Friday, 30 December 2011

Ever Expanding Vintage Craft Library

OK, I've got to admit it, I have been ordering on ebay, etsy & amazon over the last week or so.  And my December evenings are being spent devouring every page again and again of my new-to-me purchases.  I love the adverts almost as much as the features.  I was particularly intrigued by this page above taken from a 1920s Home Crafts magazine as I had bought a vintage bead necklace only a few weeks before which looked to be home made.  The top right advert offers jewellery kits - maybe the necklace below was made from one of them as although the beads are quite lovely, the wire findings are uneven in places.

My reading is also turning up plenty of articles about barbola work.  It seems this was a type of paste one could buy ready mixed in tins.  Do any of you know if it can still be bought, or if not, what might be a suitable substitute as I would love to give this craft a try.


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a happy, cosy day for Christmas, with love from me, mr. b. and our little Chum x

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sew 30s Peg Doll Fairy & The Alternative Christmas Cherry Tree

Have come over all "minimal" this year & when I saw this little LED cherry tree in a local discount store, thought why not give it a try.  OK, so my peg doll fairy can't perch on top, but I have tried to style it as a fairytale tree using some of my favourite vintage decorations.  In the spirit of feng shui, yin and yang, whatever, there are a couple of pairs of decorations - two little doves and two little bauble people which belonged to my maternal grandmother.  A man in the moon I remember from Christmas trees back in the 60s, a few stars and a couple of planet-like painted glass baubles.

My peg doll fairy wears a dress made from vintage 30s silk saved from a torn dress and antique lace.  She has Tilda hair and a pair of large pink feather butterfly wings.  A large sequin & beaded butterfly and dragonfly flutter through the scene, as well as a fancy candelabra confection I received a few years ago as a gift (probably by Gisela Graham).   OK, maybe not exactly minimalist, but we are really enjoying this little alternative festive scene.


Sew 30s - Seasonal Felt Flower Corsage

Aware that I haven't really made any Christmas needlecraft items this year, I decided to give my Saturday Sew 30s felt flower project a seasonal colourway.  For many years I have treasured a little vintage 30s suede flower corsage, shown below

I finally got round to using one of the flowers to make a template

I cut 3 of these 5 pointed flowers; five small rounded diamond shaped leaves; & a small rectangle which I cut part way into 3 stems and two larger circles of green felt for the mounting and backing pieces to the corsage.  The centres of the flowers are small eau de nil coloured felt circles snipped all round the edges and mounted with pearlised sequins and small pearl green beads.  The felts are all wool mix fibres in vintage shades.

I assembled the flowers, then stitched all the flower pieces to the mounting circle which was backed with a second felt circle in the same colour with small slits cut through which I could slip a brooch mount, and the edges of the circles finished with buttonhole stitch.

The reason I have not stitched the brooch mount to the corsage is so that I can easily use it for other purposes by simply slipping the brooch mount out. 

Soon after I finished stitching, a little chap jumped up to see what was going on - any chance I could get a small dog involved in the production of corsages????


Friday, 16 December 2011

Sew 40s Felt Flower for Frock or Coat

A little bit of 40s sewing this afternoon with some scraps from my felt box and some vintage cotton threads - Gay Green, Blue Crest & Cambridge Blue - don't you just love the names?

Completed my first project from my "Let's Make a Gift" book received yesterday.  I wanted to use the colours suggested by the author but had to substitute with what I had in the hope that they are a suitably vintage 40s palette.  This is actually a lovely little tactile flower, the snipped felt fringe at the centre is almost like wool.  The stem and leaf have a nice sculptural quality and I will definitely be making more of these corsages.  Pattern will follow soon.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Let's Make a Christmas Gift

Always exciting to receive my latest ebay/etsy/amazon purchase and today's delivery does not disappoint.  Fab little vintage 40s book with tons of needlecraft projects for gift making.  Haven't had chance to look at it thoroughly as have been busy wrapping parcels to post today, but this little braided gift caught my eye

I am thinking of trying to braid some rugs in the new year, possibly some bath mats, but a teapot stand looks a good project to start and I like the way the flower petals are created.

Actually, on receiving this book I really fell off the wagon!  There is a list of books in the series on the back cover and yes, I had to go trawling the www for them, and you know that temptation when Amazon lists books for 1p, yup, three books now on their way to me ... (not all at 1p, but not too expensive really ....)

Hope your festive preparations are going well.  We have a break from tradition this year and I found a lovely little LED cherry tree so have bedecked it with a few of my special sentimental baubles and really pleased to have a different "look".  Will post photos soon.  Stay warm those of you who have snow already, we are expecting it later tonight.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Recipe for an enjoyable November evening

Glass of wine, log fire burning, stack of my vintage needlework magazines .... bliss!

My favourites are from the 50s as they seem to have so many useful projects and articles - sometimes there is even a great project tucked away in a little half column at the back end of a magazine that I overlooked on the first ten or so read throughs.

I have been putting together as many copies of Needlework Illustrated from the late 40s/early 50s as I possibly can.  I have also got a good (and growing) collection of 1970s Golden Hands magazines.  With regard to the earlier 30s, finding magazines is more difficult but I have a growing collection of needlework books from this era.  Of course, I am discovering echoes of earlier needlecraft projects everywhere.  Plus ca change and all that.  I am enjoying trying the vintage projects out and also creating my own interpretations of them.  I have started putting some of the instructions on my posts and hope to do lots more next year.  In the meantime, if you would like to make a vintage inspired peg doll fairy for your Christmas tree, instructions are here.  Or if you would like to make a 50s inspired bow tie for your man, instructions are here.

If you would like to get hold of a job lot of Needlework Illustrated magazines, I have some listed on ebay right now as I have quite a lot of duplicates resulting from my buying up lots of job lots to increase my own collection.

Happy needlecrafts everyone!  Karen x


Monday, 21 November 2011

Lost & Found at Kings Lynn Fleamarket

Not just a case of curb my enthusiasm, more a question of curse my enthusiasm!  I had a lovely morning on Saturday at the Kings Lynn Fleamarket and found some great treasures, the usual mix of some to keep, some to sell.  I also met two lovely ladies with whom I had a great conversation about vintage & handmade (I waxed lyrical as usual about the Vintage and Handmade fairs held in Chipping Sodbury!), and we talked about organising a similar event in the local area.  One of them gave me her email address on a small piece of paper which I carefully placed into my purse.  Somewhere amongst my next few purchases at the fleamarket and my usual gassing about vintage textiles and crafts, the piece of paper was lost.  So if by any small, vague chance you are one of those ladies with whom I was talking, please please get in touch!  I bought the Singer skirt marker and some knitting patterns from you, hope I might hear from you somehow!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Once upon a vintage Christmas

No matter whether you love vintage 30s Deco embroidery
Vintage paisley and fine cross stitch
Gay 60s cottons and guipure lace
Or vintage Liberty of London wool decorated with vintage carved bone buttons
Once upon a vintage Christmas I will have made a stocking to suit!


Remember, remember ...

Someone has been feeling poorly lately.  Maybe he missed me when I went to my Ladder Club seminar a couple of weeks ago?  He had to go to see the nice kiwi vet last Monday (not a vet for kiwis, you know!) and get some medicine.  We were finally over that sickness episode when wham, bam, fireworks weekend!  Last year, I had dosed our little Chum up with homeopathic pet calming pills for a couple of weeks before the Big Bang on 5th November.  I thought they had not worked and that mr. brocobelle and I should have been taking them instead.  Let's just say after last night, I now know they DID work.  Somebody will be going into their cage covered with a blanket at about 5pm tonight 
(no, not mr. b!)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Ladder Club Seminar - How to Start a Greeting Card Business

Just back from an enjoyable couple of days on the sunny Essex coast attending the seminar for start ups organised by the wonderfully generous Lynn Tait in the form of the Ladder Club (in conjunction with the Greeting Card Association.)
There were some truly inspirational speakers and everyone was so generous in the way they shared information about the industry. The prospect of digital printing seemed way too daunting but thanks to the straightforward presentation by The Imaging Centre even someone who doesn't know their pdf from their elbow might have a go.  Who would have thought I would ever give paper a second thought?  Not me, but thanks to G.F. Smith I now see paper in a different light.  It was and still is a huge shock that any industry can be so welcoming to newbies.  Even though since the seminar I have alternated between wanting to give this a go and thinking the whole project could be too daunting & maybe just a nice hobby (after all, cardmaking is the number one hobby in the UK!), at least I now have realistic information and have heard some real life success stories (Blue Eyed Sun & Paper Salad) to help me with my decision making.

As you all know, I love all things vintage.  So I thought it would be apt to illustrate this post with images from a few of my favourite vintage greetings cards from my huge collection of vintage ephemera.

As the lovely Steve from Sherwood Press pointed out, the couple in the card above look nearer to modern 15 year olds than 21 year olds!

Guess this was from the days all the girls longed to be as glam as Liz (Taylor not Hurley)

Love never changes - I remember sending Valentine's cards in the 70s (well, I was a teenager then ... and yes, I did send one to Donny Osmond!)

Finally, thank you to all my fellow attendees - collectively known as Ladderettes! - it was brilliant meeting you & sharing our ideas & knowledge & I wish all of you all the luck in the world.  Who knows, maybe we will meet up at Springboard at PG Live before too long ...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sew 50s - Trifold Bow Tie from Redundant Necktie

Maybe you know someone who has a favourite necktie that is rarely worn, but would be just the right textile for a smart bow tie for a special night out.  I found a lovely vintage bow tie that had an unusual tri-fold bow section, so I have unpicked it and drafted a pattern & instructions.  Feel free to use these to make smart bow ties for your nearest & dearest ready for the winter party season.  (Please do not sell the pattern, instructions or the finished bow ties, thank you).

This is the original bow tie, very grubby and with a metal clip rather than a neckband on the back.  I loved its tri-fold form and asymmetric finish.

The tie I used was a lovely rich silk tie dating from the 80s or 90s.  Firstly, choose the most even sized piece of tie to be the long neck band section.  Fold narrow section of tie so that width (approx. 3cm) matches most evenly.  Cut this section 51cm long.  If ends of the long central seam need restitching, do so now.  Open each end of neck band, trim 1.5cm of interlining from each end.  Fold and pin ends neatly using 1.5cm seam allowance.  Overstitch by hand.

Unpick any label on main front tie section carefully.  Unpick tie section along seam.  Remove interfacing and any linings.  Press outer silk piece flat (even an 8cm wide tie will often be 20cm wide once opened out).

Fold tie interlining section in half widthways.  Pin pattern to fold & cut interlining section.  (Pattern diagram at end of post).

Fold main tie silk piece in half lengthways, right sides together.  Pin interlining piece on top, taking care to position straight along pattern.  Cut with 1.5cm seam allowance all round. 

Machine around interlining as closely as you can, leaving the bottom central “V” section open. Clip curves and points, turn right sides out. Turn under seams on bottom edges and sew by hand. Press.

Cut section which will form knot, 3cm wide by 11cm long.  Cut piece of tie interlining 1.5cm x 11cm and place along length.  Press long edges to middle so knot section is 1.5cm wide. 

Fold bow section into 3 (as per photo of original red bow tie).  Run a couple of gathering stitches through middle.  Draw up. 
 Place neck band on back of bow section so that 8cm is to the side of the centre. Wrap knot section around centre of neck band and bow section. Pin knot section on reverse, turning under ends to neaten. Stitch around this section onto neck band.

Pattern diagram


Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Karma Kittens - Indian Summer

My little "Karma Kittens" have their first outfits!
Under an Indian summer sun and boho breeze, they have sundresses stitched in the manner of "real" 1970s clothes and fashioned from vintage bandanas.  They each have a long wrap which they can wear as a shawl or tied round their ears in suitably hippy chic fashion as above.
Their ponchos are finished, but mitts and bags still to be stitched.  Watch this space!
(For those of you who haven't read my earlier post, the Karma Kittens are vintage-inspired hand puppets I am stitching for my friend's two little daughters).
Sewing tip: If you need a small, circular template when cutting out eyes for toys, tiny flowers, etc, use buttons - they work a treat.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Isn't she lovely? My dream (sewing) machine

I had been thinking about buying a vintage hand sewing machine for a while.  Now that I am sewing ever more vintage craft type items (bags, toys, boudoir bras, snoods ...) I often end up cranking my electric machine by hand anyway when I get to the tricky little faffy bits, so had been considering looking for an old Singer or suchlike as I remember from my childhood.

So when I was asked in one of my usual charity shops yesterday if I was interested in buying an old sewing machine (they know me well!), it didn't take too long to say yes.  The machine in question is in lovely condition, all the decals are good and bright, and more importantly, all the tools, handbooks, attachments and feet are present.  Hadn't ever thought about using a ruffler, under braider, quilter or hemmer, let alone a tuckmarker or five-stitch pleater, but hey, I try to keep an open mind on these things.

I wasn't sure of the exact date of my machine, but when I checked Google, I was thrilled to find the Singer Company has a really handy checklist for serial numbers

so I was able to date my machine accurately to 1939.  Check it out if you are wondering about your own machine.  Have also found an interesting site with historical info on vintage sewing machines, check it out here.

Will be taking a test run this weekend and will report back on how she handles!

STOP PRESS --- STOP PRESS --- STOP PRESS Have just lugged my little 99-er up onto my work table, threaded her & - hoping that she maybe had a bobbin already in there! - cranked the handle.  She runs like a dream, a pleasing combination of purring and clicking as the handle turns.  She manoeuvres really nicely on curves.  Keen to try some free embroidery with her.  Phew!


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Plus ca change ... 60s caravan kids

Little bro & I weren't on holiday in the photo above, we were staying with our Auntie who lived in a caravan.  I never really understood why two of my aunties & my Mum & Dad (before bro came along) lived in caravans.  We weren't travellers.  Then again, we weren't wealthy.  But why caravans?  Then yesterday, I broke the ceiling of my usual £1 second hand book budget and blew a massive £2.50 on a 1950s "Better Home Making" book by Newnes.

Inside is a quaint article about caravans - of course I was initially drawn to the fab retro photos.  Then I read the text.  What a shocker.  Entitled, "Your Caravan Home", the article speaks about the housing shortage and the sub-standard rental accommodation which was often all that was available. It sang the happy alternatives of living in a caravan.  I cannot imagine how bleak it must have been for a young couple with a tiny baby living miles from anywhere, without a car, in a flimsy and doubtless far from luxurious caravan.  I have heard anecdotes about how we all awoke with frost on our faces.  Tall stories perhaps, but thankfully being just a baby, I was too little to remember.  I remember the above photoshoot, though.  My uncle was keen on photography.  His camera ready, we were instructed to sit still & my baby brother kept kicking his legs.  You can see my arm round his side, trying in vain to hold him still.  I look at this photo with tiny tears in my eyes, and not all of them due to nostalgia.  So grateful for my own beautiful home, and so sorry we have a housing shortage once more.  Let those of us with a nice roof over our heads count our blessings and remember all those needing somewhere to live.  x


Friday, 30 September 2011

Sew 50s, Crochet 50s

Had a happy day's hunting in the September sunshine yesterday and found this quaint little 50s sewing booklet in one of my usual haunts!  Sadly it doesn't contain any patterns, but has some nice illustrations and I reckon I can put together a pattern for the workbox/basket on the cover - I love the folksy decorations they have used.

Bit of a 50s theme going on right now - I received my latest Etsy purchase, a vintage 1951 crochet booklet.  Now, my hooks have remained in my workbag lately, but these brilliant evening gloves are calling me ...

Just had to share one of my other finds yesterday, a brilliant little vintage embroidered velvet jacket, I reckon Turkish embroidery made into a bolero c. 1930.

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