Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Etsy & Everywhere

Finally listing some of my handmade items on Etsy, please visit my brocobelle shop there.


Monday, 2 December 2013

Vintage style jewellery using Laura Ashley textile

I was one of Laura Ashley's biggest fans back in the day (circa 1974 onwards).  I remember those early dresses with Victorian inspired prints in subtle colours.  I was thrilled to combine some tiny scraps of Laura Ashley cotton from the early 70s into my new jewellery designs.  This ring & brooch are photographed against the 19th century design classic "A Handbook of Ornament" by Meyer - I liked the fact that I found a page full of griffins ...

Christmas shopping at the Selvedge Winter Fair

Had a wonderful time at the Selvedge Winter Fair on Saturday.  Saw lots of great textile products & chatted to some lovely textile artists.
Bought this gorgeous ink stamp to brighten up the invoices I include in my ebay & etsy parcels, I loved the style of the stamps from noolibird as they are a million miles away (in design terms) from those you normally find in craft shops ...
Find that my blogging is getting less & less frequent, whereas I am putting more things on pinterest & facebook, so please join me on those sites soon xx

Monday, 4 November 2013

Vintage textile jewellery making

I cannot believe that it is three years since I learned some basic jewellery making skills at the excellent Riverside Beads in Market Deeping - above is one of my charm bracelets - Forget Me Not Secret Garden - made using vintage bits and pieces as well as modern coloured glass beads attached to some brass ox tone findings (no great surprise that I prefer the vintage look of this colour of findings!!). 
I still have several boxes of findings I bought back then, as well as all my jewellery tools, but these last few years haven't made anything much more than bead earrings and bead necklaces incorporating pieces of vintage textile as "ribbon" trims, other than of course my handstitched flower & embroidered brooches.  I wanted some new findings and was sorry to see that two of the companies I used back in 2010 have since closed down.  Anyway, a few hours searching on etsy has found some new suppliers, so hopefully will be able to begin jewellery making again soon.
I have experimented with beads wrapped in textile pieces, but was never really happy with the result, I always felt it looked a bit bulky.  I want to find a way of incorporating small pieces of vintage textile - yep, you've guessed it, cut from my stash of vintage scarves which are slightly damaged but too beautiful to thrown away - with the metal findings as although my flower brooches are good sellers, I want to increase the range of jewellery I offer.  So, watch this space!!
(wanted to upload more photos to this post but Blogger seems to be having a bit of a wobbly!)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Living the dream

Sewing away here in the Fens, maybe not quite living the poem like the lady above from a 1930 magazine!
I have been working on some of my bag designs and made up my Kathy Handy Tote using some upcycled vintage scarves.  Really pleased with the results.

Also have made some of my Jessie Book Bags out of scarves, I loved this vintage 50s poodle scarf and couldn't resist adding bow ties for these two pampered pets

I must admit, there was a moment when I thought, why am I stitching bow ties for poodles???, but as usual that moment passed ....
Some of my bags are now in a wonderful new shop in Lincoln called With Love From Lincolnshire on Rasen Lane at the top of the hill (donkeys may be needed if you are carrying lots of shopping!)
Fab shop, lots of crafted goods, definitely worth a visit.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A note from me to you

Still sewing, not blogging!  So time for a quick update.
I have been trying, sometimes it seems in vain, to develop the handmade side of my business for the last year or so now.  I find that so many "crafts" organisations are aimed more at those who have studied arts/design at uni or college, rather than little old homespun crafters like myself, so wanted to share a recent discovery with you.  I had seen the Design Trust's website a couple of times over the last few months, but a couple of weeks ago a google search directed me to it once more and I started reading.  & reading some more.  & yet more.  Their stated aim is "The Design Trust helps professional designers & craftspeople to create and run better businesses - for themselves, their families, communities, and the world."  And, quite amazingly I think, they actually deliver on this undertaking.  They have lots of brilliant blog posts - one I am finding really useful at the moment is the one on how to create a range of items - and provide loads of information for anyone who, like me, is trying to make progress in the contemporary crafts world with zero academic design background.
So currently stitching away like mad, hoping to stock my Etsy shop with a new "range" in time for the Christmas season.  Hope you are all well.  K. x


Monday, 16 September 2013

Sew much sewing, sew little time ....

Sorry about lack of blogging over last couple of months, but have been busy sewing away, lots of new ideas & designs.  Found a lovely 1920s children's story book last week with this darling illustration.  Afraid I don't look this cute when I'm sewing!

Hope you are all well. x

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Hippy Chic Vintage 70s Braided Eternity Scarf

I often find vintage 70s hippy silk scarves on my vintage shopping trips, and without fail they transport me to my teenage years of cheesecloth & denim.  I loved these scarves back then.  Now though, they aren't quite chic enough.  Added to that, many of them are made of such flimsy silk they can be positively ragged.  However I still love the colourway & patterns of the silks, and so wondered how I could rework them into an accessory I would enjoy wearing.

The answer was so so simple - braiding.  Forget rag rugs, this is a silk braid which is easy peasy to construct &, I think, has just the right degree of hippy chic.

I took three long skinny vintage 70s silk scarves.  None was in great shape; in fact one even had holes in it where the silk had worn through!  I secured them at one end with a knot and then got braiding ...

... until I had a long sausage of silk braid.

Next, I secured the two ends together by stitching through with toning thread & gathered the unbraided ends to form floppy petals of a large corsage type flower which I finished off with a large button

The scarf created formed a long loop which can be arranged as you wish.  Easy, quick & effective.


Thursday, 11 July 2013

That was the week that wwwas ...

What a wwweek!  My laptop gave up the ghost last Sunday & I hadn't fully appreciated how much I relied on it.  I was unable to send emails that needed sending and as I didn't know any local techies, had a bit of a hunt round the local towns to find somebody to fix it.  So if anyone in Spalding ever needs IT support can I recommend the wonderful Mr Chips in Victoria Street.  He was friendly, professional & reassuring.  And he saved all my data!!  Busy getting gadgets & printers back in sync & realise I absolutely must get a second computer in case that ever happens again - afraid me & Mr. Brocobelle only use the most basic of PAYG mobiles & indeed our family often looks on us with pity when they realise the sad extent of our technological status.  Anyway, a small bouquet of my CD flowers above to brighten my blog - hope you're all enjoying the sunshine! x

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Kimono Flower Folded Vintage Scarf Bag

This Kimono Flower origami influenced bag can be made from squares of textile or scarves.  It can be made from squares of any size, from a tiny jewellery pouch up to a lovely gathered handbag for a special occasion
Pin scarves right sides together (if one scarf is larger than the other, trim excess away after stitching) & seam round leaving approx. 15cm on the centre of one straight side unstitched for turning
Trim excess away close to seam allowing slightly wider edges along the gap to be stitched to ensure you have plenty to turn inside for neatness
Turn right sides out, press seams & handstitch opening to close; measure the side of the square as you will need this measurement later
With the design you want on the outside of your bag facing up, fold all four points into
the centre
Now move these points out slightly so that the folds leave a widened X shape, try to make the short sides of the shape to approx the same measurement as the gaps between the diagonal sides
Pin along the four longer outer edges; stitch a seam along these (1cm to 2cm wide depending on the overall size of your squares & the thickness of the cord or ribbon you will use for your ties); neaten threads
Fold each of the 4 centre points back to the seam line & fasten with 2 or 3 small stitches
 Cut two lengths of cord or ribbon, each twice the length of one side of your square

Pin a safety pin to one end of cord; using another safety pin, secure the other end of the cord at a corner; thread through all 4 channels & tie to the other end; repeat for second piece of cord starting at the opposite corner

Draw the threads so that the channels form a circle in the centre; push the outside textile through if necessary and the flower petals will form from the points
Decorate the ends of the cords with beads, fabric beads made from scraps of textile padded with wadding or small flowers


Vintage Style Bikini made from Vintage Scarves

This inspiration for this design is the bras made out of hankies in 30s and 40s needlecraft books
You will need a scarf minimum approx. 70cm square, or this would be great made from two contrasting scarves

You will need approx. 75cm of 2.5cm wide ribbon, plus any extra for trims and bows for the bra bust band;  approx. 2.5m of 6mm wide ribbon for the straps

For the bikini pants, you will need to draft a pattern.  Try Golden Hands magazines from the 1970s or home dressmaking books from the 1930s for a tap pant style.  Alternatively, photocopy a pair of bikini bottoms to draft your pattern.  I used the pattern from a 1950s bikini for these pants.

To make the bra top pattern, cut two triangles from a sheet of A3 paper by folding up one corner to make a square then folding diagonally in half – the straight edges of the pieces should be just under 30cm

Position and pin your pattern pieces on the scarf with the pants on the bias

Cut out pieces and stitch pants as directed in your pattern.  These pants have a small shirred elastic gathered section on each side which gives them a bit of extra "give".

For the bra, fold each triangular piece in half down the centre; make a centre dart which is 5cm high and 2.5cm wide, or gather the centre section to give the cup fullness

Now overlap the front corners by approx. 15cm – pin and adjust this overlap to fit and stitch close to raw edge along overlap to secure

Take the measurement under your bust, divide this by 2 and add 5cm – cut this length in 2.5cm wide ribbon

Fold over the raw ends of the ribbon by approx. 5mm and press gently; press the ribbon in half lengthwise; place the raw edges of the bra pieces along the centre fold and pin the ribbon; cut 2 x 45cm lengths of matching 6mm wide ribbon for the back ties; insert each tie into the end of the ribbon band; stitch close to the ribbon edge, making sure you secure both long edges of ribbon band and that you secure the narrow ribbon ties

Cut two x 65cm lengths of 6mm ribbon for the bra straps

Make a long loop in the shoulder ribbon (to slip over ties at back) approx. 28cm and stitch

Stitch both ribbon straps onto top corner of bra fronts; put side ribbons through the loops & tie in a bow on the back

Please note this bra does not offer much support so is only really suitable for sunbathing!!!


Bow Front Shrug Top from Vintage Scarves

This is a lovely shrug top which can be made from scarves in your vintage stash.  As always, NEVER cut up any valuable or rare scarves, and it is always worth making a test garment from pieces of scrap textile to ensure you get the right fit.
OK, you're sure?  Let's sew!
You will need two large square scarves, both same size give or take a couple of cm, good size approx. 70cm square; one long bias cut scarf for seam bindings (would always recommend testing position of armholes on a couple of pieces of scrap textile cut to the same size as your scarves to avoid making an error when cutting your precious vintage scarves!)

Lay one scarf on top of other, right sides together & pin along edges to secure them together

Stitch a 35cm seam on one side only from the bottom edge – this will join the two scarves & form the centre back seam of the shrug


Make a narrow oval pattern piece from paper (or a template from card) for the armholes

For a UK size 16 to 18, this will be 28cm long x 5cm wide in middle, but you may need to adjust this for smaller or larger sizes

To place the armhole pattern, put the centre back seam so it is on your left hand side: measure into the scarf to the right by 19cm from the top of the centre back seam for the top of the armhole; then angle the armhole piece from this top point so that the bottom is 24cm to the right of the centre seam

If you are using a card template, then draw round your template with tailor's chalk or a disappearing pen & secure both scarves with pins before cutting, as shown below

Pin the two scarves together around the armhole as you will be cutting both scarves together

Cut out armholes

Cut two long straight strips from a long bias scarf each 4cm wide (each at least 60cm long)

Fold the strips lengthwise wrong sides together & press

Starting at the bottom of the armhole, pin the bias trims around the armhole on the right side with raw edges together

Taper ends of strips so that raw edges are enclosed

Stitch around armhole approx. 7mm from raw edge

Trim seam allowances and press bias strip to inside of garment

Now topstitch around armhole approx. 7mm from edge

To wear – slip arms through armholes and tie top two corners in front of you in a large bow

To make a longer tunic top or beach cover up – stitch an extra scarf to the bottom edge of each of the scarves, matching centre seam

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Keep Calm & Carry Yarn 22 June 2013

Now I know my needlecraft projects are not strictly "yarn" based, but I will be participating in this Saturday's event at the National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford & showing some of my recycled vintage scarf projects.  My demos will be at 10.30, 12 midday and 1.30.  Hope to see you there!

Full details here National Centre for Craft & Design


Ruched Flouncy Shrug from Vintage Shawl for Prom Princesses Everywhere

I have been busy stitching away my vintage scarf projects for next Saturday's demos at the National Centre for Craft & Design. Amongst the many boxes (yes, hundreds if not thousands of scarves ...) are several pretty vintage floaty shawls and I wondered whether I could rework one into a shrug.

I was so pleased with how this turned out - it was quick, easy & pretty. I thought it might be useful to share with those of you who might be stitching away for prom princesses or bridesmaids this summer - it would be a lovely way to rework one of your own vintage shawls.

The vintage shawl I used measured 68cm x 170cm and was in a light floral chiffon.

I threaded the bobbin with shirring elastic and set the stitch to a medium length. First, I stitched two rows of shirring along each cuff end of the shawl, one 5cm in from end & the next 2cm in from there.

Then I stitched the under arm seams, starting at the second row of cuff shirring and each seam was stitched for 45cm - this gave a pretty ruffled effect to the arms


Finally, along the centre of the back "neckline", I stitched two rows of shirring, one 30cm long which is 5cm in from the edge and the second 26cm long which is a further 2cm in - I figured this might give a small stand up collar effect & was pleased that this worked well.

This garment is versatile and the elastic ruching means it adjusts to fit most sizes.

Obviously this was quite a large shawl and I am going to try making a shrug from a smaller original shawl so will post that soon.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

1930s style baby shoes & Mini-Crinoline Miss!

Just wanted so share a 1930s style embroidery of a mini-crinoline miss I stitched recently, and a little pair of 1930s style baby shoes I made to tone in - you might notice that they match the little vintage doll I re-dressed in an earlier posting. Hope you are all enjoying the sunshine!


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Two stitches forward, three stitches back ...

OK, so have made all my gift designs up; been busy drafting, stitching, unpicking, throwing in the bin; restitching until my range of designs was ready.  Took photos.  Bought new camera.  Took photos again.  Drafted instructions.  Checked & redrafted (4 times).  All ready to approach printer, methinks.  Uh oh!  Press ready PDFs needed.  Have spent a couple of days over the last week trying to work this one out for myself using online resources.  Admitted defeat yesterday.  No funds to pay someone to do this for me right now.  Pattern project currently on hold awaiting funds from somewhere ... maybe I should buy a lottery ticket this week.  It has been a lot of work but I am so pleased with the project.  I will get there ... just not right now!!
Photo above is of my glasshouse pincushion made from felt and with some lovely vintage pins I bought on ebay.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Posh & pretty togs for Springtime

I know I've been a bit of a secret squirrel the last few weeks over my sewing projects (9 new pattern designs completed hurrah!), I will share them but they have to be at a certain "stage" & not quite there yet!  Anyway, I bought this little doll a few weeks ago and her original clothes were incredibly faded & grubby, so I decided to stitch her a little outfit from some of the scraps from my sewing projects.  I cut the clothes off her (they were stitched on) and simply ironed them flat and then scanned them to make a pattern.  I was pleased with her little 30s green jacket which I cut from scraps remaining from a vintage linen napkin I had reworked.  The skirt is made from a piece of my all time best ever textile buy of several metres of vintage 30s chintz (thank you ebay!) which I love love love and enjoy using whenever I can.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

New uses for vintage embroideries

Don't you just love this little Dutch couple, embroidered in the 1930s?  They'll be off to a new home soon.  Have put some more photos of vintage 30s motifs at the end of this post for you to enjoy.
I am sewing away at the moment, busy reworking lots of vintage embroidered textiles.  I think it is such a shame when tray cloths & tablecloths, and even "duchesse sets" (I think that was the 30s name for sets of little mats which were used on dressing tables etc) cannot be enjoyed.  So I am making some new patterns to rework these items.  On the whole these are proving successful with not too many textiles relegated to the rag bag!

This was my attempt at a small workbag reworked from a corner cut from a (damaged) embroidered tablecloth. The shape was inspired by this advert from a 1930s magazine.  You will see I had to cut the bag a bit wider to accommodate more of the embroidery, it is a nice little bag which sits comfortably on the arm.
Anyway, some more 1930s embroidery photos for you & off to the sewing machine now ...


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