Textile shopping at Open Studios

As much as I adore op shops, it’s kind of annoying that they’re only open during the day. (Then again, it’s probably a blessing that they’re not open 24 hours – imagine how much more stuff I would have!) However, where there’s a will to buy fabulous vintage items at tiny prices, there’s a way. And if that happens to be during Open Studios at the Nicholas Building, well, so be it. I try to attend the Open Studios every year as I love having a stickybeak into other people’s creative spaces and because the building itself is so charming, but this year, there was an added bonus – I bought this skirt.


skirt4It was hanging among all the treasures at textile artist Ilka White‘s atelier – she told me she had accumulated a lot of traditional textiles from all over the world over many years and was having a clean-out. Walking into her studio was like entering Aladdin’s cave… take a look for yourself!





20140828_200425Once my eyes had gone back to their normal size and my heart rate was regular again, I pulled out my wallet and purchased the skirt for $12 and some other textiles (which are still lying in my craft room so I’ll show you at a later date) and ummed and aahed over some cushions which I ended up going back to buy the next evening for $15 each. Hand-appliqued in India and the perfect match for my couch, which is covered in a colourful suzani that I bought in Turkey.


Ilka wasn’t quite sure about exactly where she’d acquired the skirt but thought it was possibly from Kashmir. It’s a wool fabric and has embroidery that is typical of that region, but the style of it makes us both think it was more likely made as something for tourists rather than for the locals. It looks like something an Indian princess would wear while swanning around her palace, but I would guess that it was actually made for tourists on the hippy trail in the 70s – it’s a wrap skirt, it’s embroidered (here’s a close-up), it’s from Kashmir or somewhere in India… what other clues do you need?!

IMG_20140828_222245Around the waist it was exactly the right size for me, but (being the shortie that I am!) it was too long.  So I unpicked the waistband, chopped about 10cm off the waist section of the skirt and took the side seams in a bit before re-attaching the waistband. There are also a fair few moth holes, so I’ve been using the excess waist fabric to patch those up. But for $12, who’s complaining about a few holes?

skirt  And now – on what I’ve just realised is my 501st post!! – it’s your turn. Tell us where you’ve turned up op shop-style treasure without actually entering an op shop?