Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ah, them crochet nights ...

The whippersnappers amongst you might find it hard to believe that during the 70s we often tripped the light fandango in trailing maxi skirts and that for soirees at home, wedding guest attire and even school discos, maxis were almost de rigueur!!

I was reminded of that fact while looking through my 70s craft books for some maxi skirt crochet patterns for one of my blogging buddies (check out her wonderful crafty blog here Urban Rustic) and found plenty of inspiration.  My own fledgling crochet attempts haven't progressed beyond my Gay Gypsy Scarf (see earlier post), some granny squares (nice waistcoat idea for using these below) & some flowers, but I am persevering with the help of my patient neighbour, Eileen. 

Anyway, more maxi crochet heaven below - let me know if you are interested in any of these.  (Plus, having a little smile to myself as I type this - I snapped up a lovely early Edwardian crochet jacket on ebay which was listed as "crotched".  Ouch!)


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sew 30s - Poke Bonnet Needlecase

Amongst my recent needlework book buys have been several vintage 30s home sewing tomes.  I adore their quirky projects, & whilst I may not hanker after duchess sets, antimacassars or nightdress cases, there are plenty of cute projects my stitching fingers are itching to try.  The little felt "Poke Bonnet Needlecase" above is the first.  She has a little felt bonnet to hold a thimble & layers of felt petticoats for needles. Just the right size for scraps of felt & trims & oddments of embroidery thread.  She was easy, quick & fun to make.  More vintage 30s projects coming soon.


Friday, 26 August 2011

How to Make a Peg Doll Fairy

OK fairy lovers, I have finally got my act together to give some instructions on how to make a vintage inspired fairy peg doll (or clothespin doll).  These are perfect for adorning bedrooms, as bridesmaid gifts, and of course on top of Christmas trees!
I usually make them in batches of say 6 at a time in a little mini production line!
You will need: old fashioned wooden clothes pegs; scraps of lace, fabric and ribbon (the fairies in photos are all wearing Liberty tana lawn dresses cut from patchwork charm squares); embroidery thread or yarn for hair; pipecleaners (for arms); beads, trims & sequins; some pink paint (I improvise by using matchpots with a speck of red acrylic paint mixed in); black & red felt pens; and, most importantly, butterfly wings - I have used vintage Nottingham lace butterfly wings as well as sparkly Christmas  decoration or feather wings; glue & needle & thread
  1. Paint head and neck and 4cm from foot tips pink.  Tip: set peg on rim of plastic cup to dry
  2. Cut pipe cleaner to 11cm; bind and glue both ends with ribbon or tiny felt scraps to make hands
  3. If paint is now dry, paint or glue ribbon onto feet to create toning shoes; draw features on face - I use 2 small black dots for eyes, a teensy red heart for mouth and two small rosy cheeks of a touch of blusher rubbed on with a cotton bud/Q tip.  Face painting is more tricky than it seems, if all goes wrong, try on the other side and you can cover the ugly face with hair later!!
  4. Cut pieces for clothes - if you are making more than one fairy, it might be helpful to cut cardboard templates then trace round these with a disappearing pen before cutting - it makes it much quicker.  These sizes are for a standard 11cm high peg: knickers: 2 pieces 5cm x 4.5cm, glue lace trim on one 4.5cm edge and leave to dry; petticoat: scrap of lace 4cm long and 9cm wide; dress skirt: 6cm long x 20cm wide - glue lace along bottom edge, glue 6cm edges to make tube, run gathering thread around top edge; sleeves: tube 9cm long bx 2.5cm wide - glue along long edge to make tube, insert arms, trim cuffs with lace; sash: 6.5cm long x 1cm deep; bodice crossover: 11cm x 1cm
  5. Assemble clothes on doll: glue knickers pieces into tubes, put glue round tops of legs and position; glue petticoat to form a tube, glue over top of knickers; gather waist edge of dress skirt and tie onto doll, put glue under top edge to secure; glue arms at back of doll; take bodice crossover and place on back of neck, cross over front, bring round back, trim and glue in place; glue sash in place at waistline over top edge of skirt.  Doll should now be dressed.  Trim dress with beads, sequins etc.
  6. Cut a piece of ribbon approx. 60cm long.  Stitch this securely to centre back of arms/bodice as this will tie the fairy to trees & other alighting points.  Take your butterfly wings and stitch to back of fairy.
  7. Time to put on the hair - this can get in the way of dressing the doll so best to leave until last.  For long hair, cut lengths of embroidery thread approx. 9cm long, tie in the centre and then glue and arrange on head.  Bobbled knitting yarn can be piled up high a la Duchess of Devonshire - glue and stitch as you go.  Decorate with lace, ribbon, rosebuds, felt hats as you wish.
  8. Last of all, the wand!  Cut a length of wire (I use millinery wire) approx. 5.5cm long.  Cover with ribbon, glue beads and ribbon onto the end and then secure with a couple of stitches to the fairy's arm.
  9. Make a wish!
More fairy photos follow.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sewing for the soul

I've embroidered a frock
And I've sewn the long seams,
While I stitched up a heartache
And mended my dreams

Don't you just love those words?  Taken from one of my vintage needlework books, I think they sum up so wisely how sewing and stitchery can ease our troubled minds

And looking through these needlework books, I have had a bit of a "eureka" moment.  I was never sure how to classify my interests, not quite crafts, not quite dressmaking - I love stitching hats, bags, gifts, tops, toys, corsages, jewellery, cuffs (like the beaded and ribbon flowered one above) etc etc - of course, it was needlework all along!

I am sitting here in needlework heaven, looking through my recently acquired books.  When I go to the great hereafter, wherever that may be, you'll find me sitting in the corner, surrounded by scraps of felt and textiles, needle and thread in hand ...


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Art Deco Boudoir Bra

Why am I calling this Art Deco confection a "Boudoir Bra" you might wonder?
Well, the simple answer is a silk crepe hankie and a few lengths of satin ribbon are probably insufficient support for most embonpoints once they have emerged from the inner sanctum of the boudoir.  Imagine walking the dog/doing the weekly shop/going to work on the bus in this .... Yup, the results could be liberating in the extreme and a threat to public decency.  But reclining in your boudoir with a glass of bubbly in hand ... you get the picture.

One of my 1930s needlework books (from my ever expanding vintage craft and sewing library) had some very basic instructions for making a bra out of a hankie.  I decided I would use an original Art Deco silk crepe hankie and some ribbons from my ribbon box to have a go.  There was a lot of improvising - the only instruction that seemed to be precise was to make a 2" dart - and with a lot of pinning and checking on my (size 12) mannequin, I finally got there with the delicate taupe and cream creation above.  I was glad to have a couple of little ready made bows that matched, but when I make this garment again I am going to ensure I have toning ribbon flowers ready (can feel a shopping trek to VV Rouleaux coming on already ...).  Plus, I will make longer ribbon ties for the back and am going to try it with gathers instead of a dart as well as experimenting with different size hankies.  No cheeky comments about extra large men's hankies, please!!

Below is the diagram from the sewing book plus a couple more views of the bra. 


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Peaceful thoughts for troubled times

Blessed to have a garden to chill in

Crafts, home business and interests that occupy me

Nearest and dearest that I love

Little dog to make me smile and take me for walks when I need to blow the bad news from my thoughts


Friday, 5 August 2011

Make do and makeover 40s style

Recently, I have been clearing out Amazon, ebay and local charity stocks by buying up every vintage needlework and craft book they offer - my bookshelves (which I had been decluttering) are now groaning under the weight of books from the 1930s through the 1970s

Following my recent post about Make Do & Makeover 50s style, I realised that I have similar makeover features dating from the 30s and 40s and then again from the 70s, so I thought I should share some extracts from these various articles

Above is the 1940s item which inspired me to make my applique bolero (seen in a previous posting but reposted here)

I will work my way through these books but in the meantime, below is a neat diagram of how to make a fitted 1940s jacket from a "swagger" (coat) - perfect for weekenders


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Liberty for everyone

Don't think that Liberty textiles are only for the ladies

This classic rockabilly style early 60s shirt was made by Golden Needles in the US circa 1961 from a lovely striped paisley Liberty cotton - just has to be the coolest shirt in town


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Liberty print vintage 70s dress by Marion Donaldson

There were those of us who spent our mid to late 70s dressed like country maidens from a long before time, bedecked in petticoats trimmed with lace and broderie anglaise, ruffled skirts, shawls, soft floral patterns and with flowers in their hair.  Others went the punk route and could scare a bird at 20 paces.  No prizes for guessing I took the floral route and trod the romantic pathway.

One of my favourite designers of the time was Marion Donaldson.  My Saturday girl wages working in a clothes shop rarely stretched to the rails of garments delivered direct from MD's, and I would never have been able to afford this gorgeous dress made in the prettiest Liberty of London tana lawn. 

Sadly all my own clothes from that era - Radley, Laura Ashley, some Marion Donaldson petticoats, Liberty of London scarves - have mainly gone the way of the charity shop back in the 80s before I really got bitten by the vintage bug.  But it is such huge fun finding these garments today and remembering ....

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Revenge of the Rollers

That's the Bay City Rollers to those of you too young to have experienced the 70s first time round.  They wore a lot of checks, I seem to remember, and so when I found this 70s trouser suit in a groovy mauve, pink and yellow check on my stock shopping trip today, those cheeky lads with crop-going-on-mullet hairdos sprang to mind!!  Now, I was never a real Rollers fan, Donny Osmond and David Cassidy were more my thang.  But I would have worn this suit if I had owned it.  It appears unworn.  Another garment from the cavernous wardrobe of history that should have had a label on it stamped in big, bold letters

My motto for today, folks, is love it, wear it, use it.  Don't put it away in the back of the cupboard because it is "too good" so that some person like me can discover it 40 years later and be amazed at its condition.

I also found an early 70s Wallis suit in a size 8.  Any idea how big a size 8 was around 1970???  About the size of a large doll, I reckon, a doll with an 18" waist. 

Couple more pics of the suit so you can relax in 70s heaven ....

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