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

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