Despite being somewhat sewing obsessed, I don’t actually own that many craft-related books, so I was pretty pleased when my lovely workmates presented me with this book for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. Kelly Doust has been scouring vintage markets and shops for years and has written several books on craft and fashion. Her latest, Minxy Vintage, is for people who love browsing flea markets, vintage boutiques and charity shops, but don’t always buy – perhaps because the dress/blouse/jumper needs mending, has a stain, or just looks a little dated. This book – and Kelly’s impressive collection of beautiful vintage pieces pictured within it – shows that restoring vintage items really is worth the effort.
The book is full of great tips, hints and tricks for customising, upcycling and renewing clothes from the past. Her passion is certainly infectious – by the time I’d finished flicking through the book, I already had a few vintage-inspired sewing projects in mind, and plenty of ideas on how to make existing pieces in my wardrobe a bit more exciting (not to mention plans for a serious vintage shopping trip in the near future).
The book is split into chapters on each era, from Edwardian times right through to the swinging sixties and beyond (although, thankfully, nothing from the 90s – I can’t possibly believe that anything from the 90s could be classed as vintage). There is also a useful intro listing repair-kit musts and tips on what to look for when vintage shopping, as well as a handy section on wedding dresses for vintage-loving brides-to-be.
The book doesn’t just cover the restoration of garments, but also how to enhance a vintage piece to give it a new lease of life – adding embellishment to a simple breton top, for example, or creating a pretty patchwork scarf from unworn or very damaged items and fabric scraps – which, in this age of (cliche alert) fast fashion and quickly changing trends, makes an inspiring and refreshing change.
Kelly describes wearing vintage as ‘an adventure’, and says she loves the thrill of being able to ‘add new chapters’ to an item’s story; by the time you’ve finished this book, you’ll be ready and raring to go on your very own foray into customising clothing from the past. The only problem is deciding which era’s style to try out first.