Wednesday, December 31, 2008

eBay today - antique sewing gear and notions

My mother taught me to sew a little bit when I was younger, but I think I've lost the knack. I think most of us have at some time entertained the idea of buying a sewing machine and making our own duvets and pillows. Some of us have even done it. I haven't. Honestly. But I've come close when I find "like new" machines in the classified ads (it must have been someone who tried and gave up).

Finding these sewing supplies tempts me again. I love the seashell pin cushion. And how about the handpainted antique button? Even with my weak sewing skills, I could sew that onto a sweater that I have that only has one button at the neck, replacing the hideous mass-made one that's there. I'm craziest over the hand chased brass sewing case, though. Wouldn't this be sweet in a purse for those emergency button repairs? (Is that me waxing romantic again? I've never sewn on a button on the fly, but I like to imagine.)

It all makes me understand how all those Victorian women were so nuts over their sewing paraphernalia.

Monday, December 22, 2008

French enamelware kitchen canisters

Merry Christmas! The big day isn't even here yet and I've already bought myself a present. I feel a little guilty, but here's the story. As you know, I love eBay. Truly, if you need it, it's there somewhere. As you also may know, I'm remodeling my kitchen and I'm trying to spruce up my countertop accessories. And when I found these babies, I knew I had to act.

Aren't they dreamy? And since they are in relatively good condition, I plan on using them for their intended purpose. Sucre is sugar, farine is flour, cafe is coffee, pates is pasta, chickoree is chickory and poivre is pepper. I'm not really sure what I'll use chickoree for since I don't keep chickory around (although I do love French Market Coffee). My total cost was about $250 when you factor in shipping from France, but I just couldn't let such a great set get away.

If you are searching eBay for something, remember to keep a few basics in mind. Search under alternate names for your item. In this case search "French enamelware" and "French enamel ware". The seller might not know which way is standard. Factor in misspellings also, perhaps "enamelwear." By searching for misspellings, you might find a gem that others might not be bidding on because they couldn't find it. Also beware that sellers are not necessarily experts and might not name their items correctly. For example, people commonly refer to wall brackets as sconces even though they are not lights at all. It's just a mistake that's crept into the lexicon, but use it to your advantage.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas ornaments - old crystals

I just ran across these garlands and crystal ornaments at Jamali Home. Aren't they yummy? And then the thought crossed my mind... Christmas decorations would be a great use for all those crystals you find at antique malls and flea markets. (I'm sure that's what the Jamali guys were going for). I'm absolutely certain I'm not the first person to think of this, but I still love the idea.

As many of you know, I have a real fascination with giving old (seemingly useless) things new life. I don't think we need to throw something out just because it doesn't work the way we think it should at first. So pull out that fixture you inherited from your great aunt that's missing half its crystals. Pull of what's left and hang them on your tree.

Or just buy some at a flea market or off of eBay (like this lot), and tell everyone they came from the Charleston estate of your dowager great-aunt who was on her uppers at the end of her life and couldn't afford to fix her fixtures... and these crystals are what's left.

Either way, they will have more character than the "made in Japan splendors" found at the local big box retailer. (reference: Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory... a classic and my favorite Christmas story. Read it.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

maintaining antique linens - fabric mangle

I can't recall the shelter mag that featured a fabric mangle a few years ago. (House Beautiful perhaps?) A fabric mangle is a big rotary iron that you operate from a sitting position. It lets you run your linens through a big roller that irons out the wrinkles. I instantly loved the idea of being able to maintain my linens myself. My dream is to have a laundry room with two sets of washers and dryers and to have room for one of these beauties.

The magazine article referenced specifically purchasing vintage fabric mangles off of eBay, like the one above, which has a starting bid right now of $175.

Or, you can swing on over to Williams-Sonoma and order a brand new Miele rotary iron. It's pricier at $2,200, but if money was no object I think I would have to indulge.

Friday, December 5, 2008

sterling baby cups as Christmas ornaments - mixed with modern glass

I think I've blogged before about how much I love Juliska. I discovered them in 2000, I think, and started my collection immediately. Fortunately, in recent years, they have added a line of Christmas ornaments. I've picked up two for my more formal tree.

I also decorate it with all those antique baby cups, rattles and spoons that you never know what to do with. If you want to jumpstart your collection, check out the set of cups and the rattle on eBay. Tie them with a ribbon that works with your color scheme and hang with hooks. I think it's a sweet way to use something that is generally useless in this day and time while still referencing children and the spirit of Christmas.