A bit of sparkle at Tinsel Trading in New York City…….

I was lucky enough to visit New York last month and I loved every second. Today I am going to tell you about the most wonderful shop. If you love vintage, ribbons, trims and millinery flowers – read on!

 

One rainy morning my friend and I headed a 12 blocks south to West 37th St to the mecca of gorgeous ribbons, trims and prettiness – Tinsel Trading. I had read about this gem of a shop both online and in magazines such as Romantic Homes and American Country Living and had always wanted to go. I’d bought some little velvet pansies on their website a few years ago but its not everyday that you get a chance to actually visit such a wonderful shop so I went armed with my credit card and intended to make the most of my trip there !  I like to think if it as a form of  research!

 

If you had no idea that Tinsel Trading was there and were minding your own business pottering down West 37th, you could very easily miss the storefront. I’d imagined it to be a riot of colour like V V Rouleaux in London but no, just an un-obtrusive, tasteful, dare I say it – minimal window . Don’t be fooled however, this shop is a beauty!

‘see, you could easily miss it!’

When I stepped inside my breath was literally taken away. The industrial type space was packed to the rafters with the most delicious selection of ribbons, flowers, glitter, vintage fittings and fixtures and decorations I think I have ever seen. It blows your mind and for several minutes I just wondered around like a child in a sweet shop, not knowing what to look at first.

 

'vintage shop fittings

 

Luckily, I was there with my friend Lou and she is a vintage and ribbon lover too, so was happy to while away a good hour or so looking at things.

I decided to work in a methodical fashion around the shop as I was worried I’d miss something vital! So, I decided to head to the trimmings section first at the far back right of the shop. Sectioned in colours and stacked on shelves almost floor to ceiling the choice is really quite overwhelming.

I picked some polka dot grosgrain ruffled trims in bubblegum pink and white from here, and the same in black with white polka dots and added them to my basket. Next, I worked my way around to the ribbon section, which again, is vast. Take a look below….So vast in fact that they need ladders to reach the ribbons at the top!

'how many metres of ribbon do we think there are here ?!'

 

From the ribbon row, i chose some gorgeous grosgrains in aqua with a turquoise saddle stitch edge and also a pale pink with a lime green saddle stitch edge. I also put in my basket a reel of the finest pale pink silk ribbon as it was just so pretty.

 

My visit was the week just after Easter and so there were a couple of lovely Easter displays still out. I had a good look and the things were gorgeous. Little wreaths made of speckled eggs, tiny glittery eggs and rabbits by Wendy Addison and tiny bunches of decorative flowers. If you dont know Wendy Addison’s work you  must have a look at her website. She makes fantastic sparkly numbers, letters, animals and signs which are covered with glass glitter. The silver glass glitter dulls with age and almost looks tarnished and is fabulously vintage in appearance.

 
‘glitter is a girls best friend’

 

I put a gorgeous packed of tiny blue glittered eggs in a minute nest into my basket and a glittery pale pink rabbit decoration in too. I know Easter had passed but I couldnt leave them behind. I also bought a silver sparkly number 1 and 9 to hang in my house. I live at number 19! Plus a huge 3d glittered star for the top of my Christmas tree.

Next was the part of the shop I knew was going to cause me the most trouble! There was a whole wall of cardboard boxes stacked one of top of another and these are filled with all sorts of faux flowers in every colour in the rainbow. From big cabbage roses to tiny primroses and daisies. Some are silk, others leather or felt. It was just torture trying to decide what to buy! Most had pins on the back to they would be ready to wear on a dress or jacket but others were wired . The vintage velvet and paper flower bunches were my absolute favourite and I snapped up a couple of bunches. I also bought some sweet little peony brooches that were only $2 each, perfect for customising clothes or soft furnishings. Oh yes, I also popped a few bunches of chocolate-brown wired toadstools into my basket as I’d never seen brown ones before and couldn’t resist! In one of the boxes, Lou and I found a selection of tiny decorative birds, one of which you can see perching next to the Tinsel Trading business card.

 

 

 

 

 

My next stop in was a central island unit filled with little glass vases full of all manner of vintage notions. Lovely old pearl buttons still on their original cards, antique buckles and reels of old metallic threads and ribbons. I found a couple of beautiful moulded buckles made out of some sort of resin that was formed into tiny roses. These roses were in all the pastel colours and the buckles I chose were exquisite. I can imagine them being worn in the 1950’s on a pretty full-skirted dress. So gorgeous. I also picked up some fabulous reels of vintage grosgrain ribbon in various colours. Still on its original packaging it was manufactured in Dallas, Tx. I thought this would be awesome for photo shoots and styling, especially at christmas.

 

 

By this time I was getting in serious need of a Starbucks so had another quick walk round the shop to check that there was nothing else I had to have! I loved, but didn’t buy, the paper tubs of glass glitter and the lovely striped reels of ribbons…….

 

 

Just as I was going to the cashier to pay I spied this drawer full of vintage spools of metallic threads. How amazing do they look? I’m not totally sure what they would be used for but they do look wonderful. I can imagine them being used for weaving insignia or something to do with military uniforms but I think they would look equally as fabulous wrapping gifts at Christmas!

'ooh'

 

I paid for my basket of loveliness and did nearly have a heart attack at how much I spend but I don’t really mind as everything is so unusual and unique and who is to know when I will get a chance to go back and visit the shop again. Got to stock up when you can I say!

It wasnt until a few days later when I was back in Washington DC that I actually had a chance to have a close look at my bags of goodies. Everything comes in cellophane bags (like we do in Lexi loves!) and this just means that all the pretty flowers, ribbons and little birds look even more attractive. I took a few pictures of my items but some I have kept secret to use in photo shoot styling so will show you those later in the year.
 
I really would urge you to go and visit Tinsel Trading in you are in NYC, it is truly inspirational and awe-inspiring. Just make sure you save up before you go! I also visited a cute little button shop which I will blog about in my next post…..
 

'I cant bear to use anything yet...just going to look at these for a while!'

 

'look at those little buckles..'

 

‘reels of vintage grosgrain’

Thanks for reading.

Bye for now, lexi xx

Cool Britannia !

Hello y’all !

Its been an age since I blogged so I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to. I’ve had some really special things to make and I’ve been itching to share this make with you. A special commission which I hope you agree looks SO cool! I love it!

This is my take on a re-worked vintage trunk and in this blog I am going to show you how I made it…..

UJ Trunk

Some months ago I was flicking through Homes and Antiques magazine (September 2010 issue) and spied this re-worked vintage trunk which I thought was a great idea but then put it to the back of my mind……

Reworked Vintage Trunk

Now there's an idea.....

It turned out that some time later I would need this idea for a very special commission for a friend, and the ideas from the magazine were given the Lexi treatment.

So….first of all I needed to gather together all the bits and pieces for this special project. It was for a man with a love of vintage pieces and classic cars combined with a preppy English style that is so current right now.  I wanted to make my piece look  a bit like something from Jack Wills but way more exclusive and personal. Each element to the trunk was specifically chosen with him in mind. It takes a while to find all the little quirky car motifs and antique insignia but its what makes it unique and for me that is vital!

So, this is the trunk in its basic state – nice but awfully dull and SO brown!

Take one brown canvas trunk......

Take one brown canvas trunk......

Inside it was in quite a good condition. A little battered, but then so would you be if you were that old! I am based in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and I love the fact that this trunk was made in Cheltenham, 15 miles up the road. It feels a bit like its come home!

Trunk interior

Love the stripes!

In the magazine article it says  to paint PVA glue all over the outside of the trunk in order to prevent any colour leaking from the canvas onto the fabrics when they are attached to the trunk. So, I painted the trunk and let it dry whilst I got to work measuring and cutting out the fabrics for each section.

PVA

Bring on the glue

Glue is drying

Its nearly dry !

The fabrics I chose were to work around a union jack bandana that I had so I used various red, white and navy fabrics to co-ordinate.  I like to mix up patterns and scale to give an eclectic look. I found some red and white ticking which I was particularly pleased with. It was an arduous task cutting out all the little pieces of fabric to fit in around the curved corners and locks and hinges on the trunk, but I was not too concerned about it being perfect. I like it a little shabby around the edges!

Meanwhile….the union jack bandanna I wanted to use for the top of the trunk was very new looking and very bright! So, in order to vintage-i-fy it I left it soaking in a solution hot water and household bleach for half an hour or so to age it. Now, if you decide to do this, proceed with caution – too much Domestos and it could all be over very quickly! When it was the correct colour I washed it thoroughly and dried and pressed it so it was ready to go.Oh yes, and to make it look even more genuine, I rubbed it up and down on my grater to make a few holes!

In the bleach

Soaking.....

Now with holes

Now with holes

When sticking the fabric pieces to the trunk I started with the smallest in order to get the hang of it before attempting the bigger ones. What was concerning me was getting wrinkles and air bubbles underneath the fabrics. In the magazine article it says to smooth out any lumps and bumps by rubbing a bundle of cloth over it which should sort out any issues! I did have some little bumps as there were various screws etc holding the trunk together but I dont think this detracted from the overall look.

spotty corner pieces

Bit fiddly around the corners

On the areas of the trunk where the handles were, I simply sliced gently down the fabric with a stanley knife and then eased the fabric around the obstruction and stuck it down. You hardly even notice the slit and I think it looks neater that two or three separate pieces.

Around the handle

Easy does it with the Stanley knife....

Once all the underneath and side pieces were on I could then concentrate on the main two panels where I wanted to place the union jack and to add the monogramming letters. I planned to applique them to the fabric using a zig zag stitch on the machine along with the woven car badges and the mini union jacks and felt initials before sticking the base pieces to the trunk.

I put the flag on the trunk at a rakish angle to make things a litle more quirky and then cut it up the centre and pinned each piece of bandana to the base fabric and then I was ready to start machining.

The flag is cut and pinned

Cut and pinned - ready to sew

Now to sew it …..

Let the sewing begin

Let the sewing begin

The last things to be stitched onto the main fabric panels were felt initials as well as the fabric car badges and a genuine military insignia.

Car badges

Now for some of the fun stuff !

Vintage Insignia

Vintage insignia looks just the thing on here

Mini UJ

Its not all red, white and blue!

To finish off I had to stick the two large central panels onto the trunk and to look for any lose threads that needed trimming. I also checked for any bits of fabric that might have required a bit of extra sticking. And the result of all this hard work  was this …..

The finished product

And so here we have it. Whatd'ya think?!

I am please to tell you that the recipient was really pleased with it, and at the end of the day, thats what matters!

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you.

More soon,

Love Lexi x x

Pretty Patchwork

Hello Everyone!

I mentioned in my last post that I would show you our gorgeous patchwork chairs and the process to get them from an ugly old dining chair to a thing of beauty !

I am always particularly happy when I find an upholstered dining chair that is in reasonable condition. Quite often the upholstery is in a terrible state and I am no upholsterer so I have to walk on from those lots and hope for richer pickings another time. This chair was in a good condition so was ripe to be patchworked.

I have been collecting a selection of pink,red and turquoise fabrics for some time, and as turquoise is featuring heavily in interiors this season, I decided to go with turquoise paint for the chair to tie it all together. I ended up using some fabrics from current collections in the shop, combined with others from my fabric pile.

First things first – I cut out 25  12cm x 12cm squares. Squares can be any size, the bigger the better if you want a quicker end result but not too big or you wont get the right look.

Next,  i stitched 5 together in a row. I always try to have them in a random pattern but just keep checking you don’t have two squares of the same print next to each other. Press all the seams so they are pointing in the same direction. Next sew all the rows together and press again. Voila – patchwork done!

Now the messy bit! I remove all the old fabric from the chair base and any old upholstery tacks that are hanging around. I use pliers, makes life much easier. Sand the chair with a medium sanding block to remove any old varnish or paint which allows the new coats of paint to stick properly to the wood. It is advisable to put a primer or undercoat on your chair now and once dried, you are ready to get cracking with the good stuff!

I chose Grecian Spa for this turquoise chair in a gloss finish because I wanted lovely shiny paintwork. Two coats and a lot of drying time later, I was ready to get busy with the staple gun and the upholstery tacks.

Next stretch a piece of calico across the seat and staple into place. It is very important to make sure you have everything taught with no wrinkles ( a bit like your face!) and work opposite side to opposite side. Now stretch the patchwork piece across the seat, checking the seam lines on the patchwork are straight in both directions. Staple into place, again checking the fabric is nice an taught. It can be a bit fiddly folding the fabric on the corners and keeping everything neat, but persevere, it’ll be worth it.

I had been keeping a lovely piece of white tape with red polka dots safe in my sewing box for ages, and decided to use it on the chair. It was about 2cm wide, perfect to hide all the staples. Start at one end where the back of the chair rises out of the seat and hammer in an upholstery tack. Pull the tape or braid tight and hammer in another tack and so on. It’s a good idea to work out how to space them evenly before you start hammering.

Trim the ends, check for any threads poking out of the patchwork and you’re done. The chairs look really stunning and people never fail to admire them in the shop. I just want to find a set of six chairs to patchwork to go around my dining table. Best start looking!

See you all soon

Lexi x

We ♥ strawberries !

Hi everyone!

As luck would have it, the week we changed our window here at Lexi loves the weather has taken a turn for the better, meaning our gorgeous strawberry themed window looks perfectly seasonal.

I wanted to have a red themed window as a refreshing change and Zoe and I gathered all the berry related goodies from the shop together and decided how our window was going to look. Our main pieces in the window are a fabulous red patchwork chair and a huge vintage trunk. We then added in our gorgeous giant strawberry cushions, strawberry print pencil cases paired with bundles of coloured pencils tied up with big satin ribbon bows. As if this wasnt enough we opened the trunk and piled it high with our delicious Pip Studio towels, spotty fabric photo frames and dotted some of our Pootle cards around too! We hung a massive white vintage frame down from the ceiling and draped our strawberry bunting over it to give it the finishing touch. Our handmade lampshade in clasic red and white gingham nestles in the window too, sitting on top of a vintage metal table, painted a pretty sage green. So pretty!

It makes us sooooo happy when people stop in the street to look at our new window displays. Sometimes they even do a double take and come back to have a second look – we like that!

I have posted a picture of the strawberry cushions for you to see. I found the pattern in one of our books called ‘Sew Pretty Homestyle’ by Tone Finnanger which has just the most gorgeous things to make for your home. This book is in stock now if you are feeling inspired to have a go! I have also made the small versions of the strawberry cushions and piled them inside a glass cake dome. I think they are really sweet and would work really well as a pretty pin cushion. Or just hung up in the kitchen with brown garden twine.

See you all soon. Next time I am going to tell you about our patchwork chairs…… we ♥ them !

Bye x

Our first blog ! Woo-hoo !

Lexi and the shop

That's me ! Hi !

 

So here we are! Lexi loves has joined the techy masses and now has a blog! How about that ?! 

Our new website is finished and was launched last night and i am SO pleased with how it looks. What do you all think? I’d love to know. www.lexilovesshop.com 

My aim with these little blog missives is to keep you updated with what has been happening in the shop, to show you new stock and  project ideas to whet your appetite. Some fab stock arrived today and I will take some photos and tell you all about it on one of my future posts. 

I also intend to show you what I have been up to with my window dressing. We are well-known for our(slightly out there!) shop windows, so i will show you the new ones when they are done. We’ve currently got a strawberry theme so I’ll write about that soon too. 

Well, thank you for reading, please come back and visit again soon, I promise I’ll have lots to tell you and even more to show you. 

Bye for now, L  x x x