Sunday, 1 October 2017

Another Linen Lovely - More Vintage Linens into Camisole Top

vintage embroidered linen camisole top by karen vallerius

Vintage Embroidered Linens into Camisole Top


At last I have been able to get on with some more sewing  as I have been rather busy of late, notably with the wonderful Stamford Georgian Festival last weekend.

Stamford Georgian Festival 2017


I attended a great costume workshop with Costumier-saurus which was so interesting and I was able to try on a variety of Georgian style hats and also a wonderful redingote.  We also attended a yummy coffee and chocolate talk and went on a delightful guided walk of Stamford which revealed lots of Georgian architectural gems we had not previously noticed.

Stamford Georgian Festival 2017 by karen vallerius

Doesn't our guide look just wonderful?  She was quite lovely and had us all laughing as she explained so many interesting things about Georgian social history.  This photo was taken looking across the river.

Repurposed Vintage Linens


vintage embroidered linen camisole top by karen vallerius

vintage embroidered linen camisole top by karen vallerius

vintage embroidered linen camisole top by karen vallerius

Once again I used a wide variety of vintage embroidered tablecloths, doileys and tray cloths.  I think the base textile used, the one you can see with white on white embroidery and a scalloped edge, is Victorian.  The other textile fragments are later, mainly from the 30s through to the 50s.  I used a basic camisole pattern and appliqued the pieces of embroidery onto the garment.

Vintage embroidered flowers


vintage embroidered linen camisole top by karen vallerius

vintage embroidered linen camisole top by karen vallerius

I love the way that the colours of the vintage embroidery silks complement one another so well so that even though pieces have been cut from various vintage items, they all blend into a lovely new garment.


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Friday, 1 September 2017

The Jolly Red Pinafore - Another 50s Classic

50s style pinafore by karen vallerius

Upcycled skirt into 50s style pinafore top



I had saved a gorgeous bright vintage 80s cotton skirt - one of those which had a shirred elasticated waistband on a generous panel of fabric - for a couple of years because I loved the splashy mid century inspired floral print.  I loved the abstract flowers and daisies and simply knew this would be perfect reworked as a 50s style top.

The skirt was made in England from a lovely quality and weight of cotton and due to the design had a generous length of fabric.

Vintage pattern discovery


50s style pinafore by karen vallerius

I found this vintage sewing pattern for a range of "jiffy aprons" in one of my best vintage resources - Sue Ryder Vintage & Retro in Peterborough.  I like the mid century design details of this pattern - lovely flattering scoop neckline and well cut shoulders; great oversized patch pockets with tie belt.  The perfect pattern for reworking this beautiful original skirt!

50s style pinafore by karen vallerius


An alternative to side belt carriers



50s style pinafore by karen vallerius

I used a design detail I have used before (check out my blog post where I reworked a 90s skirt here) that is to stitch button holes in the belt so that the belt can be buttoned on and off the garment.  As this pattern did not use belt holders I did not want the belt to slip about on the pinafore so I find that a button on belt is a practical detail - keeps the belt in place during wear and is easy to unbutton for laundering.

Mid century style


50s style pinafore by karen vallerius

The back of the pinafore is open with a single button fastening at the back neckline

50s style pinafore by karen vallerius

Close up of back fastening here.

50s style pinafore by karen vallerius

Now listed in my etsy shop


50s style pinafore by karen vallerius




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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Paisley with Purpose - Reworked Dress into Top

reworked dress into top by karen vallerius

A few years ago I reworked a vintage cotton paisley dress into this 1950s style retro top.  I love the colourway of this paisley and like to wear the top with jeans.  Of course, there were a few smaller scraps left over from the project and this week I made some "new" design Deco Daisy brooches, one of them shown above.


vintage 50s sewing pattern by karen vallerius

Above is the 1950s vintage sewing pattern which I used.  It was for a 32" bust (a measurement I have not fitted into since some time in the 1970s!) so I adjusted the pattern to fit.

reworked dress into top by karen vallerius

This is the original donor dress, I would guess 1960s, and a bit uninspiring to say the least.

Here is a very old photo of me wearing the newly refashioned top, I think this was about 6 years ago.

Change of address, hairstyle and number of wrinkles since then ...

reworked dress into top by karen vallerius

I have been trying to improve my virtually non-existent free motion embroidery skills by making some flower brooches this week.  I love the way that the reverse of the work is almost as pretty as the front in a sketchy, artsy sort of way.

vintage fabric flower by karen vallerius

vintage fabric flower by karen vallerius

Anyway, here is a close up of the freshly stitched flower brooch.  It is worked as a raw edge applique with some free motion machine embroidery and a button from the vintage stash.

OOAK handmade flower brooch by karen vallerius

Please visit my etsy shop if you would like to see more OOAK vintage and reworked garments.

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Tale of Two Tops

upcycled pretty pink tops by karen vallerius

More vintage embroidered linens and vintage Laura Ashley textiles have been upcycled into these two pretty in pink tops.  The lovely abstract floral cotton lawn in shades of pink and teal was cut from the skirt section of a vintage Laura Ashley sundress.  The top on the right also has panels of a check shirting in soft shades of grey and pink, rescued from a vintage mod shirt.  The collars are cut from vintage embroidered tray cloths.  It is always so lovely to repurpose vintage linens which would otherwise remain closed away in the linen cupboard.  I always think that the original needleworkers would be glad that their needlecraft finds a new purpose.

Find these tops and other OOAK upcycled clothing in my etsy shop.

vintage embroidered linen collar by karen vallerius

vintage embroidered linen collar by karen vallerius

The top on the left has a gathered hemline frill made from broderie anglaise cotton which was cut from a ruffled skirt.

broderie anglaise hemline ruffle by karen vallerius


pretty patch pocket in vintage Laura Ashley textile by karen vallerius

This top has a cute patch pocket stitched from a different vintage Laura Ashley cotton with a tiny embroidered floral patch from the tray cloth.  I left the edges of the pocket "raw" so that they will softly fray as the top is washed and worn, giving a gentle homespun charm.  And you all know how much I love vintage Laura Ashley textiles, see my Dottie Angel frock reworked from vintage Laura Ashley clothing here.

vintage textile scraps by karen vallerius

Now, what to do with the scraps?  I never can throw any textile pieces away - as demonstrated by the boxes and cupboards full of textiles in my sewing room.

Find these tops and other OOAK upcycled clothing in my etsy shop.

(PS have just shared this blog post with a link on one of my favourite fashion blogs, click through if you want to read Catherine's lovely blog notdressedaslamb)


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Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Jolly Green Vintage 50s Pinafore Top

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

A couple of months ago I found a fab 50s sewing pattern - Simplicity 5763 (in Sue Ryder Vintage & Retro in Peterborough of course!) for a great pinafore.  I had already upcycled an 80s skirt into this pinafore and wondered how the pattern would work if I took an entire skirt - here a lovely green linen skirt with great topstitched gored panels - then removed the waistband and cut the neckline and armholes from the pattern before seaming.

Discover my OOAK upcycled clothing in my etsy shop.


I used the pattern to make a half piece template for the neckline and arm openings.

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

I then carefully positioned this onto the skirt and cut the openings before seaming.

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

I unpicked the green binding around the waistline of the skirt and used this to bind the neckline.  I opened the centre front seam part way down and stitched a loop in the binding to fasten a vintage Art Deco button from my collection.

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

I cut a pocket from a vintage 50s cotton bandana with a great spot design in yellow, green & white.  I used this to make a large pocket, lined with a vintage French provencale print, and fastened with another of the vintage 30s green buttons (read this post for details of the discovery of these buttons!).

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

The pinafore has a lovely line with a great flared shape.  The oversized 50s armholes sit well on the shoulders and give a distinct mid-century feel to the pinafore.

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

And here is the original donor garment, the green linen skirt.

upcycled green linen skirt  by Karen Vallerius

upcycled vintage 50s pinafore top by Karen Vallerius

Discover my OOAK upcycled clothing in my etsy shop.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Cottage Applique Book Bag inspired by 1930's Country Houses

Once upon a time


Once upon a time there was a book bag, designed by me and stitched from a lovely piece of upcycled French provencale twill cotton ...

The Cottage Applique Book Bag by karen vallerius

The book bag was practical, just the right size, sat nicely on the shoulder, lined in lovely bright red, softly wadded to protect the contents but was, I have to admit, just a bit boring.

The book bag as art canvas


The size of the side of this bag was crying out for some decoration, just the right size for a picture canvas.  I had long been inspired by traditional cottage applique quilt projects as shown below in a 70s patchwork book from my sewing library.

vintage 70s patchwork book

vintage 70s patchwork book

1930s cottage motifs and Metroland homes


My inspiration for the design of this book bag is in fact even earlier than the 70s as it goes right back to the 1930s.  In the 30s, there was a vogue for using the country cottage as a design motif for all sorts of domestic needlework.  I have seen needlecrafted tea cosies, needle cases, string containers and blotters all decorated with country cottages replete with cottage gardens full of traditional English flowers.  Housing at the beginning of the 20th century was often cramped and of poor standard, with many people living in inner city flats with inadequate facilities.  The homes built in Metroland changed all that, and indeed many house designs of the 1930s incorporated elements of the "cottage" aesthetic in their architecture.  Below are some house designs taken from the Concise Household Encyclopedia by Hammerton of that time.

vintage 30s Household Encyclopedia by Hammertons

vintage 30s Household Encyclopedia by Hammertons

vintage 30s Household Encyclopedia by Hammertons

Even the title page of the Hammerton's Encyclopedia features a small illustration of a country cottage!

vintage 30s Household Encyclopedia by Hammertons

Designing the 1930s Cottage Applique Panel



The Cottage Applique Book Bag by karen vallerius

Back to my trusty cutting board.  I marked the dimensions of the side of the book bag onto the board using pieces of washi tape.  I then set to with pieces from my scrap stash designing the cottage.  I decided that I would cut the roof into the sky piece which would be represented by a panel of the navy provencal cotton showing through.  This early layout above shows a gate and hedges which I did not use in the final version.

Stitching the sky


The Cottage Applique Book Bag by karen vallerius

The sky background was the only piece of this design which I stitched on place with the sewing machine.  The ecru linen for the walls of the cottage was stitched with a running stitch to give a representation of painted brickwork.

Carefully stitching the applique picture by hand


The Cottage Applique Book Bag by karen vallerius

This was a lovely project to work on and I enjoyed the hand stitching.

It was a lovely project to incorporate some of my precious scraps of textile.  You will see fragments of gingham for the windowpanes; gold woven fabric for the door & dormer roof; 80s Laura Ashley dark red woven furnishing scraps for the flower pots, chimneys and door step; a 70s Laura Ashley bird motif on the roof; scraps of 60s Sanderson fabrics for the pathway and a William Morris for the potted trees; denim window boxes; antique French ticking window blinds, one of which has a tiny frayed hole; and blowsy roses cut from a 50s apron bloom at the windows.

1930s Needlecraft books


I often turn to my 1930s Good Needlework books for inspiration.  They were published during the 1930s until the outbreak of the second world war when their at times elaborate designs were overtaken by the practicalities of the Mend and Make Do approach to sewing.

A cushion design inspired my cottage on the book bag.

Vintage 30s Good Needlework Gift Book


Find this bag and other OOAK upcycled clothing in my etsy shop.

The Cottage Applique Book Bag by karen vallerius






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