona now and I can’t wait to come back and see all my friends and family. It’s going to be wonderful. In terms of stallholders it’s a tough choice, they are all so great! Some we’ve had before like the fabulous Carly Dodsley who makes great ceramics with a fab mid-century feel to the design, Jenna from Ding Ding creates brilliant geometric prints on all sorts of objects and is also lots of fun, Modflowers makes gorgeous stuff out of bright bold retro fabrics, Emma Blue makes beautiful paper cuts… really there’s too many to name! Plus there’s lots of lovely new stalls which I can’t wait to see too, like Charmain Lewis’ designer cakes, J.Lakin’s vintage treasures, Rebekah Critchlow’s beautiful painted gold birds and Suitcase Sounds – a fab stall with vintage suitcases turned into stereos! In fact, there’s only one stall I’m not looking forward to seeing and that’s the Spinster’s stall. I’ve only got a small suitcase… I’m never going to be able to choose which goodies to bring back with me!

Suitcase Sounds, Modflowers, Emma Blue, Carly Dodsley

And finally… What is the future of Pretty Dandy? World domination?

Yes. And I’d love to have a real-life shop one day too!

Spinster’s Emporium will be at The Pretty Dandy Flea this weekend! It will be wonderful to be back in the city where Spinsters was created.  There will be some special offers on so pop along and grab yourself a bargain.

If you would like to know more head over to The Pretty Dandy Facebook page. There’s some lovely Pinterest boards too, and of course the website full of handcrafted and vintage delights!

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Vintage Gift Wrap Packs are here!

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I hate to admit it but Christmas is sneaking up fast.  My head just spins at the prospect of the big Christmas present shop and planning my festive craft projects! But by far my favourite part of Christmas is wrapping presents even if I do leave it until Christmas Eve!  I love coming up with creative ways of wrapping gifts, whether its decorating my own paper or adding those little embellishments that will turn a gift from alright to amazing.

However even the most organised human being can lose track of time but fear not because the Spinster’s Emporium Gift Wrap Packs are here. Whether your a vintage lover or you know someone who is, make sure you have the best looking gifts under the tree! Each pack comes with 1 metre of vintage wallpaper, 8 metres of vintage yarn, 24 vintage buttons and the crafty know how to give a unique touch to your gifts.

There are three packs to choose from:

Snow Queen, Holly and the Ivy and Roses in the Snow.

If there is a particular colour theme you’re looking for then have a browse of the vintage wallpapers in the shop, send me an email and I can put a pack together to your specifications.

Simple, crafty, vintage, loveliness.

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Current Obsession: Pumpkins!

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When I think of Autumn I think pumpkins!  Whether its carving pumpkins for Halloween, making pumpkin soup for Bonfire Night or eating pumpkin pie with my American friends.  Pumpkins = Autumn.

So I thought I would put together a little mood board of pumpkin decorating goodness.  There are some amazing examples of pumpkin carving out there but if you fancy trying something a little bit different, follow the links below and get crafting!

1. DIY Pumpkin Family from The House that Lars Built.

2. Painted pumpkin. I don’t know who did this but let me know if you do!

3. Doily pumpkin from Allyson Baker Design.

4. DIY String and nail pumpkin from Lovely Indeed.

5. Sunset Peach Vintage Trim.

6. Pumpkin patch photo from Finch & Fawn.

7. Blustery Days Vintage Trim.

8. Stamp pumpkin from Sweet Paul.

9. Embroidered pumpkin from Blog a la Cart.

For more images and inspirations have a browse of the Spinster’s Emporium’s Pinterest.

I’ll hopefully get a chance to carve one of my Dad’s home grown pumpkins this weekend.  He’s a bit of a pro at growing them.  Maybe pumpkins are a family obsession hmmmmm?

Follow me on Instagram (spinstersemporium) to see how I get on.

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Sew and Tell: Squirrel & Tiffin

I love finding out about other creatives. What drives them, where do they get their ideas, do they prefer knit or crochet?  So I thought I would take the opportunity to ask these important questions and share them with you!

My first Sew and Tell is with Linzi of Squirrel & Tiffin.

Name: Linzi Cason

Occupation: Photographer and textile designer

Current location: Blackpool

Sweet or Savoury? Savory

Knit or Crochet? Crochet

Hero or Villain? Hero

Favourite animal? Dog

Favourite film? At the moment ‘You’ve got mail’

Describe Squirrel & Tiffin in five words: Fun, creative, quirky, professional, new.

How did Squirrel & Tiffin start? I started Squirrel & Tiffin once I learnt the screen printing process uses photo imagery to create patterns. I wanted to use my own photos for fabrics and design taking my photography further.

What does your studio look like? My studio is actually full of zips at the moment after buying some fabric I was given a haul of about 3,000 so its a bit manic!

Making, designing, photographing, branding! Do you do everything yourself or do you have a team? Nope I am a one woman band.

Where do you get your inspiration? My inspiration definitely comes from my own personal experiences and the town I live in, Blackpool.  At the moment I am all about the Autumnal colours, scenes and shapes.

What tool could you not live without and why? I couldn’t live without my camera (even the one on my phone!) as when I am out and about I am always seeing new and exciting things that inspire a new design or a new product.  I am currently working on large scale wall hanging art for a solo exhibition in January so when I am on my travels I am gathering supporting images for these too.


If you could meet any other artist or designer who would they be? I love the style of Orla Kiely and Cath Kidson because they have taken their style to the mass markets but kept their quirky side with styling the shop and packaging. It would be nice to hear their side of the story.

And finally… Any events or products to look forward to with Squirrel and Tiffin? As mentioned before I am holding a solo exhibition in January in Blackpool. I have recently been awarded a ‘Grants for the Arts’ through Arts Council England and this will allow me to train myself up in new areas of print making as well as exhibit work in a town centre location. I will also be holding two workshops a week at the venue, one with myself and one with another artist and these will be free to anyone who attends. I want to teach people new ways of working creatively that isn’t currently out there in this area for people to learn.

Keep track of everything Squirrel & Tiffin via Facebook and Twitter, and pop over to Linzi’z website to see some of her amazing photographs

Thanks Linzi!  The best of luck with all your projects x


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“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower”

So I know that Summer has been holding on a little for the past few weeks but there is a definite chill in the air that means Autumn is on its way.  And you know what? I love it! I love wearing lots of cosy layers, walking through crispy leaves and any excuse to make pumpkin soup!

I’ve been having a play with Photoshop this week and some of the more autumnal coloured materials in the shop.  Below is the result with vintage fabric dresses and button heads. That’s not weird right?

I think the dress in the middle is my favourite.  A new outfit for the season sounds pretty good to me.

“Designers want me to dress like Spring, in billowing things. I don’t feel like Spring. I feel like a warm, red Autumn.” – Marilyn Monroe

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