Saturday, 31 August 2013


Part of a large set of linen/silk mix 19c. chateau curtains, lined and interlined, with heavy silk cord trimming.  For Sale..
Curtains hang much better and keep out the cold more efficiently if they are interlined.  You can use thin blankets, or flannelette sheets instead of the usual Bump cloth and it does a good job and the odd repair, hole, stain cannot be seen!   Old sheets will do for linings and you can always do a washing machine Dylon dye if you like, this can an quite a good touch in the right colour scheme.  If you do 'piece' good remnants of other old curtains together, try and line up the pattern by ironing the seams exactly to match on the repeats and they will not show so much.   When it comes to rails for hanging the curtains, any pipe or pole will do as long as it can carry the weight, and plumber's copper pipe looks rather good, or old brass or iron rods.  You can make finials by painting tennis or other balls and pushing them on to the ends after making an X cut.  Big old French butchers' meat hooks will make brackets to hold the poles.
Tool and ironwork stalls at the larger antique fairs often have useful bits, together with window fittings and door furniture and can be very useful for matching up oddments.
Good brass fittings are quite expensive now and the cheap ones from India do not wear well.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Back to Work

  On my last visit to Brittany, some time ago now,  1  found what I was looking for, really fine and large embroidered linen sheets and plenty of very rough (porage look) hemp sheets. Since my previous visit in 2008, both had become extremely difficult to locate - so, in a way, as I had to travel 100s of kilometres, stay in a lot of different areas to be there for early opening times of the Fairs, you could say that was quite hard work - but to me, the thrill of the chase is still there every time I walk through the gates and wave my trade card to get in for free. When I gag at the new higher prices, there is always a good excuse - it is too late in the season and the best has gone, you cannot replace good stuff during the summer months because everyone's stock is so low - even ordinary plain linen sheets with minimum drawn thread borders are hard to find in good condition and no one wants worn out stuff or small sizes.   So you have to be persistent and dig deep!
    In fact I came across one huge stall where everything , in great white heaps, in white cotton and linen, clothing and bed and table linen, was priced at 10 Euros per item, or less - but every single item was a reject and I was told this dealer buys it all by weight from all the other linen ladies who are pleased to get rid of very unsaleable items. But if you sew and design, this is a good cheap source and you might find interesting costume, underwear, lace to re-use and hand embroidered borders if you love to 'chiner' i.e. trawl the markets. You need time and luck.

Monday, 26 August 2013


   Keeping W.P.B's clean and pristine is quite easy if you have a few large manilla or cream envelopes handy. Just put several on a table  on top of each other,  then the W.P.B.,and draw round the base.  Then cut all together with scissors just inside the pencil line and place a little pile in the bottom of your tin - peel off as they get dirty. 
   Line your drawers with lining paper or remnants of the room wallpaper, you can then remove the sheet and shake out any dust, fluff and insects that may have got in, and put back with a lavender bag as well to deter other flying visitors.  May to July are the months when the clothes moths are on the rampage and lay their eggs, so get ahead of the invasion which can cause much damage and distress.  The new sticky pheremone cards are brilliant for catching them on the hop and you can hang them amongst your clothes, pop into drawers or place under beds. which are a favourite hiding place.  I am told they hibernate in chimneys so not much chance of catching them there! The last two winters did not destroy enough of these pests and they can be a real menace as they chew their way through favourite and valuable woolly treasures - paisley shawls, flannel underwear, cashmere knitwear, felt hats are all vulnerable. so roll out the deterrents. Moth balls are back in the shops having been off sale for a few years.This Paisley shawl was bought by my Welsh grandmother on a trip to Egypt and the Holy Land in late 19c.with her clergyman husband/

HOWARD's END? Unlikely!

    At the beginning of the last century, just as Maples, Liberty's and Heals were the top names for furniture and beds, so were Howards of Berners Street the best known for their upholstered seating.  They produced, from Victorian times, extremely well-made sprung chairs, sofas and stools with wonderfully comfortable feather/down cushions made to fit the frames.  They were close covered in a special trade fabric and the chair had the firm's logo carved on a leg or engraved on the casters. These chairs were built to last and there are still specialist dealers who re-cover them in traditional fabric.   They charge a lot for them, as this work can only be done by very skilled workers.    About twenty years ago there was a big demand for them from wealthy American and Australian buyers who were enlarging their 'mansions' and adding libraries and the big 3 and 4 -seater Howard sofas were highly prized and fetched thousands of pounds when done up.    The chairs were designed for large gentlemen who put their feet up after a good meal and had a quiet 'zizz' behind The Times newspaper.   Copies, with  fake logos, are now being made - such is the scarcity and cost of the originals.     
  I came across my own Howard chair in Brittany at a rather dull little country fair.  The stallholder saw me staring at it and vouchsafed that it had belonged to an old English lady and had the word  "Ow werd".on it.  What did that mean?   The chair was covered in what I call pre-war cinema plush in orange and black and looked ghastly!  He asked a hundred Euros for it and it was soon in my car on its way home to have a new (antique) cover made for it and now sits in my drawing room looking very comfy!  My clever upholsterer, who has done up many other Howard chairs, added her own little touch of four 'choux' rosettes on the arms and on the back,and I have a good needlework cushion to add.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Some of our well-known dealers in a happy mood at a Bradford on Avon Fair
     New babies, new  pandas,  new website all in the news and Talent for Textiles is well to the fore!  Click on the new Website   Caroline Bushell and Linda Clift have just launched their new baby website on the Internet and this will be a source of news and views of interest to all needlewomen, decorators and fashionistas who like to know what is current, available and newsworthy.  From a modest beginning with the programme of fairs for the remainder of this year, descriptions of the two editors, and some interesting scans of stalls at recent fairs, the Website will show that this is a growing baby which will add new features and sections by popular demand and it will be lively, active and appealing, like the dealers themselves and their carefully selected goods!  Do add the website to your favourites list for quick reference.
Why not welcome the two editors?  Caroline Bushell and Linda Clift will be glad to have all contributions, suggestions and comments;  all of us at TforT work to make our fairs and contacts as helpful and friendly as possible and none of us draw a regular salary - and our fairs are still free (all except Deans Court, Wimborne). 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


  Just recovering from a shock on the Internet this AM.  Had an Email purporting to come from a trade friend saying she had been mugged on holiday, all credit cards, cash, gone, hotel not willing to let her leave Manila for pre-booked flight home until bill settled, and asking for help.   Telephoned her at home to check up, found her absolutely distraught saying it was all a scam and she fears she has lost thousands of her contact names and addresses.  As she works for an Indian Charity, this is an appalling affair for her and if a virus has been spread into their sites as well, even worse will follow.   So I beg you to be on guard for this clever and wicked kind of robbery, especially as my daughter has today told me of an exactly similar scam suffered by a friend of hers, with the same sort of story.  Presumably the hacker has now contacted all names on the computers.  Oh dear!

Sunday, 11 August 2013


I've just opened the latest (Sept) issue of Homes and Antiques and found interesting news about two people well-known to Talent for Textiles Fairs - first, the all-over -the-place but highly organised Liz van Hasselt who almost always has a stall with us with an amazing choice of high and low items for sale - she and her husband seem to be able to sort their vast stock into just the right categories for each fair they visit and recently I suggested to a film wardrobe lady that she imight find what she was looking for, shabby early 20c. childrens clothing, with Liz, and sure enough I had a message to say the two had met soon after and a good deal was done.  Liz has a very sound and extensive knowledge of all textiles and works for a local auction house advising and calaloguing their entries,  so she knows what she is talking about!

  The name of  Vanessa Arbuthnott is now well known and her new collection of country-themed fabrics is about to be released called Bohemian and for anyone loving sheep and the now popular shepherd's huts, these have been themed in a Toile de Jouy type design.   If you have one as a studio, children's playroom, studio or B. and B., it would be fun to dress it with this.  I first met Vanessa at a nearby decorative fair at Rode and was very impressed with her first chicken feather and egg designs as seen through her kitchen door,  and she has now come a long way from those early efforts, but her designs still have that fresh air look, and have become very popular.
  The magazine is rather useful, I find, as it gives auction results for lots of different antiques at different levels and also information on what to look for.  Details of Antique fairs are also included and the collections shown are very informative and there is not too much 'museum' stuff which is not of interest to most of us, although this issue does list jewellery from Elizabeth Taylor, the Duchess of Windsor and a dress from Princess Diana!
        Vanessa Arbuthnott in her garden 

Friday, 2 August 2013



    I have mentioned the name of Mel White several times, originator of the Fairlyte mural paintings in Elizabethan style, restorer of existing work and winner of prizes for her original work in decorative fabrics and wallpapers for Zoffany Ltd., London.  I have always regarded her as specially gifted and original with unstoppable energy and determination to get on in her particular field.
   I am delighted to say that she has achieved the zenith of commissions, having been selected from a small number of artists, to decorate the summer pavilion in Buckingham Palace Gardens.  She has described to me her plans, techniques and problems in great detail giving a vivid account of the pressures of working to a deadline, and the time needed to design the framework for the project.  Then there are the details of the themes that run through the design, the research on the original pictures of the landscape she depicts, and many references to the other features you can discover in the excellent reproductions of the completed work    I always hope that Talent for Textiles can offer praise and support for young people who are so gifted and who can inspire others to try harder!
Melissa White, hand painted interiors: Email.