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Friday, 13 January 2017

More Tiny Teddies

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

Hello Again

Do you remember this little guy from my earlier post?

Well, he now has some little treasured teddy pals.

I am really pleased with how this little design worked out.  I wanted to give the applique motifs a bit of depth so stitched the sleepsuits over a layer of felt to give a bit of depth, adding a bit of extra wadding for the tummy.  And then I put some stuffing into the heads, almost like old fashioned stumpwork.

I love how - even though I am stitching the design the same way - each little teddy has his own expression and character!

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

Thursday, 5 January 2017

New Year Resolution & Supersized Tiny Teddy

Applique experiment

My tiny felt teddy experiment from an earlier post (details here) was a bit TOO tiny, only approx. 3 inches high, and I decided to fatten him up a bit for the future.  I also wanted to experiment using the template for applique work and as I love it when applique has been lightly stuffed to give a more tactile quality (reminiscent of stumpwork I guess), he got a little light padding.  So this first stitch attempt on the left shows the teddy with a more cuddly body which has been stitched over a light wadding as well as felt scraps.

I cut a small notch into the rounded head shape which gave more depth to the head, and I cut a similar little muzzle for him (see photo below showing before & after body shapes for detail).  Rather than stitch his ears flat on the backing fabric, I decided to stitch them on like you would for a toy so that they stand up!  He also wears a tiny collar on his sleepsuit and has French knot buttons.  The backing fabric is a really fine polycotton which is very soft.

You might be interested to see the original tiny doll I stitched when I first designed this template, she can be found here.

So how does the New Year Resolution come into this?

I love stitching, I love designing, I love experimenting, especially with upcycled sewing projects. But there is only so much stitched stuff I can store in the house without there being no room left for me, hubby and small dog.  I often donate items, especially vintage style garments, to the wonderful Sue Ryder Vintage & Retro shop in Peterborough (where I volunteered as a seamstress for several months).

But I wanted another outlet for my creativity.  I had heard of some charity projects who stitch for various overseas aid causes but in general they only want one type of item and I love trying out different ideas and techniques.  Then I found the wonderful charity Loving Hands (link here) who coordinate the sourcing and distribution of knitted, crocheted and stitched items for a whole host of charities, many of which are in the UK.  

I registered on the website and am busy stitching.

And the New Year Resolution?  To stitch at least one item a week for a good cause, which will be either Sue Ryder or Loving Hands.

It is nice to make a Resolution I will be able to keep!!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Vintage Christmas Gift Guide

Vintage 60s Christmas Gift Guide from karen vallerius blog

Christmas 1960

I remember when "seven and six" was a fortune!  Busy indexing my vintage sewing and craft books and magazines this week (yes, a seemingly neverending tax, one bookcase and several archive boxes full!), and came over all nostalgic when I found this Christmas Gift Guide from November 1960

Ten Bob Buys

Retro 60s Christmas Gift Guide from karen vallerius blog

A ten bob note was the equivalent to a scratchcard win in the 60s!

It is cool to see how many of these little items would appeal to retro style afficionados today.  And yes, I remember loads of these things.  And yes, I am that old ....

The price gets higher

Retro 60s Christmas Gift Guide from karen vallerius blog

Retro 60s Christmas Gift Guide from karen vallerius blog

Hubby and I often discuss how some consumer items seem to be cheaper, relatively speaking, than they were back in the day.  In particular clothing and shoes.  Less mend and make do, more spend and chuck out.

Anyway, glad there are some of us who still like to upcycle and rework textiles and clothing.  Lots more projects being posted in 2017, please visit soon. x

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Tiny teddy bear trial

tiny felt kawaii teddy by karen vallerius

I wanted to experiment with stitching a Japanese inspired tiny teddy in the kawaii mascot genre, so I wondered whether the tiny doll template I made a couple of years ago would serve as the body for the little bear.

I had stitched the original doll in flat form over a tiny pipecleaner frame and had always found her a little flat!  Still cute though at just under 3" tall.

This time, I ladder stitched the outside of the felt teddy body and then stuffed it with some wadding scraps (I pushed them in using a cocktail stick).  I like this shape to the body more, it is much more cute.

I tried to cut out tiny felt circles for the eyes but simply could not cut the felt small enough, so resorted to good old French knots in black embroidery floss.  Teddy also has red buttons made from French knots as well.

Will report back with more tiny experiments soon x

Monday, 28 November 2016

Burghley House Christmas Fair

Christmas Fair at Burghley House

Burghley House near Stamford

We spent a lovely morning at the Christmas Fair at Burghley House, a beautiful Elizabethan house set in fabulous landscaped grounds designed by Capability Brown.

I am always impressed by the amazing Christmas decorations at our stately homes, and those at Burghley did not disappoint.  Above the gorgeous swags and wreaths on the entrance to the Orangery Restaurant.

Christmas Fair at Burghley House

Beautiful details

Burghley House near Stamford

Attention to detail was fantastic with so many beautiful floral designs.

Burghley House near Stamford

And even in the Ladies' cloakroom there was an exquisite needlework display which caught my eye ....

Needlework at Burghley House near Stamford

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Victorian Christmas Boot Stockings direct from the Sewing Room

Victorian Christmas Boots by Karen Vallerius

Getting Ready for the Vintage Fair Sunday 20th November in Oakham

I had a quick "run through" yesterday afternoon to check out my stock in readiness for the Vintage Fair at which I am taking a table next Sunday in Oakham in Rutland.  I had read a really useful item about how to prepare for craft fairs and the first piece of advice was "Curate", that means don't take everything but the kitchen sink to you and me!

Easier said than done when you have been collecting vintage textiles, fashion and crafts for close to 40 years (yes, I started young ....)

Victorian Christmas Boot Stockings

Victorian Christmas Boots by Karen Vallerius

Victorian Christmas Boots by Karen Vallerius

My stock of these are now complete and I love them all!  It was great to use some of the decorative stitches on my Pfaff sewing machine to embroider the button edge details (I used stitch 26 for the scalloped embroidery).  

I used up some vintage textiles, ribbons and laces from the stash to make these.  I am always surprised and delighted how different fabric combinations make up into a variety of designs.

Vintage Textiles used in the Victorian Christmas Boot Stockings

For anyone interested in the textiles used, here is a brief summary (from the top row, left to right)

early 70s Laura Ashley duck egg & ivory floral cotton with antique Victorian handmade lace, a white damask foot and tiny carved bone beads for the buttons;

60s French bright bird print cotton in blue and orange with a deep 1960s broderie & tucked cotton trim saved from my Mum's sewing box;

vintage 30s embroidered linen with eau de nil glazed cotton foot and broderie trim (as above);

quirky vintage 50s French fruit & perfume print in dark green with deep green foot and broderie trim (as above) (NB I find the Moda solid quilt cottons are fab for the wide range of colours which will match in with your sewing projects);

80s French Boussac heavyweight cotton which is a reproduction of an 18th century design with thick cream lace and dark green Moda cotton foot;

90s poinsettia print quilt cotton with damask foot and antique Victorian lace trim;

retro 70s French provencal print in yellow & gold with Moda yellow cotton foot and broderie trim (as above);

30s handworked embroidered linen in soft shades of pink & lilac with lilac foot and vintage 70s pink satin ribbon;

90s holly print quilt cotton with pale green glazed cotton foot and antique Victorian lace trim;

funky 60s paisley stripe in hot pink & orange with pink cotton foot, Victorian lace trim and 70s pink satin ribbon.


Hubbie expressed surprise that I had so much textile in my stash.  Stop laughing over there!!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween Fairy Costume ... my tribute to the Boué Soeurs of the 1920s

Halloween Fairy Costume by Karen Vallerius

Halloween Fairy Costume 

I had been saving a special silk dress in a delicate aqua and teal toned paisley for an upcycling project, so with Halloween approaching I set to sewing a Halloween fairy costume, my tribute to a beautiful vintage 1920s flapper evening dress made by the Boue Soeurs in the USA which I had seen on Pinterest .  And of course I was also inspired to witchery stitchery by the Halloween Special on Strictly Come Dancing!

Boho Fairy Dress by Karen Vallerius

Boho Faerie Dress

Ragged ribbon layer skirt for boho faerie dress by Karen Vallerius

The aim was to create an ethereal, faerie inspired boho dress.  The flapper style bias cut under dress layer then has four further layers of diaphanous ragged ribbon skirts stitched in place.  The foundation for the dress is a 30s style bias cut ivory acetate with gently distressed arm and necklines.  Layered like petals onto the skirt are first a vintage aqua acetate which has a nice rustly quality; then a soft grey tulle netting to add some volume; next a gentle teal organza which sparkles as it catches the light; and finally a gorgeous whisper-soft paisley printed silk.  Each skirt layer has been cut into ragged ribbons to give the dress flutter movement and romantic style.

Floral Applique & Butterfly Decoration

Fairy Wedding Dress by Karen Vallerius

The front of the bodice has been decorated with applique soft moss green velvet leaves as well as ragged ribbons, sequin spangles, a flower made from a fragment of antique lace with vintage pearlised stamens, vintage ivory millinery leaves and organza petals.  I also found two little sparkly green butterflies (supplies for Christmas fairy making!) and as they are on tiny clips, they can easily be attached to the handworked floral applique or used as hairclips.

Halloween Make Up

This dress would be perfect for Halloween with a carefully made up corpse bride face - check out this link to the BBC YouTube video for a brilliant Halloween make up tutorial by Lisa, one of the make up artists from Strictly Come Dancing.

Woodland Wedding Midsummer Night's Dream

Of course, this would be divine for a boho fairy bride having a woodland wedding .... a Midsummer Night's Dream theatre costume .... a vintage inspired ballerina's dress .... your own Halloween Strictly Come Dancing inspired ensemble ....

Boho Fairy Dress Tutorial Coming Soon

I took hundreds of photos while I was stitching this fairy dress so that I can put together a tutorial so that you can make your own Boho Fairy Dress!  A bit of editing to do, tutorial should be up later this week. x